When it comes down to it, packaging is possibly the most important of your marketing efforts. It can be the first thing a customer sees of your product, and will be the last thing they see before they actually pay money for it. When you’ve brought in a designer for packaging jobs, it can be difficult to explain to them what it is you want. And it is a good idea to be able to explain to your designer what it is you want. Simply telling them to get on with it won’t be helpful to them or you. So here are a few things to consider.

Colours

Colour affects your mood in all sorts of ways. Some of the reactions we have to colours are simply taught. For instance, the idea that pink is feminine and blue is masculine is strong that some people claim the idea is biologically ingrained. Yet as little as a hundred years ago the Women’s Journal was saying “That pink being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

However, whether these associations are trained into us or part of our DNA, they can be powerful at affecting our moods. Yellow is often considered to be cheerful, red can be a signifier of danger, but has also been demonstrated to make people hungry- one of the reasons why you see so many red food labels.

Don’t concentrate solely on a single colour however, feel free to mix and match, experiment. A surprising colour combination will draw the eye towards it.

Lettering

After the colour the first thing customers will notice is your name, and the style of the lettering will tell them a lot. In other words, for the love of God do not use Comic Sans. Old-school, Roman looking typefaces give an air of being well established and classy. More handwritten looking typefaces shout out “natural” or “organic”.

How It Feels

Looks aren’t everything. How your customer responds to touching the packaging is going to be a factor as well.

If you’ve got this far then you’re doing well- the customer has got as far as actually touching your product. That’s barely a step away from carrying it to the checkout. There all sorts of tricks that you can use here, mottled textures, embossed lettering and so on. There are also plenty of mistakes that can be made. If the texture is, for instance, overly laminated, it can feel unpleasant to the touch. Likewise if it’s an odd shape that’s awkward to hold. Picking up your product should be the easiest thing in the world.

Even when they’ve got the product home, your job isn’t over yet. What’s your packaging like to open? We’ve all had to deal with a nightmare package at some point- exploding milk cartons or vacuum packed plastic packaging that does its best to slice your fingers open. By then you’ve already bought the product once, but if opening  the packet is a pain, you’re less likely to buy it a second time.

Simplicity

The worst thing you can do with a piece o packaging is make it overly cluttered. You want your packaging to make a straight forward, recognisable statement that your customers will understand instantly. So work out exactly what that statement is, and which elements will best communicate it.

And that’s it. If you do absolutely nothing else, you need to communicate to your designer exactly what it is you want your customers to think about when they see our packet. Because your packaging is going to be your best chance to communicate with them.

Charles Reybreck is a freelance writer who blogs chiefly about packaging jobs and other employment opportunities.