Why is product package design important? Shouldn’t a good product just speak for itself?

Packaging is your silent salesman. It is the visual avenue used to communicate your brand’s story and bring in your customers. Creating a product is one thing, but branding is another level that many entrepreneurs have not considered or may not understand. For example, there are numerous requirements for packages containing consumables and food items, but more importantly, the packaging must tell your product’s story and entice your customers into purchasing your goods. Consider how important packaging is for your brand: Whole Foods is notorious for rejecting high-quality products based solely on the attractiveness of the brand’s visuals. Packaging is not just about housing your product- it’s about gaining buyers’ interest and trust not only to see it but to make that next step to try it. Many buyers will buy based on packaging alone and if you want to be competitive, your packaging needs to be eye-catching.

Are you ready to hire a designer?

First you need to have your product. Maybe you have sold a few items to friends and family or have started a booth at the local farmer’s market. Better yet, you may already have an existing line or are creating a new brand. If this sounds like you, then you are ready to hire a designer. The earlier you determine who is or will be buying your product (your target market), the better you can position your product to reach your ideal customer to take action. A designer is there to help your identity and visually create the look and feel for the specific market you are aiming to reach.

You need to hire a designer, but there are so many options. How do you decide?

Most start out asking for references, and then setting a realistic price point. Choosing a designer is like in college, where you have three options: sleep, party, or study. The catch is you can choose only two. In business, we have slightly different options with fast, good, or cheap, but we can still only select two. Services that are quickly done will be costly if they are to be high quality. Conversely, if you decide to browse discount sites such as Upwork.com or 99designs.com, perhaps lured by cheap prices. But keep in mind the product or service you receive will reflect the price. Another thing to consider many of these discount workers are not from America, and while this may not seem like an issue, in fact maybe an advantage for the low costs, it may turn out to be an expensive lesson. The American consumer can be particular and American culture may not be readily understood by those who have not been brought up surrounded by its culture. For example, Americans can digest violence, but not necessarily nudity. Americans prefer see-through packaging with an air of authenticity. With this in mind, many foreign designers overcompensate for their lack of understanding American culture using overly patriotic themes or color combinations and visual language that might not appeal to American tastes.

What’s the difference between a graphic designer and a package designer? Does it really matter?

Package designers are graphic designers, but graphic designers are not necessarily package designers. Package designers have a specialized skill. They need to think in 3-dimension versus 2D. Good packaging creates an experience for the customer. If graphic designers are not specialized in package design, you should ask to see if they have done similar types of projects. Most package designers are knowledgeable not only about design, but also product specifications, production, and the specifics steps that are needed to get it produced. Without experience in this area, you are taking a risk you may end up with something you can’t use.

In the end, you need to decide between good, fast and cheap. Then, hire the best designer possible without sacrificing the integrity of your brand. Sometimes paying more means the job will be done to your standards on the first go around saving you money in the long-run.