Packaging is all around us. Everything you eat and drink, the bag you carry out of the store and the box your purchase comes in all center around packaging.
Bad package design can make you pass by a product that you probably would like and good packaging can make you pick up a product that you might not. Just as in 2D graphic design, packaging works with form and shape, aesthetic and mood. A graphic designer starting out on his or her first packaging might find it a little daunting at first, but here are some good tips to help get you started: Shop around Look at the competition. Go to the grocery or department store and look at the different designs that no only have to do with the product that you’re packaging, but similar products that the client’s target market may purchase. Pick it up and look at it from all angles. Feel the packaging’s texture and notice it’s weight. Place yourself in the shoes of the consumer and note what it is that attracted you to the package and what turned you off. Notice color choice and shape - all of these elements fall into making a package that will appeal to the customer. Know the requirements Most packages are going to be used to sell something. When doing this, many regulations are out there for certain packages especially those in the food and beauty industry. When people are going to be ingesting your product, you want to make sure that everything is clearly labeled. Know the FDA restrictions and take the time to speak to your client about liability. You don’t want to be held responsible if the client says they told you to put a warning on the package, they really didn’t so you didn’t, and now the client is being sued by a customer who injured him or herself. Also, barcodes are very important. If you’re purchasing something, anything pretty much anywhere, it’s going to have a barcode on it. Know the rules. Here are some of them (Poppy Evans, HowDesign.com, Jan. 23, 2008): • Bar codes must be positioned in a spot that is highly visible and easy to scan. • A bar code must be printed at a scale between 85 and 120 percent of its original size. • Bar codes must be printed in a dark color against a solid light-colored background. The contrast between a bar code and its background must be high enough to allow the bar code to be scanned. • Bar codes against a colored field must have a color-free area that extends no less than 3/32 inch beyond the printed bar code. • Have your client provide you with their bar code number. A program like Bar Code Pro will enable you to generate an EPS file to place in your file. Be sure to have it scanned/tested by the client or print vendor before it goes to press. Budget This is important to know with any project, but with packaging especially. When your client wants to wrap the product up, I’m sure they’re looking for the best most innovative package that they’ve ever seen in their life. Hidden pockets, velvet panels, see-through windows and a ribbon on top. Well, their budget might say something a little bit more modest, like… a cardboard box. Knowing the client’s financial limitations up front will allow you to do some research and come up with innovative ideas on how to make a package that is visually appealing that can be constructed out of less expensive materials. Speak to the package printer If this is your first package or your 20th, it’s a good idea to speak to the printer who will be producing your work. Ask them about any limitations that you may not have thought of. Have them go through their list of requirements and ask questions. Have them look at a mock-up of your design so that they can critique it, not necessarily for aesthetic purposes but to see if what you’re doing is feasible and if there are any unnecessary elements that can be removed or replaced while giving the same effect. Also, look at a proof beforehand. If something prints wrong or the color is off, you want to be able to catch it before going into mass production.