How to choose a designer for your coffee bags

Josephine Walbank
June 6, 2022
How to choose a designer for your coffee bags

The specialty coffee sector is renowned for its standout coffee and distinctive approach to packaging design. 

This aesthetic element to marketing coffee has become synonymous with third-wave coffee and has played a major role in the industry’s rapid rise in popularity.

Research shows that well-designed value added packaging that conveys a story and catches consumer attention is key to delivering brand value and gaining more customers. 

One survey reveals 72% of American consumers say a product’s packaging design affected their decision to buy. Furthermore, three out of ten businesses claim they observed a significant increase in revenue following packaging improvement. 

Roasters who partner with a designer for coffee bags can ensure their packaging accurately reflects the brand’s personality, while capturing the attention of consumers. Additionally, new eco-friendly digital printing technology has made customising sustainable packaging more accessible and affordable for many roasters. 

To find out more about how you can benefit from partnering with a designer for coffee bags, I spoke with the founder and creative director of Bite Design, Max Lilley

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White multilayer kraft paper coffee pouch with blue, red, and blue illustrations created by a designer.

How can artistic coffee packaging can help build a brand?

Many independent roasters and cafes have bold branding and packaging designs that make their products stand out.

These packaging designs include creative icons, including strong typography, creative illustrations, and dramatic colours. Furthermore, the packaging’s impression is considered from all angles, and these elements are often used across the sides and bottom of coffee bags.

By using these elements in innovative ways, coffee bags can take on a wide variety of aesthetics, from chic minimalist to celebrating the return of the Y2K aesthetic.

Investing in strong branding can be a powerful marketing tool, giving roasters more control over how customers perceive their business. 

Max Lilley from Bite Design believes businesses owners should never underestimate the power of aesthetic packaging. 

“Packaging is an incredibly important identity asset, which can have enormous brand building capabilities,” says Max, who is also a creative graphic designer. “For a lot of coffee lovers, the visual aspect of a brand is just as important as the coffee’s taste.”

He adds that customers want to feel part of something, and distinct packaging can act as an anchor for brand loyalty. 

“A phrase we often want to hear is ‘have you seen their packaging?’, because then we know we’ve hit an emotional note. Additionally, the packaging has to represent something for the brand equity to be built.”

Max says many coffee brands tend to make the mistake of going down the same branding route and blending in with one another. 

“Consumers want to see something exciting and have the coffee they drink stand out – whether that is through the visual identity or tone of brand voice, or the packaging.”

Coffee packaging plays a vital role in a roaster’s marketing strategy, as it is their primary way of communicating with their audience. Therefore, it should embody a brand’s identity and convey a positive impression of the company

Essentially, well-designed coffee packaging should tell consumers who a roaster is, what kind of coffee is on offer, and why they should buy it. 

Male Caucasian designer for coffee bags drawing on a black tablet.

How to choose the right designer for your coffee bags

Before searching for a designer for coffee bags, it is essential that you have a clear idea of your brand identity. 

A designer could build a brand design from nothing. However, providing them a solid understanding of what makes the brand unique will create harmony between the packaging and your services.

For instance, if you do not communicate that your brand identity is one of fun, youthfulness, and creativity, with a target market of 18 to 30 years old, a designer may produce a minimalist design more suited to corporate commuters. 

While this design could be strong and elegant, it may alienate existing customers. Furthermore, it could create disparity and confusion between their initial experience with your brand.

Therefore, it is essential that you clearly communicate your brand identity to the artist you partner with. Specifically, pinpoint who you want to speak to and what story you want to tell

That said, it is also vital that you partner with a local or international designer who shares your brand’s views. 

For instance, partnering with someone who shares your sense of vibrancy and creativity can ensure these qualities reflect in your coffee packaging.

“There are countless brand and packaging creatives out there,” Max says. “But I would say success hangs on finding a designer, studio, or agency that you get along with.”

