Packaging on a shelf

8 Useful Tips To Design Eye-catching Packaging

Featured packaging photography: Mika

Packaging is the material used to wrap or protect goods.

Packaging design is the creation of the exterior of a product. A packaging designer links the form, structure, material, shape of the wrapping of a product with the design elements that make it suitable for marketing purposes. 


o clearly it’s just a practical tool, right? Think about it; without a bit of packaging, you’d have to drink your beer straight from the source! Well now… Let me think about that… 

In all seriousness, packaging is practical yes, but it is also a marketing opportunity to compel your customer to make a purchase. 

A well-designed packaging tells a story about the brand, it shows what the product is and what it can do for your consumer. 

On top of that, packaging in Australia is under strict regulations – so you need to be sure you have all the right elements before putting your design into print. 

To help you put your mind at ease, our team compiled the 8 main things you need to come up with before calling a packaging designer.  

1. Know your product

Source: Oana Cristina

It might not seem like much but it’s the first step to get exactly what you want.

Is your product heavy? Is it light, fragile, delicate, small or big? 

How much product are you aiming to show? Do you need to specially make a unique packaging style or can you design it from the patron of a pre-made box?

Make a list of the dimensions and pre-requisites; get a rough idea out. The clearer the idea, the faster the production.

2. Know your audience

Who is buying your product? This is crucial. You do not appeal to the same people with a Cookie Muncher character than you do with Isla Fisher (you know! That red head in that new switch commercial…).

Be specific! Are you targeting men, women, children? Find age, religion, income and even values. If they’re environmental-friendly, we can assure you no amount of design skills will make them buy a product wrapped in plastic! You can even forget plastic tape.

It might be easy when you’re selling tea but you might have to think a bit harder if you sell sunscreen… (FYI tin packaging is the new revolution!)

Knowing your audience will give you a frame of do’s and don’ts and it will give you ideas on how to appeal to them with the final design. 

Source: Sunbutter Skincare

3. Know where and how your packaging will be presented

In a supermarket? A boutique? Exclusively online?

The placement of the product can influence some decisions when creating the design. 

For example, if it’s a flooded market like in a supermarket, you need to decide if the product will stand-out with its shape, font and colour or if you’ll apply a different strategy. Sometimes, a product considered ‘uncommon’ can be rejected by the department manager if it takes too much space on the shelf. 

So a nice big box, avidly unpacked on the dining table, can be a genius idea to maximise the pleasure of an online delivery, but certainly not for a tiny boutique or supermarkets. 

“The placement of the product can influence some decisions when creating the design.”

Source: Francesca GrimaMehrad Vosoughi

4. Gather your brand style guide

You obviously want consistency in your branding strategy and your aesthetics. So your packaging design needs to follow your style guidelines. 

For example, do you have a dedicated background colour? Or is there a colour you absolutely cannot use for the background? 

A good designer will be able to guide you with through this step. 

5. Gather what needs to appear on the packaging

First, the requirements

Some products are under government regulations and need mandatory copy – ingredients, nutrition information, mark associated, whether it was tested on animal or not, etc.

A good packaging designer will be able to tell you what needs to be displayed for your specific product. 

This step has to be considered seriously: having to reprint just because you left a governmental logo is very expensive! Relying on a professional that has the credentials can save you time and money.

Second, the content. 

This is the marketing copy that will make your product appealing to your audience. 

If you’re not sure about what should appear, ask your packaging designer to put you in contact with their copywriter. But as a general advice; always lead with the benefit!

Source: Magic Mind

6. Get your budget straight

You want to consider the one-time cost of actually coming up with the design and the cost per unit as well.

We usually consider the last one by volume. The bigger the volume, the cheaper it is per unit. 

Have an idea of how much cost per unit you can afford, how many units (products) you want to sell and how many packaging units you need.

Get a ball park idea of what it could possibly cost. A packaging designer will give you options on what you can do with your budget. But keep in mind; good and sturdy packaging is expensive!

7. Create a mood board and gather reference material

Source: Olya Kobruseva

Look around. Do you have any strong likes or dislikes? Does your brand has a specific style? A romantic vintage inspired look or a super modern feel?

Have a look at your 3 most important competitors. What are they doing? And is it working?

Get a rough idea of what you would like and take into account the advice of your packaging designer. If they’re really skilled in what they do – like we (humbly!) are at Visual Targets – they’ll advise you on what will have the most impact. 

“Have a look at your 3 most important competitors. What are they doing? And is it working?”

8. Choose a packaging designer

Not just a graphic designer! 

What’s the difference, you’ll ask? A graphic designer who hasn’t the skills and experience in packaging design wouldn’t have the sensibilities to think about the entirety of the project, only the specific artwork. 

You need someone who is not just a creative, but a strategist as well. Someone who will see the 3 f’s: 

  • form (how it looks) 
  • function (what is it for intended)
  • focus (who and the marketing strategy behind)  

And now, it’s your turn to make eye-catching packaging! 

At Visual Targets, we specialize in custom packaging design, so we would like to work with you to create the right and most impactful packaging for your product. 


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