One thing which fascinates me about graphic design is how persuasive it can be. This is especially evident in packaging design, which subtly influences the decisions we make every single day.

Even as a designer, someone who understands the  “behind the scenes” work of packaging design, I frequently have to remind myself to consider the product and not its outward appearance.

Studies show brands have less than a second to make an impression on the consumer. To make a powerful first impression, most companies spend years researching  and testing reactions to different product packaging. Everything from color and scale to placement on the shelves is considered  as companies determine how to tailor their design for the intended customer.

Consider your local grocery store, where the shelves are stocked with thousands of different products. Each package is designed to cater to the senses of the consumer. Without even thinking about it, we pull things from the shelves that appeal to us personally. Whether it’s because it’s an easily recognizable and familiar product or something new and attention grabbing, we can’t help but react to the visual appearance of the designs we see on the shelves.

PackagingDesign 1If you are like me, you’ve been guilty at some point in your life of making a purchase based more on packaging than actual knowledge of the product itself.

At the grocery I am instantly drawn to brands with very simple, fresh designs, because I associate them with honesty.  They seem to have  less to hide.

Method and Brianna’s Salad Dressing embody this simple, honest design style.  Whether these brands are actually the best products in their respective categories is debatable, but they won me over with their packaging.PackagingDesign 2

Realizing it was no accident you were persuaded to buy the yogurt with the beautiful, sleek label instead of the one with the cartoon animal is a good thing to be aware of.  Who knows what other appearance-based purchases you have made without even thinking about it.

Take it from a designer, we’re all somewhat powerless to good design. A bad product can come in a pretty package, and a great product can be overlooked if it hasn’t been branded properly. Let’s all take an extra second next time we’re shopping to actually consider our purchases. Is the pretty bottle actually the best? Or have they just hired the best marketing team?