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Posted on14 June 2013

Multi-lingual Packaging Design

We’ve found lots of top notch local businesses in Hertfordshire, and the lovely and clever people at Oyster Studios just up the road in Harpenden are a great example! Here are some of their top tips when planning your multi-lingual packaging design. Fine advice from expert contacts.

Developing strong product packaging design is a creative skill in itself, but if you plan to take your product global, adding translations can be really challenging.

Everyone knows packaging plays a pivotal role in generating sales and will have a huge impact on the success of a product launch. Well-designed packaging that is both relevant and engaging to the target audience is key in positioning the values of the brand, whether they are classic or contemporary, cheap and cheerful, or luxury and premium. From the colours and fonts to the graphics and photography all the visual elements work together to create an instant and powerful impression on-shelf – be it consciously or unconsciously they will evoke an instinctive and emotional response by the customer.

Equally important is the copy or information detailed on pack. Customers, quite rightly, expect product packaging to accurately communicate the functionality and benefits of the product inside, whether it be a tin of baked beans, or the latest, “must have” gadget. As a result, investing in expert out-sourced translation to ensure your multi-lingual packaging is accurate is a must. These specialists can use their experience to prevent issues and look out for regular pitfalls, like making sure you change the weights and measurements and currency for each country. You should aim to use translators who work only in their mother tongue, and who specialise in your product area – be it toys, food, engineering etc. Translators have eagle eyes and will spot any inconsistencies or ambiguities, or if a sentence seems not to make sense. This will enable you to avoid any embarrassing or costly blunders.

Once you have received your translated copy the challenge of laying in the text and art-working begins. There are many complexities to consider.  Copy lengths vary considerably by language with French being as much as 20% longer. Not all design software packages support all language texts, accents and special characters. Oh, and don’t forget not all languages read from left to right! Ensuring the text fits, maintains its meaning and is legible requires experience and patience!

Product packaging design is rightly considered a specialist craft. The skill with any good packaging designer is to understand the complex interplay of all these variables and to work hand in hand with the product developer to ensure the packaging has strong stand out on-shelf, clearly demonstrates what the product is and stimulates customer demand.

If you are looking to launch a new product or update your packaging and need out-sourced support please keep Oyster Studios front of mind. Find out more at or call (01582) 761212 to arrange a meeting.

ATC – Full membership of the ATC (Association of Translation Companies).

CIEP – Corporate membership of the CIEP (Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading) since 1993.

Corporate membership of the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting) since 1994. Corporate Member of the Year 2021.

ISO 17100 – ISO 17100:2017 for Translation Services (since this standard began, in 2008, externally audited annually).

ISO 9001 – BS EN ISO 9001:2015 (certified since 2003, externally audited annually).

Living wage employer – As a living wage employer, we believe our staff deserve a wage which meets every day needs.

Mindful employer

Mindful employer – We are a mindful employer, working toward achieving better mental health at work.


Disability confident committed – We are Disability Confident Committed, ensuring our recruitment, communications and support are inclusive and accessible.

4-day week

4-day week employer since 2019


Good Business Charter Member since 2022

The Slator Language Service Provider Index (LSPI) is a ranking and an index of the world’s largest translation, localization, interpreting, and language technology companies.


The Patient Information Forum promotes access to trusted and high-quality health information for the public and healthcare professionals.

Federation of Small Businesses and the Self-Employed

Member of the Federation of Small Businesses and the Self-Employed

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Signatory of the Prompt Payment Code since 2023.

Accredited with the Fair Tax Foundation since February 2024