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Product Packaging Design Basics You Need to Know

The following terminologies for product packaging design will make you more adept when it comes to dealing with suppliers for product packaging. Professionals in the manufacturing industry rarely use layman terms which is why it is important to learn these technical terms.


There is more to packaging than simply having a pretty box or cardboard all around your product. The product packaging design is sometimes instrumental in turning regular customers into big fans of the product. It could spell a big difference marketing-wise and could prove to be a game changer for the product’s sales and popularity to boost up. The biggest upside to this is that coming up with an excellent product packaging design is not a difficult task at all. Just make sure to talk to your product packaging manufacturer early on.

In the marketplace, it will be difficult to have a unique white or private label product which is rare for its functionality and usage. It will most likely have a lot of competitors and counterparts which are also thriving and doing great on their own in the market. The custom packaging design of your product may be the only way to let your product stand out in a crowded marketplace. Here are a few packaging design guidelines you need to know of.

The Basics of Packaging Products

You do not have to be a product packaging design expert in order to come up with an attractive and fully-functional packaging design since we have packaging design companies who are willing to do it for you at a fair price. However, it is imperative for you to understand the basic elements of product packaging before getting your feet wet with it. This process will make it easier for you in the long run. The most common materials are either paper/cardboard or different custom shaped plastics.

You need to first check out other creative package designs of products in the market and seek inspiration from them to apply on your own. This is a great way for you to gather ideas and have a grasp of design concepts which you can apply for your own custom or standard product. You also need to understand terminologies involved in design conception to make it easier for you to work with packaging design companies. This will be your introduction before getting in depth to the technical aspect of product packaging design.

Product Packaging Design Glossary

1. Dieline

A dieline is a 2D representation of a packaging design which shows the design on a flat unassembled box. Dielines guide the designers to properly layout the design to be printed on top of each side of the box. This will also serve as a guideline for the personnel to cut, fold and glue the box according to desired structure.

2. Spot Colors

Spot colors are standard ink selections printed on a single run. These colors are normally chosen from a numbered list provided for by the Pantone Matching System (PMS) in the US. There are several systems developed to match spot colors in the packaging design industry.

3. CMYK vs. RGB

The four regular inks used in color printing are cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) are commonly referred to as CMYK in the industry. These colors are used to mask lighter colors on a light or white background. The CMYK shades reduces the light which would be reflected instead. The CMYK model is a subtractive one since it basically reduces the brightness from light or white color. On the other hand, the RGB (red, green, blue) are additives to produce a wide array of colors for retail packaging designs. You can convert the color on websites like this one.

4. Hot Stamping

This packaging method is commonly used for food, tobacco products, alcohol and other luxury goods but is also conventional for plastics. It is done through a process wherein an image is transferred from a thin layer of foil onto a paperboard or plastic surface. Heat and pressure causes the image to be laminated on to the desired packaging surface.

5. Emboss

Emboss is a packaging method wherein an image, logo or text is pressed onto paperboard from behind. Both a male and female die are required for embossing and the raised area can then be applied with ink or any other substance to highlight the embossed area. On the other hand, there is also a process called debossing which is simply the opposite of emboss since the image, logo or text is pressed onto paperboard from above but only requires one die to complete the process.

6. Caliper/Flute

Caliper, also known as flute simply refers to the weight and thickness of a paperboard or cardboard used for the primary packaging material. The term flute is heavily used when it comes to corrugated packaging.

7. Primary Packaging

This is the layer of packaging which contains the product and comes contact with it. It is rightfully designed according to the product design and serves as an initial protection and storage for it. Common primary packaging used by packaging design companies are blister packs, bubble wrap, shrink wrap etc.

8. Secondary Packaging

As the name suggests, it is a secondary packaging layer and does not come contact with your product. Aside from additional protection and storage, the secondary packaging layer also serves as an advertisement tool and marketing vehicle for brand representation since it is where logos and other brands are already printed. There are important trends you should consider and as of now, minimalism and strong colors are very popular.

9. Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing is a printing method which involves the use of plates. It usually uses simple colors and shades and is a good printing option for massive yet simple printing designs. It is also ideal for mass-production since the only expensive part are the printing plates but you will only spend for them once unless you keep on changing designs.

10. Lithographic Printing

Lithographic printing also involves the use of plates but unlike flexographic printing, this method is more capable of detailed and intricate designs. It is the best printing method for custom packaging designs due to its high image quality but is also the most expensive among printing options.

11. Digital Printing

Digital printing is the most common method for custom packaging manufacturers because of its simple, effective and DIY approach. It is a cost-effective method and is ideal to print product packaging design trials. This method is perfect for small businesses who are still trying out and is not able to afford spending money for a product packaging design.

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