Packaging Design | Unfolding The Elements in Detail

In the year 2014, while selecting my paths between making a career in design or settling for a tech job, I came across a design which was used as an example in my class – a design created by our professor with an expertise of 28 years. Within 45 seconds of noticing that design, I told Jason “I could totally make that design.” Turns out, I could not. 

Evidently, the expert designers have a (hidden) set of cards to play. The ace of those: Packaging design elements. 

With time, I realized that packaging design is both similar and different from other forms of design. Therefore, without further ado, let us discuss the hand-picked set of design elements that will impact your design in ways you would not presume. 


Packaging Design | Unfolding The Elements in Detail

Okay, you might want to skip this – given we all know everything there is to know about a line. Nevertheless, you might want to wait and check. A line does not only add as a part of a symbol – be it a curved line, straight line, diagonal line, thick or thin, smooth or rough – it is also something that portrays a hierarchy or division in the design. Thus, helping the user understand the information better and in a more highlighted manner. 

For perspective, a straight line implies order and clarity, whereas, a curved line gives a hint of quirky relativity. You can either work around an actual Line using a procreate brush, pen, or a digital tool. On the other hand, you can also play around with Implied Line, which is created when two shapes appear to meet. 


Packaging Design | Unfolding The Elements in Detail

Amongst all the elements of design, color is something that has been explored a lot – in aspects of psychology, market trends, and competition. After all, color can do it all: highlight another element, stand-alone, or can be turned into a background. 

Related: How A Color Combination Can Strengthen The Entire Design

Customers regularly shape responses to different tones and colors. Along these lines, a color palette of your packaging can instigate feelings and preferences about the product before the customer realizes it. Eventually, it boils down to this: all together for the color to add to the effective match between product and target customer, it is important to know relevant insights concerning both.

The head of Academy at GMG Color, Johannes Betz, informs that in order to avoid unaffordable mistakes, they analyze print techniques and printers and achieve consistent colors in daily production. According to Betz, every measure counts to ensure that your product is picked first as a customer comes across the associated shelf. 

One of the challenges that packaging designers face excessively is implementing a design on the packaging material. “The properties of the substrate used to affect the end printed color; the same red may appear different when printed on a paper-based material versus a film material, for example, due to the differences in the absorbency of the substrates. Different materials also require different methods of drying during the printing process. To ensure the highest print quality possible, printers and converters should always discuss their print aspirations with their ink supplier to ensure viability and ensure the design is fit for success,” says Deanna Klemesrud, Global Director Brand, Content and Promotions, Flint Group Packaging Inks. This brings us to the next element concerning the packaging design, Ink. 


Packaging Design | Unfolding The Elements in Detail

Your graphic designer may not give much attention to this element, however, as a product-based company, it is essential for you to ensure that this element is not overlooked. 

Specific industry comes with a specific set of requirements concerning ink to be used for product packaging materials. For instance, grocery, dairy products, and other perishable items need clear and long-term marks and information printed on its packaging material. 

The idea of food packaging itself, in any case, can present several difficulties to coordinate printing techniques. Consider cereal, for example. A type of cereal could be packaged within a cardboard sleeve onto which you could put a standardized code and expiry date. Whereas, other forms of cereal are packaged inside a plastic bag. The bag may or may not be leveled like the cardboard which can make the printing of date or code fairly challenging. 

Related: Printing Inks for Food Packaging

Moreover, While exquisite colors are obviously significant, considerate importance shall also be given to how inks and colors combine and behave when it reaches recycling. Ms. Klemesrud calls attention that aesthetics do not bargain the reusing cycle or recyclability of packaging material in any capacity.


Packaging Design | Unfolding The Elements in Detail

Your text and font, its appearance, is not just about passing on a message; it can likewise pass on an entire vibe and mood. Are you into toy production or a professional AI gadgets producer? Typography shall establish the vibe. 

Whereas, as for the size of the font, large-sized fonts will hold the user’s attention and imply that the text placed using that font size is crucial information. On the other hand, smaller font sizes can be used in different colors to provide context and further details. 


Packaging Design | Unfolding The Elements in Detail

When it comes to product packaging, it is important to consider the texture: the way your packaging material feels when a user holds the product and opens the packaging. However, it is one of the most overlooked elements of packaging design. 

As a packaging designer, adding a textural finish to your packaging not only works when the user touches the product but also highlights the product sitting on the shelf among numerous competitors’ products. Also, it portrays how specific your brand is concerning its branding and marketing. 

For instance, soft cards used in Apple packaging, inside the whiter-than-white box, make the user want to read the set of guidelines which is usually considered boring. Similarly, if you own a luxury linen brand, you might want to represent comfort through your packaging. 


There are hundreds of factors and elements to consider when selecting packaging material and packaging design. However, the above-mentioned five elements of packaging design are something that one cannot afford to skip or disregard. To take it up a notch, I would suggest coming up with a style guide or brand book considering your entire design, of course, including the packaging design. 

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