Judging a Package Design: A Deeper Look

Adrian Pierini is a design graduate from the University of Buenos Aries (UBA) with honours, Professor of various subjects at UBA and at the University of Palermo. Pierini is currently a general creative director of his own design studio, Pierini Partners. Recently he wrote an article concerning how to properly judge a package design that has some great insights I’d like share.


The Ten Rules – Obey Them

1. Pretty & Ugly Do Not Exist

The job of strategic designer does not always imply creating pretty or shocking things, but he should ALWAYS achieve the client’s commercial aims.

2. Not to Ignore the Underlying Story

Know it’s background. Maybe there’s not much innovation present but it could still resonate strongly with its brand loyal customers.

3. Not to Ignore the Strategy

Consider questions like: “What were they looking for with the redesign?”

4. To consider always customs and culture

An aesthetic resource can’t just be randomly placed. The sense of colors, of shapes, of words varies from one continent to another, from one country to another, etc.

5. To know the technical limitations and legislations

It is not the same to create a wine label than a packaging for chewing gums. Consider things like the printing machine and product category implementations.

6. Strategic Reaction Rules

Not every development has an organized process. Think of a company reacting to a local or big competitor.

7. Consider the amount of funds assigned to the idea

Pretty straightforward. Sometimes you’ll get a big budget, and sometimes you get less than desired.

8. Evaluate the design in the codes of its category

Don’t pretend that a coffee looks like a perfume or that a box of cereal looks like a soap powder. They are very different.

9. Consider the achievement of the commercial aims as a parameter of success

While a good aesthetic makes undoubtedly a message more effective, it does not guarantee commercial success, and even less to reach consumers’ hearts.

10. See beyond and to understand that an analyzed design is the beginning of something greater

First impressions aren’t everything. Understand that packaging is the spearhead of multiple messages and other strategic actions.


According to Pierini three of these rules are usually ignored, they are:

A) Ignoring the underlying strategy

He stresses we should know the strategy behind the design before expressing our opinion. If not, we fail to understand the package design.

B) Not taking into account the technical limitations

Sometimes we forget about the factors such the product’s category requirements of implementation, the laws in the country, or the physical characteristics the product demands. Furthermore, we also sometimes ignore the printing system used, the types of material on which an art be applied (i.e. toxicity of the material, ink absorption, etc.) or the skill level of the people involved in making the design.

C) Basing oneself on a superficial aspect, without considering the codes of the category

Pierini states this perfectly: ” One cannot pretend that a coffee looks like a perfume or that a box of cereal looks like a soap powder. Each area has established, as time went by, a language that consumers understand rapidly, and that helps them to detect the product in an immediate way in the market shelves” (Dieline).

He goes on to give examples:


Bottom Line?

“Evaluating a design piece is, paradoxically, as simple as complex.” – Adrian Pierini

It’s simple because our superficiality inside of is easily tempted to look at a package and either hate it or love it based on its aesthetics. But it’s complex because there is more to package design that just appearances. There’s another realm we – as consumers -don’t see. And do we need to see it? No. But if we are going to judge a package design (just as we would a person) we must first understand and read between the lines.

Otherwise, we fail to fully appreciate the design. A design that took people months – heck even years – to create.




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