Packaging is about more than protecting your product as it moves from your warehouse to store shelves or the hands of your customer. Your packaging is the first impression you make, an opportunity to inform and entice, and a way to stand out from the competition. It’s a medium through which you can compel someone to pick up your product and learn more about your company.

Great packaging can be the first step in acquiring great customers. Here are some fantastic design tips for making an impactful impression on your customers with great packaging.

1. Pay attention to the fit

Before you delve too far into the creative process, prioritize the fit of your packaging. Package fit is a common complaint among snackers who make jokes about paying for air when they buy a bag of chips. Similarly, Amazon has recently faced some backlash about inappropriate box-sizing during the pandemic with single notebooks arriving in boxes that would fit a small television.

There’s more at play than just the contents when choosing an appropriate box shape or size. Shipping considerations and store shelf space are a few overarching concerns. However, customers aren’t privy to the nuances of packaging specs and want to see packaging that fits the contents. 

When a package appears fuller, customers believe they’re getting value for their money. Keep this in mind during the packaging design phase.

impression packaging

2. Make your branding obvious

The next most important thing is your branding. Your logo, color, and general mood all convey the tone and attitude of your business. Making your branding obvious ensures that customers know who you are when they see your product.

There are a few special ways to make your brand names apparent when packaging your goods. Incorporating your brand color scheme into packaging is one way to make an impact. Red Bull, for example, is as recognizable by its silver and blue cans as it is by the image of a red bull. Conversely, Fit Fab Fun boxes come in a variety of seasonal colors, but they all fit the overall brand vibe.

Try to include subtle touches that your customers will appreciate. Work with a designer like Deepking to create tissue paper printed with your logo to show that even the finer details matter to your business. Choose a unique shape that stands out from regular boxes. Tiffany jewelry is known for its iconic blue boxes— what will your Tiffany blue be?

3. Be bold and noticeable

Create creative packaging with the intention of standing out and being noticed. Using bold colors or patterns can set you apart from the competition on a store shelf. Rather than trying to piggyback on the familiarity of well-known brands, set yourself apart with something completely off the wall. There’s a lot to be said for color psychology and planning your packaging colors around industry trends. However, daring to be different is sometimes what you need to catch a new customer’s eye.

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The same idea applies when packaging something for shipping. Boring brown cardboard boxes are blase and overdone. Having a brightly colored, floral printed shipping box will not only create excitement for your customers, but it will pique the curiosity of those who see it during transport.

4. Be minimalist and noticeable

Sometimes the best way to be bold and noticeable is to keep it simple. Minimalist design is having a moment, as savvy consumers aren’t as susceptible to marketing tricks as they once were. A clean, crisp white box with a simple logo and clear typeface often stand out more than complex, eye-catching designs.

If the minimalist look is more in alignment with your brand than something bold and jarring, embrace this trait in your packaging. This approach is also ideal for budget-friendly packaging, as you have the opportunity to invest less time and money in elaborate design schematics and printing. 

5. Handle with care

While the look of your packaging is important, it still has a purpose. Ensure that the packaging you use has the right structure and durability for shipping. Whether your customers buy the product in a retail location or have it delivered to their door, transportation is always a consideration.

Choose packaging materials that maintain the integrity of the product throughout a long journey. Nothing is as frustrating for customers as receiving something they’ve been waiting for, only to find out that it’s broken. In an increasingly remote world, it’s also important to consider transportation in the other direction; you’ll want packaging that can withstand returns.

6. Remember the “Three R’s”

Being eco-friendly is more than a fad; it’s a paradigm shift in how product-based businesses work. Millennials now have the majority of the world’s purchasing power and prefer to shop from businesses with a sustainability plan.

When designing packaging, keep “The Three R’s” in mind: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reduce waste by using recycled and biodegradable products, from the exterior packaging to the padding added within the box for shipping. Create an end product that can be recycled in most areas, free of plastic coatings and hard-to-process materials. 

Finally, think of how your box could be reused. You want your box to be the pretty wrapping paper that no one wants to rip off their present. Make something functional that your customers can repurpose for visible storage or to present birthday gifts when they’re done with it. If it can’t be recyclable, it should be durable and visually stimulating enough to get a second life.

7. Optimize for unboxing

Unboxing is a phenomenon that’s been popularized by YouTube influencers. We live in a society where kids enjoy watching other kids open toys. Parents will discuss how challenging or simple it was to free these must-have toys from their plastic prison. Beauty influencers will start their tutorials and reviews with a drawn-out unboxing of their trending products.

The unboxing trend ultimately benefits the business as well. It’s the ideal form of user-generated content (UGC) to use as a no-cost marketing tool. Unboxing creates hype and viral discussions— the modern form of word-of-mouth marketing.

When you create your packaging, consider how you can make it an interactive experience that is aesthetically pleasing and satisfying to watch. 

8. Think outside the box

People have been using boxes for storage and shipping since the dawn of time. It’s always square or rectangular to make it easier to move. Bottles are bottle-shaped. Canned foods are cylindrical. These shapes and forms have become so commonplace in our everyday existence, that it’s memorable when something breaks the rules of conformity. Therein lies the opportunity for businesses to make an impact.

Think outside of the rectangular box and consider how you can change the shape of your packaging to stand out. Aqua Rose water uses a rose petal shape at the top of their plastic bottles to convey a message while creating a beautiful product. Eos lip balm became such a roaring success by breaking the traditional chapstick mold and offering a trendy, unique egg-shaped package for their product. Hyvee is recognized around the world for its bear-shaped honey containers. What will your shape be?

9. Prioritize the user experience

As much as you want to stand out and be interesting, don’t make the mistake of doing it at the cost of your user experience. While a pyramid-shaped mustard dispenser might look cool, for example, it would be a nightmare to hold and operate. Speaking of mustard, condiments are one notable product that recently saw a revolutionary change in packaging to improve the user experience. Heinz moved beyond their traditional upright bottles to have the dispenser at the bottom so that users would no longer have to fight against gravity at a family barbeque. 

The user experience is also an important consideration when thinking about access. While it’s important for the product to be secure, it shouldn’t feel impossible to open. The introduction of twist caps on milk cartons is another prime example of packaging with the user experience in mind.

10. Use transparency creatively

Using transparency in a creative way can give customers a sneak peek of what’s inside. Rather than a clear panel, think about how you can use shapes and illustrations to make a connection with the product inside. Mini Olivia Olive Oil executed this beautifully with their single-serving packets, in which the olive oil was in a transparent, olive-shaped pouch.

Consumers appreciate transparency both in a brand and in the branding. For a consumer, being able to see what they’re getting before spending money helps build trust. They want to see that the product packages of premixed salad they’re buying doesn’t have any brown spots. They want to see how soft and fluffy their luxe reading socks look and feel. After years of seeing commercials convey products that look quite different from the real deal, the need for transparency should come as no surprise.

Final thoughts

When trying to make an impression with great packaging, functionality, and branding are the two main areas of focus. While it’s important to stand out, don’t compromise user experience and quality for something that looks interesting. The packaging and messaging can be compelling, but consumers are ultimately interested in the finished product.