How to Avoid Packaging Nightmares in 5 Easy Steps

You’ve got the ideal package design all ready to go. The boss loves it, the sales team is raving and the focus groups give it high marks. But, oops – now the production team says the label won’t work on the bottling line, and the print bids put your COGs way out of line. Or, worse yet, the product has shipped and labels are buckling in the cold box.

Here are 5 easy ways to make sure this doesn’t happen to you:

  1. Make production your ally. Enlist the support of your production team before design begins. Ask them for guidance on the limitations of your bottling line, approved paper stocks and glass known to work in your facility. They’ll appreciate the invitation to advise, and will be more open to creative problem solving if they feel included.
  2. Give the designer the “givens.” Provide a detailed list of requirements to your design team as part of the creative brief. Experienced designers won’t view this as a limit on creativity. On the contrary, it allows us to develop creative solutions that address limitations up front, rather than finding we need to compromise later.
  3. Look before your leap. After the first round of design, have a quick meeting with your purchasing and production team leaders to make sure all of your favorite designs are workable. Include the designer – if a design causes concern there may be ways to modify it to work before your boss falls in love with it.
  4. Know before you show. Once a design is selected, but before mockups (or comprehensives) are shared with the sales team and/or customers, have the designer prepare preliminary specifications for review with the printer. If a design is too costly to print as envisioned, the designer and printer can work together to find alternative solutions. There are many ways to achieve a desired look.
  5. Do a dry run. Have the printer run label samples and test them on the bottling line, then test them in the cold box and for scuffing. Yes, I know this costs time and money. But, if you are considering using a new stock, significant amounts of embossing, new glass or any other process or material new to your production team, it’s well worth the investment.

A great package design is only effective when it arrives in the marketplace looking fabulous. And, this must be achieved within your production budget. Through timely communication and partnering between marketing, design, printing and production, excellent results can be achieved within budget. Best yet, unexpected problems will be minimized so your new package design can shine on shelf.



I think one reason we forget to check in early enough with the folks on the bottling side is fear of squelching creativity. So, here’s a little clip to change your mind about that. And then a good laugh for the consumer in each of us.

Wisdom from the man in a kilt: Our clients often say, “I don’t want to give you too much input because I don’t want to limit your creativity.” Limitations, including production deadlines and printing limitations, make us more creative. In this video, Jack White reinforces my point about the advantage of giving creatives restrictions – it takes him a few seconds to get on topic, so stay with him. Watch it here.

Hilarious and marginally related:We can all use a good belly laugh this time of year. When you open your gifts and find one of those armor-plated plastic barriers between you and the product – remain calm and visualize this video.

Do you have strategies for getting the production and purchasing teams on board with packaging innovation? We want to hear from you!

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How to Avoid Packaging Nightmares in 5 Easy StepsSterling Creativeworks

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