Whether you’re restaging an existing brand or developing a new one, managing the design process can be a challenge. A new package design typically takes several phases over many months, and keeping the project on track is essential to a successful outcome. A well-managed project is delivered on time, on budget and – best of all – on strategy.
Over my many years working with wine and spirits marketers, I’ve identified ten key steps clients can take to facilitate the process.
1. Identify one member of your team to act as liaison with the design team.
This person will be your internal project coordinator, and will be responsible for gathering and distributing information. They should be responsible for:
- The timeline
- Gathering and providing all information and content needed by the design team, such as label copy, design approvals, etc.
- Approving, or obtaining approval for, estimates and invoices
- Making requests for deliverables such as digital versions of designs for presentations
2. Include all key decision makers in conversations with designers, even if this means conferencing them in remotely.
This will allow the designer to understand objectives and/or concerns and address them efficiently. This is most important at the following key points:
- Project briefing/kick-off meeting
- In discussions about brand and/or creative strategy
- Key design presentations
3. Get alignment among all decision makers about the business objectives of the packaging design project.
This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often there are misaligned assumptions among team members about the reason for a project.
- Why are you developing a new package?
- What market need or opportunity are you addressing?
- How will you measure the success of the project?
4. Provide the design team with the information they need in order to develop a truly strategic solution.
Much of the information will have been gathered in your planning process prior to bringing in a design firm. However, a design firm that is an expert in your space will ask questions you may not have anticipated.
- If they have a questionnaire, fill it out and take the time to give thorough answers
- Give the designers access to key decision makers. With their valuable outside perspective, your design team may uncover strategic and/or practical concerns that did not come up in your internal discussions. The earlier in the process these are uncovered, the better the result
5. Deliver project content, materials and input in batches.
While it may feel like you’re keeping the project moving by sending each item as it arrives on your desk, project information can quickly become an unorganized chain of emails and versions that can be confusing and time-consuming to sort through. This is a major time and budget de-railer, can increase the chance of mistakes, and diverts the design team’s energy away from creative work.
- Gather all content such as label copy into one folder and email that folder at one time.
- If a revised version needs to be sent, add a version date to the file name, and ideally into the body of the document.
- If multiple team members are providing feedback make sure you have all feedback before forwarding it and asking for revisions.
6. Provide all existing brand assets up front
- Deliver electronically the brand logo artwork, existing label files, and if available, a brand standards guide.
- Historic images and/or images of the property can be useful reference
- Shipper dielines should be provided as early as possible. Once a design direction is selected, the shipper is often the first piece of final artwork needed.
7. Provide clear givens and restrictions
- Bottling line requirements such as labels sizes, label position, paper stocks, pressure sensitive vs. wet glue
- Legal/regulatory information such as legal copy, especially for imports
- Minimum UPC size.
- Printing restrictions. Check with your procurement team to see if a printer is already selected, and have them provide guidance on number of colors and specialty treatments such as foil stamping.
- Sample of selected glass if already determined.
- Identify equity elements that may not be modified, or if they may, be clear about the degree of change acceptable – evolutionary or revolutionary?
8. Provide timely responses to questions and requests for feedback.
- Be realistic about the timeliness of your feedback based on your internal dynamics and travel schedules. If you won’t be able to answer for a week, let your design firm know so they can plan accordingly.
- Unexpected delays can cause even longer project delays due to design firm’s internal schedule. Staffing and deadline commitments are based on the information you provide, so the more accurate you can be, and the more quickly you can respond, the better the firm will be able to optimize your timeline.
9. Reference the project objectives and strategy when giving input.
- If something about a design solution doesn’t seem to be working, explain what you’re concerned about in light of the objectives, rather than telling designer how to fix it. When a designer understands what isn’t working (i.e. the brand name is getting lost on shelf), he or she can provide solutions that address the concern and also meet the overall branding objectives.
10. Agree on a file transfer platform and archiving system.
- Cloud-based services such as Dropbox can provide easy transfer of files and access to a controlled list of team members.
- Make sure version numbers are a part of the file name. Multiple versions of files can become very confusing and lead to mistakes.
- Discuss final artwork file archiving systems with your designer. This is a critical asset management issue that often goes unplanned. This may be a project for your creative services department or for your brand team.
Cloud based file sharing sites can help make managing design projects easier. Here’s what we use:
Dropbox: We like dropbox for its ease of use. Users can share files that are automatically synced and accessible via the web and/or your own computer. There’s a free version and a premium version for storing more data. Check it out here.
YouSendIt: Yousendit allows you to send links to files you want to send, and the recipient clicks a link to download the file. Great for sending large files without cluttering people’s inboxes. Features outlined here.