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5 Package Design Best Practices for Today
To win the attention and trust of consumers in 2022, your packaging designs must consider recent consumer behavior changes.
March 11, 2022
5 Min Read
Solid packaging design should stand out among competitors on retail shelves.Image courtesy of KKStock / Alamy Stock Photo
As more than half of consumers in the US are likely to switch to new products in case the ones they normally use have unsatisfactory packaging, it becomes evident that package design matters quite a bit.
It goes far beyond than just how a brand presents its products — it also shows their consideration for the user experience and how much they understand their target demographic’s pain points.
Here are five best practices that lead to packaging designs that consumers notice on shelves and turns them into loyal buyers.
1. Put your consumers at the heart of your package design.
Your consumers need to instantly understand what your product is all about. Good branding provides momentary education, and the best place to educate your prospective consumers is on your product’s packaging.
Bear in mind that your package design should not be about your brand — it should serve the consumer. When buying a product, consumers care what’s in it for them and how it will help them solve their problems. This basically means your branding and messaging need to be clear, well-defined, and benefits-oriented.
The package’s messaging must be easy to understand and should include aspects that your audience is already familiar with. Specifically, if there are wordings or turns of phrases in your industry that are common, don’t try to reinvent the wheel and change them as it may confuse and alienate the audience accustomed to such language.
It is, however, important to instill a unique personality into your package’s design and messaging. Really, it’s about finding the ideal balance between familiarity and originality that serves your consumers’ needs.
2. Establish and communicate your differential qualities.
What is it that makes your product different from all the similar products your competitors make? How will it stand out against competitors’ products in retail stores? What is your brand message based on?
When brainstorming your package design, ask yourself these questions to define your unique differentiator. This point of difference is absolutely vital for success in today’s oversaturated market with brands competing on a global level — especially with very little to distinguish between them, in most cases.
Think about what makes your brand and your particular product unique and special. Narrow down the list of these things to the most important ones and make sure to display these points of difference loud and clear on your packaging — both visually and textually.
3. Engage consumers with storytelling and shareable content.
An emotional connection with the audience is gaining in importance as Millennials and Gen Z-ers now make up the greater share of total consumer force.
These demographic groups are particularly fond of storytelling — they follow brands that align with their values and take ethical stands into consideration when making purchasing decisions.
Today’s market environment requires brands to elevate their products with more personal and self-expressive packaging, while abandoning safe and corporate positions. A packaging created with storytelling in mind feels more human and satisfies the need today’s users have for transparency and realness.
In relation with stories in branding is engaging consumers in brand conversations. This cornerstone role of modern-day packaging design is best expressed through limited-edition packaging and design that is likely to be shared on social media.
This helps keep consumers engaged, but also paves a way for brand advocacy by extending the package across multiple digital touchpoints. A lush, distinct, and flexible language that seamlessly exists on multiple media is a must for engagement-centric packaging.
Think of it as designing your visual alphabet that speaks to your specific audience via any channel. Color, illustrations, typeface, and photos that tell a story provide your product with an ability to speak a consistent language on multiple platforms.
4. Make your package design future-proof.
Launching a product and finding its space in the huge and unforgiving market is a long and costly process. Therefore, making your package design immune to changes that the future holds is instrumental for keeping your investments stable and lucrative.
When designing your product design, think about your entire repertoire that’s still in the pipeline — and your portfolio of past works. Right from the get-go, your package design should be a part of your wider visual portfolio strategy so that your brand can maintain continuity while creating design variations down the line.
Packaging that embodies the brand’s personality, values, and purpose — that has captivating and reassuring visual language — is packaging that has prioritized its future. Also, it is important to keep the fingers on the industry’s pulse and observe any emerging design trends that may arise.
To be able to translate into future sales and consumer engagement, the package design has to:
• Embrace eco-friendliness and sustainability;
• Tell a story of a product;
• Anticipate the consumers’ changing habits;
• Eliminate any potential usage/package opening difficulties;
• Be cohesive and consistent with your overall branding.
5. Be daring and creative with your copywriting.
As we’ve touched upon in the first segment, package design is not just about visuals. The copy, messaging, and text are integral parts that contribute to how a consumer perceives a product.
A recent trend in package design has been gracing it with more casual, creative copywriting to inform and elevate the brand’s personality — and communicate more successfully with younger demographics.
This relaxed, conversational copy trend will surely continue in the years to come. Paired with empathy, clarity, and spatial awareness for fonts, they create the ingredients for effective packaging copywriting.
Consider customer-centric package design takeaways.
While “evergreen” principles of package design remain the same, no matter the industry and vertical (such as attractive and on-brand colors, quality print, and satisfactory font size), as consumer behavior changes, so must certain design considerations.
In 2022, consumers are faced with a wider array of choices than ever before. Their attention spans are shorter, expectations are higher, and their life values guide their purchase decisions.
To resonate with such a consumer mindset, contemporary, cutting-edge packaging design must adhere to these best practices: being customer-centric, uniquely positioned, and engaging in a future-proof and daring guise.
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