What’s the first thing you think of when you think of making food packaging appealing? Visuals, right? The food packaging should “pop.” It should draw customers’ attention to it on the shelf so that it stands out from every other competitor’s product. The more you can draw customers’ eyes to what you have to sell, the better your sales will likely be.
There are practicalities to figure out, too. Packaging’s first function is to protect the food inside from damage and contamination. Once you’ve got that down, you can think about how you can make that food packaging appealing.
Doing that isn’t as simple as it sounds, though. You can’t just splash some pretty colors on some mylar or plastic, shove your product inside it, figure out a name to slap on it, and be good to go. There’s a method to this madness, and it’s called brand identity.
Figure out your brand identity
This is your first priority when you’re trying to decide what your food packaging should look like. To do that, you have to first figure out what your “product positioning” is.
Your product positioning
Your product positioning is the method by which you showcase your product in the best possible light. With that, your potential customers will see it and want to buy it.
As authors Al Ries and Jack Trout say in their book Positioning the Battle for Your Mind, “Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.”
In other words, when you change the name, the package, or the price of a product, you are not actually changing the product. You’re changing how your audience perceives that product. That’s why packaging is so important.
Figure out how your product fits into your brand identity
How is your product different from what your competition sells? Who’s your major customer? What problem is your product going to help them solve (nutritionally, etc.)? Or, how will your product increase pleasure and provide gratification for them? You figure this out as part of your brand identity, because that helps you figure out what the size, color, shape, and materials in your packaging will be.
Spell out features and benefits
You have a 10th of a second to get customers’ attention when they’re walking past your product display in the store. Because your product is food, you have to follow the FDA’s guidelines, including having nutritional information properly listed.
As you figure out what the features and benefits are, ask yourself:
- How is this product used?
- How can it benefit the customer?
- How can I tie it in to my brand?
If the food packaging prototype you develop doesn’t answer the above questions at a glance, start again. Remember, food or beverage information and ingredients have to be clearly stated.
Construct food packaging with an eye to future “product line” development
When you introduce a new food or drink product, your food packaging design should allow for expansion. That is, if you decide to develop a juice product and your first flavour is orange, develop that product’s packaging to clearly showcase and advertise that orange drink, including packaging colour. You should be able to keep that same product design and then just change one thing so that the appearance is still familiar to customers and include other products in the same product line. Customers will know that expanded products come from you, too, and they’ll be more likely to buy because they already recognize it.