6 Tips to Supercharge your Packaging Design Process

Improving your Packaging Design Method

packaging designer at work

Whether your product is sold in retail or online, you know that your packaging works like your product’s salesperson so the process of packaging design is really important. But how do you get the packaging design right and ensure that it doesn’t drag on forever?

These 6 tips are based a longer  article by Mark Velarga on the www.packagingdigest.com website. We have summarised the top tips and added our own advice from a packaging manufacturing angle.

Packaging Design Process

The article begins by telling us that one of the key factors of a good design process is the work that goes on before the artwork creation begins at all. As a carton and sleeve manufacturer, we would add also that it is extremely important that before you begin the design, you have consulted a carton manufacturer and obtained a keyline from them. The keyline is an outline of the structure of your packaging and it is vital that your graphic designer follows this when creating artwork.

Keyline for Carton Printing

Keyline for Carton Printing sample

Of course, at the very early stages of thinking about your packaging, you may not even have decided yet what structure your packaging will have. However, it is important to keep the carton or sleeve manufacturer involved all along the artwork development process so that the artwork can be prepared in way that is suitable for the carton or sleeve printing process. Artwork re-creation can cause delays and be costly. You can read more about this important issue here. 

The six tips are inspired by the concepts of “Business Model Generation” by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, and modified by PakFactory. These 6 tips promise to open up more creativity and more the design process more structured and efficient.

Below is a summary of the 6 tips.

Customer Insight

This tip advises you to give your packaging designer as much insight into your target customer. This means not just saying e.g.  “we need a sleeve designed for our new bacon range” but adding as much information as you can about your target customer’s behaviours, thought process, emotions and actions of the consumer target. The article states that ”investigating these details will provide a wealth of information with which to craft an outstanding design.”

Idea Creation

This tip encompasses a few thoughts, namely – have a diverse team or consult a diverse range of experts or staff in different departments so that all angles of design will be included in the initial design stage. Use skstches, diagrams, large whiteboards etc at this stage. Also, at the early design stage, focus on the quantity of ideas (not the quality)  –  aim to get as many ideas on the table as possible in order that no possibly promising ideas get “cut” too early. As the process proceeds, have a set of design criteria against which you can start to filter all these ideas. These criteria should always be based on what the customer insights learned from the number 1 tip above.

Lastly, never permanently delete any ideas – they could be useful for a future project.

Visual thinking on Paper

At this stage, it is recommended that you start getting an ideas down onto paper or onto a whiteboard where all parties involved can see and contribute their thoughts on the various ideas that are under consideration. Mind mapping can be very useful at this stage.

Story telling

This tip is summarised in the phrase “facts tell, stories sell”. The authors recommend incorporating a story of some kind on your packaging design. The important thing is to get across what the product is and what it stands for – this can be done with images or text but it will help if these text or images create emotions as opposed to dry facts.


This tip recommends creating a prototype or one-off sample so that those involved in the design process can pick up the sample, examine it, make suggestions for improvements etc. The authors recommend using this sample to explore other possible better options for the design “Use this as an opportunity to examine multiple perspectives and evaluate underdeveloped ideas.”

From the carton manufacturers perspective, we would strongly urge you to show this prototype to us or your chosen carton printer so we/they can advise you whether this prototype is a feasible for manufacturing. At this point we can advise on a number of issues to be aware of such as structure changes that may save you money when getting the carton or sleeve printed, the best weight and type of board to use and how the number of colours in your design will affect the price of printing.

Having a Design Attitude

This last tip means that when working in design you need to keep an open mind and accepting that good creativity means a lot of uncertainty and lots of different possibilities being considered at one time.

His final point is a good one. “The difference between good packaging and great packaging lies in the ability to design it for customers and not the product”

Talk to us at Dollard Packaging for help with any aspect of your packaging 01 847 00 44