If you go to a small convenience store you’ll find maybe hundreds of products in shelf. Now imagine that same scene in a supermarket; you’ll probably find thousands of products. This raises a big question, how do you differentiate your product from the rest? That’s were packaging comes into play to make a difference.
Packaging is the silent extension of a brand, it reflects its values and identity. Companies nowadays rely on packaging design to deliver their message and to create costumer loyalty. Like many fields in design, packaging design is a multidisciplinary field that involves marketing, strategic planning, research, industrial and graphic design, logistics and even engineering or psychology to accomplish what it’s expected. Besides transmitting an idea, companies also want to create an emotional connection with their costumers, they want to put out there packages that tell stories and have personality so their costumers will buy it again and again. According to the book “Package design workbook” there are six purposes for packaging: containment, security, protection, convenience, information and marketing.
As you can see, there isn’t a “standard” design in packaging. The design reflects what the company wants to communicate, either it could something in the minimalism area or something super-crazy and full of color and shapes. What they all do need to have in common is that they must inform the consumer what they sell and how they are different from the competition, in a simple and clear way, otherwise it’s a waste of time and resources. One problem is that designers are isolated from the rest of the team or process and are only needed when the graphic design part is needed, causing that many times the design doesn’t accomplish the necessary requirements.
Lately there has been a change in how packaging design is done, a radical change produced by the people who buy the products. Consumers are getting more and more concerned about the sustainable part of the products they buy, which refers not only to the environmental aspect of it but also to the social and economic part. People want to know where do the materials of the packaging come from, from where the actual product comes from or what happens after they have used the product, and companies have started to change the way they do things to please their costumers and also use this as a marketing tool. Now you can find packaging that can be easily recycled, that has a second life-cycle or that uses renewable/sustainable materials. One example of a “green” material is terraskin, a paper that is made from mineral powder and non-toxic resin, meaning that trees are not cut down and it requires no water in its production. Although this is a positive advance, it will take a long time to change how the systems work (recycling processes, printing, use of materials, etc) to make sustainability reach its full potential.
Sources: The Package Design Workbook by Steve DuPuis and John Silva.