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avoid mistakes and pop off the shelf with these product packaging design tips

Buy me! Buy me! Buy me! A products‚Äô packaging is your ‚Äėsilent salesman‚Äô.

Good packaging design will be one big call to action. It will help small brands compete against large brands.
Eye catching product packaging can have a massive effect on sales and even reduce promotional costs. Give your products loads of glittering goodness with these 7 Product Packaging Design Tips. Having an edge to stand out on shelf and online comes down to the simple decisions.



Every square millimetre of the design area is vital real estate. It is an opportunity to reach out and connect the brand with the consumer. A lifelong relationship with the customer can develop from this single opportunity.

The size of this space impacts on what can be included in the design. Before thinking about picking up a pencil or mouse to start designing, decide on the design direction. This direction is the connection point for the product brand, packaging design and all related marketing material from the website through to the tradeshow banner.

To find the best direction or pathway, you need to know what are the triggers, the ‚Äėpain points‚Äô, for the consumer. Initially its important to understand the product background. Be clear about:

  • ¬†The product story: how it has come the current situation?
  • ¬†What are the successes and failures of the product to date?
  • ¬†Brand/product values: what is the longterm vision?

Then, get to know your consumer. Knowing the trigger for the pain point means becoming intimate with your consumers concerns. Walking in the shoes of your core consumer is the best way to understand their needs, wants and triggers. Your target audience will often have an issue with their current product. It may be a personal issue. Or they may be influenced by external sources like media, opinions of family, friends or colleagues. ¬†Dive further into your target audience triggers with my easy to read 5 Steps Forward¬†in my blog ‘Effective Packaging Design: 5 Step Process‚Äô.

There is no doubt a loyal customer is very valuable indeed.¬†That moment when a consumer purchases your product for the first time, could be the moment¬†they become a loyal customer for life.¬†I know, a LOT of time, money and planning goes into getting a product to market. It all comes to fruition when your¬†product reaches the retailers shelf, trying to standout and waiting to be the ‚Äėchosen one‚Äô.

And THEN it happens ‚Äď a person scans the shelf,¬†something gets there attention¬†and then there is that ‚Äėoh what‚Äôs that?‚Äô moment.¬†That split second when¬†they really see WHAT the product packaging is ACTUALLY saying to them.¬†It has POPPED OUT of all the other products on the shelf, they pick it up,¬†quickly read it and choose to purchase.

That moment of attention can turn into YEARS of purchasing the product. YEARS of loyalty to the brand. Loyalty will insulate your brand from competitive forces. It can decrease promotional activities. Brand loyalty can create a willingness to try your other flavours or variants. And a willingness to pass on their loyalty to friends, work colleagues and more often to their sons and daughters. Many of the brands young adults purchase are from the habits of their childhood.

Remember it is easier to retain an existing customer than find a new one so implement these product packaging design tips.


7 Product Packaging Design Tips

These product packaging design tips will lead you in the right direction, inspire the design and give you years of value.

Product packaging should not be influenced by what is the latest design trend (vintage, retro or flat view) trends come and go just as quickly. It should not be influenced a quirky personal preference, a nostalgic idea from your youth, your child’s opinion or your dogs favourite colour. Beautiful simple streamlined packaging is, well… attractive and often wins awards, BUT it does NOT mean sales will increase. A solid strategic plan will help to give your product packaging the design edge required for longevity.


Product Packaging Design Tip #1: Make The Most Of The USP

Embracing the Unique Selling Point (USP) for any brand is my number one product packaging design tip. No matter the product, the USP is the key factor for purchasing your product. The USP offers the customer something unique to the category. It will fulfil a need and be a solution for your core consumer.

BotanicES is a natural skincare range which utilizes coffee bean extract to reawaken skin. It is scientifically proven, formulated to deliver results, Australian¬†made plus it is natural. Loaded with other goodness¬†the¬†key USP¬†is that this is ‘natural caffeine infused skincare’. The beans are¬†sourced from a coffee¬†farm in the Byron Bay hinterland.

The design emphasises the USP with watercolour illustrations of coffee beans floating delicately over the labels.¬†Whilst revamping the botanicES label¬†designs it was evident the brand (logo design) needed to also embrace the USP. The brand design changes are minor. They help the consumer understand¬†and connect with the product USP ‚Äď instantly.¬†Whilst remaining recognisable to the existing customer base¬†the brand and packaging has had an¬†evolutionary, not revolutionary, update.

