Graphic Designer Tips: Designing Packaging

The graphics displayed on product packaging face tough competition and have to work extremely hard in the notoriously loud visual atmosphere in a supermarket and shopping centre. The packaging has to communicate usefulness and sentiment.

In the first step while developing a new package design, the graphic designer determines the client’s requirements, the message that the design should communicate and its appeal quotient for consumers. The factors that contribute towards the planning and execution of designing include the physical, cognitive, cultural and social elements. This information is gathered by meeting the clients, the creative directors and through research. Effective identification of the consumers’ needs are very significant factors for the development of corporate communication strategies.

Jon Davies, the managing director at Holmes and Marchant, a packaging design consultation firm says that product packaging design has to communicate with the consumers who are always in a hurry. To be effective, the packaging needs to get notices by creating an impression that goes beyond getting the people interested in the product. The packaging also has to create desire and get noticed for the appropriate reasons.

Print design can usually stand alone; however, packaging design is placed right next to its competitors on the store shelves. The graphic designers who work in this segment need to remember that, while they create beautiful designs on their big white backgrounds, the packaging will be placed in a completely different environment. The designers must keep in touch with reality and make sure to check that their designing will work effectively in the factual world.

The packaging design on a product must work efficiently at different levels. At a distance, it needs to have strong impact which can be achieved by using the right colour, illustration, type and icons in the right form on the right materials.

On closer inspection, it has to use the same fundamentals to communicate greater detail about what the product has in terms of a story. These stories can be functional selling strategies such as ‘wheat-free’ or ‘low-fat’, or they can be emotional narratives relating to origin, like ‘pure and fresh milk from cows raised on a small family owned farm’.

The graphic designers who work on packaging are likely to work closely with brand planners and structural designers. Even when packaging graphic designers are working on a completely graphical project, they have structure specialists on the team to help the project develop a broader view. These structure designers have the ability to provide insight about how the substrate, material or fold can be adapted to make the graphic design more effective.