In 2009, fruit juice giants Tropicana spent over $35 million to advertise their brand-new packaging.
Two months later, the company reported a 20% drop in sales of $30 million.
Six weeks after the launch, the company returned to their original packaging. All in all, the experiment in design packaging had cost them around $50 million.
The moral of the story? Design packaging matters.
Before we discuss how long it takes, let’s go over what makes good packaging, it’s purpose, and what it should create for the consumer.
The elements of good packaging design
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to designing packaging.
Think about Apple. The experience of opening a new Apple product has been the subject of reviews, white papers, and blog posts galore.
In fact, Apple even employs a box opening team, solely to ensure that opening the product is an experience.
The result is that an Apple product is identifiable from the moment that the buyer comes into contact with the packaging.
Simply put: a package tells us how much the thing inside is worth. Following gestalt principles, carefully designed packaging can contribute to the idea that the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts.
So, if you want to wow people, remember that your packaging makes up part of this. They will forever connect the packaging of the product with your company.
This means there are vital points you need to ensure are clear and easy to understand.
Convey your brand story
If you want people to be on board with your brand, then let them know what it’s about.
One of the reasons that the Tropicana orange juice debacle happened is that they got rid of a lot of the successful elements of their packaging. It became unclear what the juice was, and the simple truth is that people make decisions based on what they see instantly.
You’re not going to get a second chance to explain to them why what you’ve done is clever. Instead, you’re going to watch them visit your competitors, who gave them something that they understood.
Remember the feeling
The primary focus of design packaging is to inspire.
Texture. Imagery. Font. Color. Design.
All of these elements work together to create a visual identity and experience. Get them right, and people may not even consciously register why they want what you’re offering.
But they want it.
Do you remember what it was like to open the box that held your printer? Maybe your IKEA furniture? Probably not. But I bet you do remember at least some of when you opened your iPhone box for the first time, or Pixel for the Google fans. Why? It was an experience, not just cheap plastic and cardboard that you ripped through.
This is why it pays to invest in the time and skills needed to build a beautiful design packaging. Design is about more than just making something look good, and a skilled designer will be trained and up to date with all of the skills needed to make something that stands out.
How long does it take to design packaging?
While there are no hard and fast rules about how long packaging takes, designing can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. There are many factors in the timeline, including beyond design.
I’ve worked with products that one component took over 6 weeks to get produced, just for a prototype. Material, finish, and details, they all impact the timeline. The complexity of the product can also make a difference.
This is part of why not everyone goes for the expensive, experience focused packaging. It takes time. The real question should be, what do you want the customer experience to be? Is this a cheap product or expensive? Is it single use or a forever object?
Good product design firms can coordinate packaging design as the product is getting finalized, which can save time. If you do have a time constraint, then that will impact the packaging options you have.