The brand design changes are minor but much more appealing. All elements of the design help the consumer understand and connect with the product¬†USP ‚Äď instantly. All products are now clearly Australian Made & Owned, I developed symbols for each of the 5 product benefits, certified organic¬†ingredients and proven clinical trials is¬†front and centre on specific products. Each product highlights a value proposition for the consumer. For example¬†‚Äėanti-aging Eye Cream‚Äô and ‚Äėbrightening Vit C Serum‚Äô are relevant for the target audience, 40+ females Australian and Chinese.¬†Whilst remaining¬†recognisable to the existing customer base,¬†this brand has had an evolutionary not revolutionary update.



Product Packaging Design Tip #2: Show Off Your Benefits

A brand with a social conscious is no doubt highly attractive to many consumers. A social movement like supporting Food Bank, Fair Trade or Endeavour Foundation are the types of positive brand associations you should aim for.

If you can’t align your brand with a social movement then you might look at being connected with a dietary movement. Australian Certified Organic (ACO) is the most valuable certification for many Australian food products. Other dietary concerns are Coeliac, Paleo or Vegan.

Usually aligning with a food movement will be more powerful than general products benefits ‚Äď but there is no rule here. Find the pain point for your¬†customer and tailor your product communication to be their solution. Don‚Äôt confuse these food movements with product benefits.¬†A product benefit is an¬†endorsement that EITHER supports the USP or engenders a sense of reassurance about the quality of the product.


Emotional impact is critical to connecting with the consumer and creating a sense of reassurance. It may come from a social movement, a food movement or product benefits such as these:

  • Dietary: Lo GI, Heart foundation Tick, Health Star rating, Vegan Certified, Gluten/Dairy/Sugar/Preservative/Additive free
  • Animal Treatments: Humane Choice, Free Range, Ethical Fishing, RCPCA, Palm Oil Free
  • Societal: Ausbuy, Australian Made, Ethically Sourced, Fair-trade, Family Company Owned.

You may also have secured an award and that too can be a product benefit that is valuable to consumers.

Laws relating to claims change from time to time so be sure to check out whether your product benefit are not misleading. Complying with the Food Standards Code will keep you out of trouble.


Product Packaging Design Tip #3: In Good Form

Delivering your product to the retailer and the¬†consumer¬†in one piece is obviously paramount. The form and function of the structural product packaging is¬†primary.¬†Start by looking at the pro‚Äôs and con‚Äôs of the¬†bottle, jar, pouch, bag or box.¬†Make a list ‚Äď think closures, recyclability, actual and perceived size,¬†transport impacts,¬†merchandising display,¬†visual appeal,¬†cost and space for your design¬†communication.¬†These aspects are crucial to product sales.¬†Your¬†list should include the exact space you have to work with ‚Äď hopefully it‚Äôs a ‚Äėpro‚Äô!

Here’s a great example of creative yet functional packaging, three key factors influenced the structural packaging design:

  1. A window was required for the product to be touched prior to purchase
  2. The box can be displayed standing or on a hanging merchandising system
  3. Box was designed with a light weight, recylced card which supports the brand values.




Product Packaging Design Tip #4: Standout In A Crowd

Researching your competition is a key aspect of launching a new product in the market. Before I started designing the Purely Nutz peanut butter brand and packaging I reviewed the category.

As a commodity product, I found it would be sitting beside large brands such as Kraft, Bega and home brands Coles and Aldi. These have a ‚Äėcopycat’ style brand image. Sanitarium, Woolworths and Pics use the ‚Äėpaper bag‚Äô stereotype to depict that this is a natural product. A smaller competitor Ridiculously Delicious also needed to be considered ‚Äď as a natural product they are a direct competitor. My research identified that a yellow, blue and red colour scheme dominated the category. Great news‚Ķ there is an opportunity to use colour to stand out in the crowd.


The labels were designed to catch the consumers eye by owning a colour in the category. This is a great way to get attention. This dominant colour black is very new to the category but it provides the difference and attitude we were seeking. The brand design set the tone with a concept totally different to what was on shelf. The goal of the graffiti style brand was to appeal to a range of ages. Competitor brands were missing this underserved niche. The labels were designed to have a conversation, a fun dialogue with the consumer via the product names ‚Äď Crunchy Chunks and Oh So Smooth.

Product-packaging-design-tips-purely-nutz-brand-labelsThe research also identified another gap ‚Äď a ¬†lack of flavoured peanut butters. With the product concept we launched with a range¬†contemporary¬†natural¬†flavours. It was easy to continue the conversational style¬†concept which¬†rolled out onto new¬†variants.¬†These elements¬†became the foundation of the design¬†concept. There versatility could then be transferred into other marketing material.


