Packaging design is most effective when it delivers your brand’s personality consistently and in line with your brand’s values. It needs to convey all the information your consumers need to be motivated to make the purchase of your product. My experience of the packaging design world has meant I've come across many packaging design mistakes in my time (we've all made and learnt from our mistakes - myself included). Here I’ve highlighted a few of the bigger mistakes that are easily avoided if you're aware of them from the outset and even more avoidable if you're using an experienced design team:
1. The packaging design needs to be relevant
The look and style of the design that is applied to packaging needs to relate to the product and the brand. 'Stand out' is great to give you the point of difference against the competitor set, but consumers need to know what they are buying. This should visible from the fist time they lay their eyes on the packaging. Consumers have expectations when it comes to colours, packaging format, materials, tone of voice, and even things like photography styling.
2. The packaging needs to be ready for the retail sector
Branded packaging is predominantly sold in a retail environment (including online), so the design of the packaging needs to consider elements that are required for the retail sector, particularly for the FMCG market. This may include things like barcodes, best before areas, detailed nutritional information, and informative product descriptions and call outs. There are many areas to consider here - but one area to pay close attention when creating the primary packaging is the design of secondary packaging (outer cases or trays that the packaging will sit in). Many retailers will have set formats they require you to follow to sell in their store, this may include; pallet stacking protocols; barcode positioning and sizes; advised materials; print finishes and critical paths they work to for their own delivery dates.
3. Inconsistent branding
My experience in branding means I see this all too often, get the brand consistency wrong and the impact can be detrimental to the whole brand and consequently the retail numbers you're able to sell. The branded packaging needs to be instantly recognisable to the consumer, especially when the design is for an established brand. The quality of the product is king - obviously - but the packaging that surrounds it needs to reflect your brand values.
4. Positioning the packaging at the right level
I've found the best packaging design examples know where they sit within their retail category and don't have to try too hard to shine. Let's take a ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘best’ tiering system. Each tier has its set tone on shelf and often a price point that is relevant to the target consumer. When a 'good' product or brand tries to target the ‘best’ level of the tiering system by using cues that attempt to elevate it, but the product isn’t of that level - consumers will recognise this and will subsequently give the brand a wide birth. In turn their confidence in the product and subconsciously, your brand has been compromised - thus damaging any future relationship that the consumer may have with your brand.
5. Proof read and legal checks prior to print
Typos, misspellings and a failure to display the correct information on pack can ruin a consumer’s interaction with your brand and more importantly their confidence. I can't stress enough how important it is to ensure you are displaying all the right information on your packaging. It is essential to undertake the appropriate due diligence as to what the legal requirements are to be included within your design. A good designer will be able to guide you based on their experience but the accountability is invariably on the brand owner to ensure all the legal areas, spell checking and on-pack information are approved for the final packaging artwork.
Ultimately all of these mistakes can be easily avoided if you’re aware of them from the outset of your design journey. Any good packaging designer will be able to step you through all of these issues and make sure they are avoided, or you can have these tips up your sleeve to help deliver your optimum branded packaging designs.