As we described in the post “Packaging and labelling”, boxes, especially in some product industries, go with a series of symbols, usually standardised at both national and international levels. These symbols are used to convey specific information in less space. Today
Packaging symbols: tipologies
When we talk about packaging symbols, usually we refer to pictograms and ideograms created to identify specific actions, conditions of use or to communicate other essential information to consciously choose and use the product.
Symbols well shown are typically those one conveying direct information, more or less effective, to consumer, instead those one hidden provide technical elements especially designed for who handles with packaging manufacturing and filling. It is about then two different typologies with their specific functionalities depending on product type, industry and recipient. But keep going step by step.
Communicate in a smart way with consumers
Packaging symbols designed for consumers are being used to convey information about their rights and protection and the working, preservation and recycling process of the packed product. Every item type, based on the category it belongs to, is characterised by a certain series of standard symbols, some of which conformed with special regulations.
As for food products, for example, the materials used to realise the packaging, especially the primary one, need to be suitable for use in contact with food, a feature that has to be shown on the box through a special symbol, whereas animal source foods must be identified by a specific oval-shaped identification mark. Within that symbol are indicated the name of the country where the manufacturing is located, its reference number and, concerning industries located in the European Union, the CE abbreviation.
Instead, other signs commonly refer to many sectors, like the CE marking and the environmental and recycling ones, and can be placed on the packaging only when it really conforms with the requirements needed.
All symbols refer to a strong need in the packaging design industry: to effectively communicate with consumers in a small space. Therefore, boxes dimensions are closely bound to dimension of the product inside: in some cases, it is about very small packaging you will need, sometimes you must, insert specific information on.
A tool for designers
Regarding this first category of symbols, we realised a vector PDF chart that you can download for free. In this way you will always keep on hand the most used packaging symbols while working on your project design. While realising your graphic design, remember to find out any possible dimensional and chromatic limit regarding the use of symbols. Some of them, to be legally valid, need to satisfy the requirements according to the current regulations.
Download the file, open it with Adobe Illustrator and start to design your custom packaging!
Remember: the use of these symbols is allowed only in case of conformity, with a license or specific agreements, any violation will be subject to legal actions.
Keep an eye on knock-offs!
As we said before, some symbols, to be valid, are supposed to be created according to specific graphic regulations. However, it usually happens that they are illegally reproduced because their use doesn’t need to be always authorised: conformity inspections are often conducted only after warnings about features that will not fit the requirements.
That’s why counterfeiters use many sophisticated tricks, especially the graphic ones, to cheat consumers and increase sales. One of the most popular example is that one referring to CE marking, a mark used in some product categories to guarantee the correspondence of goods to the conformity regulations and the standards that extra- EU production and import must observe.
Only one of these two symbols indicates the certified CE marking, while the other one is the China Export uncertified mark. In particular, the first one on the left is the official mark realised according to European laws, the second one is a counterfeiting attempt. The structural grid of the symbol highlights graphic differences between the two brands, standing out the nonconformity of the second one.
During your packaging project design you have to be careful about entering these symbols and any variation of them: if you modify the feature of registered brands you may run into a lot of problems, both legal and not.
On the next post about packaging symbols we will talk about hidden symbols, used to give specific technical information to make the packaging manufacturing and filling easier to the people in charge. Don’t miss it!