How to overachieve in packaging’s full guide to answer your client questions

Could we get both a viral creative campaign and its moderate cost?
Could we be more noticeable than our competitors?
Could we make a mark at a first sight?
Design packaging can do more than you’re thinking of it. 

The first floor of packaging creation is to produce an understandable design. Seems easy. All you gotta do is look through trends and consider category rules. But is it easy really?

We feel your pain and hear your questions.
Who are the people that end up using our product every single day?
What do they like?
What captures their attention?
What should we emphasize on packaging?

Really, that’s a lot for you alone. So we are here with our guide on packaging covering all the necessary info. Keep it close and create captivating award-winning heart-mesmerizing packages.

Let’s ride!

Something’s not right. But how to locate it?

If you are a marketer in a food or retail company, you live for sales. And if they are decreasing rapidly, we should look for a drain funnel that sucks your money. 

And also a frequent question: why have we decided that it’s the packaging fault at all? Why not SMM or trade marketing? Package is a cornerstone of food product communication. It is the main carrier of the brand, so that is a starting point for us.

How to keep yourself on the right track?

The most efficient way to do it is field study. Give yourself a day to birdwatch your and competitors’ consumers in approachable points of sales. How do they behave? Why do they look for one product and another one is already in their basket? What is in their hearts?

Have an undiverted look at consumers’ routes at shops, where do they come from and where do they go after. You’ll have a bunch of fresh insights on your way to the office already.

We strongly recommend taking such trips once a half-year, if your sales do not have seasonal contingency.

Is there another way? Sure, in-depth interview. It’ll take more time and money, but it can bring your team the most accurate and subtle ideas. You’ll need 15-20 people that could use your product and that are already brand fans. Ask them about their experience, lifestyle, everyday challenges and routine struggles. Find where your product is in all this life net. Or! Where it should be according to your expectations and strategy. 

A piece of extra advice. Even if you pay attention thoughtfully to competitors and the market, use one loose day every 6 months to complete a desk research and keep all the data in one plain note. This way you’ll have a chance to catch some low tendencies that would reign on the market in the next half-year.

All this research and for what sake? Try to answer deeply following questions:

  1. How does my target audience see my brand? What is crucial for them?
  2. How do they use my product and how often?
  3. How do they see us? Do they capture our brand essence?
  4. If not – how can we fix this? Why even try?
  5. Is it possible to achieve this with new packaging design?

In-depth interviews for ‘Lvivski Drizhdzhi’ packaging redesign showed us the connection between family and baking. People bake to express love and care. This insight brought us a new copyline “Bake love!” 

If you see a necessity to talk about packaging design and your current goals, we’ll always welcome you to take a free gram call.

Laconic or detailed design?

Use our rule to choose your way in packaging. 

If you plan to captivate the market with an active campaign, you should make your packaging laconic, light and emphasize the product. Your campaign will be working on recognition, so your consumer could easily locate the product on the shelf and take it home.

If you do not plan to go with any campaign, then your packaging is one and only marketing tool. This way we should make all our main messages and competitive advantages highly visible. And also check yourself if new design is really working on the shelves. Amongst loud bright competitors your sophisticated and calibrated packaging can easily be lost.

This rule we applied to Rivolta coffee packaging. Our design team made sure that it is easy to choose Rivolta for your best mornings.

Materials and construction to help with sales

Again – what’s easiest? Take the most generic yet trusted form on the market. But what if we have time to juggle a bit? How can we upgrade package construction to ease the sales?

Firstly, material and lacquering techniques. Not only technical point but marketing tool to support brand essence.

In the Magur packaging case we chose matt craft paper for a label and highlighted eco-positioning of the product. 

Secondly, construction can contribute to safer storage of the product and be more convenient than competitors’, like cheese packaging should have tight zip to prevent drying up.

Thirdly, packaging can show how to consume your product or even be a part of this process. Backside of games packages can be a scene for a play. Street food package can include a no-grease wrap that would turn into a napkin. Again we advise you to get all the possible data about your consumers so you can upgrade their experience all the way.

Team to change the world (but let’s start with design)

Exciting news: if you have a complete in-house team then you got the buzz! What do we mean as a complete team:

  • art director to take charge of visual path and final quality level;
  • designer with identity or packaging experience;
  • DTP-designer;
  • copywriter and editor to create naming, copylines, guides etc;
  • account manager to create clear communication between client and team.

This way you’ll have a chance to design a package based on accessible market research and the skillset of your designers. And in some scenarios it will be at less cost than agency collaboration.

We have to warn you about some possible mishaps:

  • test all your concepts on how your consumer takes new design;
  • test these concepts in life-like conditions and avoid focus groups;
  • pick a certified team ‘cause that’s where half of project success lies; 
  • collect all the possible data (again, we’re gonna be so stubborn about it) and use it to double-check every move, hypothesis and concept.

