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Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Talking to a Package Designer

Clients come in all shapes and sizes -- or shall I say all walks of experience -- from the knowledgeable corporate product manager to the first time entrepreneur. The main difference in clients is that some will come to a package designer with nothing but a product and a dream while others will walk in with complete strategies. Regardless of what category you fall into, here are four questions to ask yourself before approaching a package designer.

1. What is your budget?
This is not only important to know for the cost of the design of the package but production as well. You do not want to get through the design phase only to find out that you cannot afford to get the package produced. Be up front with your designer about your budget as it will allow them to work within your estimated costs not only from a production standpoint but from a design standpoint as well.

2. Is my brand established or do I need help with that as well?
When I speak of brand I am not talking about your logo. Your brand is the promise that your company makes to its consumers. For instance, Apple’s brand promises their customers that they will strive for innovative technology that is designed well and will make the customer feel special. It is important that your brand is established prior to beginning your package design as you will surely want your package to speak like the rest of your company and touchpoints will. A great start to establishing your brand is to develop a creative brief.

3. What is my timeframe?
If there is an estimated date that you wish to launch your new package you must let the designer know. First, they need to account for production time on top of design time. Second they need to make sure that they can accommodate your project in their pipeline. Keep in mind that an effective package design isn’t a simple one-week project.

4. Am I a customer, collaborator, or director?
Firms can build better relationships with you if they know your anticipated level of participation in the design process. A “customer” will realize that they hired a firm for expertise (strategy, thinking, consultation), not just the normal computer and software skills that design work requires. A “collaborator” is a customer that also feels they have qualifications to make suggestions for tweaking/changing a design. A “director” is a client that draws the package designer a clear picture of what they want and does not care for input (this kind of client has basically hired a designer for computer skills and most likely has spent more money than necessary). None of these kinds of clients are right or wrong but knowing what kind you are will make the process smoother. 

The fact is that not many people know where to start when it comes to packaging a product. It is important to bring the package design team into your process as early as possible.

But before you talk to a package designer, determine which type of client you are and be forthcoming with your expectations. With full disclosure not only can designers help you to build a great package for your product but they can also build it in a more timely and cost effective manner.   


Do you have questions about packaging design? Ask Laura directly at [email protected] or call her at 678.319.4242. And for more great packaging-design ideas go to her blog, touchpoints, today.

Laura Donnelly is the Strategy Director for XO Create! which provides expertise in packaging experiences by transforming consumer brands through compelling branding and packaging innovations.
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