Product Packaging Design Tip #5: Deliciousness Gets Attention

Beautiful packaging is lovely but it does NOT mean sales will increase. Consumers are more likely to purchase the product if it fulfils their needs. Think about what is important to the consumer. Often product sales will benefit from offering a serving suggestion or displaying flavours. Whatever the imagery it needs to ENTICE the potential consumer.


Quality photography or illustrations are crucial to a good first impression. Never use amateur images. If you cannot afford professional photography there are plenty of stock libraries to purchase images from at a low cost. If you have an unusual ingredient then a professional photoshoot may be more valuable than the cost of the shoot. With the Lifestyle Oils from Pressed Purity we chose to show the product in a familiar situation using clear, contemporary and tasty photography.


Product Packaging Design Tip #6: Cost Saving Alternative

Compromise, wise decisions and investing appropriately in packaging may require you to think outside the box. If you are on a tight budget, the skills and knowledge that come with professionally designed product packaging may be out of reach. You might be very creative or have a good eye for design but not know what your legal obligations are.

If this is you, then you may find you can design your own labels if you have a bit of a guide. Have a look at my label templates. Save thousands and feel confident knowing your labels will be compliant with Australian and New Zealand regulatory guidelines.

All these designs were made from just one template. Adjust the design to suit any product. Each template collection comes with 4 legally compliant layout formats and sizes, plus they are easy to edit for ANY product.



Product Packaging Design Tip #7: Stage The Costs 

Do you have the kind of package that is very expensive to print on? Like a pouch, steel canister or custom box? If you are you finding the cost is too prohibitive, you have 2 options.

1. Try printing directly onto the substrate, overseas in a country like China. The main issue you will strike is the requirement to order a large quantity. Nevertheless this is an option, call me if you need a print contact.

2. Print labels first and plan for more expensive packaging in the future. A well designed label can save you thousands. It can also give you a trial run, for a much lower investment, to really nail what works for your product.




1. OVERLOAD: Trying to squeeze too much information on the front facing ‚Äď its not a brochure

2. YUK!  No taste appeal = no visual connection (or low taste appeal with poor quality images)

3. WHAT? A brand name that is hard to say and hard to remember

4. *SQUINTING*  Text is too small to read without glasses

5. REALLY?¬† Irrelevant or inauthentic promises ‚Äď claims need to be valuable to the consumer and also true

6. OUT OF DATE¬† Trendy design styles don’t last a long time ‚Äď usually 2-3 years but really you want 5-7 years out of the design.

7. LOOK¬† , Often the logo/brand design is presented to the client at a nice size but what does it look like on your packaging when it’s much smaller? Is too complicated for the print size on pack?



Sure, price is always going to influence the sale of a product. But implementing these product packaging design tips can greatly impact on sales. Whether converting a new customer to your brand or securing a repeat purchase pattern, the emotional connection to your brand is vital to success. Consumers use their emotions to evaluate brands. They are influenced by personal experiences, values, age, income level and many other demographics. EVERYTHING about the way the product is presented should fulfil the needs and desires of the core customer.

Once you can define exactly what the customer WANTS from your product make sure the design communicates this clearly. Appeal to the heart of your core consumer and speak the language they can relate to. Finding your target market pain points and making a connection via the design.

Whether your product is available internationally, locally in big supermarkets, small independent retailers or even the local markets, the competition is fierce.¬†A product that stands out with a solution to a problem CAN grab consumers attention and remember once that happens, a ‚Äėnew‚Äô customer can become a¬†‚Äėloyal‚Äô customer and THEN the golden ticket‚Ķ a ‚Äėrepeat customer for life‚Äô.



Ok so now you are across all 7 product packaging design tips you are ready to get started. I recommend first getting quotes for your structural packaging. These are my preferred suppliers:

Food Grade Packaging: Cospack, Plasdene Glass-Pak, Contapak

Flexiblie Compostable Packaging: PA Packaging Solutions

Boxes and Cartons: The Custom Boxes, Platypus Graphics, Printing Blue

Cosmetic Packaging: Synergy Pack, Body Lotions & Potions

Mixed/Foodservice: Green Pack, Bio Pak

Pouches: Coffee Bags, Wests Packaging, Standup Pouches.

If you enjoyed this article you may also like to check out our article on product marketing ideas.




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