Packaging may not be something your customers spend a great deal of time thinking about, but it still has the power to influence them in subtle ways. Certain elements of psychological concepts can be found in nearly every packaging design, and these can send subconscious signals to consumers. Many customers may even argue they don’t buy items for the packaging, but rather, for the product itself. However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore this important aspect of your branding strategy.

With this in mind, you may need to consider ways to make your next launch or revamped packaging more appealing to your target audience. Here are some specific elements to consider.


In nature, bees are drawn to the brightest flowers. This can be true for consumers as well. Your packaging design doesn’t necessarily need to be neon colors, especially if this doesn’t meet you audience’s preferences, but people are most drawn to packaging that appears to jump out at them.

Although many other factors go into a compelling packaging design, in all likelihood, color will be the first thing people notice from the shelf. You need to consider what emotions certain colors make consumers feel, and then evaluate them in the context of your package design. Most colors can have both positive and negative connotations associated with them. Here are some common packaging colors and what they convey to customers:

  • Red: Red is a powerful shade, and it can be used in many different hues to make a particular statement. It is stimulating and conveys strength and excitement. However, it’s important to understand how you are using this color because it can also convey aggression.
  • Blue: Blue is inherently calming, especially in lighter shades. Strong blues help customers think clearly. Use caution though, because blue can also be perceived as cold or unfriendly depending on the context.
  • Green: Green is balanced and refreshing, and often reminds customers of spring and summer. As the color of much of the natural world, green is subconsciously reassuring. This color is great for promoting environmental awareness.
  • Black: Black is highly sophisticated and indicates a sense of glamour. This color is suited for a variety of applications in many different industries, but it is important to be aware that it can come off as oppressive.
  • Pink: Romantic, warm and comforting, pink is often soothing. However, too much of this shade can be overwhelming.

Because many colors have positive as well as negative connotations, you may need to pair different shades together to send the right message to consumers.


Beyond color, potential customers are bound to notice structure before many other elements of your packaging design. The shape matters, especially if it stands out from other packages on the shelf. Square and rectangular packages are considered conventional, so different shapes may be more compelling. However, it’s important to consider the fact that traditional packages may be easier to shelve.

For example, slimmer packaging sizes can convey the sense that the product is healthier than standard cartons. Elongated packages work in a similar way. In densely saturated product sectors, this can help differentiate your products. In some categories, consumers may be interested in purchasing products that seem more unique, which makes distinct structures really stand out.


Consumers perceive information about a product through the five senses, which can register a psychological impact. Color and shape obviously are perceived through vision, but sound, texture and scents make a big difference in the mental impression consumers get from your packaging design. Let’s discuss the senses to determine how they interact to communicate your brand message:

  • Scent: Smell is the sense most closely tied into memory, so this can evoke strong connections. Think of perfume packaging: It often lures customers in by hinting at the scent. Using scent in your packaging can create associations that remind customers of specific feelings.
  • Touch: Texture is a crucial element for keeping customers engaged after they pick your product up off the shelf. Soft-touch coatings, embossing, debossing and other special effects can make your packaging design more pleasing to the touch. Tactile printing effects keep people engaged for longer. Compelling effects make people want to keep holding the package, which can encourage people to buy.
  • Sound: While you may be thinking of packaging with interactive elements that play music or broadcast other sounds, this isn’t the only consideration for sound sensations. When customers open the packaging, it may make noise. While this is usually innocuous, certain packaging can produce irritating sounds that make customers unhappy with the product. However, some sounds are satisfying, like popping open a can of soda.

In general, single senses don’t work by themselves. Packaging designers need to tie these different elements together to make a cohesive package that resonates with your audience.


Psychological concepts have subtle influence on many aspects of the world around us, but when you are trying to increase sales of your products, you need to strike the right chord with your target audience. Before any packaging launch or redesign, it’s important to consider what your ideal and current customers value most.

Combining colors, structures and sensory details can tap into subconscious feelings that influence customers. Sending the right brand message with your packaging design can encourage consumers to pick up and choose your product.