One more thing – prepare for unexpected time-waste and extend your timeline for 30% at least. Your team members would most likely be involved in other company projects. Another reason for awaited holdback is your team’s unexperience in such complex and deeply specified projects leading to crawling cautious moves and decisions. It is a moment for your professional growth but remember that you are going to make mistakes. A lot. And it’s okay.

How we make things done at gram

Now let’s talk about us. 

Every packaging project usually has a team like this:

  • design director, a person with great expertise that rules over whole project and surveilles every step;
  • art director, a person that leads the design team;
  • strategist who plots a vector for a project, based on market research, audience knowledge and backdrop;
  • senior designers who create concepts and packaging design with art director’s guidance;
  • creator who works on names, copylines and other package communication;
  • editor who corrects a creator :)
  • account manager who holds a grip on a team’s progress and keeps in touch with a client.

We believe that the greatest packaging can be born in the merging of two teams’ point-of-views and expertises so we work closely with client. Every opportunity to meet and talk about brand, decisions and ideas can turn into something unexpectedly impactful. 

The main advantage is time. We can release a test packaging design in 2 weeks, which can be considered super fast for any agency. 

One packaging design project can really differ from another. So is the process, that can adjust to a brief. But as a rule we start with a strategic session to get in sync of our views, visions and needs. We deconstruct our goal and start looking for a vector.

Next is a research stage. Strategists and researchers take in-depth interviews, desk researches and field trips to collect all the necessary data and wall up a few first hypotheses. 

Then comes design! Our team starts with a design session to understand the visual code of your brand and to dig up your expectations. After the session we build 2 or 3 concepts and you choose the one that has the best fit. Designers finalize the chosen concept and prepare a package to print. 

How to choose the right partner?

The cost of branding agency services shouldn’t be the one and only reason you would choose a partner. Pay attention to a team, experience with your market or similar products and creative capabilities. 

Start with a good look at the agency’s portfolio. Is there any freshness in their cases? Are their decisions ambient and good-looking through years? 

Get to know your team and ask a manager who would be working on your goals. As we said earlier, aggregated wisdom of your team is half of your success. Talk to them – how would they go about building the project? How do they understand the goal and see the path to its achievement?

Ask for the latest clients’ recommendation. Talk to them about their experience working with an agency, the strongest contribution to the brand growth, the brightest ideas, the annoying downfalls. 

Set up a meeting and prepare for it. Inspect how the agency is communicating with you. Were all the answers clear? Could they be the most comfortable people to work with? Were their ideas captivating and unseen before? 

How to make a lucid brief?

And why move a muscle at all? This way it will be much easier and safer for both teams. Specifically your profit includes alleviated agency search and reduced project costs.

Composing the brief should be a task for a team that will be working with an agency every day. It’s their opportunity to ease a design battle. Brief must be approved by the decision-maker. Consider it a fully valid document that we will turn to not once during our collaboration.

A lucid brief is a logically structured detailed goal description and all the info needed to achieve it.

First part is a goal description. Use these questions to build it:

  1. The reason for this project. Tell us why you have decided to update a packaging or launch a new product. 
  2. Deliverables. What are you willing to achieve? What metrics will you use to measure the success? 
  3. Key message. One short sentence for the audience to be captured 100%.
  4. Audience. Describe your target segments in a portrait layout or use storytelling to dive in their nature, lifestyle and motivation. 
  5. Tone-of-voice. Do you have a consistent one?
  6. Reason-to-Believe. Why would your target audience believe us?
  7. Heads up. What can go wrong? Where should we be extra cautious? 

In the second info part of the brief tell us about:

  1. The market. Add your own category description or latest market research, make mention of main competitors and briefly cover their marketing tactics. 
  2. Product. Strong and low technical sides, price range, existing and planned point-of-sales. 
  3. Positioning. Cover the brand essence and existing brand strategy if you are already on the market. 
  4. Guidelines and preferences. What shouldn’t we use while working with a product? What are technical and legal restrictions? What does your identity stand on? 

Concepts are in! How to make the right choice?

  1. Turn to a brief and check yourself. Does the concept move us next step up? Does it meet requirements that are stated in a brief? Does it connect well with an audience?
  2. If you are working on a redesign, your relaunch should be mild and organic. Think of it as an extension of a previous take. Too disruptive can be confusing.
  3. If you are a part of an umbrella brand, review the connection of the new concept and existing products. Does it hold a conflict? Does it stand apart? 

What to do after the project is done?

Double combo to keep new product design healthy and updated:

  1. Every new competitor on the market, every active campaign of existing ones should remind you to check yourself. Are you up-to-date? Are you still better than your substitutes?
  2. Once a year have a round of field trips and in-depth interviews to respond to any changes in your audience’s lifestyle in time. Also this procedure will be your playground for digging up a bunch of new insights and ideas. 

That will be all. We are strictly sure this guide will help you not once to create the most magnificent life-changing packaging for your brands. To talk more about packaging design send us an email on

Waiting for your new brilliant ideas,