Accent Pack: What is the Difference Between Packaging and Label Design?

There are plenty of factors to consider when you’re getting a product ready to sell – the packaging and labeling being two major ones. Packaging and labeling design are often referred to together, as one whole. However, they require completely different considerations as they are meant to perform different functions. Read on to learn about the key differences in packaging and label design.

What is the Difference Between Labeling and Packaging?

Labeling is meant to educate customers about a product while packaging serves to protect it. 

However, they do play a significant role in the marketing, branding and promotion of a product and need to be designed cohesively in terms of colors and brand aesthetics. That is where the similarities end. 

  • The Intent

Labels inform buyers about the products they are buying and include ingredient lists and allergens. They help customers make informed decisions about what they are purchasing. 

Packaging, on the other hand, may be used to carry out various tasks. The main goal is to protect a product. Packaging may do this by acting as a container and come into contact with the product itself. When packaging acts as a container, your packaging design process needs to consider the form of a product – i.e., if it is a solid, liquid, or a gas, along with ease of use for customers. A can is a container for soda, for example, and the little tab makes it easy to access and drink from the can on the go. 

Packaging may also serve to protect an already packaged product during transport and shipping, a n e-commerce delivery bag, for example. You can read more about the different tiers of packaging here.

  • Branding and Marketing

Both labeling and packaging play an important role in the branding and marketing of a product. Label design often requires careful consideration of what information will attract a target audience and must make the best use of a small area. Additionally, label design also needs to include regulatory information depending on the type of product. 

Packaging design can be as outrageous as you like. It is meant to grab a potential customer’s attention from its place on the shelf. Packaging design typically uses color, slogans, or graphics or a combination of the three to reach out to customers. Fancy shaped packaging can also help attract customers who like to shop with their eyes. For example, maple syrup in a well-crafted bottle is much more attractive than syrup sold in a tin can.

  • Materials

Label design requires careful consideration of the packaging and the product’s required environmental conditions before choosing label materials. 

Packaging design require a much more involved process when it comes to the choice of materials. Packaging designers need to ensure that the materials used will not contaminate or alter the product in any way and choose the right materials to store the product and protect it from damage. Packaging design also needs to factor in how the product is to be stored and used – for example, will it be refrigerated, does it need to withstand hot temperatures, microwaves etc. For example, you will typically find a high-quality olive oil in sealed dark glass bottles to preserve it from harmful sunlight. 

Sustainability is another key consideration for packaging designers. In fact, many countries, including Canada, have regulations banning or limiting the use of single use plastics. Growing eco-consciousness among customers is another key consideration. A recent report found that 82% of consumers showed a willingness to pay more for sustainable packaging,

  • Security

Labels can reassure customers that products are safe to use via information like use-by dates, bar codes, and RFID tags for traceability.

Packaging, however, provides physical protection. Child-proof packaging and seals are vital to keep young children and pets safe from harmful chemicals or medicines. Tamper-proof packaging serves to reassure customers that the products they are buying haven’t been altered. This is particularly relevant in pharmaceutical industries where counterfeiting is rife. How the packaging is sealed from the elements can also play a major role in the design process.

Although there are similarities between packaging and labeling design, packaging plays a huge role in how customers perceive your product and keeps your product safe. 

Help customers take the crucial first step toward trying your product out by streamlining your packaging processes with Accent Packaging Equipment. Get in touch to learn how we can help you make the most of your packaging design.