Packaging is critical to a new product's success, and designing it involves a clear process, from research to prototyping and the final roll-out of production. Designing packaging for a new product involves choosing the form of the packaging and the type of materials it is made up of. It requires the application of fonts, colours and graphics.
Packaging is both a practical necessity and a marketing tool. A good packaging design should incorporate both of these elements.
1. Understand Your Brand and Your Audience
Your packaging is an extension of your brand. It should capture the essence of your brand values. This packaging design process is about refinement. You're looking at all the things that go into your brand identity and finding a way of expressing them graphically.
Essential brand elements include colours, fonts and logo. However, you must also consider the type of images and layout you might use and how all these things will work for your target audience. You need to know who you're aiming for your product to designing the packaging that will appeal most effectively to them.
Who's buying your product, and how are they buying it? If, for example, your target audience is overwhelmingly male, how might this impact your design choices? Where it will be on sale is also important. Packaging that needs to stand out from the competition on a supermarket shelf will be different to packaging that needs to catch the eye in a specialist store.
2. Brainstorm Design Elements
Taking your research on board, now you should come up with a list of the design elements you could incorporate into your packaging design. Creating a mood board of colours, textures, moods and different inspirations can help here. Put the customer first. This is who you're designing your packaging for. How do the design elements on your list relate to your target audience and their needs and aspirations?
With packaging design for new products, you should also consider the type of packaging alongside its design. Packaging materials can have a significant impact on the final look and feel of your product's packaging. You want them to enhance the effect of the design rather than detract from it.
Consider the product and the most appropriate packaging for it, but also think about the competition. If your competitors use one type of packaging, can you differentiate yourself in the market by finding an alternative?
Keep your concepts realistic. Your packaging should be cost-effective for you and accessible for your customers.
3. Draft Your Design Concepts
After the brainstorming phase, it's time to narrow down your list to something practical and workable. The key elements on your short-list should act as the launchpad for your different design concepts. This will be a process of submission, assessment and refinement, and it requires patience and concentration. It may be that something leaps out at you early on or that you find you must work through multiple ideas until you find the one that works.
4. Test Your Designs and Collect Feedback
Is it clear from your packaging design what your product is, and will the packaging be an honest representation of it? To reach these answers, you can carry out market research on your design concepts with your target demographic. Print out images and use them with a list of questions for your research audience to answer.
From the Feedback you gather, you can refine your draft design. It would be best to also use Feedback from stakeholders and investors (where relevant) in the refinement process for your packaging design.
5. Create Your Final Mock-up
This should be as close to the finished product as you can get. It should give you a clear, all-round perspective on what your packaged product will look and feel like in a retail environment. Shelf-impact is crucial for new products, and your mock-up must enable you to assess this and see how it appears in 3D rather than as an on-screen design concept.
We also recommend you visit physical stores to see where your product would appear on shelves, so you can gauge how well it will sit with competing products in the real world.
The final mock-up should also give you a good idea of the reproducibility of your design for mass production. Once you're satisfied with the final design, you can prepare for the production phase of getting your product to market. Want to learn more about packaging? Why not read our article on "Understanding smart packaging"?
Need help with your branding and packaging design? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us.