Food Package Design Companies vs Graphic Design Generalist

food package

You’ve created an amazing product. What’s next? Packaging design. Why do you need a food brand agency? Maybe you’ve worked with a graphic designer in the past on various marketing materials that you’ve been happy with. So that’s a no-brainer… you can just ask the designer who did your marketing materials to do your packaging design, right?

Wrong.

Packaging design, especially food packaging design, is very specialized. If you don’t leverage the expertise of an experienced food packaging design company, you are significantly increasing your chances of a mediocre launch. If your packaging design isn’t successful, you will lose out on sales and then have to go to the expense of having to redesign and start all over again, if your product even has a second chance.

Here’s why working with an experienced professional is one of the best investments you can make in the success of your product.

An appealing design isn’t enough.

There is a difference between a design that looks attractive and a design that entices consumers on a subconscious level and stokes the appetite. What might appeal to your eye doesn’t necessarily translate to a design that will stop shoppers from walking past your product in a store aisle, or stand out in a sea of thumbnail images on Amazon. If that minimalist design or choice of colors looks really cool but doesn’t do its job in selling the product, your product won’t reach its fullest potential.

One common mistake is having the logo be the main focus when it’s not clear what the product in the package is. The package might be attractive, but if over half the front panel is dedicated to the logo—and not the product or key selling points—consumers won’t know what the product is at a glance and won’t give it a second thought.


“There is a difference between design that looks attractive and design that makes a food product look appetizing.”
–– Jenn David Connolly


 granola cookie bake
Our granola cookie bake packaging design for Cooper Street Cookies clearly informs on what it is and why it’s different at first glance. Learn more here.

An experienced food packaging designer will understand information hierarchy.

Successful creative food packaging is about succinctly giving just enough information to entice the customer to pick up the product in store or click to learn more online. This is done through design, imagery, color, and strategic messaging. Product name and use should be obvious at first glance. If there is room, also add a short line or two of descriptive information (romance copy). On a secondary panel, have more detailed romance copy speaking to the product attributes and usage, as well as a few words (or more, if room) about the brand. If a food product design includes too much information on the front of the package, a customer will likely be overwhelmed with information, unclear on the main points, and pass the product by.

Another common packaging design pitfall is that a package may have the right information but it’s not well-organized to guide the eye where to go. When information is haphazardly scattered all over the package with little logic, it’s ineffective.

Marketplace context matters.

A food brand agency knows that innovative food packaging design has to stand out from competitors in the category. Let’s say you are selling a pasta sauce using your grandmother’s recipe. What do you include on the package? An old-world medallion style logo? A bucolic scene of the rolling hills of Tuscany? Pictures of tomatoes! Maybe a portrait of Grandma. Perfect. But then, take a look at the grocery shelf. What do you see? Medallion logos, landscape vignettes, and many portraits of more Italian nanas. A food packaging designer needs to know how to conduct a marketplace audit. They have to know how to zig when everyone else is zagging, in a way that works.

vegan cheese
Our design for new vegan cheese brand Vevan unapologetically stands out from the clean, white, minimalist look of its competitors. Learn more here.

Know what you can and can’t say about your food product.

Food packaging design companies need to be up-to-date to stay compliant with FDA requirements. The FDA has very precise regulations regarding sizes and locations of required information on the package, and what you can and can’t say about your product. Food claims that violate the FDA regulations, and misbranded products, are the top reasons food products get flagged by FDA—and the repercussions can be costly and devastating to any brand.

You can’t simply describe a product as healthy and organic even if it is healthy and organic. To be able to be described as “organic,” a product first needs to pass a stringent certification process. To use the word “healthy” on a food package, the product must meet specific nutritional requirements.

An experienced food packaging design agency knows how to get creative with language that is FDA compliant while conveying the attributes that you want to convey about the product.

It’s still always best to have a legal review of your packaging before it goes to print. But having your packaging design and messaging as fully compliant as possible makes it easier for a lawyer to review, thereby saving you time and money.

3D is different from 2D.

A generalist graphic designer knows how to design for print or web. But designing for a 3D printed box, cup, shrink wrap, or pouch takes different skills. Printed films and cups, in particular, take a very technical design knowledge to get right. The design has to work technically, while still motivating consumers to put the product into shopping carts (either physical and online, or—more commonly—both).

Working with a food brand agency that can also do your website, marketing materials, sell sheets, trade show booth design, and any other ancillary materials you may need, ensures seamless branding, consistent messaging and a strong brand perception across all touchpoints.

Lemonette attributes
Lemonette attributes our redesign of their brand and packaging to increasing sales, tripling their business, and going from a regional to national brand. Read what they have to say here and learn more about our work with them here.

Enjoy the relief that comes from working with an expert.

Food packaging design companies are partners on your team, not order-takers waiting for you to tell them what to do. You get to leverage their expertise, and don’t have to figure out how to be a food packaging designer yourself. Their skill and guidance can make or break the launch of your product.

You are busy enough creating your product and finding a market for it. Do you have the time to research the guidelines for nutritional content claims? Do you know how to determine what design and messaging will be most effective on your packaging in the 2–3 second window of opportunity a product has on the shelf or online?

Instead of trying to figure it all out by yourself in order to tell a generalist designer what to do (and having the process be frustrating and the results be ineffective), invest in an expert food packaging designer—and invest your time on other parts of your business instead.

To find out how an experienced food designer can dramatically improve the launch of your product, get started today!

food package design checklist


Hi, I’m Jenn David Connolly, creative strategist and founder of Jenn David Design. For over 20 years I’ve partnered with specialty food brands to create powerful, distinct, strategic design that commands attention and gets results.

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