Developing Packaging Design That Sells: 12 Design Strategies [Effective Packaging Design]

How to develop Effective Packaging Design that Sells?

At Square44 we love effective packaging design that sells, or in other words packaging design solutions that help our clients sell more products and help ensure your packaging design cost are not expenses but investments in growth.

Developing effective packaging design solutions however is not as easy as 1-2-3. Especially when working with clients who are relatively new to the world of packaging design, the value of investing in packaging design seems not always obvious, especially when it can be done much cheaper with a freelancer.

Packaging is not an art-show and when comparing rates it’s important to compare apples with apples. Effective packaging design is not just about pretty graphics. Effective packaging design solutions draw the eye of the shopper from a far, providing shelf impact and visibility that help your brand stand out among its peers in the category. Effective packaging design has stopping power to disrupt the few seconds your shoppers scan the shelf to auto-pilot-purchase that brand they always buy, to help get you noticed and entered into the consideration set of the shopper. Effective packaging design has the “pick-up factor”, you just want to grab that pack and check it out in more detail. Effective packaging solutions quickly explain the superior value of your product offer, in a crystal clear way and effective packaging design is built around the shopper decision process, highlighting the right elements with the right balance.

And all  that on the size of a postage stamp!

At Square44 we only look at brands through the eyes of its users. We try to ignore what marketers tell us to incorporate (if we don’t believe it adds value for a user) and we’ll try and form our own opinion of what works and doesn’t work in your category – to aid discussion and help challenge and improve briefings. Don’t worry, we’re still very easy people to deal with, but we wouldn’t be much of a consultancy if we would not try to help you get designs that will add most value to your users experience.

In this article we’ll explore some of the strategies that make packaging design effective, from a user’s point of view, to inspire your next creative briefing. For some tips on how to write a perfect and effective packaging design briefing, please check out this guide here.

12 Strategies to get Your Packaging Designs to Sell Better

1. Aesthetics
Let’s start with something obvious. The first impression counts. Does a new design make your brand look outstanding, does it look like something that would look good in my house. Do it want to be seen with this. A nice looking design is a must.

2. Concept Fit 
Not only are we aiming for a pretty design however, design should of course also fit and convey your brand’s superior value message – what makes this product unique, interesting, worth considering, better than competitor products, why should I buy this?

3. Shelf Impact
Getting seen is the first step towards getting sold. When we design new packs, we must assess designs in a shelf context, displayed side-by-side with competition, to ascertain if a design is visible enough to get seen, because getting seen means getting sold!

4. Merchandise Proof
As part of getting seen, don’t only think front of pack. Consider how you are merchandised and ensure that essential information is contained on all sides that might be shown to consumers.

5. Quick & Clear Product Identification
Usually you’ll know what kind of product it is, by looking left and right on the shelf. Products are typically merchandised by category. But in some retail situations, or in some categories it still remains essential to communicate what kind of product it is, to make it clear what we’re buying. Also think of text versus image. As a foreigner living in Thailand, I remember I had great difficulty buying a washing powder for the first time. Packs were completely in Thai, I’m too stubborn to ask for help, so I bought the purple pack. Turned out there are different formulations for hand wash, top loading washing machines or front loading washing machines, result: a foam party on my balcony. Now, don’t only think of foreigners, but also think of consumers that might be illiterate – certainly an issue in some markets in Asia

6. Quick & Clear Variant Identification
– nothing worse then coming home thinking you bought salty crackers and you actually mistakenly bought the unsalty ones. Or thinking you bought a shampoo and then it’s actually a conditioner. Use design to clearly help people differentiate variants.

7. Keep it Simple / Less is More
What is the essential info that a user is interested in. Move all the other things to the back. Eye tracking studies show that simple packs that make effective use of white space and are easy to navigate score very high.

8. An Aesthetically Pleasing Structure
Again aesthetics do matter of course, if the product is similar and I can pick between ugly and pretty.. I’d rather take the pretty bottle..

9. A Functional Structure
I prefer square water bottles, because they don’t roll in my fridge crushing my fruit. Also square bottles stack much easier – how come all water bottle brands are always round? The Heinz squeeze bottle replacing the glass bottle not only helped save material cost – it also helped users get the very last bits of catch up out of their bottle which the glass bottle made impossible. Thus adding more user value via a structure.

10. An Easy-to-Use Structure
Don’t you hate those milk packs with those tear-off lids, that when torn off still don’t open the pack? Those big cans of infant formula that are just too big to grab or impossible to open when you’re carrying your baby with one arm? Or that annoying toothpaste tube, with that sharp little lid that you cut your finger on every morning to start your day off poorly? Ease of use, has many dimensions – placement, opening, closing, dispensing method, dosage control, hygiene etc. We’ll include these for now as part of “easy-to-use structures”. Maybe if enough people are interested, a future article will deal with “effective structural packaging design”

11. Structural Afterlife
Not relevant for all products, but when possible it’s great to develop a shape that allows people to “recycle” your pack and keep it in their house for a bit longer. It might even become a driver for purchase. Especially in kids packaging a nicely shaped pack could become a toy that can be used for different purposes.

12. (Alternative) Usage Instructions
Especially for products that cross over between categories or new innovations that require a bit of education on use. Tell people how the product can or should be used. If it’s a commodity try to find new ways of creating value and suggest tips on how else the product could be used. How many people do you remember that only bought Mentos because it was so much fun to combine it with your soft drink of choice!

Need Some Help Developing Packaging Design Solutions that Sell by Themselves? Get in Touch!

So, there you have it – by all means, not an all-inclusive list as there are many more packaging design strategies that can help you sell more products – if you want to have a talk about that with us, get in touch and we’d be more than happy to have a chat!

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