Category Archives: Blog Posts

The Real Dirt on Packaging

We’re all extremely familiar with product packaging. We’re surrounded by it at home, with our food products, grocery items and sporting goods. Nearly any time we go to a store there’s all those boxes staring us in the face, we don’t even question their existence. Kid’s toys, beverages, furniture, pretty much anything we buy starts out in a package. Or does it?

Once you think about it, of course not. Most of these products begin their life on a mass production line, and the packaging is the last step in preparing the product for you, the consumer, to see. The packaging itself is a piece of artwork that was created by a Packaging Designer during the period of the initial production process. Here’s how it generally works.

When a product is concepted, the Marketing Department is contacted fairly early on to start the design of the packaging. The Packaging Designer is given a prototype of the product to use as a visual representation of how the final mass-produced version of the product will look and feel. Then the Package Designer designs a small folded version of what they envision the package to look like, usually with no graphics on it at this point. This mock-up is a rough concept of the package, to present for approval on the general package design. There will typically be several mock-ups presented, all of which are slightly different ideas on how to best present the final product on the shelf.

In order to develop these mock-ups, the Packaging Designer must create rough dielines, or flat drawings, of these folded boxes. To do this they take measurements of the product prototype and decide how much room is needed inside of the package for the product to fit comfortably. Once one or more of the mock-ups have been chosen, then the dielines are finessed, to ensure that the measurements are fairly accurate, for the next round of small presentation mock-ups.

The second round will generally incorporate graphics on the folding dummy. Again, several options will be presented, and one or more will be chosen for further refinement. For the third round, the Packaging Designer may choose to create full-size mockups. The dieline at this point will be finessed to very tiny measurements, taking into account the thickness of the cardboard it will be printed on and any additional materials that may need to be contained within the package. These details become very important as the package design gets closer to actual production, to ensure that the final product feels perfect to the consumer.

Once all of the rounds of mock-up presentations have taken place and an approved package design has been chosen, the package is mocked up one last time at full size. Ideally this final mockup is printed on the material that the actual packaging will be printed on, and folded to the exact dimensions of the final package. Then the product itself is put into the package so it is a clear representation of what the consumer will see on the shelf of the store. Often several of these mockups will be placed on representational shelves within the Marketing Department (these are called planograms) so the agency can create a recommendation to the retailers on the best way to display an entire product line.

After the final package design is approved and the dieline layout is refined to the tiniest measurement and the graphics have been approved by several rounds of proofreading, the final layout is sent to the printer for printing and folding. The Packaging Designer has one last opportunity to review the package when a packaging prototype is produced, then the entire order is printed and sent to the factory that is making the product. Next thing you know those packages are on the store shelves – perhaps next time you see a package you’ll take a second look at it!

Is Your Business Card Going to Get Trashed?

Have you ever had that slow sinking feeling that even though you’ve had a business “look” that you’ve been attached to for the last several years, that your look might be in desperate need of a facelift?  And even though your business cards may be adequate, when you look at cards from other businesses you feel like they’re much more modern and exciting? Or that the prospective customers you’re handing out literature to may not be all that impressed with what you’re giving them?

These are all signs that it may be time to meet with a professional designer to discuss updating your business look. Your businesses visual identity is the first thing that mentally registers with a prospective customer, before they know anything about who you are or how well you do what you do. Their first impression registers as soon as they are handed a card, open your website, or are passed a brochure. They form an opinion of your company based on this impression, and at that point what you say or do either enhances or reduces this opinion.

Wouldn’t it be nice if their first impression was a positive one? That when you hand them a card or a brochure they comment on how much they like it? Or when they open your website they are impressed with its ease of navigation? If you start with a strong positive impression it’s much easier to stay in that positive realm in their minds, instead of having to claw your way up to that positive space.

Additionally, if your business has a look that you’re not satisfied with or excited about, people recognize this on an instinctive level, and automatically file you into that “mediocre” category from the start. Your inner sense of “it’s not great but it’ll do” translates to their minds as “they haven’t put much effort into making their business look good, what else do they not put much effort into?”

There’s several reasons that a business may look visually outdated. It could be as simple as the consistent use of an out-of-style font or color, or an overall non-streamlined look. Or it may be a more complex variety of reasons, that a Graphic Designer can solve for you with an overall re-design.

If you would like more information on how to improve your business’s look please feel free to contact me for a review. I would be happy to examine your current style and give you my feedback on what may help to improve the look and feel of your business. It may be a lot easier than you expect to improve your business a lot!