Did you say packaging design?

08 November 202114 min reading

“While a proper packaging supports and increases the quality of the product, the added value it provides and the brand identity, it also reveals the differences of the product. A successful packaging is easily perceived by consumers due to its physical appearance, encourages habits and ensures continuity in sales. While all these features need to be strategically calculated one by one, the product needs to be focused on as a whole. Otherwise, the expected figure in sales may not be attained. The reasons for success and failure have to be assessed very well for results of future projects.”

Ceyhun Akgun
Packaging Designer
Prepress Preparation Consultant

Packaging is a special subject that spreads over a wide area due to the area it covers and the branches it deals with. An industry that directly concerns marketers, brand experts, industrial and graphic designers, packaging manufacturers and other subsidiaries that produce raw materials. When "packaging" is mentioned in our country, technical issues may come to mind before design matters. However, in addition to the production stages of the packaging; design, marketing, economic and environmental factors are also very significant. The packaging production industry conducts important research and investments on the sustainability of packaging and its solvability in nature.


The question of which identity, effect and strategy will bring success to the products is an important problem that gives the experts of the business a hard time. It also constitutes the source of economic gains for designers. It is not possible for consumers who have a look at the shelves and shop to find time to examine all the products one by one. Therefore, the buyer usually exhibits a typical behavior and acts with standard buying habits. Products are brought together with the consumer through advertisements, promotions, product promotion activities.

As the research conducted in the relevant sources indicates, the physical and visual structure of the package, including the information on it, is found to be worthy of attention within 2-3 seconds or not. With the decision to buy within 3-10 seconds, a product enters a tremendous competition to reveal its difference and success from similar products on the shelf.

Packaging has to come up with a different design, thought and message from dozens of products on the shelves and find a special idea and a different touch to ensure that the product is purchased by the consumer. However, this may not always appear as “differentiation”. There are preparatory processes that must be completed for this magic touch to realize.


Take a closer look at the products of completely foreign brands, the packaging designs of domestic institutions partnering with foreign brands, and the sales and marketing strategies, advertising and packaging of completely domestic brands. Although the branding and institutionalization awareness of the domestic companies, other than international companies operating in Turkey, has improved over time, unfortunately, the current level is not satisfactory when compared to the world.

It is not a coincidence that the packaging design decisions and the thought of changing the packaging design of the existing product follow the changes in the management and marketing group of brands. The effort to prove himself after job switches and the idea of making the results of the job switch felt as soon as possible can reveal itself by sudden design shifts. However, this is very risky. Corporate identity, logo and packaging changes are the subjects to be discussed as a result of special circumstances, research, changes in market shares and developments.
While decisions to change the packaging change are taken after an average of four or more years from the first production in the world, this average has decreased to 2-3 years in Turkey. The number of studies that go below this average are very few, but unfortunately there are. What is ideal for an average of 2-3 years is not a complete change in the packaging, but rather a "design update" according to the conditions of the current period in an attempt to strengthen the packaging and the product in the changing competitive environment. This update should not mean a complete redesign of everything. In fact, such major changes should be avoided as much as possible. In Turkey, when a brand changes its agency, immediately its logo or packaging changes, too. Changing an agency shows dissatisfaction with the existing one, but on the other hand, the conditions in the market have to be taken into consideration.

The consistency and integrity of the packaging used by most of the packaging manufacturers in Turkey between their designs and corporate identities are not strong enough. Many food manufacturers have critical problems such as brand positioning and corporate identity, and they need professional support to solve them. Although some companies are willing to develop themselves, because they are closed to receiving professional support, mostly unaware of the importance of consultancy services to be received in the branding process, think that it is waste of money, trust in their distribution channels, think that "I am already popular, I am selling to a certain target group", they cannot make a splash.


The promotion and advertisement of the packaging and the product inside in the relevant media contributes to reaching a higher level of awareness and recognition than its competitors. Apart from these special advantages and supports, we can say that the packaging of a product that can be easily perceived by the consumer, noticed in terms of its features and type within 2-3 seconds and purchased within 3-10 seconds, is successful. Therefore, considering that brands without advertising and promotion opportunities are weak in terms of competition, they should pay more attention to their visual identities, designs and product quality. A successful packaging that is distinguishable among the similar products offered for sale and that becomes a priority in the preferences with its physical features can sell the product and give confidence to the consumer. If you take a good look at the shelves when you go shopping, you can find considerable packaging that can tell you a lot in a matter of seconds. With its design, colors and forms, it can tell you what is in the product and what flavors it carries.


While a proper packaging supports and increases the quality of the product, the added value it provides and the brand identity, it also reveals the differences of the product. A successful packaging is easily perceived by consumers due to its physical appearance, encourages habits and ensures continuity in sales. While all these features need to be strategically calculated one by one, the product needs to be focused on as a whole. Otherwise, the expected figure in sales may not be attained. The reasons for success and failure have to be assessed very well for results of future projects.


It should be aimed to prepare the package in such a way that the customer, who already tends to buy the product, will take the product in his hands before even reading the label, and create a desire to examine the package. When the product is not purchased and used by the customer yet, the packaging is the product itself. At that moment when there is no middleman and no narrator. The packaging should say: “Don't buy that one, buy me because I am worth your money!” Packaging is one of the most important forces that will make a decision on the purchasing trends... 

Presenting the same content in a cardboard box or plastic container evokes a different quality concept in terms of the packaging's identification of the product and price perception. According to the socioeconomic structure of the consumer seeking different values, it directly causes makes a difference in terms of quality and price perception.

