It has long been said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, in the world of retail, we all know this is exactly what customers are doing when they are deciding between products. They trust that whatever they see on the “cover” — or package — is a representation of what they’ll find inside. This is why it is imperative that brands put time and energy into creating a perfect package for their product.

But what does a perfect package even look like? What things should it include, and how are they advantageous? In this article, we will discuss different aspects of product packaging to help you formulate a packaging strategy that will have your products flying off store shelves in no time.

First, we will start with a checklist of what should definitely be on your package. Then, we will provide actionable tips for how to make these list items most engaging.

Perfect package checklist:

  • Logo - Your logo image tells people what your brand is before they even begin reading any words on the label.
  • Brand name - Your brand name should be informative and catchy. Soft drink lovers will say, “I’m craving a Coke,” rather than saying, “I’m craving a soda.” Make sure your product package wears your brand name loud and proud to cultivate this connection in consumers’ minds.
  • Certifications - Is your product organic? Cruelty free? Non-GMO certified? All of these and many more are just a few examples of the certifications that should be listed on your product’s package.
  • Nutrition facts - Nutrition facts are required by law to be on the package of any food product. For more information on proper nutrition fact labeling, visit the FDA webpage on the topic.
  • Tagline - … Or slogan, or motto. Whatever you choose to call it, this is the catchy phrase that people will have stuck in their heads after seeing it on your package.
  • Product description/statement - Everyone loves a story, and that certainly includes your customers. Giving them a little something to read about, whether it is your brand’s mission statement or a brief overview of how your product came to be, could make a big difference for the indecisive shopper.

Now, some of these items may seem obvious, but the real question arises in how these vital components of product packaging can be used to your advantage on the shelf. Read on to understand just how much value can be extricated from each of these checklist items.

Make it appealing

Visual memory is much stronger than audio memory, so when designing your package, make sure it is easy on the eyes. Too many colors, words, pictures, etc. can be overwhelming and a turn off to shoppers. Use your product logo and colors consistently but sparingly. A busy package will draw attention away from the aspects of your product that you want shoppers paying the most attention to.

Take Chameleon Cold Brew as an example of solid product packaging. Their product package is extremely minimalist, using only a few colors throughout with their logo enlarged and front facing. When people look at the package, they know the big mosaic chameleon means “cold brew coffee.” The brand name and logo are distinct but not overwhelming, accompanied only by a few other words to give the shopper context.

Highlight your strengths

When people think about your brand, there are certain things you want to come to mind. Maybe your product has zero calories, or is packaged using only sustainable material, or is Fair Trade certified -- all of which are important factors in the eyes of the consumer.

Do research on your target customer base to determine what it is about your product that buyers love. Whatever it may be, draw attention to it by making it an obvious aspect of your product’s package.

A great example here is Health Ade Kombucha (shown above). They have a list of their certifications on the side of the bottle, and also reiterate one of their biggest selling points — “organic & raw” — directly on the front label.

Learn from others

It is always a good idea to know what your competitors are doing well and where they are falling short. Perhaps this is of paramount importance when it comes to product packaging. When a customer is standing in a store aisle with your product in one hand and your competitor in the other, what is it about your package that will tell the shopper, “I am the best option?”

This is where looking to your competitors for inspiration comes in handy. See what it is about their packaging that draws attention and what could be improved, then take your findings and apply them to your own package. Maybe they have a great mission statement on the back of the box, but don’t have anything to draw the shopper’s eye in that direction. Learn from the mistakes of others and you will surely be successful.

Be engaging

Most likely, the customer will make their purchasing decision based solely on what they can learn from the package. This is where including a tagline or a product description can make or break a purchase. Give shoppers an anecdotal reason for why your product solves whatever problem they are having and how it can add value to their life.

Hint Water has a cheeky anecdote on their bottle that includes a plug for their social media campaign. This tiny paragraph kills three birds with one stone: It gives the shopper a backstory for the product they are about to consume, it provides them with a testimony from a consumer just like them, and it encourages shoppers to check out their Facebook as well as share their own opinions with the company. Talk about multitasking!

All in all, product packages are like a convenient little guide for your customers to get to know you and your products better. When designed with clear objectives in mind, a product package can be the reason why a consumer chooses your product over an identical one in a less appealing outfit. Keep this in mind when designing or revamping your packaging, and really show shoppers what makes your product the best on the market.