Packaging a product is another specialist area of the design industry, and few graphic design studios have the real expertise to deal with the process fully. The designer’s task when dealing with packaging is to produce an effective selling device. The pack itself is often the only element of the product on display for shoppers to see, and the design is the only way that manufacturers can communicate their ideas to the customer. Packaging can serve as purely functional wrapping, or it can be attractive enough in itself to tempt the purchaser. Packaging can shout loudly, and, in its most prestigious form, totally seduce.
A can of oil and a box of cereal do not have to look the way they do – they have been designed.
New packaging approaches are continually sought for long established products. Packaging can also make a product easier to transport, more practical to display and more convenient to use. Packaging has developed alongside mass production and the evolution of retail selling. Supermarkets are designed for shoppers to select items themselves, without the help of assistants, and the ranges of products on the shelves are packaged to sell themselves. The shopper often depends on the pack to reveal its contents. The pack not only creates brand identity and appeal but has to fulfill statutory requirements such as listing accurate details of contents, quantities and nutritional values.
Manufacturers readily appreciate the selling power of good package design and consistently invest time and money in this sophisticated market. The designer cannot control how a package will be handled or displayed once it has left the manufacturer, but must take these aspects into account in the design. A pack is a three-dimensional object which is handled. It is placed alongside competing packages for the shopper to choose, it may be viewed from several angles and it should be bought by the customer. The packaging designer must be concerned with the graphics and also with the material, its construction, sealing and manufacture.