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10 Top Tips for Designing Awesome Packaging and Labels

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This post is part of a series called Top Design Tips.
9 Top Tips for Making Creative InDesign Templates
10 Top Tips for Creative Brochure Design

Product packaging design can seem daunting at first glance, but it needn’t be. Some of the most effective designs are based on surprisingly simple packaging design templates.

Whether you’re looking for tips for creating cosmetics packaging, food cartons, bottle labels, or origami-inspired boxes, you’ll be sure to find something here to inspire you.

Simple Soap Label Templates From Envato ElementsSimple Soap Label Templates From Envato ElementsSimple Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements
The Simple Soap Label Templates are available on Envato Elements.

Packaging takes 2D designs and transforms them into printed, tactile 3D creations—it’s an incredibly effective way of bringing a strong branded look to a product or helping the consumer to commit to purchasing. In this article, we’ll take a look at ten pro tips for giving your packaging a stylish, eye-catching look, as well as technical tips for choosing templates, software, and print finishes.

Looking for the perfect packaging template? We'll show some top packaging design templates from Envato Elements and some creative packaging templates from Envato Market along with the tips. If you're a graphic designer with many projects, you'll get the best value for your money with an Envato Elements subscription. You'll be able to download as many product packaging design templates as you wish.

1. Simplify Packaging With Easy-Peasy Labels

At one end of the packaging spectrum is origami-style beauties, and at the other the refreshing simplicity of an easy-to-produce label. 

Simple Soap Label Templates From Envato ElementsSimple Soap Label Templates From Envato ElementsSimple Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements
Simple Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements.

Labels can be attached to bottles or wrapped loosely around tissue-wrapped items. They’re super-simple to design (no tricky folds to accommodate) and cheap to print, which is great if you’re on a tight budget.

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Soap Label Templates From Envato Market.

This isn’t to say that labels lack impact—a well-designed label can bring a lovely hand-done look to packaging, as with these rustic soap wrap labels

soap wrap labelsoap wrap labelsoap wrap label
Soap Label Templates From Envato Market.

Package label templates are the perfect choice for independent shops and other small businesses looking to produce branded packaging quickly and cheaply, and they really can add to the charm of the product. Package label templates and simple stickers are also really practical—they’re easy to edit and can be resized quickly to suit various products. 

2. Origami Styles Aren’t Only for the Brave

Sometimes you encounter packaging that’s so pretty it simply takes your breath away. Folded, origami-inspired designs look incredible and transform packaging into a work of art. 

Many origami-inspired box packaging designs are surprisingly simple at their core, and are based on thoughtfully laid-out templates. With so many creative product label templates at your fingertips, these complex-looking packaging design templates are no longer out of reach.

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Bath Salts Packaging Template From Envato Market.

The quirky packaging design template for these bath salts is tactile, portable, and looks fantastic embellished with slices of citrus fruit. 

bath salts packagingbath salts packagingbath salts packaging
Bath Salts Packaging Template From Envato Market.

If you’re brave enough to try creating your own origami box packaging designs from scratch, try experimenting with rough mock-ups on low-grade paper before you commit to the computer—it will help you to visualize how a 2D layout will translate to a 3D product.

bath salts packagingbath salts packagingbath salts packaging
Bath Salts Packaging Template From Envato Market.

Origami styles are not always the most practical or stackable of box packaging designs, so they tend to suit display packaging best.

3. Let Your Typography Sell the Product

Typography is such a transformative element in graphic design—choose a classic serif and create an aspirational product, or go for a pared-back sans serif instead, and you’re pitching a product that’s suddenly cool and trendy.

Minimal Typography Product Label Templates From Envato Elements Minimal Typography Product Label Templates From Envato Elements Minimal Typography Product Label Templates From Envato Elements
Minimal Typography Product Label Templates From Envato Elements.

Packaging for wine and beer bottles provide some great examples of the power of typography to sell a product to a particular market. 

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Champagne Product Label Templates From Envato Market.

You’ll notice that most champagne product label templates use traditional serif typefaces or heavily tracked headers which communicate luxury and high-end quality. 

A lot of beer bottles feature informal sans serif or grunge typefaces, to emphasise the laid-back, relaxing nature of their products. Wine bottles can vary—an expensive wine might feature a classic serif to help justify the price tag, or a new wine on the block might use a modern slab type, as on these product label design templates, to appeal to younger, fashion-conscious consumers.

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Wine Product Label Design Templates From Envato Market.

When you design your packaging, try experimenting with a number of different type styles in your initial designs. Show the different designs to a market sample or friends/family—which type styles appealed to particular demographics? Does age, disposable income or lifestyle choice sway particular groups towards one typeface or another? 

