How to design packaging

On the Co-op America discussion list, I met a packaging designer and author named Wendy Jedlicka. She has a phenomenal web site with lots of resources for those of you who need packaging -particularly sustainable packaging- for your products. An index of free material is here. If you’re interested in sustainable packaging and minimizing the waste management load and landfills, you will be delighted.

[Before I forget, I have 6 free Co-op America memberships to give away. If you want one, leave it in comments or email me to let me know.]

While most of this is applicable for retailers (in general) and manufacturers of small products (like accessories) she discusses everything from what is packing, to the need of it. For example, some people are saying that the need of packaging is decreasing with the advent of internet sales. To some extent this is true yet as Wendy explains, “once the consumer has the product in their hands, how it’s presented is part of its perceived value. If you buy a $2000 item and it comes in a brown box stuffed with nasty styrofoam peanuts, you feel kind of cheated.” Miracle would like Wendy a lot (Miracle collects packaging).

I recommend that you read Starting a Packaging Project: Tips for Non-Packaging Designers, parts one and two which will cover Wendy’s basic rules of packaging development such as:

  1. Include packaging at the start of the product design process.
  2. Know your target market, as well as your competition, make sure your package conveys that knowledge.
  3. Consumers won’t buy damaged products or products in damaged boxes.
  4. Consumers, given the opportunity, will buy the more eco-friendly product/package combo.
  5. Don’t short change the design process, your sales will suffer for it.
  6. Make sure all points in this series have been covered. Your package is a system and is only as good as its weakest link.

For people with less complicated needs and if you have more time than money, you can make your own paper bags of interesting paper and recycled materials. Wendy says she can make a bag in 30 seconds (provided the paper is pre cut) but maybe that’s with practice. It took a lot longer than that to read the instructions. Speaking of which, I’d think folding jigs would come in handy if you wanted to make any kind of quantity of them.

If you find you need to hire someone or just need to start the process of planning your own packaging project, these questions (select “start project”) are a good place to begin.

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