When designing and developing a product, it’s easy to put your blinders on and focus solely on product features. The soft details, like artwork and packaging, are oftentimes thrown on the back burner until the eleventh hour, at which time they are cranked out overnight to meet deadlines. While many product designers think this will all be fine and well, little do they know that these soft details can be a main driver for first production delays!
Don’t leave your product packaging on the back burner and potentially delay your entire order. Instead, work packaging design and testing into your schedule from the get-go and keep it top-of-mind through the entire product development process. After all, you’ll want to design your packaging for safety, sustainability and consumer appeal, while keeping it on brand with the product itself. Follow these guidelines when designing product packaging:
Real talk: It doesn’t matter how awesome your product is if it arrives to your consumer or distributor in pieces! Don’t place too much emphasis on pretty design and forget about the importance of packaging durability, especially if your products will be manufactured and packaged overseas and must survive a long journey to your location. It is possible to design beautiful packaging that will hold strong during transit.
Consumers are placing more emphasis on product and packaging sustainability and recyclability. Keep this in mind when designing your product packaging. As the manufacturing world moves toward greener practices, don’t leave packaging in the dust. For more on designing for sustainability, check out our post How to Design Sustainable Products for Recycling by the End User.
Here is the fun part: creating beautiful packaging that will catch a consumer's eye. As mentioned earlier, looks aren't everything. However, they cannot be forgotten entirely. For industrial products, aesthetics usually takes a back seat to durability. But for heavy consumer goods in satured markets, catching the consumer's eye is a must. Just make sure your branding is clear, commanding and consistent.
Printed packaging, labels, inserts and manuals come with their own lead times, which often feel longer than necessary. You simply can't get custom labels and boxes overnight. Don’t forget to account for this in your timeline. It would be shame to get your product completed on time only to face shipping delays due to a packaging holdup.
Packaging constitutes a more sizable portion of the budget than many people realize. There is a wide range of packaging options (e.g., bag, box, container, paper, plastic, cardboard, recycled material options, etc.) Get quotes for various options and determine which details are necessary and which might be frivolous (and thus not worth the cost for the return). Saving all this decision-making till the last minute could result in going over budget unexpectedly -- not to mention how quickly those expediting fees add up....
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