Once you’ve done your experiment, you’ll feel better prepared to use the type style that appeals best to your target market.

4. Use a Natural Color Palette

The days of bold, brash packaging label design have come to an end. To be relevant in the modern market, you need to tone it down. 

Neutral Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato ElementsNeutral Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato ElementsNeutral Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements
Neutral Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements.

Nature-inspired, tonal colors have a calming effect and tap into the general trend for commercial products that are more ecologically and ethically conscious. 

natural soap packagingnatural soap packagingnatural soap packaging
Natural Soap Packaging Template From Envato Market.

Try using tints of brighter colors to give a wash effect to your packaging label design, or team colored elements with natural brown paper or card, as in this packaging design for natural soaps.

natural soap packagingnatural soap packagingnatural soap packaging
Natural Soap Skin Care Label Templates From Envato Market.

Even if your products aren’t 100% organic or don’t come fresh from the farmer’s market, you can still give a touch of wholesomeness to your packaging label design with a pared-back color palette.

5. Combine Photography With Minimal Styles

Product packaging design trends come and go, and one thing that is always in flux is the sort of graphics that feel appropriate. At the moment, illustrated graphics or simple typographic designs seem to be the most popular graphic media.

Skin Care Label Templates with Minimal Design From Envato Elements. Skin Care Label Templates with Minimal Design From Envato Elements. Skin Care Label Templates with Minimal Design From Envato Elements.
Skin Care Label Templates with Minimal Design From Envato Elements.

Photography may not be commonplace on packaging at the moment, but that’s not to say that it can’t look stylish and relevant if designed in the right way. 

box packagingbox packagingbox packaging
Packaging Box Template From Envato Market.

To keep photography on packaging looking slick and modern, stick to striking, graphic images, and consider using black-and-white photography. Teamed with colorful typography, this can look really eye-catching and on-trend.

Or take inspiration from these minimal templates for cosmetic products and team color photography with simple, sans serif type in a matching color. 

tube packagingtube packagingtube packaging
Tube Skin Care Label Templates From Envato Market.

Adding solid-color graphics set behind the white text keeps the design looking ultra-modern and app-like.

6. Go Arty!

Sure, a label might be small, but that doesn’t mean it can’t pack a punch. Labels are the perfect place to get really creative, and they're the stuff of dreams for many a graphic designer.

Artistic Soap Label Templates From Envato ElementsArtistic Soap Label Templates From Envato ElementsArtistic Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements
Artistic Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements.

Many brands are exploring ways to make their products look unique, and some produce special-edition products to increase desirability amongst their loyal customers.

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Wine Label Template From Envato Market.

As a result, collaborations with artists are becoming more common in the packaging design world. Particularly for product label design templates, cosmetics, and clothing, labels with an artistic touch help to define products as unique, aspirational, and special.

vinho labelsvinho labelsvinho labels
Wine Label Template From Envato Market.

If you don’t have Damien Hirst on speed-dial, you’ll have to put on your artistic hat. Painterly finishes, unusual type styles, and hand-drawn illustrations look incredible on packaging and will help your design to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re not a deft hand with a paintbrush, don’t fret—digital art is equally desirable on modern product label design templates right now.

7. Go Masculine With Black and White...

Although it’s true that more retailers are pitching their products at a unisex market, there’s still a clear visual divide in products that are aimed at specifically men or women. 

For products aimed at men, such as shaving products and men’s toiletries, there’s still a strict design code as to what sort of colors and type styles will convert to sales.

Black and White Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato ElementsBlack and White Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato ElementsBlack and White Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements
Black and White Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements.

Though I wouldn’t condone the traditional blue for boys, pink for girls (that’s just lazy), you can add a masculine or unisex touch to your packaging designs with a strong, graphic black and white color combination. This modern packaging template does just that, and is visually very strong while communicating a masculine vibe. 

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Masculine Skin Care Label Templates From Envato Market.

Team your black-and-white product label design templates with square sans-serif type for a modern take on traditional masculine packaging styles.

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Masculine Packaging Template From Envato Market.

8. ...or Add a Feminine Touch With Patterns

A ‘feminine’ design doesn’t mean your product will only appeal to women—in fact, adding a feminine element to your packaging only means that you will bring particular qualities to the design, which often have broad market appeal, including elegance and beauty.

Pattern Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements.Pattern Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements.Pattern Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements.
Pattern Soap Label Templates From Envato Elements.

