Packaging Design Can Help Create a Winning Product
supermarket with thousands of products. It’s been said time and time again that a consumer will
dedicate a maximum of around four seconds of consideration to any product on the shelf and will
make between 70 and 80 percent of their purchasing decisions while inside the store. That is a lot of
processing and judgment for both the conscious and unconscious mind.
Product packaging acts as a gateway to whatever it is you’re selling. It’s like a coat of paint, or a
welcome mat outside of a house—your first impression. Consumers look at the packaging and
respond to its design in the moment. If the consumer feels the product might satisfy their needs, it
influences their buying behavior.
This is make-or-break for you as the seller and a real-world example of how important design and
behavioral economics can be in business. Behavioral economics is the study of how people make
choices. It’s also a great tool for transforming the way you do business. It doesn’t just provide a
simplified economic model, but also an in-depth look at the real facets of daily consumer life. It draws
on insights from both psychology and economics, providing businesses with a fresh perspective on
how our irrational behavior shapes our decisions.
For entrepreneurs, the takeaway from this is that creating a great product isn’t enough. To ensure sales
success, you need that something extra, because product packaging affects buying decisions.
Choosing the right packaging design company
One the biggest struggles entrepreneurs face when creating a new packaging or starting a design
overhaul project is picking the most suitable freelancer or design company. Prior to taking on the “Hi”
olive oil packaging project, Matadog designed the award winning packaging “Stafidenios” for Enios,
which served as validation that they were the right fit. It’s not a bad idea to test out a potential design
partnership with a smaller project before committing to them for large-scale or high-stakes work.
Not all designers are created equal, and browsing options to find your match can be overwhelming,
especially with the multitude of different sets of expertise and experience available. I’ve selected a few
key areas to consider, to increase the odds you’ll pick the perfect designer for your packaging design
Take a good look at their portfolio
First, check their style. Are you drawn to it? Is it distinct or unique in any way? If not, is the designer
willing to be flexible in giving you what you want?
Once you’ve narrowed your search down and found designers that you are interested in, it is still
important to ask for their portfolio. Here, more than simply looking at the work produced, try to identify
specific styles or trends in their work. Consider it their signature—even as a non-designer, you’ll be
able to see hints of things you may or may not want in your particular project. Is that minimalist
designer a good pick for your splashy retail campaign? Or that talented illustrator with colorful imagery
a good choice to build a conservative corporate image for a law office? You’d be surprised at how
much you already know about what you want from your design, and who does or doesn’t look capable
One of the most important pillars of any creative project is honesty and transparency. Asking the right
questions will help you gauge the packaging design company’s creative direction, their experience with
previous projects, and areas of expertise.
Some questions to get you started:
Which industries have you worked with?
How many revisions are typically necessary before delivering the final design?
What are some challenges you might face on this specific project?
Determine the ratio of cost to talent
Your next consideration is cost. Is your designer over or under priced? If they aren’t charging much,
they may not be pricing themselves accordingly, and may have too many unengaging small jobs on
their plate. If they are overcharging, ask yourself why. Are they good enough to warrant it?
This is a tricky step and relies heavily on your intuition. Prices do vary widely from 25$ (and lower) to
+150$ an hour, and it’s up to you to assess what the ratio is of cost to talent. In initial conversations,
try to assess the designer’s skill level, education, and years of experience. Asking for referrals from
your network can be a great start too.
Also, agree upfront on whether the project will be billed by the hour, or at a fixed project price. A good
start can be to commission a trial or smaller project to test the waters. This is an efficient way to kick
off what may be a long and fruitful partnership, or in the worst-case scenario, a fantastic way to save
time and money filtering out freelancers who are just not the right fit for your project. The adage “‘hire
slow, fire fast” (made famous among startups) is useful here.
Decide between a generalist or specialist designer
As with so many other elements of good business, finding a creative who can help you tick off your
goals starts with creating a list of those goals. List your expectations, and use this list as a stepladder
for assessing designer candidates. This kind of preparation will allow you to separate the specialists
from those with general expertise.
There are a lot of specialty areas in the design industry. These range from branding, web and app
design, advertising, clothing and merchandise, illustration, packaging, and books and magazines, to
mention a few.
For packaging projects, you should inquire about the freelancer or creative studio’s experience with
production/printing techniques, substrates they’ve worked with (glass, plastic, etc.), and industries
they’ve worked with before, such as beverages, entertainment, and so on. The World Packaging Design
Society can be a good starting point. Be careful if choosing a company without prior experience in
packaging design, as there are lots of intricacies when it comes to selecting an adequate printing
process and guaranteeing the best possible quality.
A good tip here is to bounce ideas back and forth with your shortlisted companies. If possible, ask a
designer from your network for guidance. It will help you choose more confidently. Keep their skill sets
in mind, and keep up a dialogue—the conversation, if you’re being transparent, should illuminate
opportunities for you to make use of their skills and experience.
Know the past to understand the present
Your final consideration should be trying to determine in advance whether the designer can deliver on
what they promise. Get references from previous clients. This is a professional who will, quite possibly,
become your long-term partner—get to know them a little better. Then, get to know them a little better
Holding someone to their references might seem like an “old-school” or overly strict mindset to some
employers, but it’s smart and can really pay off later. Ask for and check your designer’s previous work
experience. Once you’ve shortlisted a few finalists you’re seriously considering, ask for contact details
from their previous clients, so you can understand your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses from
the point-of-view of people who were there and worked with them. Ask about areas like
communication skills, fulfillment of deadlines, and eventual extra costs. Write up an agreement or a
contract with the scope of work to avoid problems later