Ten Guidelines for the Design of Package Front Panel

Front panel of Food Carton

Front Panel of Food Carton

Packaging World have produced a Package Development Playbook. This comprehensive 138 page book covers a wide range of topics on package design and development.  In this article we have summarised a section entitled “Ten Guidelines for Effective Front Panel Design.

Numerous studies have shown that 70% of consumer’s purchasing decisions are made in store when the consumer is looking at the product on the retail shelves. Therefore the importance of getting the most effective design for the front panel of your packaging cannot be overstated in today’s fiercely competitive retail environment.
1. Decide on your brand position
Basically this means you need to decide what is the unique benefit of your product i.e. what will make a consumer choose your product over a competitor’s similar product. This unique feature of your product will guide your front panel package design.
2. Examine the competitive environment
Go into the retail store where your product will be displayed and ask yourself these questions:

“Who” is my brand?

Does it stand for something real?

Does the brand inspire trust?

What makes my product special?

How does it fit in among competing products?

Why would a consumer buy my product?

What’s the most important benefit or advantage?
How can my product connect with consumers emotionally?

What cues can my products give?
3 Decide on the order of information on your front panel.
There are broadly four types of information: brand, product, variety and benefits. Having an organised and consistent information hierarchy across the different products in your brand is important to make it easier for consumers to recognise and choose the brand. Look at brands on the retail shelves and see which products or brands have designs which are clear and convey this above information without having to search the package. These type of designs increase the “findability” and “shopability” of a product.
4. Make one element the Hero.

Decide the most important thing you want to communicate about your product and give that an important position in your front panel. If your brand is the most important thing, you can add a tagline which may reiterate the benefits of your brand or other key messages.
5. Less is more
Don’t overcrowd the design. According to this Playbook, typically the eye can only tolerate three main cues. Keep any further information for side or back panels.
6. Manage everybody’s expectations
Some departments in your company may want a lot of information on the front panel. Remind them that the package is not an advertisement so the information on it will be quite limited. Be clear about the objectives of the front panel design.
7. Communicate the value of the product visually.

Some studies have shown that consumers are almost 400% more likely to buy if they can see the product inside the packaging. Therefore it is wise to consider options such as window patches and die cuts to allow the consumer to see the product. Talk to Dollard if you would like to see samples of packaging where the product is partly or fully visible (samples of such packaging as can be seen in the photos below)

carton with window

carton with window

cartons with die-cuts

cartons with die-cuts

food packaging sleeve

food packaging sleeve

8. Be aware of conventions in different product categories.

Certain conventions exist with different product categories. For example, within food packaging it is almost always necessary to show a photograph or representative image of the food. However, in pharmaceutical packaging, the important thing is to convey the product name and what the product does rather than how the product looks.
9 “Findability and Shopability”
Make it easy for a consumer to find your product. According to the Playbook, cognitively and psychologically, colours are the most important thing to communicate with the consumer. Shapes are the next most important element. Words matter also but mostly as a support role. Consistency of design within a brand’s product range is vital to encourage repeat buying as consumers remember the designs and images better than text.
10. Plan for the future
At a future date, you may want to add other products in the same range. Therefore before you sign off on your design, ask yourself — can other products be easily added in this range? Does the design allow for the change of the product name and a different photo or image? Is there enough room on the design for a possibly longer ingredients list, cooking instructions or storage information?

At Dollard Packaging we would like to add an eleventh guideline!
11. Always speak to us first before you begin designing your packaging.
We can supply your packaging designer with structural guidelines for your packaging design to ensure your packaging works perfectly when finished and folded. We can also advise you on the how the number of colours used in your design will affect the cost of your packaging before you make any final decisions on your package design.

You can find more information on www.dollard-packaging.ie/news and www.dollard-packaging.ie/helpful-guides

Talk to Dollard Packaging Sales Team 01 847 0044