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6 Questions to ask before starting packaging design

Good packaging protects your product, great packaging protects your brand. This marketing wisdom captures an irrefutable truth which cannot be denied by anyone who is serious about his or her brand. Packaging design is the first line of interaction with the target or prospective customer. Before your prospect sees, uses or experiences your product, its packaging design makes the first impression. Consequently, whether you like it or not, the way you design your pack can make or break your case.

So then how do you design a great pack? The inspiration for that dream pack design doesn’t fall into your lap fortuitously like a dream come true. Getting the packaging design right is an intricate process that blends focused due diligence with seasoned artistic sense. So how and where do you begin the long, challenging but exciting journey of packaging design? By asking the right questions.

What is your product?

No prize for guessing. This is one of the easier and obvious questions to answer. Knowing your product helps. Is your product solid, liquid, or gas? What are its properties? Is your product unbreakable or fragile, heavy or light, large or small? Is it a mass product or a premium one? Is it a serious food product or a fun snack product? For instance, noodles is a
non-serious snack so Zoopy Noodles decided to have some fun with the packaging design.

A fragile product may need more layers of cushion in the packaging. A large or odd shaped product may need custom packaging. A mass product will require a very different packaging design from a premium one, so on and so forth.non-serious snack so Zoopy Noodles decided to have some fun with the packaging design.

What is the product differentiator?

What sets your product apart from the competition? Not only do you need to know your product USP, you also need to be able to highlight it creatively on the pack so the buyer cannot miss it. Afterall, what good is a USP if it cannot be noticed by the prospect on the pack?
For instance, this Sugar Free D’litedoes a good job of highlighting the USPs. Can you spot them easily?

Who is the competition?

It pays to know your competition, their strengths and weaknesses. And in the current context, it pays to know their products, their USP and most importantly, their packaging design. Is your product just being introduced or are you just redesigning the pack? Who is the market leader in the product category? What is the contribution of the packaging design of the market leader product in its being the leader?

Have you identified the global benchmark of packaging design for the product category in question? You get the drift. For instance, checkout the packaging design of Paper Boat and take a guess as to how they revolutionized the fruit beverage packaging.

Who is the target audience?

Is your target audience young, middle aged or old? Are they rich and affluent, middle class or the class below that? Is it men’s, women’s or gender agnostic product? Who is the influencer, the customer or the buyer, and the actual consumer – and as far as your product is concerned – are these the same or different from each other? If they are different, could you create a packaging design that will appeal to all three of them?
And if you had to prioritize among the three, whose attention would you like to grab first? The packaging design for a product whose target audience is a working middle-class urban woman in the mid-30s is very different from a product whose target audience is a rich urban 45 years old housewife of a businessman. Check out the clean packaging of Mr. Smith and try to guess the target audience.

How does your customer buy the product?

How are your customers buying or going to buy your product? Are you going to sell the product in a brick-and-mortar store, online or in a specialized boutique store?
If this is an FMCG product, it is important to study the retail shelf and get a proper understanding of how your pack will stand out when stacked against the competition. If it is going to be sold online then how would you want the product to be delivered to the customer?

What is the brand colour and product portfolio?

Even when you may be designing the packaging for a specific, singular product within the overall product portfolio, it is important to recognize the brand colour palette and understand the colour scheme used in the products across categories.
If this is an FMCG product, it is important to study the retail shelf and get a proper understanding of how your pack will stand out when stacked against the competition. If it is going to be sold online This is important so you can answer whether your design breaks the brand colour palette or the grammar of the pack design across product categories. Whether it is a good idea to break the pattern or not depends on the case in particular, so there is no blanket yes or no. how would you want the product to be delivered to the customer?
For instance, the brand colour of Maggi is yellow in red block. So look at the predominance of yellow and red in the pack. Notice that even the bowl is red.

The HCF Way

At HCF, asking these questions is ingrained in our DNA. Our design team does not put pen to paper until these basic but important questions are answered and understood. In fact, these questions are answered at the early stage of preparing the creative brief that gets shared with the design team. That’s why our packaging design stands out in the crowd.

Do you have a new product for which you are thinking of designing the pack? Or is there a pack that needs redesigning? How about we discuss the creative possibilities over a cup of coffee?

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