10 packaging design mistakes

If your product’s sales depend on its packaging, getting your pack right is as important as nailing the thing inside. As much as you’d like to, once your brand-baby is out in the world, you won’t be standing next to it telling the world about its greatness. Instead, the packaging will have to do the job of explaining everything there is to know about your product, convincing people to part with their hard earned cash to take it home. While creating the right look for your brand is not an easy or straightforward task, there are a few things that are sure to make it fail before you manage to press print so make sure you avoid some mistakes many entrepreneurs or even designers do. 

Make sure to NOT do any of the below:

  1. Getting overly inspired by what’s already out there or trying to follow what others are doing.
    Yes - there are some beautiful brands out there and it may feel tempting to give your pack a look that emulates their already successful packaging… But remember that they already exist and so, that gap in the market has been filled. Don’t ever forget about who you are and what you are bringing to the picture and make sure that your packaging focuses on this more than anything else. Otherwise your product will end up looking like a poor copy and you will spend your time constantly trying to keep up with what’s already been done.
  2. Following trends that are happening right now.
    While today you may love certain looks, this is only because the whole world of trendsetters, brands and influencers have been working tirelessly to make you believe that those are the looks worth loving. The problem with this is that in a month, two or if you’re lucky maybe three, the same group would have already begun their campaign on making you fall in love with something completely different. Making products takes a long time. Chances are that if your packaging takes inspiration only from the current trends, by the time you are ready to press print, the world has already moved on. Leaving you with a dated pack before you manage to make your first sale.
  3. Trying to be everything for everyone.
    Yes, I know that your product is great and in your eyes every living being should fall head over heels in love with it. But in reality what appeals to a 20 year old yoga practicing vegan may not be loved by her tradie father. If you are trying to please everyone you are actually attracting no one. In order to truly succeed you need to know what’s unique about what you’re selling. Decide who this product is for and focus on creating packaging your dream consumer would really love. Not a lukewarm thing that everyone would simply not hate.
  4. Make us guess what’s inside
    Unless you’re planning on only selling online or behind the counter, the pack will have to communicate what’s inside it. Make it beautiful but never forget that your pack is not an art piece and has a role to play. And telling your customers what to expect inside is definitely on top of the list. So make sure that your wording is clear, your fonts easy to read and nothing stands in the way of making consumers understand what you are trying to sell them.
  5. Not figuring out the information hierarchy
    I’m sure there are a lot of great things you want the world to know about your product. But if 5 people scream all at once you end up hearing nothing and same goes for information you put on your pack. Think hard on what you want your customers to see first, second and so on and make sure to make this order clear through your design. 
  6. Trying to say too much.
    Having claims is great. It’s a fantastic way to tell people the most unique or important benefits your product can offer. Since I’m sure you’d like your customers to know exactly how wonderful your product is, it’s easy to go overboard trying to say it all. But please don’t let your packaging be one of those sad, overcrowded designs that no one wants to read. Remember - you are creating packaging - not an encyclopaedia. Lure them in with something but leave things to imagination (ie say them on the back of pack).
  7. Making Copywriting an afterthought.
    When it comes to packaging, it’s easy to get swept away by the exciting world of colours and graphics, but don’t forget how powerful the right words can be. Think of them as your opportunity to address the person you created this product for. The written copy on your pack can either delight and connect with your customers or bore them to death. Even worse - if your grammar or spelling is not up to scratch those seemingly harmless letters could make your product appear clumsy, removing any trust the graphics have built. Packaging done well tells the story of both your brand and the product, through visuals and words working seamlessly together to get your pack off that shelf and into the shopping trolley.
  8. Forgetting the mandatories or not using them correctly
    There is a whole list of things your packaging must have. Yes - most of those bits can seem boring and often take up A LOT of space but they are there for a reason. Barcodes may look ugly but without it no store will sell your product. And if you make it the wrong size it won’t scan and can become useless. Allergens, nutritional panels and company address may often be tricky to fit on a small label but like it or not, not only do they have to be there, you need to make sure those are legible. On top of that every official icon you want to add to your pack comes with strict rules you will have to follow.
  9. Not checking how your product looks on the shelf
    Always remember that the fact that something looks great on screen doesn’t mean it works in store when surrounded by other products. Sometimes the most beautiful packs literally vanish when put on a store shelf and you are left wondering why no one is buying it. Avoid the disappointment and make sure to print that beautiful design of yours, take it to the store it will ultimately be sold in and put on the so-called client hat on. Does it grab your attention? Is it clear what’s inside? Would you buy it? This may seem obvious to some but you’d be surprised to learn how many business owners forget this crucial step.
  10. Print cheaply, or not consider how the packaging will be printed before starting the design process
    Printing is not cheap and printing beautifully can simply not be an option when you’re only just starting. Gold foil, spot varnish and all those gorgeous, tactile packs you see big brands sell, can cost way more than your product. This is especially true if you are not in a position to order tens of thousands of packs. While, when beginning, you want to believe that sky's the limit, it’s better to know exactly what you can and can not achieve and work with this in mind. Very minimal packs often only look great if you invest in great stock while more intricate packaging designs may look good even when printed on budget. 

If you are looking for help creating packaging or branding that tells your story without some very silly mistakes why not send us an email? We love helping businesses tell their story in the right way through packaging that’s designed to make your product sell.