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6 Product Packaging Design Tips From Store Owners

by Arianne Foulks

November 19, 2015

This year we developed the logo, brand identity, business stationery, marketing materials, and all the product packaging for HipCity Sak, a hands-free bag/belt for young girls. The bag snaps to a belt, so the child can carry her treasures, without needing a parent to take care of her stuff. When the bag isn’t needed, girls can snap fun accessories to the belt in place of the bag.

The designer on this project was Mariah, and it was a thrill to watch all the careful thought, research, and planning that went into this design work.

product design and packaging for girls' accessories
product design and packaging for girls' accessories
Photography by Splendid Musings for HipCity Sak.
product packaging design for toys
Photography by Jennifer Lacey for Aeolidia.

Mariah, our designer, was very careful to design packaging that would allow Sherry’s product to shine, while also standing out on the shelves. Mariah had this to say about her design decisions:

As a designer, I’ve been watching the average person become more and more design savvy. With the internet and things like Pinterest, everyone is beginning to learn more about good design and what good style looks like. We are, as a people, becoming more refined and in a way, we’re all becoming designers. It’s very exciting and has allowed for some super unique and new ideas about style and art to come into being. Kids today have more style and design intuition than most adults ever had in the past. I love working with clients who get this.

I see a lot of products and brand identities in early stages and a lot of people want to ‘fit in’ with the competition and have their brand, products and collateral look like what’s out there already. Unfortunately, when people do that, by the time their product hits the market, it’s already dated and doesn’t stand out the way it should.

When you’re coming into the market with a brand new, innovative idea like yours, I really like to encourage you to be brave & innovative with your packaging as well. Be a leader, not a follower. Don’t let the innovation stop with your product, carry it through your entire brand!

Now, that being said, I also know that there is value in those ‘go-to’ styles, there’s a reason that they’ve become the standard.. so, what I’m saying, is that we take what works from them, and update them in a new and exciting way.

All of this is what I’ve tried to do with your packaging. I’ve attempted to show the consumer that HipCity believes in their style and design savviness. That you trust that they understand and can appreciate good design.

Boutique store product packaging
Boutique store product packaging, showing a clear window for the product, and information on the back. The black, white, and gold packaging will stand out in a sea of pink and purple.

Top product packaging tips from retail stores

Sherry Beuchner, the owner of HipCity Sak, cleverly got in touch with some retailers before developing her packaging to get advice on what they’d seen working before, and the tips she got back were golden. We’d like to share those with you today, as well as the work we put into the packaging, and the final results

When planning your product packaging, browse the type of stores you’d like your product sold in, and see how similar products are packaged. There are likely to be a lot of methods and options, and you can see what does and doesn’t work well. These tips from shop owners are priceless:

1. Boxes are great for gifts

Custom boxes can be a more costly option than cardboard backers, tags, or other options. If you think your product would make a popular gift, though, consider a box! Most retailers told Sherry that boxes are great for busy folks who are looking for a birthday present for a little girl. If it looks like a great present in box packaging, the gift giver can throw it in a gift bag or quickly wrap it for a great-looking, easy gift.

Products fully enclosed in a box are great for merchants, too, because they don’t have to worry about the product or packaging getting damaged from too much handling by customers.

2. If you box your product, have a way to seal it

You would be surprised how often customers will open your box to see the product and then leave it unwrapped, with a mess on the shelf. Sherry’s retailers advised her to come up with some type of sticker, shrinkwrap, or other seal to keep her packages tidy.

3. Provide a demo product if you want people to be able to touch or try it

If your product is securely boxed, but it’s something that you think people would like to be able to have in their hands before purchasing, you may be able to give the store a demo product for them to display by your boxed product. Sherry wanted people to feel how soft the bags were, as well as to see for themselves how easy it was to clip on and off and use the velcro.

4. Keep the logo low key

Multiple retailers told Sherry that they don’t buy products for their shop when the logo is splashed all over the product. Parents often don’t want their children advertising a company by wearing the product. Sherry was advised to keep her logo small and not to have it be a big visible part of her product itself. We decided to tuck it under the flap on the bags.

product packaging design for handbags
The logo is embroidered on the product under the velcro flap. This way, parents and kids will know Sherry’s brand, but don’t feel like they’re providing free advertising. The embroidered rocket tag is a nice way to bring in Sherry’s brand without it being too much for her customers. Photography by Jennifer Lacey for Aeolidia.

5. Powerful visuals work best

When shoppers are scanning the store aisle (possibly with a toddler or two pulling at their clothing!), they don’t have as much time to read and learn as you’d hope they would. So you want your packaging to give them the big idea about the benefits of your product, mostly in visual form.

For Sherry, Mariah drew silhouettes of girls wearing the bags, to illustrate how it worked.

big box store packaging
Black, white, and gold stand out as a special product. The silhouettes clearly explain what you’re buying and how it works at a glance.
product packaging design for kids' accessories
Positive feedback from a retailer about the silhouettes caused Sherry to bring them to the front of the packaging in the final design. Photography by Jennifer Lacey for Aeolidia.
These packaging stickers show off the benefits of the product in an eye-catching way.

6. Packaging is MORE important than your product

One shop owner told Sherry that the packaging is so important that often it doesn’t matter what’s inside! Sherry told us this was quite a blow to her, the product designer, but she’s found it to be true. Your packaging tells your story, lists features and explains benefits, establishes your style, and attracts customers to it. Without that, your product doesn’t have much hope on store shelves.

For another example of this, see our Azalia Spa Goods project. What does Aimee sell? A nondescript cream, which is essentially a chameleon. Her lotions and soaps have no personality or appeal until they’re packaged. Packaging design is a huge opportunity to speak to your perfect customers through your design.

product packaging design for accessories
Accessories packaging design mock
product packaging design for toys
Final accessories packaging. Photography by Jennifer Lacey for Aeolidia.

HipCity Sak launched in stores in late June and is in eight toy and gift stores. Two stores have already reordered for the holidays!

Is your brand ready for the full experience?

Avoid the “don’ts” of getting your product onto store shelves, and team up with us to create product packaging that will have retailers saying yes, yes, yes to you! All of Sherry’s retailers were eagerly anticipating her product and were bowled over when it arrived. We would love to help make you stand out. Don’t let your idea flounder because it’s not presented well – contact us right away to give your product the chance it deserves.

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