Custom Illustration – the Secret to a Memorable Unboxing Experience

unboxing experience

Custom illustration. What is custom illustration? It is actually a unique art form that involves creating handcrafted or digitally designed visuals tailored to specific needs. 

And in the context of packaging designs, custom illustrations offer a captivating and personalized touch to products, enhancing the overall unboxing experience for consumers. Stock images have been so overused that it has now become a bland addition that reduces the quality of a design. So by incorporating bespoke illustrations on the packaging, brands can create a memorable and engaging presentation that stands out from generic designs.

Furthermore, the artistry and attention to detail in custom illustration elevate the unboxing experience, leaving a lasting impression and fostering brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth promotion. And thanks to graphic design software and services, there are so many ways to achieve this feat. 

With that, we hope we’ve gotten you excited about this blog because we are about to break down further into why customization is important and tips on how illustrations can be incorporated into packaging design, some custom illustration ideas to explore, and where you can get this kind of work done. 

Read on to find out!

Why Customization is Important in Product Packaging Design

1. It helps differentiate from competitors

There are so many different products of the same kind out there. Before a product is actually consumed or enjoyed it’s the packaging design that lures in potential customers. With the competition being fierce, it’s the outer design that can make your product stand out. And to this end, custom illustration can be used to differentiate your product from a sea of other products of the same kind. 

The 2 illustrated packaging designs below are for 2 different tea brands. You can see how unique each is on its own. 

2. It helps reflect brand identity and values effectively

Custom illustration can be one of the greatest tools in your repertoire to help showcase your brand’s identity and its values. Because it’s such a versatile art form there is no limit to the kind of customization you can do to ensure your brand identity is reflected in your packaging design. 

The illustration work done on these Sephora packaging designs clearly depicts its brand identity and values:

3. It helps create a memorable unboxing experience

Customized product design helps engage and captivate consumers by offering a unique and personalized unboxing experience. Tailored designs resonate with individual preferences, creating an emotional connection and making customers feel valued. 

Like these packaging boxes by Caramelle:

Tips for Incorporating Illustrations into Packaging Design

1. Understand the brand, product, and target audience.

Before designing your brief for the custom illustration it’s important to understand the brand, product, and audience. These crucial steps should not be avoided when designing custom illustrations as it ensures that the visuals align with the brand’s identity, messaging, and target audience as well as the product’s purpose. 

Take the below packaging design for a French chocolate brand, for example. The illustrations are targeted at a younger demographic who likes to collect images.

2. Choose a consistent illustration style

As we have discussed on multiple occasions consistency is key to being memorable for a long duration. This is why you must be consistent with the custom illustration style you adopt for your packaging design.

The chocolate brand Sorini has a consistent illustration style for their gift boxes as you can see below.

3. Highlight key product features, benefits, or ingredients

Set out to first identify what the most compelling elements are in your product. You can then create custom illustrations that emphasize those features. Using different elements to showcase these will also help communicate what your product is all about. 

These chocolate bars by NAO have illustrations of the flavor profile on each different bar. It helps make quick decisions instead of having to look all around for words. 

4. Utilize storytelling through illustrations

You can also simplify complex concepts through visual storytelling with the use of custom illustration tactics. This helps communicate concepts about the product to audiences and also at the same time engage and captivate them whilst humanizing the brand.

Take a look at this Scented candle packaging design for Bath and Body Works:

In their creative endeavor, the designer visualized the Proust effect through their unique designs. Drawing inspiration from three nostalgic locations in Istanbul from the 80s and 90s, they sought to evoke a sense of the “old days” in their creations. By associating distinct scents with each place, they aimed to transport people back in time when lighting up a candle, triggering sweet memories. 

Adding a touch of personalization, the designer crafted a story and heartfelt letter on each design or postcard, enhancing the emotional connection and making the experience tangible for the recipients. The result was a collection of designs that beautifully intertwined visual aesthetics, scents, and storytelling to create an unforgettable and evocative unboxing experience.

5. Integrate illustrations with typography and color schemes

Color adds life to almost anything. So, create illustrations and add your brand colors to bring life to your custom illustration. You could also integrate typography into the illustration designs to create a harmonious visual composition. This cohesive approach with both color and typography helps elevates the overall aesthetic appeal.

This packaging design done for Popeyes is a great example of how illustrations and typography can be combined to create unique packaging.

