2. Don’t be afraid to do something out of the ordinary
When designing a new package or packaging system, you might be inclined to design something in the same style as what’s out there already. However, for a new product that doesn’t have much or any brand recognition, you need to capture the customer’s attention. Go to stores where the same type of products are sold and see what’s on the shelf. Look at colors, type, label or packaging stock, and form. Let your findings guide you in creating something that is unique and will call attention to your product. You want your product to stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to do something out of the ordinary.
When designing packaging it’s important to consider its full life cycle. Can it be reused? How easy is it to recycle? It’s a designer’s responsibility to, at the least, inform a client of the opportunities to use water based inks and recycled or sustainable substrates.
Consider how a consumer will interact with your packaging solution both on the shop floor and at home. Is there a clear and understandable hierarchy of information? Is the packaging easy to access? Are the instructions legible in both contrast and size? Bare in mind, a brand is a complete experience and as such the packaging should express positive values such as inclusivity and accessibility.
To acquire a barcode for your packaging you or your client will need to register at an official number supplier such as GS1 or one of its member organisations. These numbers can be used with a barcode generator ( these can be found online) to create an EPS file that can be used on pack. Be sure to check the type of barcode you require before outputting any file, in Europe these are typically EAN13. The recommended size for barcodes displayed on international packaging is 16mm high.
When working on pharmaceutical or cosmeceutical products you will need to make sure you include space for a batch number. These are mechanically stamped onto the packaging during assembly to trace specific groups of products. Ask your client to include this specification in the brief so that you can work it into your designs.
RoHS Compliant - ‘Restriction of the use of Hazardous Substances’ (The materials used don’t pose a health risk)
CE Mark - European Conformity – The product satisfies legislation set out by the European Union, essentially meeting a basic level of quality.
Green Dot - The Green Dot is a symbol that allows consumers to know that the manufacturer has covered the cost of recovery and the recycling of a product. This is typically a license fee that varies between countries and the materials utilised in the manufacture of a product.
Bin - Don’t throw the product into a conventional household waste bin.
On opening, use by - This symbol denotes the months a product will remain effective prior to opening.
Möbius loop - This indicates that the material can be recycled (sometimes accompanied by a material ID number).
When working with clear materials make sure you are aware of the contents and that your design compliments this and has enough contrast to be legible. You may need to consider putting down a base layer to enhance similar colours or tints.
Consider that a straight on technical drawing won’t take into account the curve of the bottle which can make up a significant amount of additional space. Ask the manufacturer for a print guide to get an accurate measurements and consider how you layout out your copy, a user shouldn’t have to keep turning the bottle back round to read the next sentence.
Invest in a good colour guide; it applies to any work that will end up printed. Colour accuracy is key to creating a consistant brand and family of products, an up to date colour guide will help to avoid any surprises once the job has been run. Expect the colours to fade over time and with heavy usage so update your guides at the end of each year.
Be sure to mock-up your design in 3 dimensions regularly at full size as you make changes, the difference between a flat image and a made up pack is huge. Remember to factor in any costs you may incur from this process.
Once your packaging has been printed make sure you or your client does a random spot check. Keep and eye out for plate slippage (slight changes across what should be straight artwork) and consistent colour (this can change slightly across separate print runs or when the ink becomes low). Hiding less than perfect pieces under the good ones has been known to happen so do be thorough and don’t be afraid to pull the printers/manufacturers up on any inconsistencies.
Keep your design work as simple as possible. The more complicated the packaging becomes, the more costly it is to produce and the chances of errors increase. Remember not to forget the cost of assembly and delivery.