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Marketing Insights

How to Work with a Packaging Designer

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Every year approximately 30,000 new products are launched in the marketplace and more than 80% of them fail.

Ensuring that your product is successful begins with how you present the product to potential customers. And this starts with your packaging design. 

When making a choice between your product and your competitors on the shelf, most consumers will not have the time or energy to weigh up the pros and cons of the product in detail.

Instead, they will rely on the packaging, the appeal of the packaging design and the information displayed on your packaging to make a decision. In fact, according to reports, one-third of consumer decision-making is based solely on the packaging. 

So how do you ensure your packaging design will make your product stand out from the crowd?

Work With a Professional

It’s important to make sure that your packaging helps your brand to be recognized.

Your packaging is a very powerful marketing tool as it speaks to consumers, telling them why your product is different and worth choosing over other brands.

In order to create the best design for your packaging that incorporates all elements of great packaging design, it’s best to hire a professional packaging designer. 

Planning with a team of creative professionals

Great packaging is important for every business but is especially important for startups and growing businesses as it helps to create a brand image, adds value to your product and can have a direct impact on sales.

It helps to build customer loyalty, improves brand identity and will continue to influence sales as your company continues to grow.

Your packaging could be the make or break point for your product and for this reason, it is crucial that you get it right first time.

A professional packaging designer brings a huge amount of experience to the table and will be able to guide you on the best approach and design options for your packaging.

Finding the Right Designer

When you’re choosing a packaging designer to work on the packaging for your product, it’s crucial to put the time and effort into finding someone who can do the best job possible. Different designers will have different styles and some will have more experience than others. In order to decide if a designer is the right fit for your brand or product, ask to see their design portfolio. You need to ensure that they have the necessary experience and skills to make your vision come to life.

How to find the right designer for your project

During your initial discussions with the designer, ask them about their experience. 

Do they have an understanding of the industry you are in? Have they experience designing packaging similar to what you require? Are they familiar with the materials you want to utilize in your packaging?

With the answers to these questions, you will very quickly know if the designer will be the right person for the job.

Popular Video - Packaging Design Process - Step-by-Step Guide - WATCH NOW

Inspire or Be Inspired

Some people have a very clear idea of what they want their packaging to look like while others are not so sure.

If you have an image in your mind of the finished design, sit down with the designer and show them exactly what it is you are looking for.

Show them examples that illustrate your needs and avoid being vague at all costs.

Provide the designer with a ‘creative brief’ to arm them with more information about the product the packaging will be for, who the market will be and where the product will be sold.

The more precise you can be, the more accurate the designer can be in producing that winning design that you have been dreaming about.

On the other hand, if you have no idea what you want/need, talk to your designer and see if they can provide some inspiration.

Take a look at Pinterest or Instagram, look at what your competitors are doing and search online for popular design styles.

Together with your designer, you should be able to come up with an appealing design that’s current and matches your company image.

Project planning

Define Your Expectations

Once you have chosen the right packaging designer for your needs and you have come up with a general concept for the packaging design, it’s time to set some expectations.

Meet with your marketing and product development team in advance of speaking with your chosen designer and agree on what you expect the designer to come up with.

Again, you need to be clear with your designer to let them know exactly what it is that you expect from them so that they can be sure to meet these expectations.

Some important questions to ask are:

  • What will the design include?

    Not every graphic designer understands how to construct a package or die line. Will these be included in your design or will you need to have these elements finished in-house or by someone else?

    If they have no experience with package design specifically, it might be best to hire a designer who specializes in packaging.
  • Custom photographyDo they provide a photography service?

    Does your packaging require bespoke images or photos?

    If so, will the designer fulfill these requirements or will you need to hire a professional photographer also? Perhaps they are affiliated with a photographer and can organize this for you.

    Be sure to double-check to avoid any surprises down the line.
  • Does the designer write copy?

    Is it necessary to hire a copywriter as well as a packaging designer or can the designer provide this additional service?

    Remember, the copy you present onyour packaging Professional copywrighting serviceswill be crucial in ensuring that your message and the product information are easy to read and understand while getting the main points across, often with a very limited character count.

    Also, if you require bi-lingual copy for your packaging, can this be included?
  • Will the designer advise on copyright, trademark and registration?

    It’s not uncommon for design concepts to run into issues with copyright, trademarking and registered trademarks.

    During the concept creation phase, can your designer offer advice on these issues? If not, you may need to hire a lawyer to advise on these matters which can be a significant additional cost.
  • Can the designer offer design versioning?

    Often times you will want the designer to version the package design to other products in your range.

