Unless a consumer already has knowledge or experience on the quality of a product, they must be drawn into the experience visually. We are all attracted initially, whether we’d like to admit it or not, by the commanding attention of a good, or bad packaging design. While the importance of a great logo plays a big part, the effective implementation of visually appealing and striking design through packaging has an immeasurable impact on prospective customers.

The importance of packaging both in person at the point of sale or via photography on a website or in print cannot be underestimated. A package that is well designed and even interactive, mirroring its branding and digital platform will stand out from its competitors every single time. First impressions are everything. Packaging a product is a way of putting the best possible face forward to potential customers when they encounter a product or brand for the first time.

To put this critical aspect in perspective, it is estimated that shoppers on average will spend just a few seconds scanning shelves in a store or online. In those few seconds, they will make a decision that determines whether they will buy a certain product. Because of this fact, the design has to stand out from the similar products that crowd the category.

Market testing for multiple designs can be conducted or focus groups brought in for a company to determine the success or failure of their product. Much of this rests on the skill, knowledge and talent of the packaging designer.

A well-designed package should always reflect the product use and the personality of the company. For example, if a company is eco-conscious has a modern aesthetic, then the packaging should be recyclable, perhaps with 100% post-consumer waste, soy-based inks and reflect a commitment to innovation and stewardship. Originality always wins the day, but being aware of marketplace trends is of utmost importance.

A team that goes out into the field and does the research – taking photos and conducting competitive analysis will provide perspective to differentiate from the pack. With analysis in hand, a team can begin the design process by putting together a brief that includes information about the target audience, competition, pack count, price point, copy, and tonality. Establishing these guidelines and objectives along with a realistic time frame for design and production, making sure you have scope to work in any changes along the route – will help to keep control of project integrity from the beginning through to delivery.

Moving forward, the process of printing and creating die lines is an art itself. Sourcing appropriate materials and establishing a relationship with a quality printer can be a winding road. Of the many things to take into consideration when creating a package is the protection, it offers to the product. A package can look visually appealing, however, if it can not stand up on store shelves, it fails to do the job it was intended to accomplish. From the form of the package to the materials that are used, the functionality cannot be overlooked for aesthetic return – they must work hand in hand to deliver a desirable outcome.

Much like simplicity in web design, the consumer has a desire to get the information as quickly and concisely as possible. If they have to work for it, they will move to the product package that does a better job of telling its story. It may begin by attracting attention, but if the user is not clear, the design has failed. Companies are in the business of selling through a product and getting reorders, not just selling a product and letting it gather dust on shelves.