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11 Essential Tips For Packaging Design Process

Have you heard of the headache-free packaging design process? It seems that there are so many aspects of packaging design that it is impossible even to imagine everything going smoothly. However, there are some tips that will help you to come closer to the desired result.

We will talk about different phases of the packaging design process, starting from preparation/creation to proofing. You would not get approval on the package if the preparation and creative process were not taken seriously. Thus, every step is crucial.

Research the audience

Darts playing board with a dart hitting the central target

We are talking about it every single time when we are talking about any kind of design. This is 90% of the product’s success. You need to provide the value of the product with your packaging. Show that you are solving the problem of the customer and your product does it better than others.

I am a fan of minimalism, but sometimes it is better to add extra details (of course, when it suits the overall design) so you can help to understand the product more.

Divide your responsibilities per “square inch”

the brown earth field to the left and a green field to the right separated with a clear line

We all know how time-consuming the packaging approval process is. When you need to check the whole packaging design, things get more complicated, and the mistake probability grows gradually alongside the time you spend on proofing.

What we suggest is to divide your package into “departments”. For example, an average designer cannot be responsible for the ingredients on the packaging since this is the part of Product Supervisor position. This is the rule for proofing our designs – the decision makes the person from the department who is responsible for the specific area on the artwork. The designer’s responsibility is only to create the design according to the technical task.

What should you receive as a result? You are confident that every part of your packaging is supervised by the right person and you will be notified if something needs to be changed. Then, you can move forward and discuss the final result with the client.

Assign heads for departments

a hand drawing social network

Once we know that every single packaging area is under the strict supervision of the right department, we need to assign one person who is responsible for that department. You should not ask the head of a department to be responsible for packaging approval but create small teams with their Project Manager.

Why do you need that? Once you start proofing the package, you might get tons of edits that might be vague or incorrect. For example, one of the ingredients was requested to be deleted from the package since it was replaced in real life. However, the head of the department double-checked the information and this was not true. As a result, the designer is rescued from the next iteration.

Such a person would be like a Project Manager – the one who is responsible for the output of their department. That would make the packaging proofing process a lot easier and controlled.

Use proofing software and do not use email proofing

Schematic design of Approval Studio design review tool interface

Not only are we against the email proofing process because we have a solution to it but also we know how messy it may be. Emails are not your bros when it comes to design proofing. Missed emails, spam folders, iterations that were sent in different email chains, and many more nightmare scenarios will be following you all the way. We know it as perfect as anyone else. That is why we came up with a solution like Approval Studio.

You may use any proofing software that you like, but you will see the difference right away. Every single action is recorded and reported to you. This helps you to keep track of any changes within the project which will help you internally and externally when communicating with the client.

Also, proofing software streamlines the process of communication around the design. You can discuss the artwork in any part of the world at any time with your teammates or clients. At the same time, everyone can highlight anything that needs to be changed straight on the image. Thus, the proofing process takes a few minutes only.

As a result, your communication is optimized as best as it can be. Organized feedback is the key to the headache-free packaging design process.

Write the story ahead

Wooden puzzles that say "Make plan"

You have an idea? You are brilliant! But you need to make sure you can showcase it later. What I mean by that is you need to brainstorm how you are going to advertise the product – decorations, setting, and colors. Make up the story for the product so it can be understood without saying any words.

Your narrative should be convincing and remarkable. Keep in mind that packaging is crucial, but only its advertising story will make it work the way you need.

Stand out

Carabiners with one of them standing out with orange color

Yesterday I was looking for the washing powder. I used to take only one and the same brand because my mother recommended it. However, I could not find it at a glance among tons of similar packages! Despite the recommendation, the chances are slim I would choose this exact brand occasionally.

There are tons of similar products on the market that are not standing out. I know it is complicated to make up something new in the world where everything has already been made up, but this will catch the customer’s eye. I always appreciate the efforts and try to endorse those products that do not have average packaging. Such items show me that the owners care.

Family appearance

Supermarket shelves with products having family appearance

Keep in mind that the product may have a line of different items. Some stores may divide goods by brand, and it would be strange if one of them is drastically different. We suggest imagining a wall where all of the candidates are placed. How does it look? Is the product packaging you have prepared looking like it is in the right place?

A consistent brand look must be present across the line. This is also the advantage that increases sales, and this is what your client is looking for. Once the client sees you can help with the solution, the other offers from them will be coming soon.

Redesign the “siblings”

Shelves with similarly design product and its design "siblings"

Since we dived into the family appearance part, it is worth mentioning that redesigning other brands’ products would be a great idea.

Any aspect in the market competition is crucial. The appearance of the product is a significant advantage against contenders. The thing is, you only have 8 seconds of a human attention span to catch the buyer’s eye, and this time can be bought by appealing packaging.

Do not be afraid of suggesting the idea to your client. Present advantages of such a move and convince that it is something they will be looking for in the future. The world is moving, so the design trends are.   

Translate a clear message

A green message bubble on the paper-like yellow background

Many brands, when trying to stand out, completely forget about showing value. You need to stand out but do not forget to translate the main idea of the product or brand. This is something the company is associated with during its lifetime.

Also, do not forget to keep it simple. You can express the value in several sentences, and you can do it in several words. The second variant is usually far more preferable. As we’ve mentioned, the time of an average person’s attention span is only a few seconds.

Appreciate nature

Hands photographed from above holding a plant on the greenery background

Once you have made an excellent product packaging, you should think about the materials. Not only is it crucial to make sustainable packaging for the hype, but it really helps our planet breathe easier. Many people appreciate the manufacturers that care about the environment.

Nowadays, people are ready to pay more if that helps our planet. Also, sustainable packaging is safe for customers’ health as well. 

A small tip: use green! This color is eco-friendly and, according to color psychology, it builds trust.

Do not mislead customers

Letter blocks that form a phrase "A lie has no legs" on the white background with the word "lie" highlighted in red

Have you ever seen so delicious meal picture on the menu but so ugly once the waitress brings it to you? I bet you have been in such a situation. I am not sure I will come back there again. The same works for the product’s packaging.

Not only does it affect the customer’s experience with the product but with the brand as well.


Despite the fact that some of the points may seem too far from the packaging design process itself, but they are crucial steps around the whole process. I bet you agree that if the target audience was not adequately researched, the client might receive a design that is invalid for their niche. Thus, your packaging design process was not successful and now becomes a nightmare.

These are not all aspects of the design packaging that will eliminate every single pain in the back in the working process. However, these are the basics that will smoother your workflow and help to find the right direction.

Travis Baker

Travis Baker

This guy knows a lot about branding, have no doubt. He can cover in details everything starting from sports apparel and ending with some Swiss watches or chocolate - whatever you like. A tidbit crazy over sneakers, but nevermind, that's fine for someone who never misses a single football match (please don't call it soccer, otherwise he'll get mad, thank you very much). As well as the rest of the team, very enthusiastic about proofing tools and communication with people.
Travis Baker

Travis Baker

This guy knows a lot about branding, have no doubt. He can cover in details everything starting from sports apparel and ending with some Swiss watches or chocolate - whatever you like. A tidbit crazy over sneakers, but nevermind, that's fine for someone who never misses a single football match (please don't call it soccer, otherwise he'll get mad, thank you very much). As well as the rest of the team, very enthusiastic about proofing tools and communication with people.

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