As you will probably work with this designer from the project start to the end of the first print run, Max says it is important to feel comfortable professionally.

“Route-to-market strategy and industry/category knowledge are important aspects to vet, as well,” Max says. “Has the designer been around the block when it comes to working with coffee? The key is to partner with someone who can safely and profitably guide you toward your objective.”

A number of ongoing collaborations between designers and coffee brands have created some truly outstanding packaging designs.

For instance, Methodical Coffee has created packaging that is instantly recognisable. The floral designs are hand-drawn illustrations created by a local artist. 

The artist was able to create water-colour effects that adorn the packaging and link the brand firmly to its local area. The floral design was inspired by the flowers that grow in Greenville, and the watercolour paint helps create a home-from-home feel, which the cafe is known for. 

Another example that sits on the other end of the spectrum is UK-based Rave Coffee. The brand is renowned for its no-nonsense approach, with packaging that is engaging and informative. 

The packaging was designed by Bristol-based design agency The Collaborators and is loaded with strike throughs, squiggles, and colloquial language.

The coffee bags tie in perfectly with Rave’s brand identity, which is all about making specialty coffee accessible while invoking a strong emotional reaction. 

White multilayer kraft paper coffee pouch with letter label seated next to green plant on wooden shelf.

How to make sure your design works

In order to ensure your design works, you need to understand exactly what audience you want it to engage with. 

“Understanding the core audience is crucial to making sure a packaging design reaches the objectives set for the project,” Max says. 

A coffee audience can be segmented, so it is important to take an in-depth look at the personality profiles that you want to attract. 

“Anticipate their needs, struggles, and the coffee products and substitutes they currently use,” Max advises. 

He adds that roasters should ask themselves how they plan to move their customers on an emotional level. 

“Many physical actions, such as product purchases, come from an emotional place. So it’s important to determine the emotional triggers that will make the ideal customer approach your packaging, whether it’s on the shelf or online.”

In order to ensure your coffee packaging design is successful, you will need to partner with a printing company that can deliver your vision. This includes finding a printer that can provide and print on your chosen packaging materials. 

Different materials require alternative methods of printing. For example, sustainable packaging materials require a specific method of printing. 

You will need to communicate packaging materials to the designer to ensure the printers can successfully recreate all branding. Then you can find a printer who has the printing equipment required. 

For instance, MTPak Coffee recently invested in the HP Indigo 25K Digital press. This machine produces top-quality results on sustainable and biodegradable printing materials. Furthermore, it reduces the environmental impact of printing processes by as much as 80%. 

Building on this, colour consistency across coffee packaging is vital. If the colours are mismatched, brand consistency may be compromised. Additionally, it may cause a displeasing clash between your products, which gives off an unprofessional impression of your brand. 

This negative impression would escalate if your chosen supplier slacks on the quality of your packaging. If imagery is pixelated, or misprints are released, this can directly damage the reputation of a brand. 

Consumers often see these imperfections as negligence, carelessness, and low-quality – factors you do not want associated with your brand or your product. 

When customers buy coffee, they expect every cup to be consistent and tasty. By achieving colour consistency and a strong brand identity, roasters can meet these high standards.

White multilayer kraft paper coffee bag from RAVE Coffee on table next to reusable glass coffee cup and chemex filled with black filter coffee.

At MTPak Coffee, we can custom printed coffee bags that reflect your brand identity and stand out on the shelf. We can help you select from a range of sustainable materials and additional components to design the perfect packaging for your needs.

Our investment in the HP Indigo 25K allows us to digitally print coffee packaging with a 40-hour turnaround and 24-hour shipping time. 

We can offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) of packaging, no matter what size or material. We can also ensure that packaging is completely recyclable or biodegradable, as we offer bags made from sustainable materials such as kraft and rice paper, as well as LDPE and PLA-lined bags.

For more information on digital printing on sustainable coffee bags, contact our team

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