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5 Cosmetic Product Design Fundamentals

Elizabeth Heath

Jun 23, 2021 · 4 min read


When we were young and didn’t know anything about wine, my friends and I used to pick our vintages based on whether we liked the looks of the label. The results were occasionally disastrous, like when my friend showed up with a bottle of dry vermouth—not exactly a dinner wine. But it sure had a fancy label!

Our early experiments in wine shopping based entirely on design and appearance offer an important lesson for a burgeoning retail entrepreneur—looks matter. No matter how great your product, its design, labeling, and packaging will make a huge difference in whether it will appeal to consumers.

Working with a graphic designer to develop your new product packaging is one of the most exciting stages of the journey from idea to finished product. Envision your product as it will appear on shelves and on webpages, and ask yourself these five questions related to design fundamentals:

1. Will it Appeal to My Audience?

Your product should make a positive impression on the people you want as your consumers. Here are just a few examples:

  • A men’s grooming product should have neutral or masculine-looking packaging.
  • A beauty product for mature women shouldn’t be packaged with colors and lettering more likely to appeal to millennials—and vice versa.

2. Does it Stand Out From the Competition?

You may have created a unique and innovative new product, but chances are you’ve got some competition. Consider how packaging can make your product stand out from the rest.

For example, if most beauty fluids on the shelf are bottled in rectangular jars and packed in rectangular cartons, how about:

  • Putting yours in a round bottle, and selling it in cylindrical packaging?
  • Using a jar and product packaging that’s taller than others on the shelf?

3. Does it Tell Buyers What They Need to Know?

Most consumers want to make quick decisions when purchasing a product, and they want their questions readily answered without having to go hunt for information.

Through simple wording and visual clues, your packaging should answer these questions in the few seconds you have to make an impression on a shopper:

  • What is your product, and what does it do?
  • Who is it made for?
  • What are the key ingredients?
  • Who is the company behind it?

4. Does it Offer Flexibility for Me to Expand My Product Line?

The product you’ve just created is, hopefully, the first in a varied and successful line of many personal care products. Will your new logo and packaging offer flexibility in the future, as your range of products grows?

For example, if your first product is a papaya-based lotion and your brand logo incorporates a papaya, that logo won’t make much sense for your line of almond-based scrubs and creams.

Focus on a logo and design that represents your company and vision, but that doesn’t pigeonhole it.

5. Is it Compatible with My Vision and Standards?

What are your vision and ethical standard for the product you’ve created, and are they reflected in its packaging? If yours is an organic product made from sustainably sourced materials, packaging it in first-generation cardboard wrapped in a cellophane plastic sleeve doesn’t speak to your eco-friendly ideals.

There’s so much more to your package design than just an attractive label and eye-catching logo—make sure that your personality, mission, and aesthetic are literally part of the whole package.

Elizabeth Heath

Written by

Elizabeth Heath

Liz is a writer and editor based in central Italy.

Connect with Elizabeth Heath on LinkedIn.

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