A Guide to Effective Packaging Design – Ben Johnston
Design has a simple goal, to create something that’s worth noticing, encourage people to seek it out and pay just a little more for it, then tell a friend.
Good design starts with a brief, “I’ll know it when I see it” is not a brief. You know your product so have the patience to spend 30 minutes distilling what your product or its brand stands for and what it will not compromise on. This helps a designer build a foundation of knowledge, a base a great design can be built upon. Your product, its origins and the stories it tells need to be put under the microscope. The market needs to be assessed, gaps searched for and the competition examined. Find what makes your product different, what makes it worth talking about.
Few designs please everyone so find some edges, some points of difference and state them proudly. When considering your products brand and packaging, ask what can be added and what can be taken away. Can including less help you convey more? Can packaging be more minimal, or can messaging be refined to the truly important. The cost to refine ideas and explore unconventional paths at the beginning of a project is minimal, the cost for changes at the end is not. Leverage this.
When your presented with design concepts from a creative team, consider them carefully, take your time and be thoughtful and concise in feedback. Speak of feelings, impressions and how you perceive the work. Allow the creative the time and permission to come up with solutions to the elements you don’t like, rather than stating specifically what you want changed. Remember that a design that meets your strategic goals, is positioned correctly in the market and is appealing to the right people is more valuable, than a design that fits your personal taste.
Take the concept to the market, invest in a mockup or short production run and show it to the few people that matter. People in general want to be liked and tend to tell you what you want to hear, this is dangerous. When presenting concepts to retailers and distributors, don’t ask them if they like it. Show them the mockup, speak of costs and timings and then ask will they buy it. If the answer is yes ask them to put it in writing and produce the product you have just sold.
If they won’t buy, don’t accept a vague response, dig in and find the information that will become an asset. Remember that the people you are asking have personal taste too. Taste that may differ from the consumers that matter. So demonstrate your understanding of the market, the value of the product and thoughtfulness of the design, then ask again.
Design concepts can be modified, refined or repositioned and that’s the value of a mockup. Find what changes are required to meet your strategic goal and help your creative partners to understand issues, then have the courage to ask them to find a solution.
You might be delighted with the result.
Ben is the founder of London Studio a creative design agency that helps businesses improve their product sales by designing product packaging and branding that appeals to their target market.
To find out more about Ben and London Studio or to inquire about wine label design visit www.londonstudio.co.nz