Do you know that May 7th is National Packaging Design Day?
Due to the critical role in retail and marketing, there is no reason why it can’t have a day to recognize by. Beverage packaging design provides us with tons of upside in manufacturing, logistics, selling, advertising and customer experience.
So how do you know you are doing it right?
This ultimate guide will help you dive into what makes a beverage packaging design, how even to make ones and what other successful businesses do with their beverage packaging design.
What is beverage packaging design?
Beverage packaging design is the connection of form, structure, materials, color, imagery, typography, and regulatory information with extra design elements to make a drink suitable for marketing.
- Primary, the goal of a packaging design is to create a vehicle that serves to contain, protect, transport, dispense, store, identify, and distinguish your beverage in the marketplace.
- Ultimately, its objective is to meet marketing objectives by distinctively communicating a consumer product’s function or personality and generating a sale.
How important is beverage packaging design?
You can’t just put a glass of liquid on the shelf and expect people to buy it. I mean, how you even transport it and then convince your consumer to purchase your drinks. Well, this is when a packaging design comes in handy. And there are a lot more benefits to come.
So, let’s figure out:
Protect your beverage
The primary purpose of beverage packaging is to protect the liquid inside from any damage during transport, handling and storage. Packaging keeps the product intact throughout its logistics chain from manufacturer to your consumer.
It protects the drink from elements that can affect the customer’s experience while consuming your delicious drink and the drink itself like humidity, light, heat and other external factors.
Deliver crucial information
Primarily, packaging has an essential role in keeping its contents and customers safe. Packaging should contain important information about the beverage and its safety. For example, for drink products expiration date, best before date and a list of ingredients and nutrition must be clearly visible on the packaging.
No harmful chemical, taste, or smell should transfer from packaging materials to your beverage, whether produced from virgin or recycled material. Moreover, it must be clear from the packaging if it contains harmful substances. All these pieces of information add to the product safety for the consumer.
Raise product visibility and customer interest
Having properly designed packaging gives your drink a shelf presence. Good packaging is attractive and stands out from competitors, urging buyers who pass by to pick your beverage over theirs.
Your packaging also communicates necessary information about your brand: from the brand message to contact information. By giving an excellent first impression, you ensure that your customer receives your brand message loud and clear.
Define your brand identity
Great packaging should make clear what kind of brand you are. While packaging is responsible for your product’s first impression, it also needs to reflect your brand’s identity consistently. For example, if you’re an energy drink for gamers, your packaging should utilize neon color and a sci-fi look to stay in line with your brand identity.
This consistency helps your brand be more memorable to your audience. The easier the recognition, the more chance you will encourage consumer loyalty to your brand, increasing sales in the long term.
A thorough analysis before starting beverage packaging design
3 key questions need to be answered
Before starting anything, the following questions will help you shape your packaging design:
- What is the product?
- Who’s buying the product?
- How are people buying the product?
First, let’s look at these in a little bit more depth:
What is the product?
This should be an easy one to answer. What are you selling? What is it made of? Is it sensitive to light, heat, or any other external factors?
These questions will help you determine if there are any logistical requirements for your beverage packaging design. For example, a chilled and refreshing beverage product will need packaging that can deliver a cold feel at hand, like a glasses bottle or an aluminum can. Something that fragile requires layers to keep things in place while transporting and storing.
Who’s buying the product?
Is your drink supposed to be consumed by men, women or both? Is it for adults or children? Are they environmentally conscious? To those with lots of disposable income or on a budget?
A beverage’s packaging should appeal to its target consumer because they are the ones making the final decision and will be the person to choose between your drink and your competitors. Drinks for older adults may need larger text. Alternatively, products geared toward a higher-class consumer will need to consider types of packaging to create a feeling of luxury.
How are people buying the product?
Are they purchasing your drink from a supermarket? A convenience store? E-Commerce platform? Your company website?
You want to think about packaging deficiency, whether your beverage will be sold online or whether it’s going to be put on a big store shelf.
Products sold online probably don’t need a lot of extra space that could cause your items to rattle around. And those that will be on a convenience store shelf will need to catch the eye of a customer surrounded by others’ eye-catching packaging.
All of these answers will guide you in making all of the other decisions while designing your beverage packaging. So it’s okay if you’re still pondering these questions. It’s better to take your time to get it right than jump in too soon.
