Everything You Need to Know About Box Designs
Box design refers to the creation of the exterior of a product. That includes choices in material and form as well as graphics, colors and fonts that are used on wrapping, a box, a can, a bottle or any kind of container.
It’s a practical tool, yes. But it’s also more than that. Like any good design, box design tells a story. It’s also a sensual experience, literally engaging us through sight, touch and sound (and possibly smell and taste, depending on the product/package). All of these details help us understand what the enclosed product is for, how it should be used, who should use it and, maybe most importantly, if we should buy a product or not.
Before you start your box design
There are three questions you must have the answer to before you start the box design for your product:
- What is the product?
- Who’s buying the product?
- How are people buying the product?
- Information you need to collect
Sometimes a product is stand alone, and in other cases it’s representing an established brand. If your box design needs to represent a certain brand aesthetic, make sure you’ve gathered the following information before you start:
If you already have the CMYK values or Pantone Matching Values (PMS) colors include those as they’re specifically for printing. (If not, a hex code is fine, too.)
Make sure you have the proper fonts and any specific usage instructions (like kerning or weight).
If you need to put a logo on the package, make sure you have a vector file available.
Content that needs to go on the box
What this is going to be pretty unique to your specific product, but you’ll want to make sure you have it all sorted out before you start design. Note that depending on your industry, there may be some things you’re required to put on your packaging for legal reasons.
You may need:
This can include anything from the name of your product to a description to words enticing someone to purchase.
Want to put photos on your packaging? You’ll need to have those ready to go before you start the design process.
Depending on your product / industry, you may be required to include a barcode, nutrition information, association marks, etc.
Know what temporary content you need
Some products—like foods or cosmetics—have additional information that needs to be put on different batches of products (expiration dates or batch numbers). You probably don’t want to print this directly onto your packaging as it will be changing regularly, but you’ll want to make sure you save space for a sticker or stamp to be placed at a later date with that information.
Style likes and dislikes
It’s a good idea to have done some style research before you start the design process. Start collecting packaging that you like. Snap photos when you’re at the store. Create a Pinterest board.
Remember, style inspiration isn’t always a one-to-one transaction. Maybe you love the color of a specific shirt, or the print of your aunt’s curtains, or the font on a sandwich shop sign. One thing to remember, though, is that you’re not necessarily curating design ideas for yourself, but for that ideal customer.
Packaging design budgets break down into two categories:
- One-time costs
- Per-item costs
One-time costs include things like paying for the original design work, purchasing a stamp (if you’re going the DIY route), print plate setup (for large, offset print runs.) You pay for these up fronts, and usually only once (unless you change your design).
Per-item costs are generally for materials and labor. Each box will cost a certain amount, as will the tissue paper you stuff it with and the tape you use to seal it. And you either have to pay someone to put your product into the box, or do it yourself.