Imagine planning a wedding without knowing the date, the time, the number of guests, the budget, or the couple’s likes and dislikes.
Starting a packaging project for a wine or spirits brand without important details is the same thing: a recipe for failure.
Working without this essential document makes the design process much more difficult, increases the chances that you won’t get you want, and puts the product’s sales potential at risk.
We Call It a Project Brief
Some experienced marketers and packaging studios call it a creative brief or a design brief. We prefer the term project brief. That’s because the intent of this document is to capture relevant details and parameters about a particular assignment. It isn’t meant to define creative solutions. (In fact, we suspect that clients often neglect to provide a brief because they don’t have a design vision in mind and don’t want to constrain the creative process.)
A project brief incorporates key information that the design team will need in order to develop a great solution. It outlines budgets and timelines so the project stays on track. It includes relevant facts about the brand and its audience.
More important, it includes business goals and success metrics, which offer baseline criteria that any prospective designs can be evaluated against. Everyone involved in the project can discuss the merits of a creative idea based on how it achieves the objectives — not based on personal preference.
Keep it Smart and Simple
A project brief doesn’t have to be exhaustive and complex; a simple document with a few basic details is sufficient. Before you begin work on a packaging project, gather this information into a simple project brief:
- The brand: Background on the brand’s history, personality, and positioning.
- The product: Tasting notes, style, how it’s similar to or different from competing products. Is it a premium or luxury product?
- The market: Where the product will be sold, and through what channels. Will it be distributed to bars and restaurants? Available in limited quantity to an exclusive group?
- The audience: Who are the consumers you’re targeting? What’s important to them? How does your product fit into their lives? What should they think and feel when they see your product? When and where will they consume it?
- The business goals: What do you expect the product to generate in units sold and revenue?
- The success criteria: How will the team know if the packaging design is successful? Do you aspire to win industry awards? Penetrate new markets? Capture attention on social channels?
- The vision: What are the existing brand guidelines relating to logo, color, type, look and feel? Do you have particular likes or dislikes? (A mood board — a visual representation of your brand’s essence, kind of like a scrapbook — can be helpful here. It’s not meant to define the look of the package, but instead to imagine the brand’s persona and to capture the emotional impact of your brand on your audience.)
Balancing Input and Creative Freedom
In our experience, there’s a delicate balance between not enough input and too much. When the client shares a straightforward project brief with the information outlined above, our creative team has the framework to design an appropriate solution. Too much direction, on the other hand, can constrain the creative process and result in a safe or unimaginative package design.
The project brief is a gate that you can open to enter the conversation with your packaging design partner. When you trust the brief and the creative team, you won’t have to micromanage the project; everyone is working toward the same agreed-upon objective.
An experienced package design specialist can get you the results you are dreaming of based on your well-written brief, a mood board, and your ongoing feedback. If you try to tell them how to do their job, you rob yourself of their best capabilities.
Still not sure how to start writing a project brief? We can help. Let’s talk about what your brand needs.