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Packaging design from scratch to production: all you need to know

Packaging design

How to make a packaging design to sell your product properly and convince a customer to buy it?


Which packaging do you think your product needs? What is best suited: plastic or wood, a case or a bag?
Do not delve too deeply into the idea. The contractors will specify it.

Your next step is market research.

If the industry has any traditions, take them into account when developing a packaging for your product. Your customer is used to one or another packaging template, therefore departing from them, you risk wasting your money.

What is included into the analytical part of product packaging development?

  1. Market survey.

    You should study not only the closest neighbors, but also the foreign market. Their cases may help to find some fresh ideas and look at the product in completely new ways.

  2. Researchers, including in-depth interviews and marketing analysis.

    For packaging development it is necessary to gather information about its construction, size, material and color solutions.

  3. Knowledge base.

    To introduce a designer to a brand and product positioning and to share your vision of packaging to the greatest extent, you need to create a handy guide for the contractor. Do not forget to include the results of your surveys. You will be able to use this document when launching other products or expanding the existing line.

Collecting the data yourself, you should use not only the information from search engines. Try to use special analytical instruments: Google Consumer Barometer, Google Trends, InMind, Gemius, etc. By the way, analytical reports can be also found on the websites of specialized agencies. A bit outdated data is published free of charge.

Data collecting cannot be done overnight. If you cooperate with the agency, analysis will be performed by its employees. For instance, Univest Creative, a creative agency in Kyiv, involve market analysts and project specialists in their surveys.

Conclusion: marketing analysis is required to explore the market, your competitors, and analyze your own product.

Organizing your work with a contractor

A brief proposal on packaging development is a questionnaire that will help to achieve an understanding between you and a designer. If you work with the agency, they will provide you with their brief proposal. If you chose a freelancer, you will need to create such questionnaire yourself.

Conclusion: brief proposal is obligatory.


There are some types of packaging:

  1. Consumer packaging.

    These are regular packages, boxes and other types of packaging available to the customer.

  2. Transport packaging.

    This type is needed for the carriage of goods.

  3. Production packaging.

    This packaging does not reach a customer. It is used for transporting a product to a point of sale.

  4. Packaging with a specific purpose.

    Preservative packaging thanks to which a product can be stored for longer.

Let’s discuss consumer packaging in more details, as other types of packaging do not interact with a consumer.

Materials that are used for packaging production:

  • plastic;
  • metal;
  • paper;
  • wood;
  • glass;
  • ceramic;
  • combination of materials mentioned above.

Consumer packaging can also be divided into two types: solid and soft. Solid packaging includes boxes, jars, bottles, etc. Soft packaging means packages, bags, briquettes, polymer films and other similar packaging.

Your next step is the development of a probe or packaging prototype.

After you decided on a form and material, create a probe (packaging prototype). It will help to check in the very beginning how convenient this packaging is. You will be able to test how it bends and closes, and if all the walls are even, etc. It is useful and will save you from redesigning large consignments of packaging later.

There is one more way to examine your packaging – 3D modeling. It will help to:

  1. Save money on probe printing.
  2. Verify a right choice of unfolding.
  3. Evaluate the overlapping of design elements even before a release of a first probe.
  4. Speed up production and correction process (if required). From our experience, if you print packaging every time to change something afterwards, it may take around 3-4 months. Visualization will help to finish that in 2 weeks.

Conclusion: packaging prototype – to check the construction without design, 3D model – to check packaging virtually.


If you already have a proven designer in your pocket, just skip this part. If not, you might need to find a contractor or agency.

Is a construction ready? Then now you need a design for this. Your work with the visual components of packaging starts with detailed elaboration of several concepts, namely your logo, name, brand line of a product, an information block and visual solution. In Ukraine packaging design can include illustrations, infographics, collages, photos.

Do not forget an important rule for packaging. If a photo is a key element of a design, better hire the services of a photograph and stylist. That way you will get a photo of a required quality and esthetic level.

Conclusion: design with your own hands – no, design made by professionals – absolutely yes.


There are several types of labels:

  1. Body label.

    They are attached on the boxes and include a logo, name of a product and information block.

