I live in Iran and I had an order to design a brand logo and package for an Iranian product. It will be exported and sold in the USA.

I've done many sketches but I'm not sure about my final design. I am doubting my design, specifically if it will be good enough to capture people's attention on a retail shelf.

My Question is:

What are some things I can do to better understand the design space in a foreign country to feel more confident my designs will be equal or better than ones created by native designers?

  • 2
    I feel like this could potentially lead to a great question if focused a bit more but I think it's too broad as it is Mar 20 '18 at 14:28
  • 2
    An update to what your product actually is would do wonders for the quality of the answers that you will receive. Mar 20 '18 at 16:05
  • 1
    I agree with @Ovaryraptor as it is your question is vague. I'm assuming it's a food product because it's the most common import people are familiar with from your area. Mar 20 '18 at 16:51
  • @LateralTerminal yes. It is Saffron packaging. I did not mention that because it’s important to know what saffron is. Mar 23 '18 at 22:25

Identify your brand

To start off you need to take your product and decide what are the core parts of it.

Is the logo key?

Do you need to have certain colors and images to be recognizable?

What do you need to familiarize your audience with the value and application of your product?

What functions must the packaging serve?

Decide if you need to transliterate your brand mark

Write or print (a letter or word) using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language

Can you use the same logo but with a transliterated brand name?

This step can be answered by figuring out your brand above. The core aspect of a good transliterated brand is a fluid translation of the sounds of your language to match script of another. This allows the consumer to reconstruct the original sound of the unknown transliterated word.

You also need to have a solid brand mark in place before you can completely change things up. A good example is how Coke-a-Cola made new designs for Beijing's Olympics in various languages.

Coke-a-Cola Branding

Establish a clear hierarchy

Make your packaging simple and clean. Avoid putting ALL the information onto the package. Determine what is most important and have that front and center on your packaging.

While you want minimal visual clutter, make sure you have all the legalese (symbols, icons, etc.) that is required for the region you are selling in. For products with extensive instructions Japanese products make use of QR codes quite frequently to convey user manuals in place of package inserts.

Know your market, Mimic other brands and Cultural sensitivity

Look at what other brands are doing.

enter image description here

Sadly plain old design knowledge can only get you so far. You need market research and regional knowledge of customs and religious no-nos to really help you succeed.

Use native language speakers to translate and proof text. Know what colors are best for each region and stay away from those that have negative connotations. Differences in idiomatic expressions, slang and pop culture can be significant.

In the end

There’s no right or wrong way to start designing packaging for other regions. What is important is you keep the goal of effective communication through your product in mind. If you are able to engage with your target audience you will have greater success in selling more products.

The the best advice is to keep it simple. Creatively design your product so you have minimal clutter, maintain your cultural awareness and connect your product with you market audience.

  • @ZachSaucier Updated wording, good catch. Apr 11 '18 at 17:06

There is only one real answer to this: MARKET RESEARCH

You must explore the target market's brand trends, imagery, colours, typography etc, as well as the designs of similar products.

As we are unsure on the product type, it may be aimed at either US born citizens (US-specific products), Iranian born people (Food or classical Iranian products) or could be completely nationality-neutral (Tools, electrical items etc), this could be important as mentioned by others.

Be sure that your spelling and grammar are 100% perfect, do not rely on google translate, use a native speaker to check it.

You must also be sure that your designs adhere to any applicable local laws such as required markings.

  • 2
    Good start but consider expanding your answer other than just Market Research. Mar 20 '18 at 16:04

Just compare your design ideas with other products of the same category. Collect few ideas, check hashtags on social media and learn what people like or not like. I think that this is the "best" way to find the answer for your question.


For a humorous example of what can go wrong, consider:

Coque D'asses

Based on a google search I think this "Couque D'asses" is a Sanritsu knock-off of Crown's "Couque D'asse" (which is allegedly Flemish for "cookie from Asse"). When pronounced out loud by an English speaker using English phonetic heuristics instead of Flemish (or French, not sure how close those are) the name sounds a bit bawdy. But when the Nutrition Facts sticker (added to comply with US FDA regulations which is one sort of law Digital Lightcraft was referring to) covers up the D, that dials it up to 11.

Another example of how things can get maimed in translation, my workplace had a "Career And Competence" campaign, but when spoken out loud by an English speaker linguistic elision made it sound like "career incompetence".

  • 4
    Not sure how this even attempts to answer the question
    – Ryan
    Mar 20 '18 at 15:42
  • This is relevant information but it avoids the "my designs will be equal or better than ones created by native designers" portion of the question. I wouldn't delete anything you wrote but try to answer that part too. Your answer can be "You do X" or "You don't" but at least attempt to answer the question in some way. Mar 20 '18 at 17:15

Keep in mind this will probably be sold in foreign stores or a foreign section of a store in America.

What are some things I can do to better understand the design space in a foreign country to feel more confident my designs will be equal or better than ones created by native designers?

You don't. In America, foreign products are never sold in the same section as "American" products. So this type of marketing technique is pointless.

Here's another point it SHOULD look foreign in the first place. If it does not look foreign then foreigners will be less likely to purchase it. Also, consider that it would look odd to see non-foreign packaging next to all the other foreign looking packaging.

I'm going to cite my experience shopping in foreign stores and non-foreign stores that have foreign sections.

What are some things I can do to better understand the design space in a foreign country

I like the advice given by Mutant Bob. I'd like to add on to that. If you can have an American look over the design when you're done to make sure it doesn't accidentally have some sort unintentional offensive double meaning for Americans or what we can a Euphemism you should be fine.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Cai
    Mar 20 '18 at 19:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.