4 buckets of information need to be gathered
Brand identity requirements
Whether you’re crafting a package design for one product or several, it’s crucial to let buyers know where your product is coming from. The key here is consistency. Your packaging needs to represent a specific brand aesthetic, so make sure you’ve gathered all the following information about your identity before you start:
Ensure you have the proper fonts and any specific usage instructions (like kerning, weight, size or proportion).
If you need to put your drink logo on the package, make sure you have a background to make it pop up and a vector file available.
Content on your packaging
The thing is to make this unique to your specific product, so you want to make sure you have it all planned out before you start designing. Depending on your industry, there will be some details you’re required to print on your packaging for legal purposes.
You may need:
- Written copy: this includes anything from the name of your drink to a description that engages people to purchase.
- Imagery: want to put photographic designs on your packaging? You’ll need to have those all set before you start the design process.
- Required marks: depending on your product and your segment, you may be required to include a barcode, nutrition, ingredient information, association/certificate marks, etc.
- Know what temporary content you need: beverages usually have additional information that needs to be put on different batches of products (batch numbers or expiration dates). As it will be changing regularly, you probably don’t want to print this directly onto your packaging, but you’ll want to make sure you save space for a stamp or stickers to be placed later with that information.
A style board
It’s better to have done some style research before starting the design process. Take a snapshot while you are at the store, print it out and create a style board. Or you can just make a digital one on Pinterest.
But remember, you’re not designing for your interest, but for your ideal customer. You may be the type of person that likes vintage and luxury tea parties, but if you’re selling energy drinks for white-collar workers, that’s probably not the best style for your packaging.
The packaging budget usually falls into two categories:
- One-time cost: This includes things like paying for the design work, print plate setup (for large, offset print runs), purchasing a stamp (If you’re going the DIY route), buying a stamp (if you’re going the DIY route). You will pay for these upfronts, and usually only one (unless you change your design).
- Per-time cost: These costs are generally for materials and labor. Each batch will cost a certain amount, as will the tape you use to seal it.
You’d like to have an estimated number of how much you’ll spend before starting the design process. Noted that, cheaper isn’t always better; paying extra for materials could up your presentation by making you stand out from the competition.
A complete 7-step guideline for crafting your perfect beverage packaging design
Step 1: Determine structure of packaging layer
There are three types of layers in product packaging: outer packaging, inner packaging and product packaging. Your beverage may need one or all three of these.
- Outer packaging: This is the outer layer that keeps your product unharmed and in some cases it’ll be the first thing your customer is going to see. Outer packaging includes the box that the product is shipped or the six-pack cardboard holder displayed on your distributor’s shelves.
- Inner packaging: It is what keeps your drink nested safely inside your outer packaging. This might be the cardboard dividers or the polyethylene shrink wrap film that stop your beverage from jostled or scuffed.
- Product packaging: This is what people think of when mentioning packaging design: It’s the aluminum can that contains the delicious coke, the label on a bottle of corona extra.
Each of these layers gives you an opportunity to spread your story. Make sure you can keep the consistency throughout each layer – It is not appropriate to have a recycled outer box, a reusable glass bottle with a plastic 6-pack ring for inner packaging.
Step 2: Select suitable type of packaging
There is a huge variety of types that are available for your beverage. Let take a look at a few:
Choosing between a can and a bottle may sometimes be a breeze. But sometimes it’s not. Here are a few things you need to think about when selecting the right type of packaging for your product:
- The product
Everything always brings you back to this! Selling something liquid might minimize your options, but don’t let this stifle your creativity.
- The competition
Does everyone else put their milk in a carton box? You want to think really hard about putting yours in something else. On the one hand, it will make you stand out, which could help set you apart. On the other, consumers are used to boxes of milk, and grocery stores are set up to stock boxes in their milk section, which may mean yours is fighting an uphill battle.
- The budget
You may have an awesome idea of how you’re going to sell your bottled water in a luxury glass bottle. But if your budget is $0.02 per bottle, that’s probably not going to be possible. Noted always to keep the ideal customer in mind: if your bottled waters are going to sell for $0.2 each, a simple, inexpensive plastic bottle is probably your best choice. But if they’re premium water from Mount Fuji that you are selling for $9, you may be better off going for that luxury glass bottle.
It is important to add a signature touch to your packaging, even if it is a little bit more expensive. It not only makes your product stand out from the competitors but also creates a unique feeling that makes your customer feel valued.
