6 Product Packaging Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

6 Product Packaging Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Clever packaging design is a powerful marketing tool. One 2013 study found that an appealing package can trigger impulse buying, even in people who didn’t plan to purchase anything.

How do you make this fabled, attention-grabbing packaging? If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Clearly, there’s a heady mix of art, psychology, and, dare we say it, magic that goes into it.

We’ve compiled a list of the don’ts when it comes to avoiding brand-damaging, sad-sales packaging. Read on to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of packaging design mistakes.

1. Packaging That Over-Promises

From complex food labelling to greenwashing and inaccurate box sizes, packaging design ideas that mislead consumers are a big no-no.

Inadvertently, or in some cases dishonestly, fooling customers is a sure-fire way to undermine their trust in your brand. If this happens, it’s not likely they’ll buy from you again.

Advertising standards bodies worldwide have clear guidelines on what you can or can’t put on your packaging.

In the UK, for example, the ASA advises companies to:

  • Avoid exaggeration
  • Have clear pricing
  • Back up qualifications and claims
  • Include all important information

Not following these guidelines on packaging design and labelling can leave a company open to criticism, social media shaming, and even lawsuits. Not to mention a ton of potential lost revenue and long-term brand damage when consumers no longer trust your product.

2. Packaging That Doesn’t Offer Any Protection

Testing package designs for durability is an essential step that companies often forgo, favouring a quicker production timeline. It won’t matter how beautiful the box looks or how much the copy sings if a broken product arrives at the store or the customer’s front. Not only will this reflect poorly on your brand, but it could also cost you money in unnecessary returns or warranty claims.

3. Making the Design Too Complicated

As often said by early 20th-century architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, “Less is more.” Though somewhat overused, there’s still a lot of meaning in this phrase regarding packaging prints and graphics.

Take the example of the unfortunate logo redesign undertaken by Kraft in the noughties. The food behemoth traded their well-recognised and straightforward logo for a considerably more complicated version, full of wacky fonts, busy icons, and way too many colours. Despite the apparent waste of money, time, and brand-damaging PR, by 2012, Kraft had changed its logo back to a version almost the same as the original.

Another example would be packaging with too many layers or poorly designed packaging that protects the product inside so well it’s impossible to open.

The lesson? Choose a packaging option that’s easy for the consumer to interact with and shows off the best attributes of your product without too much visual noise.

4. Not Considering Sustainability

Way back in 2008, Stanford Social Innovation Review reported that 87 percent of people surveyed cared about the environmental impact of the product they purchased.

Today, given the public awareness about climate change, water degradation, and species loss, those statistics are likely even higher. In short, there’s no excuse not to care about the planet we live on, and customers know this.

Thankfully, sustainable and eco-friendly packaging solutions are now widely available. From cornstarch plastics and paper bubble wrap to recycled cardboard and soy-based inks, the earth-friendly packaging options now available to companies stand against their more chemically-inclined competitors in price, durability, and refinement.

It’s also worth working with a professional packaging design company to ensure you’re using the least possible amount of materials while still protecting your product.

5. Trying to Write or Design It Yourself

Sure, you could get your marketing intern to whip up some packaging on the internet and write the copy for you at little cost, but will the end result be worth it?

Typos in copy or messy design layouts will have consumers questioning the professionalism of your company in no time. And when you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of already printed packages, having to recall and reprint them all is going to cost you.

One easy solution to ensuring you don’t waste money on simple mistakes is to work with the experts.

A copywriter has years of experience in proofreading and creating copy that sells your product. Professional packaging designers know how to make boxing that protects your product, uses less material, ships and stores efficiently, and looks appealing.

6. Your Product Gets Lost On the Shelf

Ever heard of the saying, “Eye line is the buy line?” If you’re lucky enough to snag this coveted position for your product in a supermarket or retail outlet, your product will already stand out from the crowd.

But if like most brands in the store, your products are placed on an upper or lower shelf, you’re going to need boxing that grabs a customer’s attention in ways other than a bunch of logos on packages. Too many companies default to copying the packaging of their competitors in shape, function, and design. Instead, capitalise on your unique brand identity to create memorable packaging.

Packaging matters for the virtual “shelf,” too. According to e-commerce service provider Shopify, shipping and fulfilment offer a chance for online companies to interact with consumers offline. Take advantage of this valuable (and rare in the e-commerce world) “touchpoint.”

Wow your customers with your copy, exterior design, and material choices. Offer them other ways to interact with your brand well after the initial sale–think sales vouchers, bonuses for social media sharing, and QR codes.

Don’t Risk Making Packaging Design Mistakes

In the age of unboxing videos and an over-saturation of brands, packaging design is an essential marketing tool. It’s not worth risking sales over packaging design mistakes that you could easily avoid. Get it right, and you’re guaranteed to pop online or on the shelf.

If you’re looking for professional guidance on packaging or label design, contact LabelProfi to discuss your project today. We’ve been helping companies make the right impression since 1994.