Join Gerardo Herrera for an in-depth discussion in this video Use of illustration and photography, part of Learning Package Design.
- If the product you're packaging doesn't show well on its own, you may need to incorporate illustration or photography, or a combination of the two to create customer appeal. This decision will be based on the audits and insights gained from all the research you've done to establish a point of differentiation on the shelf. Different product categories will have different challenges and requirements in how you best represent the brand, tell the story and persuade a customer to pick up and purchase your product. At impulse, that becomes critical because it will capture the mood and help the consumer act on it because the way the product is photographed or illustrated.
Use of these elements depends on several factors. Does a product require further explanation on how it works? Does it come in a different form that will result in a complete product? Does it need further improvement to highlight the brand character? Does a product need to convey a bigger story? Does it need a special highlight to help the consumer connect it to their lifestyle? Do all the competitors employ the same technique, and if so, why? And should you? Once you answer these questions, you may find that illustration or photography may help your package design convey the desired impact.
Let's look at how. Illustration as a tool for packaging is a very effective way of communicating an aspect or mood of a product that may be hard to tell through photography. Illustration can be defined in a few ways. Graphics, painting, 3D renderings, patterns, and line drawings. For example, some categories such as food may be the perfect place to use realistic illustrations depending on the type of story you want to tell. If it's about old-world classics, then use of pen and ink with watercolor may evoke that feeling.
If you need to take a more modern approach, of where the food comes from and the process or people that made it, then a storybook style illustration with a realistic feel may best represent your product or brand. As a branding technique and visual blocking element, this may be a strong way to convey a message, as your design may be placed next to other foods that are very photographic or have different illustration styles from yours. Illustration can be used to tell a story through metaphor that's key to the spirit of the brand and its values.
As you may have noticed, in the world of kids' products you'll find both graphic and realistic illustrations. In some instances, the former shape of the illustration works hand-in-hand in highlighting the product with the use of clever stories and colors that will appeal specifically to kids and their parents too. Capturing the style or owning the illustration for your brand and line of products is part of the careful consideration of the illustrator you choose to work with, and their ability to envision the brand and product's essence and mood.
Through exploration and iteration, illustration for packaging can really bring out the visual aspects that people can identify with and use their imaginations to follow the brand and product's story. With photography, the ability to show the product in various realistic situations is a technique that can be used to highlight products in their natural or stylized states. Of course, it can be enhanced through lighting, cropping, mood, color, depth of field, focus and image treatment or any combination thereof.
Like illustrations, photography can be employed in all sorts of packaging design areas. In most cases, you'll see the use of photography in electronics. In this example, photography is used because of its strong ability to communicate materials, functions and size effectively. Photography allows for various viewpoints, such as perspective, or point of view, to create a dramatic imagery that capture the attention, detail and imagination of the viewer. When it comes to photography, you'll need to decide what views to focus on, such as front, or three-quarter view shots.
A series of photographs can create a story arc. Incorporating people in your photos can be used to communicate a lifestyle. A football player wearing a jersey can communicate outdoor activities. Or, in situational photography, a phone placed on an office desk can be used to communicate business. The use of illustration and photography will come down to what your competitors are doing in this space and how you'll own and be identified by your specific style.
- Why is packaging important?
- What makes a successful package?
- Choosing a form that communicates the brand
- Finding a packaging vendor
- Designing and testing
- Typography choices
- Color considerations
- Materials, texture, and finishes
- Shelf appeal and consumer response