Behind the Curtain of the Packaging Design Process

If you’re new to the wine and spirits industry or new to product packaging, it may seem that the packaging design process is somewhat perplexing and the work happens in secret.

We’ll admit that packaging firms sometimes wrap themselves in a cloak of mystery that perpetuates the perception that design happens through magic. But we’re willing to open the curtain and let you in on how we work.

The Starting Point: The Creative Brief

Contrary to common belief, the creative process works best not when the sky’s the limit and anything is possible, but when there are parameters around the project that help steer and shape the design direction. Up-front input and well-defined expectations ensure that the resulting creative supports the brand story and meets business objectives.

Like most agencies, our packaging design and development process starts with a creative brief that captures basic facts about the project (such as the type of product you make and who your target audience is).

Our detailed questionnaire then asks the client deeper questions — about your vision for the brand, your goals for how the audience should feel when they see the box or bottle, and your sources of visual inspiration for the packaging.

We also focus on your brand’s story; its history or people or place offer cues for the symbols and graphic elements that can effectively convey that story in a visual way on a label.

In addition to the questionnaire, we invite clients to share other written or visual materials that represent the brand. That might be a mood board or other visual representation, or written description of inspiration behind the brand and product line.

Those inputs serve as jumping-off points for our creative exploration in the initial packaging design process; sometimes the client comes with inspiration and a direction in mind and we develop something completely different that they love.

Kickoff and Design Development

All that client input comes together in a kickoff meeting with our creative team and project manager. Expect to share your expectations for the design and must-have elements, and that we will ask questions, probe, and discover more about your brand.

The project manager then maps out the packaging design process with milestones and deadlines. Clients get regular updates and reminders about items or information or approvals that we need.

Meanwhile, our designers begin with the creative brief input and undertake extensive research and concept development. At the next significant meeting, we’ll share with stakeholders one or two conceptual directions in the form of sketches and reference materials. This is a major milestone, and deep feedback from the client is essential.

Final Steps of the Design and Development Process

From there we move on to refine the agreed-upon design direction (or, if needed, a revision of the conceptual ideation and a follow-up presentation).

We develop the rough label design with key elements and text in a layout, and the client shares feedback on direction and details, and confirms requirements for both front and back labels. From there, we move on to a deeper refinement of all illustration, visual elements, and text. And we do a final check on label data.

With the client’s approval, we’ll finalize the design and prepare artwork for printing. At this point, the client can opt to print a sample of a small quantity that they can use for photography for marketing in advance of production, to share with investors and consumers. This sample run can be a real benefit especially to emerging brands; one of our UK-based clients landed an American investor based on the samples of the exquisite label we designed.

Our Design Process and Project Management

Clients tell us they appreciate the level of service and management we offer; they welcome our design expertise and know that they don’t have to worry about or manage the process.

Our wine and spirits packaging design service isn’t the result of some kind of magic trick. It’s a blend of detailed input, dedicated research, storytelling, inspiration, and creative expertise.

We adhere to a defined project plan with clear expectations and timelines for both sides, with weekly updates that outline progress, needs, and upcoming milestones. When we work with clients, we take care of the driving during the packaging design process and they’re part of the journey.

Book a discovery call today!

Let’s create something beautiful.

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