10 Package Design Mistakes and Why You Should Avoid Them

Every designer has encountered some major package design mistakes in their career, so we’ve covered some of the most common (and unfortunate) ones below. Avoiding these common blunders can save your business time, money, and embarrassment later.

Test your packaging with your target consumer groups to ensure it is easy to open, eye-catching, and hits all the right marks. If your packaging doesn’t attract your target market or help your business reach its goals, it may be time for a rebrand.

1.   Overcomplicating Things

 

Simplicity is key to straightforward, streamlined designs. Making the design overly complicated will just confuse customers. You’ll want to leave enough pertinent information to answer your customers’ questions about your product, without overcomplicating or confusing things.

Kraft transformed their clean, long-standing iconic logo into a juvenile, flamboyant logo with nine opposing colors. This resulted in a more expensive, complicated design that just left customers confused. They eventually saw the error of their ways and redesigned the logo and branding to something that better aligned with consumer expectations.

2.   Excess Packaging

Excessive packaging is bad for everyone. Consumers respond negatively to waste, stores don’t like giving up so much shelf space, and the company is losing money on unnecessary packaging.

 

3.   Typos and Misspellings

 

 

This may seem like a fairly obvious mistake, but it’s more common (and costly) than you may think. Nothing breaks down your business’s reputation like a simple misspelling.

 

4.   Blurry Images

 

 

Sierra Mist’s rebrand efforts included a blur effect that just ended up making everything difficult to look at, which was a bigger problem than they may have realized. Based on a 2016 study by The Benchmarking Co. on beauty product packaging and beauty consumers, 83% of consumers said that the name of the product needs to be easy to read.

 

5.   Bad Placement

 

 

Sometimes, the placement of seemingly insignificant things can really throw off the whole design. As is the case with Pampers’ pull-off handles, bad placement can look humorous, phallic, or juvenile, which reflects poorly on the brand.

 

6.   Forgetting Your Loyal Buyers

 

 

Consistency is key to creating a strong brand image and brand loyalty. If your packaging isn’t consistent, it won’t match your overall vision and can leave customers confused.

As in the case of Tropicana, sometimes, big name brands veer too far off the norm and end up turning their backs on their loyal customers. Tropicana was attempting to make more “down to earth” packaging, but ended up with a design that looked more suited to a generic store brand. This left customers puzzled, and sales plummeted as a result.

 

7.   Difficult to Open

 

 

If a package is too difficult to open, consumers may choose a competitor’s product next time. In fact, this issue is so frustrating that it’s been given its own name: “wrap rage”.

 

8.   Outdated Design

 

There is a difference between vintage and just plain old. If your packaging is outdated, it can make your company seem old and insignificant as well. It’s important to keep up with the times so that your brand can continue to stand up to the competition.

9.   No Unique Traits

 

 

With an oversaturated market, it’s important that your product can stand apart from the rest. If your branding looks too similar to the competition’s, you’re missing an opportunity to reach customers from the shelf. While your branding should stay in line with your competitors, it’s important to find the unique traits that help you stand above the rest.

 

­10. No White Space

 

 

Leaving white space is a great way to highlight the most important characteristics of your product. It also keeps things simple and straightforward, so it’s important to leave plenty of it.

Redesigns and Refreshes: Why Change is Crucial

 

Each year, new design trends emerge. It’s important for businesses to keep up with these changes in order to remain competitive, and those that are really good at it can even position themselves as change leaders within their industry. As our Director of Business Development, Kory Grushka, put it: “Be very curious and stay on top of the latest trends and news – particularly in your industry, but also outside of it.”

Adjusting to Fit the Times

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory completely rebranded their packaging and store design to better fit in with today’s aesthetic style and feel. Graphic design studio, Wedge & Lever, took advantage of the new chocolate culture by giving the branding an upscale feel, with a color palette inspired by the chocolate itself.

Rebranding Efforts Often Lead to Huge Success

 

If a brand has become outdated, is declining in sales, or needs to stand apart from the competition, then a rebrand can provide the facelift they need to bring the right attention to the product. Rebranding also keeps customers interested and shows them that people are still hard at work behind the scenes making sure the product is the best out there.

