The Packaging Pro



Same-HorseOctober 8, 2015

The Lone Ranger. He’s the rugged individualist of Old West fame who confronted tough challenges with fast action, a quick draw and a “get ‘er done” attitude. Sounds like members of your sales team, right? In fact, when it comes to creating sell sheets, handouts, presentation decks and point-of-sale materials, the typical sales department today is loaded with lone rangers: locked, loaded and aiming to produce materials that don’t always fit your company’s branding standards. But there’s no need for a showdown at high noon. We have a six-shooter full of tips for keeping all your sales cowboys on the same marketing horse.

Tip 1
Realize Your Sales Posse is Under the Gun

No doubt you’d like your company’s brand to be consistently presented to your customers—every time. But realize your sales people are under the gun with schedules, presentations and management expectations. Appreciate their position. Make them your pard’ner. Learn what they believe are the most effective tools needed for sales success. Then saddle up together to get them done.

Tip 2
When Riding a Bucking Bronco, Stay Loose

Inflexibility will get you thrown every time. So create marketing material templates consistent with your corporate identity—then allow individual sales managers flexibility in blending relevant content into those templates.

Tip 3
Be Careful With That Branding Iron

Design standards may be a red hot topic these days, but don’t wield your branding iron indiscriminately. Elements like a consistent set of fonts can work wonders in maintaining brand consistency while giving your sales staff a measure of creative freedom.

Tip 4
It Might Be Their First Rodeo

Don’t expect your sales team to be expert in leveraging creative software such as InDesign or Photoshop. Find out what works best for what they need to accomplish. Powerpoint? Excel sheets? Word docs? Editable templates that are simple to use can take stress away from the sales team—and you.

Tip 5
Rustle Up a Herd of Images

Offer access to an internal online library of pre-approved images and logos that are created in formats that will work with commonly-used software—and make them available to the sales team. For instance, a logo in a PNG format with a transparent background plays well with several Microsoft products.

Tip 6
Gitty Up and Hit the Trail

Time to get on your horse and ride. Schedule a session at the next sales meeting to reacquaint attendees with the importance of consistent brand communication in their sales endeavors. Then offer to guide them—in person or via webinars—through the various ways you’ll help them stay on the trail to success. It’s not about restricting their options, but rather optimizing their achievements.

For more tips on maintaining corporate brand identity, e-mail us at or log onto


September 10, 2015

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.

For more tips on pricing your next packaging design project e-mail us at

Welcome to The Packaging Pro blog. This blog is to give you new perspectives on issues that you, as a marketer, may encounter as you develop and launch your brand packaging.


March 20, 2015

How the kitchen sink can clog up your packaging.

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.

For details on unclogging your packaging design,  e-mail us at



March 20, 2015

Before it hits the streets, give your package design an 8-point inspection.

You’ve kicked the tires. You’ve selected the color. You’ve chosen the options. Now your new packaging design is ready to roll out of the showroom and hit the streets in style. This is the perfect time to slam on the brakes. Why? Because you haven’t yet seen your packaging on a store shelf, as part of an end cap display or in a freezer case. It’s there, my friends, that the rubber really meets the road.

Test Drive Your Mock-up
To accurately evaluate the impact and efficacy your new packaging design, you’ll need a mock-up—a prototype of the actual package in life-size—that you can drive over to a nearby store, place on a shelf and see if it still revs your engine. As you do, try this simple 8-point inspection plan:
1 Get permission to take pictures of the mock-ups in position on the store shelf to share with other decision makers.
2 Determine if your packaging stands out against the adjacent competition.
3 Ask yourself if the package dimensions are appropriate?
4 Notice if the graphics are well proportioned to the size and shape of the box, bag, bottle or can.
5 Analyze what element of the package catches your eye first, then second, then third.
6 If there’s photography, judge how well it communicates the attributes of the product.
7 Evaluate whether your product description is too long, or not prominent.
8 Finally, honestly answer the all-important question: Does the packaging encourage me to buy this product now?

Who Rides Shotgun?
OK, so who should attend this little packaging road trip? Well, the person responsible for bringing the product to market, of course. A member of the sales team, no doubt. The creative team leader. And any prominent stakeholder in the brand or product line. But limit it to the number of people who can reasonably fill a five-passenger coupe.

By hitting the brakes early in the design process, you can accelerate the success of your packaging down the road.

For details on the value of in-store review of packaging,  e-mail us at



February 24, 2015

To Keep Your Packaging Project Rockin’, Form a Band.

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 world 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 marketing/manufacturing departments detailed below, the in-house or outside creative teams, and any other 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.

For details on forming a packaging design team,  e-mail us at


February 10, 2015

The wrong designer can throw a wrench into your packaging project.

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 than, 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?

Bring in a specialist. That way you can rest assured you’re not tossing good money down the drain.

For details on finding the right packaging designer, e-mail us at