6 Books to Read on Packaging Design

April 9, 2019 by Erin Behan

Design ideas are all around us — in nature, art, everyday objects, and books. And we've got some great books that'll inspire you towards topnotch packaging design, whether you're stuck on a creative problem you just can't solve or you need help starting from scratch. Jump into these six books for packaging knowhow, design confidence, and lots of inspiration too.

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Package Design Workbook: The Art and Science of Successful Packaging
A staple in some package design classes, this 2008 book by Steven DuPuis and John Silva of LA's strategic design firm DuPuis is a good package design primer. It's chock full of design ideas and concepts that help you go from design to print. In addition to getting info on the process itself—including info on dielines and the print process—you'll also gain a detailed explanation on the history of packaging, plus read interviews with famous designers. The 240-page book is not a workbook in the traditional sense (don't expect tear-out pages), but it does take you through a tour of packaging from the first glass jars in Egypt to the first barcode and beyond.

Packaging Design Successful Product Branding from Concept to Shelf (2nd edition)
It's always a good sign when a book is popular enough for an update, and that's the case with this comprehensive tome, first published in 2008 and then updated in 2013. Written by Marianne Rosner Klimchuk, the chair of the Communication Design Pathways Department at FIT, the full-color book dives into the hows of creating packaging design with an emphasis of how packaging design fits in with branding and business strategies. Other helpful chapters include one on sustainability in the industry and case studies that make the principles of good packaging design come to life.

The Package Design Book
There are several books that compile the winners of Pentawards, a yearly packaging design competition. This multilingual one covers 2008 through 2016, offering a broad overview of a 10-year period in its hefty 672 pages. The contest covers five main categories — beverages, food, body, luxury, and other markets — and this book compiles the best in an image-heavy format. In addition to the packaging images themselves, you get info on the design and designer and sometimes backstory on the product as well. As with just about any book from Taschen, it's perfectly at home on your coffee table.

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Best Practices for Package Designers
This book—aptly subtitled, An Essential Guide for Implementing Effective Package Design Solutions—is a super-practical look at going from idea to finished product. Written by Grip design firm with locations in Chicago and Vienna, it's meant to spur thoughts on strategy and concept development, with a number of real-world case studies. You'll get ideas on color, photography, designing for food, packaging for kids, and more. Expect plenty of color photographs across its 192 pages.

Branding in Five and a Half Steps
Branding is key to designing good packaging, and you'll get a solid foundation in the former with this book by Michael Johnson (the longtime leader in branding and graphic design runs the Johnson Banks design firm). You'll get a taste of why consumers select one brand or service over another, and, through case studies, learn what goes into creating a successful brand. While packaging plays a part in this book, the more than 1,000 illustrations show how the company's whole "package" is key to packaging success.

Branding: Distilled
Even if you're not packaging liquor, take a look at this 102-page book by Cynthia Sterling of Sterling Creative Works. She touches on branding, packaging design, and showcases several case studies in the liquor industry. The takeaways go beyond the spirits industry and even if liquor isn't your thing, consider checking out other books that tackle a specific segment of the packaging industry, like one on takeaway food packaging or food packaging design.

No matter which packaging design book you read, the more you immerse yourself in the world of branding and package design, the more confident you'll feel in beginning to design your own packaging. When you're ready to start, head to Distinct Packaging. The custom packaging site works for beginners with its easy-to-use 3-D enhanced design tool, and it works for design experts who can design in their favorite design program and then upload to print via Distinct Packaging when they're ready. There's even a shortcut for those with a good idea but no time to execute: Distinct Packaging's Design Assistant Service. You send in your logo and other artwork, along with general instructions, and a professional packaging designer creates your box for you. Once you approve the design, it's sent to print, and shipped right to you.
Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.


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