It might be summer here in Hong Kong, but we’re already rolling up our sleeves for the fast-approaching holidays of Mid-Autumn Festival, Christmas and even Lunar New Year 2024. This is the time of year when our clients start focusing on their seasonal communications and thinking about brand-building giveaways like mooncakes, calendars and red packets.
In fact, our design team loves this time of year because they get to have fun developing impactful packaging and seasonal designs that boost brand value. With that in mind, I sat down with our Art Director Kannis Ho to chat about packaging design as well as to revisit some of her recent favourites.
First things first – what is packaging design, and why is getting it right so crucial?
First impressions are everything. When designing packaging, you must ensure that the brand remains immediately recognisable and that your design draws the emotional response you’re looking for – whether that is surprise, delight, reassurance, nostalgia, anticipation or something else.
But you can’t get carried away with design to the detriment of functionality. Nobody wants a mooncake they can’t take out of an over-designed box, or a calendar you have to squint at! For us to create the best design, all briefs must start with the desired customer experience and an understanding of how the item will be used.
Adding a festive twist to well-known brand designs
The beauty of seasonal packaging is that designers get to creatively bend brand guidelines around seasonal or festive visuals, such as red and white accents for Christmas or zodiac animals for red packets. It offers brands a chance to stand out with design elements that might otherwise be outside their normal guidelines, or secondary colours that add a festive spin to their already well-known branding.
Why we bring in our printer from the get-go
We often talk about copywriters and designers collaborating to deliver the best creative results. With packaging, the designer’s key partner is the printer. Because there are so many printing techniques to choose from, involving the printer at the briefing stage can bring even more concepts to the table, or set more realistic expectations for what’s feasible during print production. We get the best results by verifying all designs with our printers before the client ever sets eyes on them. That way, we’re not over-promising or missing an opportunity to really elevate the final piece.
Let’s look at some of Kannis’s favourite designs and see what makes them shine:
Antalis are packaging experts who offer a wide range of papers for printing and office needs. In 2021 Antalis designed promotional red packets to send to their customers which were not only practical, but also built their brand reputation by using exquisite paper that the recipients could also order, as well as showcasing different finishing like embossing, hot stamp and laser cut. But the real excitement about these CNY red packets was the way in which the designs were modern and fun, encouraging engagement above and beyond the opening to see what is inside. The collection is 5 designs in total – a cow, a fortune stick, a firecracker, a traditional candy box and a tangerine. For the cow red packets, they can be folded into a 3D cow; For the fortune stick, recipients can shake the red packets to see the lucky wording; For the Firecracker, when the red packet is opened the firecracker will sparkle; For candy box, the red packet can be flipped over to see different candy and for the tangerine, it can be peeled piece by piece.
New World Development did an excellent job creating their mooncake packaging. No colour was needed for the black outer box, since the die-cut and embossed designs spoke volumes. This contrasted beautifully with the inside of the box, which greeted the user with rich, traditional hues of red and gold, invoking warm Mid-Autumn vibes. Their “less is more” approach worked well to create an impactful, elegant keepsake.
This example isn’t seasonal, but it does illustrate how even simple packaging updates can build on a brand’s narrative and elevate its positioning. The tea space is highly competitive, so standing out can be difficult. Nonetheless, the brand repositioned its product as premium, organic and natural, simply by upgrading a plain box with a beautifully designed wrapper. The sketches added a human touch, while the clean and concise layout offers a professional but unique edge to the brand.
If you are interested in creating bespoke seasonal assets for your customers, but aren’t sure where to start get in touch today! The Giles Agency team of packaging design experts are here to help.