6. Ensure scalability and adaptability for various packaging sizes and mediums

The final tip to remember is to make sure that your custom illustration is scalable and adaptable for various packaging sizes across various mediums. This means that it has to be adaptable enough to work both scaled up or down in size. And also it needs to be versatile in the sense that it should work on printed material as well as on digital screens. 

Now that we’ve covered the tips you need to keep in mind, let’s look at different ideas you can use to bring life to your packaging designs to give memorable unboxing experiences to customers. 

Ideas for Illustrations in Packaging Design

1. Mascots or brand ambassadors

Custom illustrations with mascots or brand ambassadors elevate a packaging design by adding personality and relatability. It becomes a recognizable symbol that embodies the brand’s values, fostering trust and familiarity. This emotional connection increases brand recall, engagement, and customer loyalty, leading to higher sales.

KFC is the ultimate example for showcasing this idea. Colonel Sander’s face on all their packaging has made it such a homely inviting design. 

2. Product usage and application guides

A product usage and application guide custom illustration on the packaging design offers clear instructions on product usage, enhancing the user’s unboxing experience, and boosting satisfaction. In fact, statistics show that 91% of customers prefer visual content to written content. It reduces confusion and creates a positive brand perception, driving repeat purchases.

Adding illustrations to indicate the application is particularly handy when the product is unique. Like in the example below. The name and the product photo might not instantly convey what the product does but the illustration does. 

3. Imagery representing the product’s origin or inspiration

Custom illustrations with imagery representing the product’s origin or inspiration attract consumers by evoking a sense of authenticity and uniqueness. Such visuals connect emotionally with customers, conveying a compelling narrative that sparks interest and instills a familiar feeling with the product and brand.

The packaging illustrations for the Colombian coffee brand Querida are a good example that showcases this. The coffee is made by women, for women and so the illustrations celebrate femininity. 

4. Illustrate the production process

Featuring the production process on the packaging design using custom illustrations builds customer trust by offering transparency and authenticity. Visualizing how the product is made instills confidence in its quality and craftsmanship, demonstrating a commitment to openness and credibility that resonates positively with consumers.

This production process, custom illustration on Charlie Bigham’s comfort food selection is a wonderful example of this.

5. Seasonal or holiday-themed illustrations

Using seasonal or holiday-themed custom illustrations on packaging design adds a touch of festivity and relevance to the product. It undoubtedly creates an emotional connection with customers. It also enhances the product’s appeal, encourages impulse purchases, and boosts brand recognition, fostering a sense of excitement and loyalty during special occasions which ultimately leads to a memorable unboxing experience. 

This Italian confectionary brand Feletti’s collection of Christmas-themed chocolate boxes for the holiday season is a great example that showcases this idea.

6. Environmentally conscious illustrations to highlight sustainability

When it comes to certain products, environmentally conscious buyers are on the lookout for sustainable packaging and product content. Why not have a custom illustration that depicts the concept so that you can be resounding about it? It would even add a creative touch making the packaging more appealing. 

For example, this packaging here uses illustrations to show that it’s an eco-friendly product.

Next comes the big question, of who can get this done for you. Let’s explore that as well. 

Where to Find Good Custom Illustrators

Custom illustrators can be hard to find for more than one reason. There would definitely be a lot of trial and error in the creative process. Not to mention the chaos if you had to go looking for one and then set to test out so many of them. This is why you should try a graphic design service that offers custom illustration services. 

When you go for a service that offers such graphic work, be sure to go for one that offers unlimited custom illustration services. That way you can get a great ROI. For a monthly subscription fee, you’re able to get way more return than if you paid per illustration project. These kinds of services already have a seasoned collection of custom illustrators with ample experience in the art. So you don’t have to worry about the quality as well. 

Let’s wrap up

In conclusion, custom illustrations play a pivotal role in product packaging design, offering unique benefits that enhance branding and customer engagement. By incorporating custom-illustrated visuals, businesses differentiate themselves, reflecting brand identity and values. 

To give customers a memorable unboxing experience, consider the tips provided and incorporate some of the ideas mentioned in your packaging designs. 

And to make it even more seamless, try out an unlimited graphic design service to obtain custom illustrations that ensure a memorable unboxing experience, leaving customers delighted and eager to return to you. 

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