Thursday, 17 June 2010

The importance of good Packaging Design


by G3 Creative, based in Glasgow, Scotland UK.

The egg has long been considered nature’s perfect packaging even prompting British TV chef, Delia Smith, to describe it as:

“A work of art, a masterpiece of design, construction, and brilliant packaging”.

In the last couple of years the graphic design team at G3 Creative in Glasgow have noticed that the food packaging landscape has changed and is still evolving due to the awareness of climate change and global foot prints. With many consumers now requesting less packaging, and complaining when items are over packaged such as the ongoing case with a particular item from a large well know supermarket, many consumers now want packaging, which is more ecologically friendly and opting for locally produced food products. That said almost all manufacturers realize how important a role that good packaging design plays in the marketing of a product. The packaging should not only protect and secure the product. But just as importantly be an extension to a company’s marketing strategy and play a direct link between the brand and the consumer.

It is estimated that shoppers on average will spend just a few seconds scanning shelves in a supermarket and in that few seconds your design has got to STAND OUT from the plethora of similar products all vying to be picked up, inspected and bought. Companies realize that the success or failure of their product rests in part on the skill, knowledge and talent of the packaging designer.

The first stage of the design process as always is understanding the “design brief” from the client, this should provide information regarding the product, it’s target audience, the products competition, the volume the pack needs to hold. It is also necessary to know at this early stage the budget and quantity as both will play a large role in determining how the pack is produced. The client may also direct you to their printer, who will supply you with any nets’ (templates) for the packs.

Having agreed upon objectives and time sales, making sure you have scope to work in any changes along the route, and always keep control of the design integrity right from the word go, as often the client will try to hijack or impose their preconceived ideas, which will often lead to a poor end result.

Grab your mobile phone or preferably your digital camera, some petty cash and loiter around a few supermarkets. Take images of the competitors’ packs on the shelf.
This will not only help the design team back at the office. But will also be useful for presentation purposes as you can Photoshop in your new packaging visuals along side the competition. Think about what would differentiate your client’s packaging from the competition. Purchase samples of the competitors’ packs to let the design team have a closer look.

Sit down with the design team and list the order of the points you wish to get across: The brand, Selling message, (keeping it consistent with the corporate brand strategy)
Product name, Product image and Support copy such as ingredients/bar code. The new design should stimulate a purchase, increase brand recognition and stand out in the crowd. It has to achieve all this quickly and concisely.

Multiple products under the same brand should always be consistent and be easily recognizable when planning the design keep in mind that the consumer responds to clarity, colour, shape,brand name and image/illustration.

Draw up in Macromedia Freehand or Adobe Illustrator a net of the proposed pack shape and do a mock-up making sure the pack opens easily, closes and is easily carried. Contact your packaging printer to discuss the project and budget. He is a valuable resource for advice on paper or other substrates you wish to print onto such as recyclable, re-usable, etc... He will also make you aware of any new print innovations or trends. Packaging has a bit more limitations than that of conventional printing, so the printer can also supply with technical advice on repro and file compatibility. It is always a good idea to involve your printer at every stage of the design process to be sure that nothing unforeseen happens at the last minute.

Contact a professional photographer/food stylist or illustrator to discuss the style of photography/illustration you are looking for, which can be used on the front of the pack designs.

Work up in a drawing package such as Freehand/Illustrator colour schemes by using colour theory and colour psychology, which will be sympathetic to the product and will work well with the brand identity for instance certain colours can convey different emotions and that is why colour is very useful for linking certain types of products with a brand e.g. gold and dark green usually signifies quality, warm colours like red, orange, yellow are linked to hot food and so can be seen in many convenience food packs.

Layout your design incorporating the brand, new image, copy which should be kept to a minimum by using graphic symbols instead. Place onto the net you created earlier and make up a set of mock-ups, as designs always appear different when they’re translated from 2D to 3D, checking the artwork is aligned properly and everything looks as it should. Create several packs and group them so you have an idea of what the shelf presence will be like. Make changes if necessary, then check both brief and visuals together to make sure that all the criteria has been met prior to submitting your proposals to the client. If everything looks good then don’t just present your designs in isolation but go back to your supermarket digital images of the competition, take images of your new design and incorporate both making sure it has the impact you want.

Its always good to make yourself a check list that you can use, which will contain the name of products, EAN13 bar codes and Pantone references that relate to each pack. This will also let you see all the colours in the range together.


Present your new designs to the client for sign-off, prior too moving to the finished artwork stage.

At the artwork stage it is important to have all the copy and bar codes (generated in Barcoder) double checked and files should be checked in Flightcheck prior to sending to your packaging printer.

You see samples of packaging design and learn more about pack design by visiting http://www.g3creative.co.uk