You will find out more about how we've created some of our best custom illustrations for worldwide gourmet brands & more, and basically what are the key benefits of using them for product branding.
We wanted to create an article dedicated to both graphic designers & clients, both looking to have a better understanding of how packaging illustrations are created and how they can be used to convey emotions to customers in a matter of seconds.
But before we start, what is an illustration? According to Wikipedia, "An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in print and digital published media." To summarize, an illustration created for package design presents to the customers a specific characteristic of the product or the brand while generating emotions & connecting with the audience.
If we go back in time, the earliest illustrations came from ancient Egypt. We all heard about hieroglyphs. One classic example of an ancient illustration can be found in the Tomb of Pharaon Seti I, around 1294 BC. In terms of history, the art of illustration as we know it, started to develop & extend its use in the early 19th Century and has a close connection with the industrial process of printing & distribution. It was used mainly for children's books, magazines, newspapers, various printing materials & product packaging design to clarify and support a message. The Golden Age of Illustrations had now started. From the 1800s the illustration world grew and adapted with the upcoming times and the New World. Back to present times, illustrations are now frequently used in product branding, for label design or creative packaging, and even in the digital world, where they can add value and visual appeal to different apps, websites & e-commerce platforms.
What is special about illustrations?
You know what they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words". A meaningful, eye catchy illustration can be so easily remembered by the audience, can enhance the emotional appeal, and convey the product or brand message in one single glimpse. All the above reasons and more make them the perfect silent salesmen when used on a packaging design box, bottle packaging, label design, or other branding identity design element. We've selected from our portfolio some of our favorites custom illustrations that we would like to present to you in this article, their story, what they represent for the product branding and how they help elevate the product inside.
1. Establish a powerful connection with the audience through a bold and powerful illustration.
Cardinal. Coffee Packaging Design
Meet the Cardinal, a modern freehand digital illustration we've created for a Roasted Coffee Brand. The custom illustration uses the red color palette to command attention. The layered style adds complexity to the illustration while offering full control to the illustrator in all the creation phases. The Cardinal bird is a colorful, Indigenous-inspired illustration with a complex and intriguing pattern that will generate an emotional response from the target audience. The red color used in this composition describes a powerful & exciting presence and reveals to the customers the intense aroma of the coffee even before they open the package. Such responses can be triggered using a meaningful illustration that visually reveals the essence of the brand.
2. Connect easily with a younger & more hip audience through a playful and colorful composition.
Clouds. Energy Drink Packaging Design
We opted for creating a vector illustration in the Clouds Product Packaging, so the entire composition can be easily scaled and adapted for any printing environment while guaranteeing a high-quality resolution. Because packaging illustrations can have so many different styles & colors, you have a wide palette of possibility to choose the one that better represents the brand. In this particular packaging project, the illustration of clouds and space rocket has a double purpose, inviting the customers to taste the energy drink but also offers the illusion of flying while suggesting an out-of-this-world energy boost. You should opt for a vector illustration when you have multiple surfaces, materials, and package types to print later on. This type of vector illustration will offer you the possibility to use it on any kind of package, label design, or brand stationery.
3. Add an original, contemporary & elegant style to the brand identity to elevates a brand
Swiss 15. Dairy Packaging Design
This handcraft pencil and ink illustration adds a unique feeling to the entire composition of the Swiss 15 Project. Various stages of this illustration were sketched, starting from pencil structure and composition to the ink-crafted details. The ink illustration is celebrating diversity and amazing hand-craft products. Using a bespoke, hand-drawn style for the illustration gives a brand the power to stand apart from its competitors. The message of the brand becomes much clearer than using a text description and remains in the memory of the consumer for a longer period.
4. Use metamorphosis to intrigue and captivate the audience while breaking the usual patterns and accelerate sales
The Chess Collection. Salad & Jam Packaging Design
Starting from the basic vegetable and fruit, shapes and colors, we brand & package this unique collection of jams and salads. The illustrations gather their inspiration from an unexpected combination, the complex game of chess and colorful vegetables and fruits. The metamorphosis inspired these contemporary vector graphics illustrations that will remain in the heart and soul of today’s consumer. The modern style of the illustrations instantly calls for attention while helping the products to be easily recognizable on e-commerce platforms and shopping apps next to the classic marmalade.
5. Use 3D graphic techniques to create 3D rendered models that transport the customer into a virtual world, adding a deeper and modern dimension to the branding design.
Mushroom House. Wine Packaging Design
This method offers designers the opportunity to explore the 3D environment and create virtual elements that add a touch of reality to the packaging or go the opposite direction with a futuristic creation. This option also gives the illustrator the chance to be original while creating something perfectly adapted for a specific target audience. 3D illustrations will offer the product brand a custom image and style that cannot be replicated by competitors like a photo from stock libraries that can be found available online.
You may wonder why food & beverage packaging imagery lean so much on illustration instead of the basic realistic photographs.
When the commercial printing techniques start to deliver the reproduction of photos on packaging, big and small brands, all together started to use them. Why we move back to illustrations? When we finally had the means to print high-quality realistic photographs on different materials and containers? It maybe means that people are starting to move back from the industrial process, the big commercial movements, and look for a natural, more personalized connection with the brands. The packaging illustrations bring forward a more symbolic side of the brand message; carry a more complex message than simply a photo.
Imagine this. Ten brands are selling pineapple in syrup. Nine of them use beautiful, high-resolution photographs of the specific fruit in syrup. On the other hand, one brand uses a meaningful and playful illustration of pineapple, it can easily send its specific message to customers much faster in today's market where so many similar offerings compete. Which one would you choose?
To summarize, illustrations in Packaging Design offer the perfect method to use storytelling in this fast shopping environment.
People have always been intrigued, seduced, and fascinated by stories, so using packaging illustrations for a product brand offers a great advantage.
Using illustrations in the packaging design will help the brand appeal to an emotional level and connect with the consumer which is the ultimate goal of a successful branding design.
Packaging has transformed its initial purpose, to only transport what is inside, and had become, since the Industrial Revolution, a creative form of communication.
The most important question you should ask yourself is: What's the story that lies behind this product brand? Can an illustration bring this story to life in a matter of seconds and engage the consumer?