Packaging Re-Design – Part I: “Packaging Essentials”

First of all, whoa.  I had no idea HOW much thought REALLY went into packaging design.  This book really illustrates the number of avenues that a designer can explore from when designing or re-designing a product.

This book does a great job of covering ALL bases of packaging design, but my product is very specific in comparison, so I tried to skim through the book to find things that were relevant to convenience packaging of rice and pasta products.  I ended up getting sucked into the book and found myself looking at everything to try and see if it could relate to instant ramen or arborio rice packaging.  Here’s what I’ve taken away:

A product like actual imported arborio rice lends itself to a really home-y, traditional Italian looking design.  I want to make the product have a handwritten, recipe book feel to it.

For the space food — I mean ramen noodles — I really want to have a creative package shape.  I want it to sort of pay homage to the immensely creative and unique Japanese design by having some crazy shaped package.  But I have no idea where to begin other than the book on packaging design templates.

But back to Packaging Essentials.  I paid special attention to several sections of the book: Food, Fonts to Create Mood and Character, and Shelf Impact.  The Food section brought up 3 main considerations for package design: sustainable packing, simplified graphics, and delivery of appetite appeal.  The latter seems to be the most difficult since it plays on the consumer’s ethos; and consumers vary.  Greatly.  So, I am going to have to pick a target audience and appeal to that type of consumer as best I can.

Fonts to Creating Mood and Character was a good follow-up for deciding on how I will appeal to a particular bracket of consumers.  In respect to the product and the purpose of type, selecting the right font is tricky.  Selecting more than one type can be trickier because it opens up some more considerations, like how will they contribute to a hierarchy of elements, do they work together or against one another, do they represent the product well, etc.

Shelf Impact is often taken into an initial observation but quickly forgotten until the product is in the final stages or on the shelf again.  The designer is almost at the mercy of the store vendor in terms of shelf real estate.  This can be tricky since the designer has to make the product stand out against anything that it could be surrounded by.  The design is put up against not only grabbing the consumer’s attention, but also trying to get the consumer to buy the product.  Often times I am in the store and can narrow it down to 2 or 3 products that are identical or nearly identical in what they offer, but ultimately choose one product.

Reading the Packaging Essentials was eye-opening (as a consumer) and insightful (as a designer) for helping me to better understand the realm of packaging design as well as formulating some ideas about my own package design.


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