Cohesive Packaging Design

These days, you don’t have to look far to find a blog about packaging design. There seem to be hundreds of people from various walks of life giving their top tips about how to create great packaging. Living in the world of 2D, it is easy to forget the stuff that makes the packaging. Many designers aren’t aware of the constraints or capabilities in manufacturing and find it difficult to look beyond the on-screen graphical representation.

Packaging is a tangible thing which you can pick up, hold and open. I wanted to talk about this; the assembled bones and flesh that make up the creative design in the real world. It’s important that all the elements of a design are considered together. The way they interact, look and feel is as important as the pictures and type placed upon them. I have always believed that it is the little details that make a big difference. A minor change can really affect the overall feel of the end result. If, when developing an idea, the designer (or project manager) considers all the following elements, the end result will be a truly cohesive packaging design:

but before I start…

…I realised, while writing, that each element could independently become a huge topic, so over the coming weeks I will start to expand on these component parts along with several sub-headings which have evolved in my notes. In the meantime, however, I will try to summarize as a pre-cursor.

Shape or Structure

The shape is important for many reasons; identification, style, size, mechanics of storage and display. The shape can also determine the ease at which the product is dispensed. Structure for me is the method by which the shape is constructed. Whether it’s the position of a seam line or method of opening, a simple change can be the difference between nice clean lines or low-cost alternative.

Materials

From cost to weight ratio, strength and security through to nice ‘touchy feeliness,’ the substrate plays a huge part in the final result. Carefully choosing materials which complement the design in a consistent way can really help the final message. In dealing with large global projects, the availability and environmental impact of the material is also a really important consideration. Poorly managed choices can adversely affect brand consistency, corporate image and cost.

Print Method

Whether a single colour flexo identity stamp or a complex gravure security label, the method by which we apply our text and graphics (although somewhat determined by material and volume) can help ensure our artwork is presented as intended. Rather than making a compromise because of supply constraints, by understanding the benefits and performance of each technique, we can apply our artwork both effectively and efficiently.

Finishes & Techniques

After print comes ‘finishing.’ The generic term for what might be described as the final enhancement. From in-tool embossing to glitter varnish, these enchanting augmentations can easily lead to a garish tackiness if badly executed. With careful consideration, however, they can also be the little detail that you can’t quite put your finger on; an indefinable quality.

Present Packaging for Puerile Pastime

We may not behave as such, but my brothers and I are technically adult. Our tastes and projections of one-anothers’ wants have accordingly matured in a similarly mundane manner.

During our younger years, the unknowing exited surprise of an unwrapping experience was difficult to contain. It has slowly become the centerpiece to our nostalgic (and somewhat exaggerated) storytelling.

As we have grown older, through a combination of inherent intuition and fear of disappointment, we tend towards the safer “is-there-anything-you-need” options.

One recent Christmas, my youngest sibling (perhaps slightly drunkenly) proclaimed “It’s not the same any more, I’m not sure I can get excited about clothes.” he continued to remark that the presents we acquire as adults (although gratefully received) cannot be ‘played with’ or enjoyed as the toys or games we looked forward to as children.

The problem therefore is this:

How can we be sure that the gift is useful and not superfluous while;
a) ensuring that the opening experience is exciting and
b) satisfying our curiously competitive creative nature?

The solution follows:

created by Liz