Packaging can have a profound effect on both a brand’s sales and a company’s profitability. It is a brand’s touch point and the last point-of-sale opportunity. With so much riding on packaging, it may come as a surprise that many fundaments of package design are often overlooked, even by seasoned package designers. Below are common oversights.
Shipping and storage are not the most glamorous aspects to package design but it is here where one most often finds either money left on the table or money spent that need not be. It’s a matter of shape. Naturally, square and rectangular shapes pack, ship and store with more efficiency than non-rectangular shapes. Designers often ‘think outside the box’. The truly gifted designers are highly creative while thinking very much inside the box. If one is going to ignore a standard shape, it helps to have not just a creative reason to do so, but a business one, as well.
Many package designers/engineers and even companiesthemselves determine packaging costs by the price per package unit. What is often overlooked is the cost of labour when using a particular package. In some circumstances, a paper based container for, say, ice cream, may cost a few cents less than a plastic container. But the paper is often shipped flat. So at the customer’s facility, these flat packages have to be prepared to the 3D real world. This takes both man-hours and machinery and many companies have not quantified those costs. It’s not hard to see how paper packaging costs can easily exceed the costs of ready-for-production plastic containers. Savvy designers often turn to packaging production companies to find ways to make sure their design makes economic sense as well as design sense.
One of the most common over sights is scan design. By that we mean how the packaging appears not just at eye level, but when it is at floor level or top shelf level. Great design takes full advantage of the three dimensional qualities of the package and integrate it with their labeling. There is fierce competition at the shelf level and a designer must take into account many possibilities that can happen, from being at eye level, being at the floor or top shelf level or being promoted on an end aisle display. Experienced packaging production companies can offer insights and tips that can help a design go from good to great. With 70% of packaged goods decisions made at point-of-purchase, the importance of package design cannot be over stated.
With today’s consumers, packaging impact on the environment is becoming increasingly important. And consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated about recycling. Most recognize that there is ‘good plastic’ and ‘bad plastic’. The same is true for paper. there is ‘good paper’ and ‘bad paper.’ While conventional wisdom might have you still believing paper is more environmentally-friendly than plastic, that is often not the case. Consider the “paper” container often found with ice cream products. In reality, that paper has a wax coating and no one has the technology to separate the wax from the paper. The result? That ‘environmentally-friendly’ package ends up in a landfill site. Who is the most up-to-date on changes to packaging materials and their environmental implications? The packaging producers who turn great design into real world realities.
There is nothing like a real world test to determine the viability of a package design concept. What many designers and corporations do not realize if that it is often as economical to produce a prototype as it is to create a 3D model. The 3D model gives you a good look at the package product, but they often have to be handled with kid gloves. With a prototype, you can give your package design all the handling trials you want to determine true consumer reaction, production line compatibility and actual cost implications. Designers should talk to a progressive package design company and ask about a prototype. A designer’s clients will be happier and the chances of packing success can be greatly increased. To be in the leading edge of package design requires creativity, ingenuity technical expertise and real-world savvy. In some ways it’s like having street smarts in package design. And the people who can bring that to the design table are the ones with boots on the ground: the producers.