8 Best Practices of Packaging Design

Grocery aisles and retail stores are jampacked with products that vie for the attention of consumers. Ultimately, packaging design plays a pivotal role in converting sales and will be a part of your customer’s experience with your brand.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and seen a new product that looks good at first glance? Imagine, there are tens of thousands of products nowadays, and packaging design has the power to help you turn heads.

Supermarkets are crowded with options. It’s easy to see why brands go the extra mile to catch the attention of their target audience. Packaging design not only charms your customers, but it’s also important to make your product a staple and an icon on the store shelves.

In this piece, we’ll break down the best practices of packaging design and tell you more about the design elements you should heavily consider.

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Why Packaging Design Matters

Even if you have the best product in the world and believe that it can stand alone, packaging design can be the difference between your product getting the traction it deserves and being a flop.

Effective packaging design shows your customers how much you care about them. It represents your brand identity and will be part of what your customers will remember you by.

A study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs shows how influential packaging design is. In their research, the majority of the respondents, 72%, agree that packaging design is a factor they consider when selecting which product to purchase. Eight out of every ten respondents, 81%, also said that packaging design is important when it comes to selecting products to give as gifts.

In the age of social media, packaging design plays a bigger role. See, consumers, especially the younger generation, love sharing what they buy online through Instagram stories and whatnot. 

A survey led by Dotcom Distribution found that 40% of customers share an image of their purchases if they found the packaging design unique or aesthetically pleasing. That’s free exposure already.

Unfortunately, not every business owner allocates the same effort and budget for their packaging. That’s an error that you shouldn’t omit yourself.

Best Practices of Packaging Design

Now that we’ve talked about how essential packaging design is, let’s discuss the excellent methods followed by expert designers.  Here are 8 of the best practices of packaging design:

Think of Your Brand

The packaging design of your product is part of your branding and marketing efforts. As emphasized, the design should go beyond just looking good. It should also reflect your brand positioning and distinctively communicate your message to your customers.

Will the packaging design make your product look generic? What emotion or message do you want to communicate through the design? Is it on-brand?

When designing, take a moment to consider how you want your brand to be perceived, marketed, and advertised through the packaging of your product. The design will be intertwined with how your customers remember your brand, so keep everything cohesive.
Packaging design example for coffee beans

Source: 99Designs | DLab™

If you have a strong grasp of your company’s branding, it will be easier to create a packaging design that encapsulates it. Remember, good design will allow you to differentiate your product from even the most saturated market.

Focus on Your Customer

You’re not designing for yourself. You’re designing for your customers. Not every type of packaging design will appeal to your target market.

Customers should immediately understand your product from the packaging design alone. Nowadays, customers love it when brands give them a more personalized experience. 

When brainstorming design ideas, ask yourself these crucial questions:

  • What is the demographic of your customers?
  • Is the design eye-catching for your customers?
  • What will make them choose your product over the competition?
  • How will they engage with the design of your packaging?
  • How is their unboxing experience?

By answering those questions, you can map out what colors to use, what images should go, and the visual philosophy you will follow. 

Words Carry Weight

Packaging design isn’t just about visuals and graphic design. Copywriters have big responsibilities too. 

The words on your packaging carry significance. See, it’s the customer’s right to know the details about your product — the ingredients, flavor, specifications, or even how to use it. So, you can’t just put out a design that doesn’t have any labeling or product information. 

Every centimeter of the packaging design is precious real estate, but it’s a must to find the right balance between lacking and overbearing. Don’t overwhelm the design with too many texts or else it will look busy and less appealing. 

Remember, the words and phrases you incorporate into the packaging design have the power to sell. Exercise your creativity not only through the visual elements but with phrases and labels.

Stay Truthful

Being duped is the worst feeling. Within the food and beverage industry, it’s common to see extremely good-looking products in ads and packaging but when you see them in real life, they don’t look anywhere near that quality. 

Packaging design fail

Source: 99designs.com

If you’re going to include images of the product on the packaging design, make sure that it’s truthful and not overproduced.

One of the best practices is staying authentic.

Beginners in the packaging design industry often get caught up in presenting the product perfectly. Your customers will end up feeling misled and disappointed if you present a picture on the packaging that doesn't match the actual item. 

What’s represented on the packaging should be truthful to what the product is. You will turn off customers if you set high expectations using overproduced images. 

Pick Fonts and Colors Meticulously

Are you familiar with packaging color psychology? The success of your product can be influenced by the color palette you go with. 

Colors invoke emotions. The next time you go to a grocery store, take a moment to observe what colors specific types of products use. Then think about what those brands often market themselves as. As emphasized already, the packaging design is connected to the message the brand wants to tell.

Every color communicates a different feeling. 

Red is for excitement. Purple is often associated with luxury or high-end products. Green is linked to health, eco-friendly, and sustainability. Yellow is connected to energy and confidence.

Packaging design example for orange juice

Source: Dribbble | tubik.arts

Aside from packaging color psychology, the typeface you use in your packaging design is important. There’s also a science behind the usage of typography in packaging design, and the right typeface can help elevate your packaging. 

Consider the Costs

Always consider the costs. What’s the use of a great packaging design if it will cost your business more than a pretty penny? There are materials that will be more expensive than others, and those also fluctuate. There will be materials that cost significantly less but may not be at par with what you’ve envisioned for your product.

At the end of the day, you can design the best-looking packaging for your product, but if your budget limits you, you will need to compromise.

Always keep an eye out for the prices of the materials you will plan to use and adjust your budget accordingly. 

Imagine Your Design Everywhere

It’s a business owner’s and designer’s dream to see their products or works everywhere. When conceptualizing and creating your product’s packaging design, visualize it in many different scenarios.

Close your eyes and imagine. How good does your product look on the shelves? Will it still carry its charm and appeal a few years from now? If you’re selling on eCommerce, does the packaging look good in photographs? 

Make sure that the design works everywhere. 

Retail Friendliness

Lastly, packaging design shouldn’t be a retailer’s nightmare. Consider how it can be stacked on shelves and displays and stored in warehouses, inventory, and crates. Don’t get carried away with creating oddly-shaped packaging because that could give significant headaches logistically speaking.

Nowadays, many customers and retailers prefer sustainable packaging over single-use plastics and materials. As packaging solutions innovate, practicality and sustainability become higher on many people’s priorities. Don’t overlook those aspects.

Few Do’s and Don’ts

There are so many dynamic factors that go into packaging design. Now that you’ve gotten a better understanding of the best practices, here are a few do’s and don’ts that may help you.



  • Do your research on your market, customers, and competitors.
  • Plan ahead of the printing and packaging design process.
  • Brainstorm with the entire team to get different perspectives.
  • Ask for feedback from people who fit your target demographic.
  • Prepare detailed packaging guidelines and use mockups.
  • Don’t use too many fonts and overcomplicate the design.
  • Don’t underestimate how much material prices can fluctuate.
  • Don’t just create one design and immediately settle for that.
  • Don’t stray away from your brand design.
  • Don’t sacrifice functionality over aesthetics.

Wrapping It Up

Effective design is the foundation of what makes your product a success. No matter how saturated the market is, if your packaging design stands out, you can defy the odds.

Packaging should make a positive first impression and give a memorable customer experience. It’s easy to get carried away during the process but don’t overthink it and enjoy letting your creativity flow.

Struggling with packaging design? Perhaps the best packaging design companies on Top Design Firms can help you!

Additional Reading

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Based on your budget, timeline, and specifications we can help you build a shortlist of companies that perfectly matches your project needs. Get started by submitting your project details.

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