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Why Good Design Can Make or Break Your Food and Beverage Business

By Amanda Bowman

We are lucky to have many options when it comes to food and beverage.

Every year tens of thousands of new food products are brought to market. And every year, 95 percent of new products fail.

The packaging that holds the food, the layout and ambiance of the restaurant where you eat, and the marketing and advertising that introduces you to the brand are important.

All of these elements benefit from good design.

Good design is good business.

In an increasingly challenging market for new products, it's important to take advantage of any competitive edge you can find.

Design Sells

A study by MeadWestvaco, "Packaging Matters," revealed that packaging drives 36 percent of purchase decisions, "more so than TV ads, online reviews, and recommendations from friends."

Nutella understood this and used the power of design in a wildly successful 2017 campaign.


Nutella introduced seven million different versions of Nutella's graphic identity, each sold on a single bottle. The campaign ran in Italy and was a huge success, selling out in just one month.

If you're interested in achieving similar success, you'll need professional help.

Working with a professional designer will serve your business in a number of ways:

  • Designers have the skill to visually communicate your brand to your audience.
  • Professional design will ensure that your brand makes a polished impression on your customers.
  • Professional designers can create a suite of consistently branded designs for your logo, packaging, website and social media.

If you're on a budget but want top-of-the-line results, consider crowdsourcing your branding design. Crowdsourced design from companies like crowdspring allows you to choose from dozens of design options for far less than you would spend at a traditional design studio.

For example, crowdspring helps small business with design and branding every day. With projects for logos, vehicle wraps, websites, social media assets, package graphics, and package design, crowdspring is a one-stop food and beverage design shop.

Strong Design = Trust

People view good design as more trustworthy.

One powerful way to incorporate strong design into food packaging is to integrate storytelling. Companies can create compelling narratives that follow the journey of how their product goes from farm to table.


The Kashi Company is well-known for their line of organic breakfast cereals and snacks.

They recently rebranded and redesigned their entire line of products to incorporate storytelling as a primary element.

The company turned the stories behind their food into a powerful way of connecting their customers with the process and people that made them.

Packaging Design Alters Product Perception

As a product's first impression, packaging has to fulfill the "three W's of good packaging design":

  • What is this? - inform the customer about the product.
  • What does it do? - provide some instruction or clue as to the product's functionality.
  • What's the value? - why should anyone buy it?

Author Malcolm Gladwell examined the power of packaging design in his book Blink.

He profiled famed marketer Louis Cheskin and his observation that people often transferred their impression of a product's packaging to the product itself. He called this "sensation transference."


Cheskin found that by adding a certain percentage of yellow to the green in 7-Up's packaging, people reported that the drink had more lemon flavor, even though the drink formula was unchanged.

Similarly, Cheskin discovered that by adding the image of a sprig of parsley into the logo of food company Hormel, people perceived Hormel products as being fresher.

The reality that seemingly small changes like this can have a huge effect on the perception of a product is a key reason why investing in good packaging is so important.

Designing packaging that makes an impact

Companies like Apple have elevated packaging into an art form that has also created its own cottage industry of unboxers - people who unbox packages for a living.


Personalized box image courtesy of Mediaclip

Very few companies have the focus and the dedication that Apple does to create packaging as artful as Apple, but you can still design something impactful if you follow some best practices.

Do your research. Before you start, spend time really getting to know your demographic and your target audience. Find out what values and ideas are important to them, and investigate ways of reflecting those in your design.

Your packaging design (the physical design of the packaging) and package graphics (the graphics design on the packaging) should be tightly bound to your brand, so market research and other brand investigations will be just as valuable here as they were when you created your logo.


Make it an experience. One of the main reasons unboxing Apple products are so fun is because of the care and attention they put into every element of their packages.

Consider going eco-friendly with your design. Customers are more informed than ever about the challenges of creating too much waste, and companies are taking note.

Use packaging to educate

More than ever, consumers are reading the labels on the products they buy, especially food products. They want to know what's in the products they eat, where it came from, and what nutritional value it has.


Infographic courtesy of The Hartman-Group

The way you design your food's packaging helps inform customers eager to make healthy choices:

  • Is your product organic?
  • Is there something noteworthy about the nutritional makeup of your product?
  • Is it high in a certain vitamin?
  • Is it great for people searching for gluten-free alternatives?

Call out key benefits right on the front of the package, so customers don't need to dig for the information on the back panel.

Creating a packaging design that is informative, eye-catching, and memorable is a critical part of any product's success. You can help ensure that your product gets the best last chance it can get through careful market and demographic research, ensuring tight brand alignment, and carefully designed packaging.

Amanda Bowman works in customer service at crowdspring, one of the world's leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services.

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