    Is this included in their quote or is this an extra expense? If this is a service you are going to need, make sure it is included from the beginning.
  • Does the designer have package manufacturing experience?
    Where possible look for a packaging designer who not only has great design experience but also understands the package manufacturing process. If your designer fully understands the entire process from design concept to package manufacturing, you can be assured the most seamless experience possible. 
  • Do they understand the package printing process?

    Some designers work closely with printers or have printing experience themselves. Access to a designer with this knowledge will be invaluable as they can provide the printer with exactly what is required in order to bring your packaging design vision to life without any delays.
  • Can the designer offer guidance on design choices for your packaging?
    An experienced packaging designer should be able to offer assistance with choosing the best type of packaging you want to create. Should it work best in a carton or clamshell, blister or flexible package? Different types of packaging have different minimums and start up costs.  A designer with this experience can guide you to the right type of package for your product, your timing AND your budget.  Also, certain designs and imagery will work better depending on the size, shape and, materials you are using in your packaging. Ask your designer if they are able to offer this kind of advice before beginning the design project.
  • Will they liaise with the printer to ensure the packaging is completed in time?

    As we mentioned already, some designers work closely with printers and understand the printing process better than others. Be sure to enquire with your packaging designer if they will liaise with the printer to ensure they are working to the same timeframe and milestones. Using a designer who understands the deadlines a printer will be working with will ensure that you get your completed packaging within the agreed timeframe, avoiding any unnecessary delays.
  • Is the designer aware of the timeframe required to complete the package printing?

    Depending on the type of packaging you are printing, different timeframes will be required. If you are running on a tight timeframe or waiting to have your new packaging completed and on the shelves by a certain date, this will be an important question to the packaging designer. If they don’t know about the length of time different types of packages need to be printed, you may want to look elsewhere.
  • What other skills can the designer offer?

    Packaging designers will often have worked in a different area such as graphic design, marketing or package printing in the past which may have led them to specializing in packaging design. Often times, based on this experience, they can offer additional services to clients.

    For example, can they provide color renderings of the package prior to printing? Additional services like this mean you don’t have to go elsewhere to have these additional services completed. This will save you time, money and makes the whole process easier to manage as you are dealing with one designer or agency rather than multiple providers. 
  • Will your packaging designer provide samples as the project develops? 

    As your packaging comes closer to completion, you will want to showcase your product in it’s new packaging to potential clients. Make sure that your designer can provide mockups or hero sample packages that you can take to roadshows, trade fairs and send to clients interested in stocking your product. With the ability to do this, you can start looking for business before all of your stock has been wrapped up.

Will your product need design versioning?

Agree on a Timeline

As with any other project, you must agree on a timeline for the completed design with your designer.

Establish a realistic timeline that will allow the designer time to create a packaging design that you will be happy with.

Ensure that there is a clear line of communication at all times and create milestones that allow you to keep up to date with the development of the design from concept to completion.

Organize and plan you project

The key here is to strike a balance between the need for completing the project in a timely manner while allowing the designer enough time to complete the job to the standard you expect.

The last thing you want the designer to hand you a sub-par design because you allowed them only 24 hours to complete the packaging design.

Likewise, you don’t want to give the designer too much time so that they lose focus on your design and get sidetracked with more time-sensitive projects. Balance is key.

Test and Adjust

Once you have the first draft of your new packaging design back from the designer, make sure you review it with your team.

Everyone on the review panel should have a clear idea of the overall concept of the design, as well as where and how it will be utilized.

Bringing new team members on board at this stage is not advisable as they will not be familiar with the overall project and will cause more problems which will likely result in delays and re-strategizing.

Make revisions and design adjustments

Design is subjective.

If you ask a hundred people what they think of a design draft you will get a hundred different answers.

To get feedback that you can act on, ensure that everyone involved understands the ‘big picture’ in relation to the design and your goals.

Ask each person the same questions, use a scale that people can score different elements of the design on and compile your results.

This information will be invaluable in making any necessary changes to the first draft and finalizing your packaging design.

Get the Results You Want

Achieving the packaging design you desire should be an exciting journey for you and your team to embark on.

Your packaging design should communicate a clear message of what your product offers, how it can benefit the customer and what your brand represents.

By choosing an experienced packaging designer who understands your industry, you can be sure that you will end up with a packaging design that you truly love.

This is an opportunity to leave your customers with a positive impression of your brand and product, don’t let it pass you by.


What part of working with a packaging designer do you think will be the hardest ?  Leave me a quick note below.

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Topics: Packaging Design


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