Packaging Patience

Packaging Designers – this one’s for you. Have you ever considered how much patience is required with packaging projects? Since I launched The Packaging Design Course, having written 7 whole modules about the ins and outs, intricacies, best practice and process, I realised just HOW MUCH stuff there is involved with packaging projects.

This packaging project started in May 2020, and we’re about to handover in November. That’s over 6 months – granted we haven’t worked on this project every-single-day, BUT it has taken some time to cross the t-s and dot the i-s.

One of the things I notice with packaging enquiries, is the assumption that packaging design is fast. The assumption that it can take as little as a month!? (!!) MAN, if only that was true! Did you know that I recommend that we design identity at the same time as the packaging, so we use the packaging as the canvas? This means we’re actually multi – tasking. We’re elevating our skills AND working as a specialist.

Not only designing an identity, but using that to create a story and idea for the pack, to sell the product. The product and packaging becomes the primary manifestation of the brand, and so therefore, our work is important.

One of the reasons why I believe packaging design should not be cheap. (That’s a topic for another day however.)

It’s not quite as simple as others make out – the notion that one works on the logo first, comes up with the colours, and then applies to a box. I suggest working to an idea-led approach – meaning there’s an ACTUAL idea underpinning the design, rather than a bunch of assets. (That’s how I’ve been brought up in agency – not to create “layouts”…. but ideas. Trust when I say, I’ve worked in a FEW packaging and brand agencies. Some of the best in the UK, in fact.)

One thing to bear in mind as a packaging designer, is not only the time it takes to execute the project and handover (you need patience for this, and no deep desire to race through to the end.) but it’s also about the production time POST handover too. I have projects from 2019 that I’ve yet to see in the flesh. Some projects haven’t seen my portfolio as they’re still under lock and key.

Packaging projects are a long game.

How to overcome this? Where possible, if your client is cool with it, rely on mock-ups to get the project out there in the short term. Once you have the project in your hands, shoot it for your portfolio. But the most important thing is to GET IT OUT THERE, one way or another!

It’s for this reason, that I also strongly recommend personal or self directed projects for packaging designers. Behind the scenes you know that you have product in production, but you need to keep your portfolio and audience engaged with fresh work and content.

Play the long game to your advantage.

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