6 Steps to Amazing Custom Packaging

There are a lot of benefits to well designed custom packaging – brand recognition, professionalism, and product safety are a few that come to mind. Packaging is on almost everything we purchase, yet we often don’t stop to think about the process behind how that packaging is created.

Types of packaging like if a product is going to be boxed, how logos and branding translate from a two-dimensional space to a three-dimensional one, target demographics, and even the context of where the purchases are happening are all crucial components to making a memorable package design. A great designer can take all these components and turn them into something truly unique and amazing.  That doesn’t mean that it’s inaccessible for people who don’t consider themselves artistically inclined though, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Great design is something that is learned over practice and understanding of many different principles.

So, what do you need to make your own custom packaging? Creating packaging isn’t exactly a beginner project, so we recommend that you have the following before you tackle package creation:

      • A decent understanding of digital and graphic design
      • Some experience with graphic design software
      • The industry standard is Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite, but here are some alternatives to explore:
        • The Affinity collection of software is often a fantastic starting point for those who want a user-friendly experience but might not have the budget for Creative Cloud just yet. Check them out here https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/
        • Inkscape is a free vector based graphic software that is completely open source. This comes with the downside of having a steep learning curve, and an often-unfriendly user experience. Check it out here: https://inkscape.org/

Now that we’ve established that design is for everyone, and the skillsets we recommend let’s dive into the steps of package creation.

custom packaging for moody afternoon candles

Step 1: 

Know your target audience


Establishing your target audience is extremely important. It would be difficult to sell artisanal soaps smelling of florals to farmers market shoppers if your packaging has pictures of skulls and motorcycles on it.

Step 2:

Decide on your packaging type, and create a mood board


There are hundreds of different ways to package a product. Lush for example provides you with relatively nondescript packaging since they rely on their storefronts to market their products. On the other hand, walk down any aisle of a grocery store and you’ll see a wide variety of shapes and sizes of packaging. In an environment like a grocery store your shelf space and packaging is the only way to showcase your product. 

colorful mood board examples for custom packaging
example box and die line cut for custom packaging

Step 3: 

Determine the dimensions 


Packaging has a few different purposes. To protect your product, but to also help it stand out. If you’ve ever wondered why the packaging for some products is much larger than the product itself, it is often because larger boxes take up more shelf space in big box stores. As mentioned earlier shelf space is one of the most important factors for a lot of products – larger packaging allows for more chances that a consumer will see the product on a shelf. Keep your target audience, and where you’re wanting to sell your product in mind when determining the size of the packaging.

Step 4:

Start designing


Probably the most enjoyable aspect of packaging creation is the actual design process itself. Keep all of the previous steps in mind while you create your design. Try not to fall in love with your first design, take the components you really like from it and try to use them in different ways. You might just surprise yourself at how much more polished your design can get! Make sure to take some breaks away from your work as well, a fresh mind can help you notice things you might not have thought of when initially designing your packaging.

Step 5:



This step can be difficult since it requires a lot of vulnerability. It can be hard to receive critiques on your design, but it’s also extremely important. When working with clients it’s their vision you’re helping create, not your own – ultimately you need to keep what they want in mind when reviewing any feedback. It’s also worth noting that not all feedback is going to be helpful, it’s up to you as the designer to determine what is going to be the most beneficial to the design, and the client’s vision.

Step 6:



Reach out to your box manufacturer about die creation, and any other questions you may have. Ensuring that you’re working in a color calibrated environment that matches what the manufacturer’s printer output is extremely important. If you’re not finalizing your design using the correct calibration settings, you may find that your design comes back from the printer looking completely different than what you saw on your screen. Colors reproduce differently depending on a variety of factors, proper calibration can limit some of the variability. Make sure you also request a hard copy proof so that you can see what the packaging will look like printed and assembled before you order in bulk

This is a fairly simplified overview of the steps needed to produce amazing packaging. It can take a lot of trial and error as you figure the process out. If you’ve read through and decided maybe creating custom packaging isn’t for you, don’t worry! We have amazing designers on staff that are well versed in package design that will do the hard work for you. Check out our design solutions page to see some examples of what we can do for you!

Interested in some more information about our solutions, or what we can do for you? Contact us! We’re always happy to help.


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