How to Design Packaging, A Packaging Series

Shopping bags or retail bags, rigid boxes or gift boxes, e-commerce packaging or cardboard mailers, whatever you call them, they’re the workhorses building retail brands with over 30 years of packaging design and manufacturing. Intl. Direct Packaging has partnered with many of the world’s most respected and trusted brands to deliver retail & product packaging around the globe. Our “How to Design Packaging” series will reveal the benchmarks required to design high-performance packaging.  

Every design solution requires a strategic roadmap beginning and ending with setting expectations. The questions you ask are only as good as the honesty with which you can answer them. Asking why is essential in understanding the intent behind each stakeholder within a company. Is there an excess of marketing dollars that need to be burned, so is that why you’re considering redesigning your packaging? Probably not.

Why Design Packaging?

So why are you embarking on this journey in the first place? Who are you ultimately connecting with, who is this person?

By understanding the “Why” you can reach the “What”. What are your expectations if this packaging is successful? An answer to this question may look like: If we are successful in implementing our packaging system Sharon (persona) will display her packaging as a badge of the sustainability-focused decisions in her life. Sharon will feel she has identified her tribe and will continue to develop a feeling of belonging. The company’s ROI comes in the form of a connection to the consumer, Sharon and many others willing to share their story in person and on social media validate the company’s position and play a role in developing the company – into a brand. 

Packaging plays a significant role in a company’s brand transition. Consumers interact with a company’s packaging when they receive a gift, order online, unbox at home, or even as they shop in-store. Consumers interact with the packaging; they almost always walk out with a retail bag, a gift box, a product with hang tags, a garment bag, or some form of a bag, box, or bottle. 

Who will you design packaging for?

Your company should know their audience, demographic, and a general understanding of the section of the population that your company addresses. Before we begin to design packaging, we need to know whom we’re designing packaging for. Demographics are excellent, but they’re not focused enough. You can’t envision an entire demographic interacting with your packaging, but you can picture Sharon gleaming with tears of joy and anticipation at the small box in the hands of her fiancé as he takes a knee.

Before we design packaging, we need to picture this moment with our packaging and our user persona. Personas are an amalgamation of your current customer’s personality traits, wants, needs, challenges, and objections divided into specific characters. 

If you don’t know whom you are talking to, how will your packaging design connect with them? 

It won’t.

Packaging interactions should feel as if it was designed for your persona as if you were reading their mind and answering each objection along the way. The most effective packaging connects with their consumer, elevates an otherwise mundane experience, opening a box to new heights. The difference between packaging that soars and packaging design that flails is whether you know your audience. 

Stay tuned as our follow up article is the first step in connecting with your audience, How To Create a Persona for Packaging Design.

How to create a persona for packaging design (sneak peek of our next article in this series)

Research. Research. Research.

Speak to your existing audience, find out how they feel about your company or product. Learn from them how your product makes them feel, why they connect with it, and how they talk about it. The research is less about the packaging and more about them and how they think your company fits into their lives. As a company, it’s critical to take an extensive sampling of your current audience to gather information to identify overarching themes from which to build your first persona. Yes, “first” because you will be creating multiple.

We hope you enjoy our “How to Design Packaging” series and follow along as we dissect the design process and walk you through the concept, design, and manufacturing of bags, boxes, and packaging accessories. We look forward to sharing this weekly educational series with you; subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates and new posts.