How to Use AI for Packaging Color Inspiration

Selecting the right colors for your packaging is a critical aspect of product design that can significantly impact consumer perception and purchasing decisions. Here at the Packaging School, we like to refer to packaging as “the silent salesman,” and color can play a big role in catching the consumer’s attention when it matters most—the point of purchase environment. 

With the advent of AI tools like ChatGPT, Canva Magic Studio, and Adobe Express, selecting the perfect palette has become easier and more precise. In this blog, we will explore how these tools can help you brainstorm ways to make informed color selections for your packaging systems. Plus, we will highlight insights from our Leveraging Human Factors in Packaging Design course, providing a deep dive into the psychological impact of color and other design elements and allowing you to develop a comprehensive understanding of how to create packaging that resonates with your target audience. 

Let’s dive into the world of AI-driven color selection and discover how to use these tools to guide your packaging design workflow.

Adobe Express - Text to Image

I decided to test one uniform prompt across all the platforms for comparability—the chosen prompt was:

What is THE best color for coffee packaging to stand out on grocery store shelves?

I tested this prompt on Adobe Express, using their text to image generative AI tool. Adobe Express’s generative AI tools are available for free, with 25 credits (1 prompt per credit) per month. If your goal is to catalyze packaging design inspiration, we recommend switching the “Content Type” to “Photo” from the default “Art” setting. For best results, see below and ensure that your page matches before entering your prompt. 

Below is one of the outputs from the prompt above.

It appears from this output that Adobe’s tool places emphasis on bright colors like greens, blues, and oranges. The color green in packaging is often associated with freshness and sustainability—making it a great choice for organic or sustainability sourced coffee. You can learn more about the theories behind the use of other colors and more in our online Leveraging Human Factors in Packaging Design course.

Let's explore another output from this prompt. 

Again, this generative AI tool emphasizes bright colors that jump off the store shelves, particularly highlighting a turquoise package amongst a sea of orange, blue, and tan colored packages. I found a common theme with generative AI on Adobe Express to be vibrant colors.

I had a hard time determining the packaging material in this output, so I asked some of the Packaging School team members . . . 

Dr. Julie Suggs, Academic Director: I am almost seeing PVC, since it looks waterproof almost ha! 

Anna Ogletree, Packaging Curriculum Specialist: To me, this material looks like a plastic multilayer material with aluminum foil making it rigid and maybe LDPE on the outside. But the top of the package looks like an AI glitch, where it has a crimped heat seal but also a fold and tuck tab. Ha! Strange.

To learn more about how to use Adobe Express for packaging design inspiration, check out our blog from April. 

Fotor AI

Fotor is a text to image software that helps assist in the product and packaging design and development process. This easy-to-use tool lets you craft a wide range of creative packaging designs in moments. 

Fotor can be used for free, allowing users to generate 2 images per day in a credit system. If you do not have a paid Fotor plan, think before you type . . . you only have one prompt input per day. 

I ran the same prompt as before—“What is THE best color for coffee packaging to stand out on grocery store shelves?”—and here are the results: 

The first output was useful as it was a direct rendering of a grocery, or rather, coffee store shelf with a variety of bagged coffee products. Which packaging design jumps out at you? 

For me, the mustard yellow bags pop instantly when compared to the deeper hues of the green and red bags. Yellow is often associated with feelings of optimism, energy, and warmth—it certainly stands out from traditional coffee packaging and its darker tones. 

The other output contains mostly darker packages of green and black with a few orange and yellow packages sprinkled throughout. It is interesting to note that Fotor was the only AI that depicted packaged coffee in what seems to be a metal container, perhaps aluminum or tin.

It can be insightful to use tools like Fotor to gauge how a color will look on a shelf, but we recommend physically going into stores and auditing the section where your product resides before making any concrete decisions around color. 

Chat GPT-4

I also decided to test the same prompt on Chat GPT—here is the first output: 

According to GPT-4, there is no “definitive ‘best’ color” for coffee packaging, but it recommends red for a number of reasons including the attention-grabbing nature of the color and the fact that it is known to stimulate appetite. GPT-4 also notes that red in packaging is versatile, as it can easily be combined with other colors like black or white to create contrast. 

I also like how GPT-4 notes that “it is crucial to consider your brand identity and target audience,” which reinforces the principle that decisions should not be made based on AI outputs alone but should be a long, iterative process. 

Canva Magic Studio – Text to Image

Canva provides access to generative AI tools in their Magic Studio. Users without a subscription plan are able to generate 50 images in total, those with Canva Pro can generate 500 images a month.

I ran the same prompt on Canva’s text to image tool; here is a result with the packages on a store shelf rather than simply a collage. 

Similar to Fotor’s AI tool, Canva utilizes eye-catching designs in bright yellow, orange, red, and teal. Take a look at the image above and make note of which packages your eyes go to first. You can extend this exercise further with the use of eye tracking technology and consumer studies to gauge which colors and design styles stand out.

More AI Packaging Design Content to Come! 

This is the second content piece in our series showcasing how to use AI tools to aid in the packaging development and design process. As we mentioned above, AI tools can be used for brainstorming and surface-level research—but packaging design decisions should always involve a team of people and conversations with relevant stakeholders.

To learn more about the vast world of packaging design, check out our suite of online packaging design courses including: 

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