6 Rules of Great Packaging Design

Packaging Design Rules

Tesco food packaging

If 2018 is a year in which you decide to redesign some of your packaging, this short and refreshing article by Peter Vukovic of www.99designs.ie will be worth a read.  (read time 6 minutes)

Mr. Vukovic opens his article by stating that a typical supermarket may stock more than 40,000 products (Source: US Food Marketing Institute). Therefore the size of the challenge of standing out on the shelves cannot be underestimated. He gives 6 practical tips for the creation of a good packaging design that will perform well on retail shelves.

Clarity and Simplicity

While we all are aware that our brand packaging should be clear, how do you actually establish that packaging design is clear and simple?

The author gives an easy yet useful tip on this element. He advises readers to go to a supermarket shelf and look at any product at random and ask yourself two questions.

What’s this product for?
What’s the brand behind it?

If you find that you cannot answer these two questions easily about this product within 4 seconds, then the design on this product is not clear and simple. The reason for the four second time limit is that this is the average time a consumer will spend looking at any one product on a retail shelf.

He illustrates his point with 2 examples – one good and one bad.



cleaning products bottles

The example of bad package design is of cleaning products that look more like children’s fruit juices that cleaning products – a misleading and possibly dangerous package design


The author advises brands and packaging designers to always strive to honestly represent their products on the packaging. While everybody wants  to present their products in the best possible light on their packaging, it must not be at the expense of honesty. Apart from being unethical, misrepresenting your products will ultimately lead to the consumer being disappointed with your product and perhaps generating a feeling of ill-will towards your brand.

The author demonstrate his point with the image shown below.

chocolate bun package


Mr Vukovic says that it is almost impossible to give advice on being authenticity – authentic designs are created when the package design has character, originality and is memorable. He gives an example of an authentic design with the Tesco organic range which is distinctive and has a strong impact with the photographs of the fruit and plants which contrasts strongly with the black background.

He suggest that the way to achieve this character and authenticity is to avoid design styles that are popular in your product category – for example, if all your competitors are using product photography, then go for illustration or type based design to help your product stand out.

Tesco food packaging


Shelf Impact

Shelf impact is a topic that is discussed at great length in packaging design articles. However, how would you actually test a  proposed package design to see how it would impact on  retail shelves? The author shows of an image of products on a supermarket shelf, shown here.

He reminds us that of the the fact that what consumes will see first is the  patterns made by all of the products together and he states that is only when our consumer gets nearer the shelf that a particular pattern will catch their eye. He recommends that before you improve a particular package design, you should recreate this type of retail shelf and test how well your proposed package design would stand out on a shelf like this.


While this tip may seem like a “no-brainer”, it is important to remember to create a package design that can be easily adapted if new products are added to the range. For example, if you are producing a packaging for an apple fruit juice, don’t include an apple as part of the logo or the base design as this may be confusing if in the future other non-apple flavours are added.


Mr Vukovic suggests that practicality is often the most overlooked element of package design. He informed us that the sales of Heinz ketchup skyrocketed when they inverted the shape of their tomato ketchup bottle.

Heinx Ketchup bottles

He strongly advises brand and packaging designers not to stick with the tried and tested shape for their packaging and always to consider if there is a different shape that would be more practical or would help the consumer to use, carry or store the product more easily. In the case of     cartons and sleeves, there are many varieties of box shapes and closing  mechanism that could be explored to create a more user friendly type of packaging.

If you would like assistance in exploring this please contact us at Dollard Packaging 01 847 00 44

You can read the original article here.