Design Your Packaging to Standout on the Shelf

How many times have you stood in the store aisle confused and wracking your brain to figure out what product to buy? You picked up one only to read it and then put it down. You picked up another, then put it down. Then finally, stood back to wonder which product was the one for you? So how do you cut through the clutter on a crowded shelf?

 To design a package that jumps off the shelf, hire a professional graphic designer and packaging engineer with experience.   

Your packaging can build up or break your brand. It’s essential to get it right the first time. Below are some guidelines to follow when designing your product’s packaging.


Keep It Simple 

  1. What does the product do?
  2. Who is the brand behind the product?
  3. How is the product used?

You’ll need to answer these questions in 5 seconds or less since that’s the maximum amount of time a consumer will spend glancing at your product. Don’t overcomplicate your packaging with too many callouts or graphics, either. Putting too many messages on your packaging not only confuses people but also makes your product look cheap. Instead, use a hierarchy to communicate only the most important messages. The consumer should know what your product does in an instant. Keeping it simple will help you make a good first impression, too, whether on a store shelf or a website.


Keep Your Product and Brand Promises

We’ve all be there — been disappointed by the toy that breaks or opened a package to find it only half full. If you don’t want to be a one-and-done kind of product, represent it honestly. Make claims you can backup. Overly embellishing may have sold your product once, but you’ve lost any brand equity, trust you could’ve earned, and any repeat business. After all, you want to start racking up good product reviews, referrals, and a positive online presence on social media, not the opposite. 


Authenticity and Brand Personality

Your brand tells a story. You’ve been crafting it carefully over time, so your audience should identify your product on the shelf immediately. It should also serve as a reminder of any other products you offer. Think about it, does your package:

  •  Display your logo or brand clearly?
  • Communicate your brand through colors, fonts, images, and shapes?
  • Evoke a desired emotion or action?
  • Support your brand’s tone and personality?

A great example of this is the Goodpops line of popsicles. Their logo is front and center, so I know who the brand is right away. The flavor is listed in the same spot, making it easy to find. The photography is gorgeous and accurately portrays the product while reinforcing the flavor. Across the product line, from otter-like popsicles to the chocolate fudge popsicle, the fonts, photography, and graphics are consistent. I love the script typeface. It sets the mood with a sense of whimsy, wholesomeness, and goodness. I feel good and like summer is just around the corner. The san-serif font of the flavor is easy to read. And I can see at a glance that most of the products are either organic or non-GMO. No sugar added! Bonus when I’m trying to avoid a sugar crash for my kids and hang on to my sanity.

Packaging Design - Authenticity and  Brand Personality Example


We Want the Info

Don’t forget at a fundamental level; your packaging needs to inform your audience. What do they need to know to take the next step to make a purchase? The information should be easy to understand and read.

  • What problem does it solve?
  • How do you use it?
  • Why do I need it? 
  • Where can I learn more? 
  • Does this brand make other products?
  • What’s their website?
  • Does it expire? When?
  • Are there any warnings and cautions?
  • Who would use the product?
  • What flavor is it? Or what color?

The Devil is in the Details

From shipping cartons to choosing a waterproof label for your stain bucket, don’t overlook the details. At a minimum, your packaging should protect the product. You may need to hire a packaging engineer in addition to a designer. A packaging engineer can help identify any supply chain issues or evaluate your packaging to see how it holds up under real-world conditions. Ever had anything shipped to find the case crushed or the product leaking?


Shelf Impact

Your product is never seen all by itself on the shelf. The consumer usually stands about 3-6 feet away while being bombarded by row upon row of products. It makes it nearly impossible for any product to stand out. So what can one do to catch their eye?

According to an article by Brand Strategy Insider,” in fact, the operative communications hierarchy puts color atop the list, with shapes, symbols, and words following in that sequence.” Here is a sampling of questions to ask yourself: 

  • Where is your product being sold?
  • Is the typeface readable from a distance?
  • Do the colors help it jump from the shelf or push it back into the background? 
  • And do your colors elicit the emotions you want your audience to feel?


Make It Practical and Functional

What is the actual size, shape, and function of the packaging? The design itself can be just as valuable to the consumer as the product and help differentiate it from the competition.

  • Is your packaging sustainable, compostable? 
  • Does it perform a function your competition doesn’t?
  • Does it add unexpected joy? 

For example, I recently picked up these strawberries at my local Whole Foods Market. It charmed and delighted me to see strawberries in a cardboard package. I loved the earth-friendly sustainable cardboard packaging option so much I posted it on LinkedIn. I got an equally positive response from my community—a win for Driscoll and a win for me as a consumer.

Or pause to reflect on how Heinz turned its ketchup bottle upside down. It also turned up the sales at the same time. True innovation comes from veering from the beaten path and taking the road less traveled. Think about how you can make the product easier to transport, store, or use for your customers.

Heinz Ketchup Bottle Packaging Example


Line Extensions

It’s important to leave some wiggle room for line extensions. You may have one product now, but in the future, who knows, you could have 10 or 20? Make sure the design is versatile enough so when you’re ready to extend, you can do so easily.

Do you have questions about packaging design? Give me holler. I’d love to chat you up.

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