The Importance of Typography in Packaging

Walking down the aisles of a grocery store can be an overwhelming experience for consumers, and trying to find the right product can feel like it has turned into a game of Where’s Waldo? Often times, consumer purchasing decisions don’t come down to the name of the brand or the price of the product, but the packaging in which the product is sold. With so many options, how can you ensure that your packaging stands out from the crowd?

The type of font you choose for your packaging is perhaps the best way to grab attention and communicate your message in an interesting and creative way. Among other things, typography can define your product, help differentiate your brand, and affect customer preference. Both an art and a science, typography is an essential component to any packaging design. However, it is not as simple as just picking a typeface or font that you think looks good.

Here are some things to consider when selecting the typeface and font for your packaging:

Know your audience

Understanding who your target market is will help you decide on what direction to take. Even before the customer has processed what they are reading, the font and typeface on a package can convey the idea that you want your audience to receive. For example, the right typeface for an energy drink geared towards Millennials may not be the right typeface for a low-calorie fruit drink aimed at an older demographic. It is important to do your research beforehand and let your findings guide you when deciding on the proper font.

Packaging shape and size

The shape and size of your product is another factor that can either limit or enable what is possible for your packaging. A cereal box, for instance, provides a lot more room for text than a tea canister does. When designing your packaging, arrange the words so that they are prominent and legible, as this will ensure that customers can quickly find what they are looking for. By having a sense of balance and symmetry in your packaging design, you can create something that is visually appealing that will also make your customers lives a little easier.

Typeface and font

From the kerning between your letters to whether you should use a serif or sans-serif, there has been much research done to determine what works well in different situations. While your audience and packaging size will help narrow down your choices, there are a few good rules of thumb to keep in mind:

Less is more: Though it may be tempting to feature a lot of text or different fonts in your packaging, this has the potential to create a cluttered and confusing design. By using slight variations of the same typeface, you can walk the line between contrast and consistency.

Upper and lower case versus all caps: The human eye recognizes letter characters easier when there is a combination of upper and lower case. This can help customers quickly absorb the information that they are reading.

Color considerations: Positive type (dark text on light background) causes the background to expand in the eye and make letters appear smaller than they are; conversely, reversed type (white text on a dark background) has the opposite effect and makes letters appear larger. When dealing with smaller packages, this can be a great way to maximize space.

Typography trends

Handwritten fonts, minimalist styles, vintage, retro, cutouts and overlays: these are all typography trends that you have probably seen numerous times, and will continue to notice throughout the foreseeable future. While there is nothing wrong with using a popular style that may resonate with your customers or look good in a photograph on social media, it is important to remember that the typeface and fonts you choose must correspond with the product you are trying to sell. If they don’t, it will come off as inauthentic and ultimately do more harm than good.

As with many aspects of design, there is no cookie-cutter solution to typography in packaging. What works well in some situations may not work in others, and the creative process that goes on behind the scenes can take both time and effort. With that being said, it is important to treat typography as a fundamental element of your packaging design. When done right, it can change the face of your whole brand.

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