3 min read

Successful Food Packaging Design

6th April 2018

Food packaging is around us all the time and we are continually making sub-conscious decisions about it. Supermarkets and ecommerce sites are swamped with all kinds of product offerings in every format imaginable. When we consider consumers spend no longer than four seconds before making an emotional decision to purchase, capturing their attention amongst a vast backdrop of colours and imagery is an art in itself. Enticing and informing all at the same time is critical to successful food packaging design.

Form Follows Function
Within food packaging design there are two fundamental considerations, the first being the function or format of the packaging. Not only should the structure insure the product is protected and that it can be transported safely but it can and should also be used to maximise shelf standout. Striking shapes and innovative designs and can attract interest and build excitement just as much as beautiful artwork. Studying how and where packaging will be merchandised in store along with how they will be used in conjunction with POS (Point of Sale) and sales promotions should be explored. Scrutiny of how packaging is opened and resealed combined with how it feels in the hand all add to the consumer experience. Tactile finishes and recyclable materials can bring that subtle but defining element to make your packaging memorable to consumers. Customers have become increasing savvy to environmental friendly packaging and research shows it is having an impact on the decision making process.

The second consideration is form of the packaging or how it will be visually received. It incorporates the development of the artwork elements such as colour, typography, imagery and communication of product benefits. Amongst visually cluttered shopping isles it is of no surprise that the most successful designs integrate all of these elements in a simplistic, seamless and bold design. Yet it is crucial that products are clearly recognisable and they are not hidden behind beautiful but confusing artwork, with fonts that are difficult to read. Artwork should be original, distinguishing them apart from other brands but also memorable for repeat purchase. Designers should keep in mind that packaging will be viewed from distance initially, with the intention of being picked up for closer inspection. Is it noticeable from a few meters back? Is it obvious what the product is and the benefits over its rivals?

Product imagery plays a decisive role in food packaging. One picture can sum up the taste and feeling of a hundred words. Selecting whether to use illustration or photography is a top consideration. Both have their benefits and switching from one to the other can dramatically alter the tone of the packaging. If using photography the product needs to, of course, look delicious but it needs to be much more than that. You should be able to taste and smell the food from the image. Close up shots, the use of a food stylist and specialist food photographer should be used to achieve this. Adding props can be effective in highlighting a lifestyle or in aiding a particular consumer or demographic to identify with the product.

Range Navigation
When building a range or a family of food products, it is important that they are effortless to navigate. The collection should sit together yet be straightforward for shoppers to distinguish the variation between size, flavour and sub category. For example identifying a diet or vegetarian friendly version.  Colour coding, icons and a switch of material can be used as key identifiers for consumers that will work on a sub conscious level.

Food packaging works on an emotional level and the design of the structure and the artwork needs to reflect this. First impressions count so working hard in the research and design phases will make for stronger returns in initial purchases and repeat sales.