The Five Mistakes You’re Making with Your Product Packaging

By Richard Carlow and Eugenia Chen, founding directors, C2C Studio

You have a cool brand, an innovative toy, and a great logo—but is that enough? Packaging, when done right, is what draws the consumer’s attention. It makes an emotional connection with a child or parent and motivates them to buy.

During our 20 years of combined service, we have seen a lot of mistakes made by companies in their product packaging. It is easy to eliminate these common errors, which can have detrimental effects on the launch of a new product. Here are five common mistakes to look out for:

1. Following a Basic Packaging Template

Manufacturers often produce packaging that follows a basic template. Rarely is there a custom design behind the package matching the brand’s identity, which would enhance the value of the product. These generic packaging templates don’t allow the uniqueness of the company to be represented in the market, rendering the products indistinguishable from other products on-shelf.

Manufacturers use basic templates because they are a fast and cost-effective way to get products out the door and into stores, but a basic package design will not sell your product. It will cause your item to fade into the background of mass products in any major retailer.

Image 1 Star Wars

2. Not Thinking About Your Audience

Do not forget this golden rule: Always think about whom you are talking to. Think about your audience as you are choosing a design for your product. Design for your consumer. You need to tug at their emotions. You need to stand out and keep your customers coming back. A clear but eye-catching design is paramount.

Language also matters. Keep your message simple and use a clean, legible font to get your message across to the consumer.

When we created a series of boxes for Star Wars: Episode I for KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, we carefully considered who the fans of the film were and what they expected from the product. We spent eight weeks building packaging that could stand alone for the average consumer, or combine to create a poster for serious Star Wars collectors. We understood that both collectors and children would have a desire to keep the packaging—rather than unwrap and throw away—and we sought to create a design that spoke to their fandom.

Think back to the last time you bought a product for a child in your life. Chances are you bought it because the box made the product stand out to you.

3. Not Seeing the Packaging as Part of Your Product

How you choose to package the merchandise you are selling will have an impact on the consumer’s decision to buy the product. The amount of attention you put into your product should be mirrored in the product’s package design. We are told not to judge a book by its cover; however, when it comes to a product, we do just that. The package is the first thing people notice and must reflect the product itself. The packaging is just as much a part of the brand as your product and should not be compromised.

We once created a multipurpose case that served as both the packaging and a high-quality display stand for a football. The box had gloss varnish coating that gave the product a more premium feel. We also added a transparent sheet with the stamped college logo to reflect the pride of the college alumni.

This layered packaging allowed fans to feel as though they were getting a more premium product that not only had play value but added to their collection. The packaging design adds to the consumers overall experience opening the box to reveal what’s inside.

Image 2 Star Wars

4. Forgetting the Unboxing Experience

Be user-friendly. If the product is too hard to get out of the package or the design is overly complicated you can create unnecessary frustration in your consumer’s unboxing experience. If the package is too big or the product is too difficult to get out, it could deter customers from purchasing your products again.

When we create a new package, we think about the excitement a child will have when opening the box. Opening a package is an emotional experience that engages the consumer. It should be about the excitement of getting the prize that’s inside. It should not be a lengthy experience that leaves the child frustrated. The feel, the smell, cutting the tape—it’s all a part of the fun!

5. Staying In-House

Whenever you work on a project, it is easy to get tunnel vision. Bringing in an outsider will help provide fresh eyes and new insights. Manufacturers specialize in manufacturing, not packaging design. A company specializing in package design can deliver high-quality packaging that is in-tune with the needs and wants of your audience. With effective product packaging you are creating an ad for your company, not just your product.


C2C Studio Inc. is a creative design agency built on makers, creators, and storytellers that take concept to creation. Offering creative solutions for design and production for consumer products and entertainment and gaming experiences. Delivering one-of-a-kind creative solutions for each unique product, C2C Studio Inc. turns every client’s dreams into reality.  To learn more about C2C Studios, please visit: http://www.c2cstudio.com/.