In an increasingly saturated world of eCommerce and retail, it’s important for brands to stand out and ensure marketing success with unique product packaging.

Visual elements play a key role in your small business’s brand identity: from your logo to social media elements like photos and videos, the choices you make will translate your mission, vision, and voice into elements your (potential) customers will interact with. Research even shows that, when done right, a strong brand identity can elicit strong emotional responses through omnichannel experiences.

Plus, it’s absolutely critical to hone in on the emotional experience a customer has while opening your product. If you pull off the unboxing experience and provide a visually stunning product, chances are high that your product will remain top of mind for your consumers.

Not sure what type of packaging you need for your small business, or struggling to find unique packaging that’s also sustainable while being cost-effective? In this guide, we’ll show you how to best design effective and eco-friendly packaging, plus offer some inspiration to set you up for success!

How to Design Effective Packaging As a Small Business Owner

Whether you want custom-printed stickers and labels or garment bags for your retail products, or takeout bags or other food-grade packaging materials for your restaurant, it can feel challenging to make sure your packaging stands out and helps foster brand recognition.

Here are three easy steps you can follow that’ll set you up for success in no time.

Understand your target audience

A strong brand attracts a certain profile, or target audience. To bring in your audience, you first need to understand who you’re trying to target, which can be done through competitor and market research.

Once you have a better sense of who your market is, it’s time to finesse all aspects of your brand identity in order to best attract them.

A great way to do this is by using the 12 brand archetypes, which we’ve spoken about before. Basically, you can align all aspects of your brand (like your packaging, fonts, social media templates, and logo design) with what that archetype (or personality) likes, so it will best resonate and appeal to them.

Choose the right packaging materials

Once you have a less abstract picture of who you’re creating your packaging for, it’s time to start designing.

From tissue and wrapping paper, to custom boxes and takeout bags, and everything else in between, there are endless options you can start with and then add your own personal touch to.

Worried about ballooning costs that might come with customized packaging? It might not be as pricy as you think! Fully customized packaging (like our custom shipping boxes) provide the biggest immediate impact, but are on the pricier side. However, there are plenty of other more affordable options.

For example, you can do printed stock packaging, which just means adding your logo to simple packaging options like a stock box, container, or bag. However, the most cost-effective way to provide an on-brand unboxing experience is by using a logo sticker.

Other options you can use for internal packaging that are more cost-effective include a handwritten note, logo tags, or an eye-catching tissue paper or gift wrap. Basically, you have options!

While you’re picking the perfect unique packaging for your small business, it’s important to factor in the health of Mother Earth and be a part of the circular economy by using sustainable packaging.

We’ve spoken at length about the importance of using circular materials. With packaging alone making up 32.6 billion tons of non-renewable waste annually, and nearly 24 billion tons wasting in landfills and chemical recycling facilities, it’s paramount we all play a role in a transition to a circular economy.

And with a majority of consumers willing to shell out more for sustainability, there’s no time like the present to go circular.

That’s why at noissue, all our products are either compostable, recycled, or reusable. Our mission is to make sustainable packaging accessible to all brands, creators, and businesses, so that together we can jointly contribute to a healthier planet.

Create a design that reflects your brand identity

Once you’ve decided on what type of packaging you want, it’s time to come up with the perfect design. Of course, all aspects of your packaging (including the fonts and colors) need to be aligned with your brand identity for a cohesive brand experience.

Need some tools to help you come up with the perfect unique packaging idea for your small business? Try out our Community Design templates, our online design platform, or our Custom Embosser. In a few minutes, you’ll be well on your way to creating a unique package design!

7 Creative Small Business Packaging Ideas For Inspiration

No idea where to start? Here are some of our current favorite designs from our customers that you can use to get inspired on your mission towards more sustainable packaging!

This custom Food Wrapping Paper template is bold and colorful, and is combined with a custom sticker, making it a 2-in-1 branding opportunity. It’s an easy way to still offer a strong branding moment, while keeping the costs down on the food wrapping paper.

Plus, it’s made out of FSC-certified paper and is 100% compostable, and highlights the gorgeous colors of the toastie. A win-win in our books!

These 100% cotton drawstring bags are a great cute packaging option that works as a fun alternative to more standard packaging options, all while looking classy.

More specifically, we love these pet apparel drawstring bags, especially since there are 2 options: one that’s more minimalistic, and one that’s slightly busier while still providing a touch of elegance.

Spoonflower designed this custom packaging in collaboration with an indie illustrator, and it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at! It’s a custom tissue paper (that’s 100% home compostable) and sticker combo, perfect for an extra layer to unwrap once customers have opened the box. Or, it can be used for less heavy items like flower bouquets.

We especially like this one since the sticker perfectly complements the FSC-certified recycled paper, while offering a different take on the tissue paper’s flowers—making sure it’ll definitely catch eyes and leave a great impression!

If you’re looking for a way to elevate a “boring” cardboard shipping box, look no further than what our customer Coaxed by the Siren did. By using simulated kraft print, you get a stylish white-on-kraft look on the outside that’s luxurious and minimal, instantly elevating the experience.

Of course, there’s still another surprise awaiting the consumer when they open the box, with a gorgeous lime green and message in bold lettering on the inside. You can guarantee your customers won’t forget this unboxing any time soon! While this option might not be for everyone, it definitely stands out from the crowd.

Here’s another great example that’s easy on the wallet, while allowing you to quickly add your brand identity to a cardboard envelope or box.

Our water-activated tape (which is non-toxic and comes with soy-based inks) is easy to customize, and in this case leads to a stunning design with a simple slogan and website. The designer went for a neutral aesthetic, utilizing a tasteful font and some extra elements on the side, making it easy to read while still being playful.

If your small business needs a minimalistic packaging idea, a packaging insert like a custom Hangtag can be a great solution. Whether you want them on clothes, home goods, or other accessories, it can work as an added touch of branding, especially if you use a (mostly) unbranded cardboard box.

In this case, Freckl Studio’s 100% compostable Hangtag perfectly matches the handbag’s color palette, and they use an elegant font set against a kraft-based, cream background. Honestly, simplicity has never looked this good!

A potential bonus: if your Hangtag is gorgeously designed, there’s a good chance consumers will leave it somewhere in their living or working space, which can help your brand stay top of mind.

noissue compostable Kraft Mailers are a great alternative for small businesses that don’t want to use cardboard envelopes for packaging their goods. This design by Joanne Hawker is pleasant to look at and evokes calming emotions—no doubt aided by the use of the relaxing dark blue. It’s easy to customize on both sides, but remains simple while being creative and stylish.

Wrapping It Up

It’s been a journey, but we hope this guide has provided some inspiration on your small business packaging adventure! While it can feel overwhelming having to pick the perfect product packaging design for your small business, it doesn’t have to be.

At noissue, we’re here to make it as easy and hassle-free as possible to provide on-brand packaging for your small business that not only looks good, but contributes to good.

If you want to start your circular packaging journey, let us help! We offer an extensive range of affordable and stylish packaging options to brand your products—all of which are either compostable, recyclable, or reusable.

Browse our full range of products to learn more about what we have to offer!