  2. Collerette.

    A label for wine, water and vodka. It is small in size, therefore it contains short information about a product and its producer.

  3. Back label.

    A label that also has information blocks on the inner side.

Conclusion: labels can be different, so check which one you need.

Who is better to work with?

The main differences lie in the time of order processing, guarantees and price.

Key information on cooperation with a freelancer:

  • more likely, you will need many different contractors, since only one person cannot create packaging. In addition, you will spend some time on the search of these contractors;
  • the price of work is lower, but the corrections are not covered by it;
  • there is no guarantee assurance. This point does not need further explanations.


  • some agencies, such as Univest Creative, offer a turnkey packaging, some of them deal with every stage from a brief proposal to a ready-made model;
  • the price is higher, but it includes the corrections and several concepts to choose from;
  • if a customer is not satisfied with the result, he has the right not to pay for that concept.

How to find out a price of packaging development beforehand?

The price depends on:

  1. Text and slogans.
  2. Area and construction of packaging.
  3. Presence and complexity of visual elements (illustrations, infographics, photos, etc).
  4. Complexity of a product concept and market characteristics.

Conclusion: the agency creates packaging from scratch to its realization; lower price of freelance services is associated with some problems.

Creation of packaging

How to choose a company for printing your packaging?

It is better to figure out the level and opportunities of the company even before a personal meeting and signing the agreement. In fact, majority of companies do not differ in technical abilities. It is important to pay attention to the benefits proposed.

Let’s say you pre-selected several companies that work with required materials. Your next steps:

  1. Request examples of packaging similar to your project.
  2. Examine the materials yourself, test them for strength and visual suitability.
  3. Discuss additional terms of cooperation (payment, payment by installments).
  4. Request 3D visualization of packaging. This is a paid service that is often included into a complex of packaging design proposed by the agency.
  5. Request the proofs. It will demonstrate how a chosen color tone will actually look like on the material.
  6. Ask if they can consult you regarding a constructive part of packaging. Hard-core technologists which are involved in the production may recommend you how to reduce material consumption or notice uneven angles right on the drawing.
  7. Specify the cost and price policy. Request a report.
  8. Ask if you are going to have a personal manager. You know why it is convenient.
  9. Specify if a company has free delivery.
  10. If your product is related to food industry, request the certificates for dyes that will be used.
  11. Schedule an excursion to see the production process. They reluctantly allow the customers to visit the production part, but it might be good to do that. Check cleanliness of the premises, humidity and temperature. You need to make sure that your order is stored in good conditions and materials do not spoil.

Which packaging design may have some problems involved?

In case you have a non-standard packaging (shape or material), and a small circulation.

Not all companies agree to deal with a limited circulation (up to 50 thousand). They easily agree on printing from 100 thousand pieces.

A packaging with a non-standard shape is either glued manually or created on a 3D printer.

Wood, tinplate and glass are considered to be non-standard materials for packaging. The companies easily work with cardboard, two- and three-layer micro flute board, cardboard for puzzles, paper, plastic, izolon and their combinations.

A lot of companies work with wood on a small scale. There are industrial machines that carve wood, but it is very rare. On contrary, there are no problems with plywood, as it can be easily cut by laser.

For plastic and sometimes for glass the molds are used. It is quite expensive to produce a mold for a non-standard packaging and can be relevant only for regular large circulation.

What influences the cost of packaging?

Most of the packaging cost (around 60%) is due to the raw materials.

One more item of expenditure depends on decorating of packaging. For example, if the design envisages hot stamping, varnishing, windows, foil printing, die cutting, etc., the cost will increase.

Otherwise, the cost of packaging development on the market is virtually the same. If it is higher, this company offers additional services. If the cost is lower, the company is competing on price. In case of any significant variation from the market price, ask the managers of that company the reason of such a cost.

If printing a small amount, design expenses may constitute the majority of the packaging prime cost.

What should you pay attention to after the order has been completed?

You can verify the actual quality of packaging only visually – flat tint, correct construction, etc. It cannot have any smell at all.


  1. Non-standard packaging is suitable only for small print runs and causes problems with the search of a contractor.
  2. Check additional opportunities of the company.
  3. Discounts or low price are a bad sign.

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