Week 1 of packaging design is complete. In week one we were introduced to packaging design. We examined a good, bad and ugly example and looked at, point of sale in different retail environments.
Before jumping into the first task for packaging design, I wanted to write something that could introduce myself to the topic. Sometimes making myself write about a topic (including with references) enables me to feel more connected to the area I am studying.
What I have particularly interesting about packaging design so far, is how much I had only considered the identifiers or graphic and textual elements. There is much more involved. It’s true I have noticed the packaging of some things that didn’t function properly (how hard it is to remove memory cards and certain electronics from their packages), but never connected these to the way that the packaging design works or why. Being able to identify the ways and reasons a package design is intended to function helps you to assess if something is good, bad or ugly.
What is packaging design?
Packaging design is the process of designing a package that contains, protects and identifies a product (Stewart & Pira 2004, p. 3). While also actively differentiating the product from competitors and influencing the consumer to purchase one product over another (Klimchuk & Krasovec 2012, p. 40). The way that each package design contains, protects and identifies varies according to the type of product being sold, the current marketplace (including competitors) and consumer demand. The primary ways that packaging communicates is by using the physical features (material, size, shape, surface) with design features (colour, imagery, typography) to incite an emotional reaction from the consumer (Stewart & Pira 2004, p. 6). Good packaging design must also consider the function, accessibility, honesty and lifecycle (or sustainability) of the package. The end result should ensure that the product is contained, protected and correctly identifying or communicating its purpose to the right audience.
The containment of a product refers to the ability of the package design to properly stop the product from leaking, breaking or detaching from the product (Stewart & Pira 2004, p. 3). This is especially important in any product that contains food, chemicals or similar forms. For example, if we consider the containment of medications, they must be packaged in a way that they are unable to easily depart from their packaging.
The protection of a product refers to the ability of the package design to protect the product during handling and transportation (Stewart & Pira 2004, p. 4). Like the containment of the product, this can be essential in ensuring that certain types of products are not exposed to negative sources (for example food being exposed to chemicals).
The identification of the product refers to the ability of the package design to inform, promote and entice the consumer to purchase the product (Stewart & Pira 2004, p. 4). This is often the major aspect of the design that will sell the product. The identification that is employed in the package design will be included by many different factors. These include the current market, consumer demand, branding and marketing.
A package design that is able to contain, protect and identify the product correctly, stands the best chance of connecting with the intended audience and driving the sale.
For our first task, we were required to find examples of good, bad and ugly packaging. I chose a Flexovit, Detail Sanding Sheets, Monarch 100mm Fence Brush and Grate Chef, Bar-B In A Box.
In task 1B we were required to examine our bad or ugly example in a retail environment. We were to careful observe how the placement, packaging and display all influenced and impacted on the point of sale.
Week 1 Summary
I consider good packaging to be something that contains, protects and identifies the product, while also being functional, honest and environmentally sustainable. When thinking of bad packaging I believe it may capture some of the essentials of good packaging, but not all of them. For example, it may contain and protect the product, but fail to clearly communicate what the product is, which causes consumer confusion and ultimately less sales. Ugly packaging would be that which fails completely in all major aspects of packaging or the majority of them. Because of the similarities between bad and ugly they can clearly overlap in the level of ‘rules’ they break (or what is used to define good packaging).
Our judgements about certain products and packaging are largely influenced by a number of factors. This may include; personality, job, location, entertainment and many more. Our judgements would take into consideration products we have tried before and recommendations from other people (either in person or online). We may even be more influenced by a brand that is heavily advertised and is more recognisable over another because we are more ‘familiar’ with it. We also have expectations about what we read on the packaging (if we are studying them closely). If something is informing us that it is new and improved, high quality or affordable and we are looking at it for the first time it may appeal to our logical or emotional need. From experience as a design student, I am more inclined to look at products that have been designed in a clean and structured way or those I may am using again. This may not be the case for someone who doesn’t know about design hierarchy and considers more information a good thing.
The key to making something good, specifically speaking in terms of a product or package is that it clearly adhere to all of it’s market and structural values. You want to have something that is easy to use, that does what it says it does. You want to be able to easily access and or reuse the product (if applicable) and you want to know that when you open the package nothing is going to be out of place or missing. You also want to be provided with enough information that your questions, enquiries or needs are met. If the product and packaging fulfils all of these needs and is something that would want the consumer to repurchase and recommended, it has ticked all the right boxes.
Klimchuk, M & Krasovec, S 2012, Packaging Design, Packaging Design, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, ProQuest Ebook Central.
Stewart, B & Pira, IL 2004, Packaging Design Strategy, iSmithers Rapra Publishing, ProQuest Ebook Central.