My customer asked me: “What kinds of clever packaging exist today?”

Those who know me know I love outside-of-the-box ideas. From design concepts, to interesting uses for everyday products, to fun, quirky (and sometimes useless) merchandise. I love it all! I also enjoy finding clever and interestingly packaged products. Smart businesses and intelligent marketers are always trying to set themselves apart from their competition, which not only means differentiating the products and services they provide, but also ways in which these products are packaged.

Over the next three issues, I will be digging up some unique examples of consumer packaging. In this first installment, I will examine eye-catching packaging design and designs that increase the functionality of the product. Many of the products lumped into these categories are similar or have comparable target markets, which speaks volumes about the consumers they are trying to reach and the strategies with which they are trying to reach them. As a side note, I have no affiliations with any of the brands listed below; I simply admire their creativity and drive to stand out on store shelves. I hope this article gets your own creative juices flowing. Let’s go!

Eye-Catching Design

mr. clean dumbbell packaging

Mr. Clean Dumbbell Packaging

Mr. Clean products have always been branded as “strong and powerful on grime,” as depicted by Mr. Clean himself. This idea is sure to catch consumers off-guard in the cleaning aisle, and my favourite part of this concept is the actual work-out DVD contained in the cap. Perfect!

Naoto Fukasawa’s Fruit Juice Packages

Naoto Fukasawa’s Fruit Juice Packages

I really believe that this packaging speaks for itself. These fruit juice packages are clever, funky and well-executed, and I absolutely love the use of texture to mimic reality. This design by Naoto Fukasawa is simple, yet no detail was overlooked (there is even slight bruising of the banana depicted at the score lines). I adore this idea.

Anti Theft Lunch Bags

Anti Theft Lunch Bags

Genius! No longer will you have to tolerate an inconsiderate co-worker stealing your lunch. This design comes straight from my favourite fun-stuff go-to guys at Friend & Friends. Who wouldn’t be grossed out by taking one look at your sandwich?! It’s the perfect crime…the only thing you have to worry about is your germ-conscious co-worker mistaking your moldy bag for the real deal. Maybe just keep it in the back of the fridge…?

El Paso Chile Company

El Paso Chile Company

This assortment of tasty-looking sauces and spices almost makes a person want to head to the grill even in our cold, Canadian winter. El Paso Chile Company has brought the fun back into barbeque sauce by designing its packaging to resemble paint cans and brushes. There are only two steps you have to follow: 1. Slather it on to your BBQ item of choice (and you don’t have to stay in the lines) and 2. Enjoy! Mmmm…delicioso!

Stereotype by Daizi Zheng

Stereotype by Daizi Zheng

Of all the eye catching designs in this category, this is the most thought-provoking. The designer’s goal was to change the way consumers think about their eating habits. This design includes carrot sticks concealed in a cigarette package, celery sticks as the replacement for calorie-busting French fries and blueberries in a blister pack.

Increased Functionality

ripesense

RipeSense

By “turning pears into bananas,” RipeSense labels help consumers easily navigate the produce department. This label is designed to be used on “climacteric” fruit packaging, which is fruit that continues to ripen after its harvested and looks the same from the time it’s picked to the time it’s sold. The printed label responds to aromatic changes in the fruit and uses a gradient from red to yellow to show the level of ripeness. This product eliminates the need for consumers to handle fruit to determine ripeness, and it takes the guesswork out of the grocery store produce department.

Grind Coffee, senior thesis by design student Talia Cohen

Grind Coffee, senior thesis by design student Talia Cohen

This unique student project uses strong and bold typography to create a series of coffee products that communicate boldness, brew strength and flavours. The strong and simple lines and colours create a visually striking collection.

There are so many creative designers and print professionals that are breaking the rules of conventional packaging. By looking for ways to package products outside of the box (quite literally) other major players are forced to keep up and compete. This helps keep the growing packaging industry current and exciting. In my next installment, I will explore packaging that is eco-sensitive and packaging that is cohesively designed to the product it contains, including Coca-Cola, Absolute Vodka and Tetra Packs. Stay tuned for more in the fall…

Grind Coffee, senior thesis by design student Talia Cohen

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Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.