Pasta sold in a cardboard box has a different image and value than pasta sold in a plastic bag. Pasta sold in cardboard boxes tells the consumer that it is more expensive than its competitors, as well as of higher quality.

A food product packaging with a black background and gold gilding can immediately show that it belongs to a special series, to the gourmet series for food products. Nowadays, you can see this kind of packaging in the packaged meat product sections of the markets, in the product categories such as salami and etc.

A food product wrapped in a linen cloth or on which linen cloth is used gives the consumer the feeling that it is natural. A bar of dark brown chocolate can say “I am bitter”, a red packaged chocolate can say “I am milky” and a green one defines itself by saying “I am pistachio” and completes its communication with the consumer. Over time, we become familiar with the products offered for sale in these forms, and we can understand what is inside from the colors used, the form of the packaging, or which brand it is. It must be something like that to be engraved in the brain or DNA of the consumer.


One of the important delusions about the packaging is that the customer who needs a new design thinks that it is enough to appoint a designer to meet this need. The belief that a packaging problem can only be solved with a visual label prepared in a computer environment is one of the widespread solutions but it is completely wrong. Unfortunately, the choices and initiatives of local brands, medium and small-sized businesses in this field cannot be successful with this approach. On the other hand, it is very common to try to imitate the designs of the leading brand and to get a share from the competitor's advertisement and promotion cake due to design similarities without allocating an additional budget for the product.

Market and consumer research to be conducted by the brand owners, interpretation of the data obtained before the project and the resulting analyzes are very important resources for the design team. While there are managers who directly apply the results of consumer and market research to avoid extra responsibility, there are decision-makers who take responsibility for possible results by interpreting them, and this is of greater importance.

Brand, technical, and packaging design consultants, consumer trends and research, competitor analysis, focus groups, design agency, illustrator, photographer, printing techniques, material types can be included in a packaging design project as a whole!

Do not hesitate to always say what should be done and what should be done. Years ago, before a campaign, our client shared with us special research he had done for his new project. The research lasted 6 months and as I read the data, I could not hide my surprise at its depth. 


The brand name you use on the package is responsible for defining your brand, creating brand loyalty, and providing product information. The determination of this brand name is a very basic and important issue in order for the product in the designed package to be healthy now and in the future. A brand identity created in a unique style becomes a “signature”. Just as your signature is recognized among friends, this signature is recognized among consumers and creates a sense of “familiarity” and friendship for your product.

Manufacturers, which have so many products and brands under them, may unfortunately not have made their expansion and growth plans for years while determining the limits of their product range.

Category management is a separate branch that emerged out of such a need. Experts who provide consultancy or work directly within the brand share their studies with the relevant units in order to correctly perceive and classify the products in the face of the consumer while controlling the growth of the brands owned by the manufacturer. The graphical solutions for category management and separation of this category have to be very smart and simple. Such projects remind me of “Information Design”. There are similarities between them.

At the very beginning of the project, the designer and his team should consider the possible growth moves of the brand over the years. It should be considered that the packaging designs can be diversified according to the category, and that they can be easily applied to different weights or volumes.
The importance of the corporate identity guide for the brand is revealed here. While a meticulous guide solves many problems on the spot, if he cannot see and plan ahead the chaos that will arise in the future, the problems will need to be reconsidered. I think that the success of designers is not only to find solutions to daily problems, but also to see the future for the brand and bring solutions.


The graphic and visual elements on the packaging should be clear, simple and easily understandable. The generalization “less is better” also applies to packaging.

One of the duties of packaging is to explain the importance and benefits of the product it contains to the consumer in a short time and to communicate with the consumer in a short time. The brand, product name, short description of the product, the effects of the photograph or illustration used on each other and the order of dominance of the visual elements on the packaging should be decided very well. After all, the form and color of the packaging are the features that give the first signal to the consumer and communicate with the consumer first. 

How easy can it be to find the elegance of expensive wine bottles and similar alcoholic beverages, the explosion of energy in carbonated drinks, the color world of fruit juices, the magical green bottle of mineral water packaging, and to reveal an unthought-out design among tens of thousands of products?  


There are some products that have been identified with their colors and opened an important period in known product colors. While chocolate products are generally produced in red, brown, cream or white colors depending on the milk ratio, all these have changed thanks to the Milka brand. Milka brand's use of purple-lilac color in chocolate and wafers and its professional management of this process led to the emergence of packages with similar products and colors.

The fact that dark brown in dark chocolates and green in pistachio has created an important awareness in the consumer, and when the consumer wants to buy a chocolate with pistachio, they look for the green color. The light blue packaging also created coconut brand awareness, creating a habit in the consumer and had a significant place. We see that chocolates with coconut are offered for sale in a composition using light blue colors, supported by the image of a divided coconut. Even coconut soap can carry similar design elements. 

In this case, it is useful to examine consumer behavior and mentality, depending on the characteristics of the product for which you will design the packaging, in the market you will enter.
 Color can identify a brand. It is not a coincidence that the leading brands of the industry have similar colors. Color can be used to create a “mood” such as fun, grace, activity or warmth. It is not a coincidence that a common language in colors is used in all works special for Mother's Day. It is possible to see the color tones that I can describe as powder pink in all communication tools. On Valentine's Day, this color is red. Color serves to indicate the color, type, taste and smell of the product inside the package and provides category distinction. If used correctly and appropriately, it can achieve great things.

I recommend you to organize a product-oriented trip by organizing your visit to a market specially. In this way, it may be possible to obtain very rich data and to gain more and more detailed ideas about packaging approaches.

Observation, examination, realization of what has not been done...This is the formula of packaging design.

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