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Peeling back the layers of successful packaging

Packaging design is a complex web of factors that go far beyond beauty. Award-winning design agency, Milk outlines the key questions to consider when creating packaging.

By MIlk | December 14, 2018 | Sponsored content

Is the packaging going to stand out and be different while responding to the category?

Packaging needs to stand out and be different, taking people on an emotional journey to purchase, while also retaining the trusted and familiar cues of the category.

Insights and out of category influences can help determine a solution that challenges the category and achieves stand-out. We especially found this to be the case when designing the packaging for Only Good natural hand wash. Consumers were looking for ethically sourced, premium products at a reasonable price, so we brought department store aesthetics and cost effective packaging to the category and instantly achieved standout in supermarkets.

Does the packaging meet the needs of the people buying it?

Consumers are becoming ever more conscious about what they do and don’t want in their products; originality, authenticity, quality and value all need to collide and create the perfect storm for brand love. It’s vital to define exactly who your customer is and the key drivers in their route to purchase in order to inform the design process.

Is your packaging a genuine reflection of your brand?

Consumers now demand far more than just products. They want a full brand experience; they want to know who you are (i.e. who you really are…), what’s in your product, where that’s come from, the impact it will have on the environment, how sustainable your processes are, and the way you treat your people. They also want brands that they can align to personally – can they see themselves in the way you think and behave?

Packaging is an outcome of the brand – not the other way around. Packaging is purpose-created for its environment, but the creative is guided by the brand proposition and identity.

It’s important for packaging to fit the needs of the business from bottom line P&L to logistics and point of purchase. Globally we are moving towards more sustainable solutions however there is still a cost barrier given the extremely competitive nature of retail and increasing pressure on margins.

Logistically, considerations have to be made into the weight, size and shape of packaging. From the way it is shipped and unpacked by retailers, to the space it utilises on shelf. Efficiency is key to ensure ROI.

Point of purchase both in-store and online provide very different experiences and trigger points for the consumer. Online is hyper-visual, bold and simple. Descriptors and the space around the product help support the story. Whereas in-store products need to communicate everything in one place without overloading the design.

Is the packaging sustainable?

Sustainability is a hot topic and insights reveal that by 2020 it will impact every business and aspect of our lives, from changes in government regulations to the consumer purchasing process. Brands have to realise that what consumers see and what they don’t see are equally important and that transparency is becoming a key driver to success. The 'why' of sustainability is for the most part common knowledge, but consumers want to know 'how' brands are being sustainable – they want proof. This is critical for businesses and brands as purchase decisions are now being governed by this thinking.

In summary, packaging has to be efficient and ensure return on investment, while being sustainable, functional and attractive to the consumer and in line with the pillars of the brand in order to be successful and sell – it’s a true balancing act.

Milk is a strategic brand and packaging agency working across a broad spectrum of industries and categories (

This story is part of a content partnership between StopPress and Milk.

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