When a person is doing their weekly shop, their mind is often on autopilot, picking up the goods they usually purchase without much thought. So the challenge for packaging designers who want people to buy their product instead of their regular option is to shake them out of their ennui and grab their attention.
In this sense, product packaging performs much the same function as an advert on the television or on a poster – it has to make its presence felt and tell people in a concise and easily understandable way exactly what an item is. So if you’ve invested in an automatic labeling machine, what should you do to ensure your product packaging achieves these outcomes?
Don’t get too clever
Product packaging needs to be simple and straightforward, so shoppers will know in just a few seconds exactly what it is. They won’t take the time to stop and take a close look in order to find out what’s inside the packaging – they’ll just move on to the next item on the shelf. So don’t get too elaborate with your words and images. Aside from being off-putting to the customer, any unnecessary features inevitably push up costs, both for the manufacturer and the customer.
Speak to the customer clearly
A person’s eyes will pick up on the name of the product and the company name and logo, so these should be prominently displayed on the front of the packaging. Remember the basic principles of advertising and tell your audience who you are and what you do. These are the key pieces of information you want to put across in those first few seconds, so make it count. With clarity and immediacy in mind, don’t go for any hard-to-read typefaces and make sure they are large enough to read from a reasonable distance. And if your brand logo is easily identifiable and well-known, it doesn’t hurt to place this up front either.
Pick an appropriate colour scheme
When a person becomes familiar with an item, they can often recognise it just from the colour alone. This is particularly true when it comes to different flavours of crisps, and chocolate manufacturers such as Cadbury’s and Galaxy. So brands have a choice of either sticking with the established order and hoping people feel that warm sense of familiarity, or going in a new direction and standing out a mile in this way. Regardless of which option you go for, you should try to stick to a relatively simple colour scheme, as too many colours aren’t easy on the eye – and of course they push up the cost of producing packaging – and you don’t want to have to pass this on to the customer.
Packaging should be a sensible shape
There’s no reason why brands can’t be creative when it comes to choosing the shape for their product packaging, but sometimes there is no point going for something outlandish just for the sake of it. It all depends on what the actual item is, and brands need to remember that packaging is not only there to stand out on the shelf, but also to protect the item, make it easy to move from place to place and hopefully make it last for longer. With these objectives in mind, unusual and innovative shapes can sometimes be counterproductive, so make sure whatever you go for is appropriate for the item and those who are likely to buy it. Ultimately, being practical and easy to use means more to shoppers than whether or not it looks nice.