Sep 16

If it’s printed, it must be legible!

Posted by Packaging Sense in Typography | Uncategorized

Why do so many consumers have a negative opinion about packages? There are mainly 5 reasons:

  1. too difficult to open;
  2. too small texts, practically unreadable;
  3. overpacking – too much material or too big a pack in relation to the product/content;
  4. incomprehensible changes to product, i.e. package design;
  5. no handle for heavy packs and other ergonomical weaknesses as ‘slippery’ (unstable) plastic bottles in the bathroom.

All these weaknesses could be corrected if the will to do it were there, which is unfortunately seldom the case. As the reader of this website has certainly understood, I am particularly interested in the service (back) panel which, as I see it, is still quite catastrophic, as pack designers are not specially interested in making texts easy to read and brand managers do not really care…

Well, in one market in Europe, i.e. Norway, this is changing thanks to the Norwegian Association of the blind and partially sighted (NABP). NABP is at the moment running a campaign for “readable texts on packaging” (see ill.) where they use the big “U” as an icon with the website “”, which eans “non-readable-norway”.

They pick out particularly bad packages, advertising, etc. and use, as headline, “up with the text” and then add the culprit, be it a brand like TORO or a TV company as Telenor. In showing the bad example, the headline even says “the worst of this week”! Wow! What a lesson for all designers (if they read the ads, of course!)

Now, the attentive reader will most likely make the standard comment that I’ve heard many times: “…but there is no space to make it bigger!” which is wrong, as a designer can always make space available!

This can be done if

– you reduce the amount of text;
– you print the text positive and not negative;
– you print in the seams;
– you reduce the size of the barcode;
– you make use of the QR code, as some text is not obligatory on the pack;
– you understand what the average consumer is really interested in (which is mainly the ingredients list and not so much the nutritional GDA, etc.) and you structure the information and do not slavishly follow what the predecessor did;
– you use just common sense and not best practice and you do not automatically follow blindly company guidelines!

A big hand for NABP! You are doing a great job! Have just read your journal “All About Vision” where there is no text below 10-12 points!

August 2014

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