The Principles of Packaging Design - Design Guide

The Principles of Packaging Design - Design Guide

You probably already know that most products come with packaging. Though you might think that packaging is just about the product it contains, great packaging design actually works the other way around. 

More than just the product, packaging design involves putting great thought into the consumers and, yes, even the competition.

Now let’s put ourselves in the consumer’s perspective. 

Even if you only wanted to purchase the absolute best product there is, one visit to the store would never give you enough time to scan and compare all of the products available. 

There’s also no way to test or try all products in the store unless they have samplers, but until then, what you buy will ultimately depend on what you see on the packaging. This is why packaging design matters.

As with any type of design, great packaging design is not just about providing great aesthetics; it’s also about providing solutions to the consumers’ problems. Because solving problems is what primarily drives consumers to buy a certain product, packaging design shouldn’t just be pretty—it has to be effective. At the end of the day, your product is only effective if it sells, and being pretty alone just won’t cut it.

Without further ado, here are some principles of packaging design to get you started.

Product compatibility

Before coming up with a packaging design, it’s important to know that the primary function of packaging is to accommodate and protect the product it contains. 

The product should also fit inside the packaging perfectly. Some products are fragile. 

Egg cartons are designed to prevent eggs from breaking. Liquor bottles have stoppers to slow pouring speed and prevent excessive spilling. 

The list goes on, but the idea is knowing your product well enough to know what it needs so that it can be packaged and transported safely to your consumers.

packaging design examples


The next thing to keep in mind when making packaging design is that aside from making protective packaging, you also have to make it easy to use for your consumers. 

The consumer should have easy access to the product, without having to think way too hard or use additional tools to open its packaging. This is where human-centered design, or ergonomics, comes in. 

As a designer, you should know how consumers are going to use your product and think of ways to make that experience easier for them.



It’s important for your consumers to know what your product is and what it’s for at the very first glance. 

To have clarity in packaging design, you have to assume that the consumer knows nothing about your product. 

You have to put enough information in the packaging to let them know about the product’s brand, type, variant or flavor, key components or ingredients, unique selling point, and other benefits and relevant information that you might need to present.

The information should also be easy to read.

This could be achieved through a visual hierarchy, by arranging relevant information from top to bottom and left to right. 

But with this in mind, you don’t need to cram all product info in one space. 

You can highlight your product’s strengths at the front of the packaging (to draw them in) and put the rest of the info at the back (to seal the deal).

Check out this article to understand the importance of packaging design in retail business.



It’s perfectly fine to highlight your product’s strengths in the packaging (it’s highly encouraged, even!) but that doesn’t mean you can deceive your consumers with false or inaccurate information. 

Your product should reflect what is presented in the packaging. 

Not being truthful with your packaging design will do nothing for your product but disappoint your consumer’s expectations, making them unlikely to buy your product again.

packaging design examples



Differentiation is one of the most important principles of packaging design. 

There might be lots of products that are similar to what you’re selling, but it’s still possible to think of a packaging concept that is unique and original. 

One way to do this is to give your packaging design its own unique personality. 

Not only this makes your design original, but it also makes your product connect with consumers and build a personal relationship with them. 


Shelf positioning

The next step in making original and distinctive packaging design is being aware of your product’s placement on store shelves. 

You can’t really break the rules and be unique if you don’t know what you’re up against.

This sense of competitor awareness prevents your product from blending in with competing products that are similar to yours, and this could be solved with a contrasting packaging design.

Remember: what is unseen is unsold”. Aesthetically pleasing packaging design is useless if your product ends up blending in among the hundreds of products that are lumped with it. 

packaging design examples


Finally, packaging design should be flexible enough to be used by different variations of your product. 

This is helpful if your product offers different variants or flavors but needs to retain the same brand of packaging design. 

This not only makes the entire product line uniform and cohesive, but it also makes each variation familiar, helping retain overall brand recognition.


To conclude

No matter how good your product is, its packaging design still plays a major role in the consumers’ purchasing decisions. 

Fortunately, Graphics Zoo’s professional graphic designers can help you come up with the perfect packaging design concept that best suits your product. Send us an email now at