Time for a packaging refresh?

Stop worrying about what’s inside that box — instead, focus on the packaging. Why? Because that box is your product’s first impression, and if it’s a good one, you can be sure that customers will enjoy their experience with your brand.

When a company's packaging design is subpar, it comes off as lazy. Poorly designed packaging makes it appear like brands don't care about their product and customers will be aware of this as they browse the shelves.  Do you find yourself asking "What's so wrong with my packaging?" Well, nothing — if you want to be ignored.

The decision to invest in a packaging refresh is a big one. Here are 12 signs you should look for before taking the plunge:

Looks out of date

Good design is timeless. But a good design trend is fleeting. There are plenty of examples of this in recent history. For example, the 90s design concept of making products look realistic was fashionable at the time, but has since faded away. Design trends may come and go, but a good long-term packaging strategy can help your brand truly stand the test of time.

Packaging design trends constantly change as new brands emerge, and old ones fade. Make sure that your packaging is up to date with the latest trends in the industry.

Not consistent with your brand identity

Packaging is the unspoken way your customer interacts with your product. It's the first thing to come in contact with your customers and the last thing to leave their minds. As such, it should always be a reflection of your brand's identity.

If you want people to love your product, don't just focus on the product itself — present it in a way that makes it memorable. Think about iconic brands such as Toblerone, Coca-Cola or Pringles — you instantly associate their packaging with the products contained within. The same strategy will work for your brand, too.

Your product design and its packaging are the two most important pillars that make up a brand identity — they tell customers who you are and what you stand for. Make sure that you're putting in the necessary work to develop packaging that works well with your brand's ethos and personality.

It's a brand-new day in the world of packaging. With the internet and social media, what was once effective (i.e. putting your logo on everything) isn't any longer.

Trying to reach a new audience

If you're looking to reach a new customer base, you should consider making sure your packaging is the best it can be. You'll also need to consider niche markets — people whose needs are, to some extent, different from all the others. Targeting this specific audience might earn you a lot more sales or recognition than if you just generalised your packaging in line with what the rest of the category uses.

Need to cut costs

Sometimes, packaging can be a huge burden on your business — whether in time or in cost. You don’t need to overdo it with unnecessary products and accessories just to make your product stand out. Simply being mindful of what you’re putting your products in can save you a lot of hassle and money!

Take a closer look at your supply chain: are there any unnecessary steps or costs that can be removed? What is the environmental impact of your packaging? Is it necessary to use a particular type of paper, plastic or cardboard? Does extra packaging improve the purchasing experience for your customers?

It’s important to remember that every penny counts. Replacing or redesigning your packaging can save you a significant amount of money, and the results can be just as good as a higher-price package. It is possible for your products to look better, feel better and perform better without breaking the bank.

Products are getting damaged

No one wants to purchase a damaged product. Shipping and handling processes, bad weather, and transit time all contribute to product damage. A robust packaging strategy and optimum redesign can help protect your products and prevent returns or refunds. If designed well, you'll save money on shipping costs and avoid customer complaints.

Packaging shape is non-optimal

When choosing product packaging, businesses are in a constant battle to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. They'll need to find an optimal solution that works for their product, their customers, and their business. Shape is important because it can influence how easily and effectively products are transported, stored, and sold — which is why this should be factored into to any decision to redesign.

The perfect packaging is one that gives you the most bang for your buck! In other words, you want to choose a pack that maximises your product's cubic-foot-to-product ratio.

Square packaging, for instance, offers the benefit of taking up less space and is often the most optimal way of maximizing the space on a pallet or within a container. It means higher material usage efficiency and less transportation costs per shipping ton than other styles of packaging.

Sales are declining

If you’ve got a solid business but not enough sales, a packaging redesign might be the way to go. Customers are flooded with images from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep at night, so your packaging needs to grab their attention and stand out among similar products. If you want sales to skyrocket in your business without any additional marketing investment, it might be worthwhile to consider a packaging refresh.

Product has changed

Sometimes products change. Maybe they're just a little different than they used to be, or maybe they've changed significantly. For example, a product’s size, shape, or functionality may have changed. Or maybe you have reconfigured recipes or made a few key improvements to a product. Because of this, a new packaging look is necessary to announce the new changes and reflect its evolution.

Business has evolved

If your company is in a state of flux, your packaging may need to change too. Big changes in your company might mean that your current packaging no longer reflects your values, mission, or company history. A new design on the packaging can help you move forward and give customers a fresh perspective on your business.

Competition has changed

Your competitors are always re-inventing their packaging for new trends. But you can stay one step ahead by keeping track of what they’re doing. If you see your competitors’ packages redesigning, it may be your best move to update yours too (but better and quicker!). Keep in mind that when you change your packaging, try to include design elements that set you apart from the competition and make your product stand out on shelves.

Don't hide in the shadows of your competition — especially not when it comes to packaging! Now is the time to step out of the dark and redesign your packaging, brighten your brand image, and turn your competitors green with envy.

Visual unification

A lot of companies are guilty of this design sin. Designers do it all the time. It's not just limited to packaging! Branding inconsistencies can occur through a company's various products and outlets, and when you have an overabundance of them, it makes your brand look confused and unprofessional.

This can occur when companies acquire new products or brands and need to update packaging for all their items. The new package design can incorporate elements from two or more of the old designs to optimise consumers’ sense of familiarity. This can even be done to include similar products that are linked in some way, but completely different in packaging, such as different colour schemes or groupings of the same product within the package.

Regulations have changed

Governmental bodies can have a significant impact on the packaging industry and its regulations. With so many countries having their own packaging design standards, it's important for any company that sells products across the globe to consider packaging regulations from a wide range of locales. Changes in legislation can often require brand owners to redesign their product packaging at short notice.

Ready for that redesign or refresh?

Sometimes it’s easy to tell when you need to redesign your packaging. Other times, you’ll need to go through a process of research, soul-searching, and strategic decision making before you know that it’s that time.

Over time, even the most well designed packaging will lose its lustre. Just as fashion and styling changes, the design of your packaging should, too. Packaging that appealed to retailers and customers a few years ago may no longer present your brand's ethos and to your current target market consumers.

Packaging design is a fickle thing. You know how it goes: you’re in love with the design at the outset, only to grow frustrated when your products and processes change.

Redesigning packaging can be a daunting task. By sticking to the criteria above, however, you’ll be able to create a new design that connects with customers on a whole new level.

Ultimately, redesigning packaging will lead to increased customer loyalty and recognition, lower costs, and improved supply chain efficiency — all of which contribute to top-line growth for your business.