Package Design for Brand Success Series - Part 3

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Posted Mar 23, 2012
Susan Gunelius

There is a lot more to package design than creating a cool or attractive container to hold a product. There are considerations and limitations that can significantly affect your package design, and if you gloss over them or skip them entirely, you could lose sales. You might even break the law. In Part 3 of the Package Design for Brand Success series, you learn about those special considerations and limitations, so you don't get in trouble later. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of the series, be sure to read them now so you understand the topics discussed here.

package design

Many parts and pieces go into the physical package design process, and it's easy to skip steps along the way. However, producing your packaging is expensive, and it's not something you want to have to replace too soon.

Review the attributes of physical package design listed below. Each could create limitations or special considerations for your package design.


Of course, your package design must physically hold your product, but it also must hold your product safely. Could your product be dangerous if it opened accidentally or a child opened it? At the same time, the package design shouldn't leak, tear, discolor, or degrade in any way during its lifespan.

Safety could affect the materials you use in your package design (see the next section for more details) as well as opening and closing features, messaging on the package, features to keep the product fresh, and so on.


The materials used in your package design need to fit within your budget but still meet necessary safety requirements. They also need to match your brand image. For example, a brand that promises high quality shouldn't be packaged in cheap materials.

The materials in a package design often serve multiple purposes. In addition to holding the product, secondary packaging could fold into point-of-sale displays. A primary package design could include a cap that can also be used as a measuring cup for dispensing the proper amount of the product. This is very popular for laundry detergent.

Usability and Fit

You also need to consider usability at the consumer level and fit at the distribution, retail, and consumer levels when you create a package design. For example, if you develop packaging that's intended to perform a function (like a laundry detergent cap that doubles as a measuring cup), you need to test it and make sure it really works.

Your package design also needs to fit on distribution trucks, in warehouses, on store shelves, and in consumers' homes. A highly creative package design for a new soft drink that is too tall to fit in store cold cases or consumers' refrigerators would lead to disastrous sales results because stores couldn't carry it and consumers wouldn't buy it.

kool-aid package scoop

User Convenience

Package design can aid user convenience. For example, easy-open bottle caps, resealable bags, and microwavable containers are all examples of package design that adds convenience to a consumer's purchase.

Remember when Kool-Aid added the measuring scoop inside its powder drink mix containers?

How about when juice boxes debuted with straws attached?

Resealable lunch meats? Resealable dog food bags?

All of these are great examples of convenient package designs that are likely to increase product sales.

Legal Considerations

Many industries must meet legal regulations in their package designs. For example, you might need to include one or more of the following in your package design in order to adhere to the law:

  • List of ingredients
  • Storage instructions
  • Freshness date
  • Manufacturing origin
  • Serving instructions
  • Opening instructions
  • Usage instructions
  • Safety warnings
  • Disposal instructions
  • Customer service information
  • Potential hazards
  • Quantity
  • Nutritional information

For example, pharmaceutical product packaging is highly regulated. Take a look at any over-the-counter medication package, and you'll see many warnings, messages, instructions, and so on that the manufacturer is required to display by law.

Environmental and Social Considerations

Many package designs include information, seals, and symbols that identify them as environmentally friendly or organic. Similarly, some package designs include messages that demonstrate a brand and company's support of social causes.

For example, package designs that include the pink Breast Cancer Awareness symbol or "no animal testing" messages can help boost a brand's perception in consumers' minds.

Marketing and Branding Considerations

While some of the packaging considerations listed above can limit your package design creativity, the vast majority can be turned into marketing positives. Your package design should be seen, felt, and understood. Think about how you can turn the considerations above into positives for your brand and target audience.

Finally, think about how you can add marketing messages to the many required elements in your package design to create a cohesive brand image that accurately communicates your brand promise and effectively nudges consumer perceptions in the right direction.

Only after careful consideration, research, and planning can you make the right strategic decisions, and that's what you'll learn in Part 4 of the Package Design for Brand Success series.

If you missed previous parts of the series, follow the links below to read them now:

Image: Gabriela González, jbcurio

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