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Packaging design from scratch: all you need to know

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How to properly deliver the product and convince the customer to purchase?


Think about the type of packaging your product needs. Will it be plastic or wooden, a big package or a tiny case? Do not go too far into the idea, it will be specified by the contractors.

The next step is market research. If there are some particular traditions in the industry, do not forget to consider them in your packaging. Remember: a consumer is accustomed to certain packaging patterns, so if you decide to move away from them, you risk wasting the budget.

What is included in the analytical part of packaging design:

  1. Market overview.
    You should examine not only your close competitors but the foreign brands as well. Their cases will help you find fresh ideas and look at the product in a new way.
  2. Research, including in-depth interviews and marketing analysis.
    To design an effective packaging you need to collect data on its size, material and color scheme.
  3. A knowledge base.
    To acquaint the designer with your brand and to reveal your vision of the packaging in detail, create a convenient guide for the contractors. Do not forget to include the results of the research. You can use this document when launching other products and expanding the line.

If you’re collecting data by yourself, use information not only from search engines. Try special analytical tools: Google Consumer Barometer, Google Trends, InMind, Gemius, and more. You can also find analytical reports on the websites of specialized agencies. For instance, obsolete data is usually published free of charge.

Take into the account that data collection will take more than one day.
But if you cooperate with an agency, it will be much faster. For example, in Univest Creative, we usually involve market analysts and other various specialists for project work.

Conclusion: marketing research is needed to examine the situation on the market, analyze competitors and evaluate your own product.

Working with Contractors

Marketing brief is a questionnaire that helps you reach understanding with a designer. If you work with an agency, they will provide you with their own brief. If you choose a freelancer, the brief will be your responsibility.

Conclusion: having brief is a must.


Packaging can be:

  1. For sales.
    These are ordinary packs, boxes and other types of packaging, a consumer sees on the shelf.
  2. For transportation.
    This type of packaging does not reach the consumer. It is needed to transport the product to the place of sale.
  3. Of special use.
    Preservative packaging that allows storing the product longer.

We will talk mostly about sales (primary) packaging since the others do not interact with the consumer.

Materials used for packaging:

  • plastic;
  • metal;
  • paper;
  • wood;
  • glass;
  • ceramics;
  • combinations of the listed materials.

Also, sales packaging can be divided into two groups: hard and soft.  The first one includes boxes, cans, bottles and so on. The second one – bags, briquettes, wraps, etc.

Once you have decided on the desired shape and material, your next step is to develop a packaging prototype. This will help you check how convenient the packaging is and whether it is properly bent and closed.

Another way to check the packaging is 3D-modeling. It will help:

  1. Save money on the probe printing.
  2. Ensure the packaging sweeps correctly.
  3. Test the design elements.
  4. Speed up the process of production and correction, if necessary (without prior visualization the process could take up to 3-4 months).

Conclusion: packaging prototype – to test the construction, 3D-model – to test the packaging virtually.


If you have a good old trusted designer, skip this part. If not, start looking for a contractor or an agency.

Is the construction ready? If yes, it is high time to choose your design. You will need several concepts to choose from, covering the logo, brand-name, brand-line, and a visual solution. Packaging design in Ukraine may include illustrations, infographics, collages, and photography.

Do not forget the important rule about photos for packaging. If the photography is a key design element, use the services of a photographer and a stylist., so you could get an image of the desired quality and aesthetic level.

Conclusion: do-it-yourself design – no, professional design – yes.


Labels can be:

  1. Front ones.
    They are put on the front side of boxes and include the logo, product name, and information block.
  2. Collar ones.
    These are usually labels for wine, water or vodka. They are small in size, which is why they contain only brief information about the product or manufacturer.
  3. Back ones.
    The label on the back side of the packaging.

Conclusion: labels are different, think which one you need for your product.

Who to work with?

The main differences are about the deadlines, guarantees, and cost.

A freelancer:

  • most likely, you will need a few different contractors, since one person cannot do the packaging completely;
  • the cost of work is lower, but edits are not included;
  • no guarantees.


  • some, like Univest Creative, offer “turn-key” packaging, starting from the brief and ending with the ready-made model;
  • the price is higher, but includes edits and several concepts to choose from;
  • if the client is not satisfied with the work, he is entitled not to pay for the concept.

How to calculate the cost of packaging design?

The price depends on:

  1. The quantity of text and slogans.
  2. Size and peculiarities of construction.
  3. The presence and complexity of visual elements (illustrations, infographics, photos, etc).
  4. The complexity of the product concept and market features.

Conclusion: the agency makes the packaging from scratch to finish, whereas the low cost of freelance work can cause some issues.

The creation of packaging

How to choose a company for printing?

Analyze the level and capabilities of the company before you meet them in person and sign the contract. In fact, most enterprises do not differ in technical capabilities. So pay attention to the perks they offer.

Suppose you have picked several companies that work with the necessary materials. Then you should:

  1. Ask for examples of similar packaging they’ve done.
  2. Look at the materials in person, check them for durability and visual suitability.
  3. Discuss additional terms of cooperation (payment, installment plan, etc.)
  4. Request a 3D visualization of the packaging. It is often included in the cost of packaging design at the agency, but sometimes can be done by the printing company, too.
  5. Request the color proofs. It will show how the selected tone will actually look on the material.
  6. Ask for advice on the packaging design. Pro technologists can suggest some ways to reduce material consumption or correct the design if needed.
  7. Specify the cost and request a calculation.
  8. Find out whether you can have a personal manager.
  9. Check if the company has free shipping.
  10. If your product is connected with the food industry, request certificates for the dyes used.
  11. Arrange a tour of the production. Customers are rarely allowed to see the manufacturing part, but it is worth a try. Check the cleanliness of the rooms, humidity, and temperature.

What kind of packaging may cause problems?

Non-standard packaging because it is either manually glued or created on a 3D printer.

Packaging made with non-standard material such as wood, tin or glass. For instance, lots of Ukrainian companies work with wood only in small amounts. That’s why to find industrial equipment that cut wood may be a bit of an issue. Meanwhile, cardboard, paper, plastic, pax aluminium, and their combinations will be just fine.

Plastic and sometimes glass packaging may also need expensive press molds. So it is reasonable to use them only for large, permanent print runs.

Moreover, not all enterprises would want to take a small print run (up to 50 thousand) and would agree to print only if your order is at least 100 thousand pieces.

What does the cost of packaging depend on?

A large part (about 60%) of the cost of packaging is raw material.

Another part depends on the design. For instance, if you have foil stamping, varnishing, etc., the cost will increase.

The rest of the price on the market is more or less the same. If it is higher, the printing company probably has additional perks. If lower, the enterprise is dumping the prices. For any significant deviation from the market price, ask the managers of the company, what caused such a cost.

If you have small prints runs, design costs can be a large part of the price.

How to check the packaging when it’s ready?

At this stage, you can check the quality of the package only visually – it should have even color, no smell, correct design and so on.


  1. Non-standard packages are suitable only for limited editions and can cause problems with finding a contractor.
  2. Check out the company’s advanced features.
  3. Discounts or low cost is a bad sign.