Adding a patterned design to your packaging is a fantastic way to bring a beautiful quality to your designs. Mid-century wallpaper-style designs add retro appeal to all sorts of products, or why not try an ornate, William Morris-inspired pattern, as in the packaging template below?

soap packagingsoap packagingsoap packaging
Soap Packaging Template From Envato Market.

Patterned packaging is not only beautiful, but also a great way to create a uniform series of packaging designs. These soaps may have different scents, but they are brought together into the same category or brand by simply switching up the color of the pattern, not by changing the design of the pattern itself. 

soap packagingsoap packagingsoap packaging
Soap Packaging Template From Envato Market.

Pattern is also surprisingly simple to design, thanks to its repetitive elements. Work on creating a single ‘unit’ of pattern, and then copy this repeatedly to create a whole sheet of pattern that can be pasted onto a packaging template easily.

9. Think About the Full Packaging Range

Your packaging designs don’t stop at just the box. Once a product is opened, you should consider how the style of the packaging can be extended to internal wrapping, labels, and sub-containers. 

Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements
Cosmetic Label Templates From Envato Elements.

Designing a box for a clothes retailer? Once the customer opens up that box, how will the clothing inside be presented? Can you create a branded sticker to place on colored tissue paper? Can you design a stylish clothes tag to place on the garment inside?

This complete packaging range for tea bags is a great example of how to adapt packaging design to a range of purposes—a unified style, using colors, pattern and a strong logo, is extended across the main box to the tea bag packaging and label inside. 

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Retro Tea Packaging Template From Envato Market.

Keep in mind that packaging is not only for display purposes—to encourage a customer to repurchase, the whole experience of opening and engaging with the product needs to be as pleasurable as possible. A full range of packaging designs will help you to achieve this.

retro tea templateretro tea templateretro tea template
Retro Tea Packaging Template From Envato Market.

10. Turn Your Packaging Into a Walking Ad

Think about where you see packaging—on display in shop windows or on supermarket shelves are the obvious places. But you can think about extending your packaging ambitions even further and turn your designs into a mobile advertisement for the product or company.

Complete Soap Label Templates Kit From Envato ElementsComplete Soap Label Templates Kit From Envato ElementsComplete Soap Label Templates Kit From Envato Elements
Complete Soap Label Templates Kit From Envato Elements.

Creating branded shopping bags is a great way of extending your advertising past the single customer interaction and bringing your brand to a much wider audience.

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Social Media Shopping Bag Template From Envato Market.

If your business is setting up shop at a conference or expo, this is a particularly effective way of advertising your stall around the convention hall. These modern branded bags are eye-catching and stylish, and certain to be both practical and a visual talking point for stall visitors. 

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Social Media Shopping Bag Template From Envato Market.

If your budget won’t stretch to custom printed bags, why not design a simple sticker or stamp in the brand’s style that can be applied to a plain paper bag or canvas tote? 

You’re Ready to Start Making Awesome Packaging Label Designs!

In this article, we’ve looked at ten tips for designing amazing packaging and labels. The next time you’re looking to tackle a packaging project, keep these ten useful tips in mind:

  1. Try out labels for a simple yet effective packaging design—wrapped around, tied to or stuck to boxes and bottles, labels can give a lovely hand-done look to your product.
  2. Origami-style packaging doesn’t have to be complicated—with the help of templates and mockups, it’s surprisingly simple to create folded designs that look striking and decorative.
  3. Let typography sell the product—switch up the style of your typefaces to transform the personality of your packaging and pitch it at particular consumers.
  4. Use a natural color palette—stay on trend with subtle tints and washed-out tones.
  5. Team photography with minimal design styles—keep photos looking modern and relevant by pairing them with ultra-modern sans serif type styles and tech-inspired graphics and colors.
  6. Go arty! Bring a unique artistic touch to labels with hand-drawn or vectorized illustrations and logos.
  7. Add a masculine edge to packaging with a strong black-and-white color combination...
  8. ...or bring feminine flair with pattern, for a look that’s elegant and beautiful.
  9. Think about the full packaging range—extend your designs to stickers, labels, and internal packaging for a truly immersive consumer experience.
  10. Turn your packaging into a walking ad­—design custom shopping bags or add logos to totes for an easy way to advertise your business’s presence on the high street or at a convention.

Have any more top tips for designing your own packaging? We’d love to hear about them on the Envato forum.

If you’re still on the hunt for that elusive perfect label or box template, you’re in luck! You can find a whole range of great-value packaging templates and more product label design templates on our marketplaces. Or find even more packaging design tips in this article:

This post was originally published on 24 October 2019. It’s been updated with contributions from Maria Villanueva. Maria is a staff writer with Envato Tuts+.

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