Now you’ve got to come up with some truly killer packaging to seal the deal and make sure the consumer picks your product off the shelf. Packaging is itself a product—one that introduces what’s inside, protects it, displays it, and does so much more. Here are five reasons why you should care about—and invest in—your packaging.
1. Packaging Is Practical
At heart, packaging’s primary job is to physically protect your product. And, depending on what the item is, it’s also a security aid for your retailers to protect against theft. As you’re developing your packaging, think about the retail channels where it’s going to live. Many retailers have very specific requirements. Ask yourself, “Does your packaging require a special kind of rack or pegboard to improve the display and keep things neat?
Remember, packaging is a separate physical object that must be manufactured. Keep these packaging considerations in mind, as cost can soon escalate. Does it require multiple parts? Custom moulds? Can you scale it up or down? And don’t forget the outer packaging you’ll need to get your products from factory to market—the packaging around your packaging.
2. Packaging Is Visual
You can’t underestimate the importance of “shelf impact.” Your product is in a head-to-head battle against all the other products in your category. Your packaging design is what will first attract buyers to your product on the shelf, and it’s what they’ll remember when they walk away. Attractive, high-quality packaging communicates high-quality product. Packaging that looks like it belongs in the Apple store rather than the Pound Shop can massively effect perception and add value the product. You often hear people say, ‘I love Apple’s packaging; it’s so minimalist.’ It may look minimalist, but, packaging like takes a huge amount of design time and equal production effort – in reality, a lot of workers assembling and hand-gluing the packs in a distant land. Making simple look great is an art in itself, but it is not a cheap route.
3. Packaging Is Informative
Packaging is an information-delivery system: it tells your prospective buyer, “This is what I am, and this is what I do.” This might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Don’t leave people guessing as to what your product does and how it works—people shouldn’t have to work hard to get at your message.
The copy on your packaging should be both informative and brief. On most packaging you won’t have a lot of space to work with, and even if you do, in our low attention span, 140-character culture, people want information delivered quickly and simply.
4. Packaging is Narrative
We don’t just value products; we value the stories that go with them, partly because of what those products and stories say about us as individuals. The iPhone’s packaging conveys simple, spare, sleek, and modern—if you buy one, that tells the world that you too are modern, hip, and design-oriented.
Your packaging gives meaning to your product beyond just what it does, and it also offers the opportunity to be an extension of your values. For example, if what you’re selling is eco-friendly, bring that into your packaging by using recycled or post-consumer-waste material—and by calling attention to that fact in your copy.
5. Packaging is Emotional
Shopping—even if it’s done online—is an emotional process that’s ultimately about decision-making. Packaging can provide the emotional connection that jolts shoppers to choose your product over one that’s more familiar. The elements in your packaging design—colours, textures, materials, and word choice—all help to create a mood. They evoke feelings. Be strategic and use that to your advantage. Take colour, for example. People’s associations with colour are very personal, but there are some generalities psychologists have observed with regard to colour and emotion. Red gets our blood pumping with excitement. Blue is peaceful (or sad). Orange communicates trust and value, and yellow can be agitating. Learn the basics of colour psychology and apply them to the choices you make around packaging.