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Creating Attention-Grabbing Packaging for Your Products

When designing packaging, it’s important to go beyond the label itself. Though it plays a role, it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. According to a 2014 study from the University of Miami and California Institute of Technology, the aesthetics of a product’s packaging influence where the eyes land on the shelf, and thus the products they look at and the amount of time they spend looking at each product.

Creating Attention-Grabbing Packaging for Your Products

Color Psychology

Every color evokes emotion. While you should keep your packaging in line with your brand’s colors to help foster brand awareness, it’s important to consider the subconscious messages you’re sending to customers when they look at your product. Fortunately, color psychology can help guide our decisions.

  • Red: Commonly associated with passion, love, war, danger, and power. Red attracts attention more than any other color, but also increased metabolism, increases breathing rate, and raises blood pressure.
  • Orange: A combination of the happiness of yellow, with the power of red. Orange is often associated with sunshine and joy. It represents attraction, encouragement, success, and determination.
  • Yellow: This color is associated with joy, energy, happiness, and intellect. It helps to stimulate mental activity, helps you feel cheerful, and generates muscle energy. Bright yellow can get attention but if it is over-used, it can be disturbing. Yellow represents honor and loyalty, but the color has also been associated with cowardice.
  • Green: Associated with nature, green is symbolic of fertility, freshness, harmony, and growth. Emotionally, it is attached to safety. Green is a healing color associated with stability, depth, and endurance. It slows down the metabolism and has a calming effect on the mind. It also symbolizes trust, confidence, wisdom, and loyalty.
  • Blue: Associated with the sky and the sea, it is a calming, peaceful color. It can slow the heart and respiratory rates, improve concentration, boost mental clarity, and at the same time, stimulate thinking. It is linked with confidence, but it is not a highly emotional color, and can be associated with aloofness. Because of the lack of blue foods (even blueberries are purple), it is an unappetizing color. It’s said using the color blue in your kitchen can help you lose weight.
  • Indigo: This color is a combination of blue and violet. It has a strong New Age association, and is attached to intuition, integrity, structure/organization, and the arts because it fosters creativity. It is an authoritative color, associated with traditions, rules, and religion. In terms of negative aspects, it is associated with conformity and the inability to work without organization.
  • Violet: This color combines the energy of red, with the stability of blue. It is associated with: power, luxury, royalty, ambition, wealth, wisdom, independence, creativity, magic, and mystery.
  • Pink: This color has contradictory meaning depending on culture and context. It’s linked to both femininity and masculinity, tenderness, and shallowness, and more. In the western world, it is associated with females, love, innocence, calming, and optimism. It is not a threatening color, but it can be associated with vulnerability and weakness.
  • White: This is the “color of perfection” and represents light, faith, purity, safety, cleanliness, innocence, goodness, and virginity.
  • Black: This color is associated with: fear and the unknown, grief, death, strength, authority, power, elegance, evil, formality, and mystery.
  • Brown: Associated with nature, this color is associated with reliability and strength, but can also cause isolation and sadness, particularly when used in large amounts. In the right applications, it can be warm, comfortable, and sophisticated.
  • Gray: Gray is associated with conformity because it doesn’t have a personality of its own, changing depending on the color it is mixed with. It’s neutral and unresponsive, and indecisive. The darker it becomes, it becomes mysterious. It is connected with obligation and maturation as it is associated with aging.

Powerful Imagery

Imagery is critical to your packaging design. A 2013 study looking at the effects of movement visuals and imagery of sensorial product impressions. Participants saw packaging variants for a fake brake of laundry detergent. They were asked to smell the package, estimate the weight, and evaluate the product and brand.

The research revealed images that connote upward movement resulted in a less concentrated smell, but only when those images were placed in the upper left corner of the package. Imagery located in this area of the package, compared to the bottom right corner also caused people to estimate a lower product weight. The location and movement of the images also impacted brand image formation and consumer preference.

Whatever imagery you use on your product packaging, make sure it’s in line with your current branding and makes sense on the package. In other words, don’t place images of oranges on a grape flavored or scented product.

If you’re not sure of the best possible placement, consider making several markups and conducting your own market research to determine what your target customers would respond to the best.

Materials

Packaging is available in various materials – cardboard, wood, metal, bags, boxes, baskets, etc. Think about what’s most practical and affordable for your product. You wouldn’t package corrosives in metal, would you? More expensive packaging isn’t always worth it, if it adds no additional value to your customers.

Custom Packaging

Custom packaging has a number of benefits, ranging from uniqueness to catch attention, to more budget-friendly options. Going the custom route ensures you have the best possible packaging to fit your products, and can separate yourself from the competition. Whether you’re selling online, in a brick-and-mortar store, packaging gives you a way to stand out in the minds of your customers.

  • Lush, a bath and body company, uses as little packaging as possible, in an effort to stay in line with their corporate values, which are in part focused on environmentally friendly. Bottles are made of recycled plastic, and customers are encouraged to recycle them when they are finished. Pots are also made of recycled plastic, and customers who bring five back into the store are given a free facemask. Bath bombs and bubble bars are wrapped in plastic, if not shipped “naked” depending on whether you order from the U.S./Canada or the U.K.
  • Zappos’ has a new shoebox, debuted as part of their #IAmNotABox campaign. On June 1st, the company started shipping their shoes in a new box, designed to be cut into pieces and repurposed into any number of things. It plays into a larger marketing campaign, where a schoolboy helps a homeless man through a personal cardboard construction project.
  • Diet Coke’s “It’s Mine” campaign features millions of custom labels, as each 12-oz. glass bottle features a unique label. Designed to make the product feel more special, no two labels are the same, so every customer gets something unique.

Packaging design is exciting and stressful at the same time. There are several elements to coordinate before the final design becomes reality and gets mass produced. Take your time and put thought into each stage. Run several designs on a small scale and get feedback from your customers before launching full scale into new packaging.

Image: Girl’s hands holding the package on the table


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Lucinda Watrous is a freelance writer and WordPress design guru. Though the bulk of her experience lies in online business, social media and general geekery, she's also a self-proclaimed foodie who enjoys health and wellness. http://lucindawatrous.com

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