 

Target proved this when they updated their generic Market Pantry packaging to give it a hip, trendy vibe. It now feels like a standalone brand, rather than an affordable generic pick.

 

Each product has its own detailed packaging, down to the type. The heavy typography feels fresh, like something that could be seen on a Brooklyn storefront. The badges for health feel like modern stamps now, instead of boring nutrition facts or your typical callout.

 

 

The Crunchy Oats & Honey Granola Bars now have honey dripping onto the top of the type. With the Toasted Rounds Baked Crackers, the “O” and the round portion of the “D” have treatment that feels like the edge of the cracker. The mixed fruit flavored snacks now have the typography as the teeth of smiling grapes to appeal to kids. On the Woven Wheat crackers box, the type is written so that it looks like parts are weaving in the crackers.

 

Some products (like the marshmallows) are transparent with only the logo and bold type showing, letting the product be the star of the show, and saving ink at the printer in the process. Other products, such as the butter, half and half, cottage cheese, and American singles have very flat packaging focusing on the typography alone.

Holiday Packaging

 

Changing packaging to fit a holiday, theme, or season can lead to huge profits. It can make your product stand apart from the competition and help build brand loyalty with your target audience.

Learn to Accept Change

 

 

While redesigning Campbell Soup Company’s V8 packaging, our research process included multiple store visits to each of the three club store retailers, significant desktop research and interviews of club store industry experts. Further, we audited cross-category products as well as the beverage category, and conducted extensive color studies that ultimately informed the variety differentiation strategy. The final designs focused on color blocking, bold callouts for the brand, varieties and pack sizes, and photo-realistic 3D renderings of the products.

Change can be scary, and with the risks that it carries, it’s easy to see why. But with a clear vision and full understanding of trends and modernity, the resulting redesign should successfully bring a design into the present day.

Original Packaging that was Better than the Redesign

Package redesigns are famously tricky. On the one hand, updating a product’s look can be an important part of appealing to new consumers and staying fresh in an evolving market. On the other hand, companies risk losing valuable brand equity when they sacrifice recognizable design. When faced with the challenge of a redesign, sometimes brands just don’t get it quite right, and would have been better off sticking with their original look. Here are three recent examples of redesigns that did not deliver the effect that companies intended.

Miracle Whip

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In Kraft’s defense, Miracle Whip was due for a modern upgrade. The redesign that they chose in 2009, however, was uninspiring and bland. It’s clear that they were trying to go more minimalist, but the result made the product look unappetizing and generic, with no indicators of flavor other than the words “The Tangy Original”. Kraft quickly realized the error of their ways, and in 2010 a new design was released that retained more of the fun and color of the original packaging.

Weight Watchers

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In 2012, Weight Watcher’s had their logo redesigned by Pentagram. Keeping with the trends of the time, they opted for a gradient and a heavy font, with no space between the words. The company, which sells products related to dieting ranging from books to packaged foods, wanted their new look to highlight the transformation that consumers experience through the brand. What they were not counting on, however, was that a vulgar British slang word was now smack dab in the middle of the logo, which consumers in the U.K. found very difficult to look past.

The Happy Meal

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Few things are as iconic to the children of America as the Happy Meal box. The simple, sweet design had a lot of personality, and it represented years of brand loyalty that McDonald’s had built with families. In 2014, the company decided to reintroduce mascots into their branding, including a new one in the form of “Happy”, whose realistic smile and crazy eyes terrified consumers. The new boxes quickly became the subject of public ridicule and scorn, inspiring everything from memes to thinkpieces about how McDonald’s had evidently lost their minds.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that all three of these companies – Kraft, Weight Watchers, and McDonald’s – are multimillion-dollar corporations with huge marketing teams and expensive consumer research, yet even they have gotten redesigns very, very wrong. It’s difficult work, and both the design community and the food and beverage industry are still figuring out the best ways of going about it. But for every failure, we all learn a little more about how to do better next time, which is especially true for companies that are as large as these three. If the public disaster of the new Happy Meal box prevented us from having to deal with more disturbing mascots that may have been in the works, then it was worth it.