Last week I did an internship with a leading Dutch package design company which creates packaging for everyday products, such as food, drinks and beauty products. I was interested in this type of company because it was a way to combine art (graphics) and another area I am interested in, economics/business. They have a very direct approach, in that they study consumer demand and act accordingly to create a product packaging that will appeal to the consumers. I learned to do what the designers did: getting perfect pictures of the product and creating the label in Photoshop with appropriate font, colour, best designed to make the product attractive. I learned that it was not just about putting everything together, but also getting the right ‘feel’ to it: a certain color will send a different message and can influence a buyer’s decision. For example, putting pictures of fresh fruits on a juice’s package might be a better ‘pulling factor’ than just having a colorful background.
Although what I saw the designers doing was almost purely technical (as in, playing around on Photoshop and experimenting with the fonts), we also did some sketching of basic layouts with old-fashioned pencil and eraser. My specific project was designing a label for vegetable soup. I wanted to convey the healthiness and freshness of the product by featuring some idealized drawings of ripe tomatoes, leaks and carrots. You really need to know what should go where in order to create the most appealing layout as possible, and this includes knowing specific shades of color, deciding on the size of the packaging of the product vs. that of the font, the direction, pretty much everything.
Next time you go to a supermarket, just take a look at a couple of products and think: every single image, letter, color, or decoration has been thought about and then chosen by a designer based on what s/he thinks the consumer wants. You might not think that your purchasing decisions are influenced by packaging, but you probably are, just not aware of it.