Gazing upon your creative team’s quote for new packaging design can be a lot like grabbing hold of a live electrical wire—either one can make your eyes bulge, your brow sweat and your chest pound.


Calm your beating heart. We have five ways you can insulate yourself from the perils of sticker shock while ensuring that your packing design crackles with aesthetic electricity.


Shock Absorber 1: Acknowledge the Power of Packaging

Keep in mind that truly effective package design requires time, effort and a reasonable budget. Avoid looking for a fast, cheap, easy way out. Packaging is often the first point of contact with your customer. And you’ll never get a second chance to make that first impression count.


Shock Absorber 2: Get Everyone on the Same Packaging Page

Make certain you have clearly-defined goals for the packaging project, then share those goals with your creative design team. If success isn’t defined—or ways to measure success aren’t established -- then pricing the design work is pure guesswork.


Shock Absorber 3: Establish a Common Set of Values

First, let your design team know that you recognize the inherent value of effective packaging in terms of gaining consumer attention, building brand appeal and stimulating sales. Second, offer them a price range that you feel is appropriate for the project, while remaining open to their counter proposal. Somewhere in between you’ll generally find the budgetary sweet spot.


Shock Absorber 4: Pick the Right Packaging Partner

Does your creative team ask insightful questions before presenting their fees? Do you sense that you’re talking to experts who know package design? Do you believe that they understand your current situation thoroughly? Are they honest and hard-working? The right partner empowers you to answer yes to these questions while saying no to sticker shock.


Shock Absorber 5: The High Price of Procrastination

It’s easy to put off creating new packaging. Budgets are tight. You’re busy. And there’s always

tomorrow. But the opportunity to accelerate your brand is now.  Spend too little on package design and you risk achieving disappointing  results. Delay the project until next year and you risk stagnating sales.


But the right team executing the right plan for the right price can help you burnish your brand and boost sales right now. And in that way, new packaging can help electrify your entire marketing campaign—without the sticker shock.

Listen, you wouldn’t ask a plumber to service your car just because he knows how to hold a wrench.


So why would you trust a Web designer to handle your packaging design? If you’re not careful, the whole project could spring a leak.


What’s So Special About Specialization?

Packaging designers are specialists. They know, through experience, the marketing, creative and executional challenges that can stand in the way of a successful packaging design. So it pays to hire a good one.


Designs on Finding the Right Designer.

When selecting a packaging design firm, consider these four key questions:


1. How well do they understand the challenges that are unique to your industry?
If you’re a food company, for example, do they know how mandatory nutrition information is to be displayed?


2. Do they understand the merchandising environment?

Retail grocery and club stores have far different merchandising environments then, say, consumer electronics purveyors.


3. How’s their knowledge of materials and processes?

Do they know how to work within die lines? Are they well versed in printing processes, including flexography, lithography, and rotogravure?


4. What is their workflow strategy?

Is market research and consumer testing part of their tactical approach? What about quality control, such as the review of color proofs to ensure that your product is well represented?


Don’t let a “plumber” design your packaging. Bring in a specialist. That way you can rest assured you’re not tossing good money down the drain.


The first rule of packaging design is that everyone—from sales to R&D to marketing to the CEO—will want his or her pet word, phrase or image to prominently adorn the product’s front panel.


Which brings us to the second rule of packaging design: The principal display panel can’t possibly communicate everything about the product at hand. So you need to avoid the kitchen sink approach and allow superfluous imagery and information to flow smoothly down the drain.


What You Put Into It Versus What They Get Out of It

Ah, but how do you determine which features, benefits and/or images to include on the package?


Well, first know that features indicate what’s inside the package—benefits describe why those features are important to the buyer. Buyers want to know what they get out of the product more so than what you put into it.


With that in mind, it’s easy to see that benefit wording and imagery is more relevant—and therefore more persuasive—to the end user.


Too Many Benefits Get You Too Little Attention

OK, let’s say you’re able to convince the team to agree on the premise of displaying only benefits on your product label. Congratulations, now you need to get them to resist the temptation of displaying every benefit.


A wise old tenet of advertising holds true: Try to communicate everything and you risk communicating nothing. Concentrate on imparting one powerful benefit to the consumer—and let your competition clog their packaging designs with the kitchen sink.

In the world of popular music, if you want to have a hit song, first you need to form a rock band.


Likewise, in the word of consumer products, if you want to have a hit package design, first you need to form a marketing band—each band mate with his or her own special talents and responsibilities.


A Five-Part Arrangement

Rather than a lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bassist, drummer and singer, your package design band requires five very different players to create a harmonious packaging launch.


Marketing Manager or Product Manager

This is the point person for all forms of communication regarding the project—including communication between the in-house marketing manufacturing team detailed below, the in-house creative department and any outside vendors.


R&D Coordinator

The folks involved in researching and developing the product should have a say on its packaging. They might ask: Does the bag or box have the proper room or protection for what’s inside?


Sales Manager

Your sales people often have critical information on how the product is merchandised to the consumer. This may, for instance, impact the hierarchy of information on the package.


Production or Operations Manager

It’s critical that your band have someone responsible for ensuring the packaging goes through the fulfillment process efficiently—making certain that it fits into master cases, on pallets and in shipping containers.


Senior Management

This is your hit-maker: It’s the person ultimately responsible for saying “yes.” Bring them into your jam sessions early and often.


In Tune with Your Needs

With everyone playing his or her part, your package design band will be well positioned to crank out a hit.


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