Step 3: Contact and check with printers
Printing is something you’re not going to do until after completing all the designing work. But you should think about it before you start your artwork! Not only is contacting a printer going to ensure you’re solid on the printing cost, but they’ll be able to give you more information that can help your designer prepare files.
These are a couple of things you’ll want to ask:
If you’re going with a standard-sized bottle or cardboard container, printers should be able to provide dieline templates that can be shared with your designer.
- Color options
Some printers will be able to color-match to any Pantone color. Others less-expensive options will have a limited color palette.
- File-format requirements
Your printer is going to need a vector file format. Is it necessary for it to be a layered file? Should you include cut lines? You may not be able to use these files if you don’t have the right software, but your printer will be able to. Your designer will also supply a print-ready file and visual mockups in a PNG or JPG format (which everyone can open).
- Offset printing vs. digital printing
Which type does your printer use?
If they do offset printing, what is the minimum order number?
How do the costs scale?
Step 4: Decide information printed on
Think back to the thorough analyses you have earlier, especially those 3 questions. You’re going to use that to design the information architecture for your beverage package.
You may have beautiful pictures of your product in action, a brilliant testimonial from a buyer, and a great design showing customers how to use your product. But when a customer looks at your packaging, they’re probably only going to remember one thing. What do you want that to be?
Pick the most important thing you want customers to know about your drink. That should be the center point of your design.
Unless you have too much information that needs to show to your customer, simplicity could have a huge impact. Reduced patterns, fewer elements, and minimal colors make a product look much calmer on a shelf filled with chaos.
You can then add 2 or 3 things you want to show once they’ve picked up your drink (or clicked on your link) that will seal the deal. Let’s look at some examples:
Step 5: Evaluate your packing design
You’ve got some great ideas for your design! Now it’s time to have some feedback. These are a few things you’re going to want to think about:
- Is it clear what your product does and who it’s for?
- What will this package look like in a 3D model?
- What will this package look like on store shelves?
- Is this design versatile?
- Is your packaging reusable?
Give yourself some space if you feel too attached to make a decision. Take a break from looking at the packaging design and then come back to it. Distance sometimes is the best remedy.
Step 6: Collect feedback at the test round
Before settling down for the final product, you should have your package design run by both chairmen and people who have never seen or heard of your product.
Ask as many people as you possibly can, even if it’s your friend from high school or your neighbor across the hall. People not closely related to your beverage will notice things you never did. Consider asking them:
- What does this product do?
- Who is supposed to purchase this product?
- What is the main message you get when you first look at this packaging?
The answers to these questions will help you decide if the packaging communicates what you want it to. If it’s not, go back to the designer and figure out what you can change.
Step 7: Receive the right design materials from designer
Great! At this stage, you’re a beverage packaging design that you love. Now go back to those requirements you got from the printer and check to make sure you have the correct files and information. You probably need these from your designer:
- Packaging dielines in vector format.
- Color code
5 Common Mistakes when designing beverage package
Mistake 1: Misrepresentation
Your packaging design should make your beverage look attractive, not exaggerated. A deceiving package design that promises something your drink can not deliver will damage your reputation and your brand.
Mistake 2: Underestimate typography
The words on your package design are important, not just because of what they are, but also because of how they look and what they mean. Stunning typography is an eye-catching packaging differentiator.
Choose distinctive, high-readability fonts, and pay close attention to spacing (kerning), text size, and color contrast with the rest of the packaging design.
Mistake 3: Make it too complicated to open
It is easier to spread your message or secure your drink while transporting by adding a few more or using a complicated packaging layer. Creativity is good but it has to please your customer – cutting through layers of boxes and wraps just to get a bottle of beer isn’t the happiest way to have a nice drink.
Mistake 4: Waste material and generate unnecessary waste
Nowadays, there is more emphasis on the environmental aspect of doing business. Customers are paying more attention than ever before to recyclable packaging. Especially big enterprises are expected to care for the environment.
Mistake 5: Waste space
This has a significant impact on both your business and the environment. Wasting space means wasting materials, wasting storage units and creating free space for your drink to be jostled or scuffed.
In the end, there are three crucial factors that affect your beverage packaging design: your customer, your beverage and your brand. The steps above are the guideline to help you explore these three factors to the fullest extent so that you don’t end up with a mistake on store shelves.
Tan Do is a global beverage ODM/OEM manufacturer and supplier located in Vietnam. Since 1996, we have built trust and credibility not only throughout Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology, we have crafted thousands of products that align with ISO, HACCP, HALAL, FDA, and many other standards.