It is safe to say that packaging is a category unto its own, mainly because of the planning that is involved during the life cycle of such a project. So many important requirements are clearly not recognized or can be overlooked, and without the consultation of a service provider, a project can easily become trash and a waste of money. So this post is to exemplify the intriguing process of package design and assembly.
This project started from a request we received on March 2nd, 2010:
“Project Description: We need an estimate on graphic design for a logo, brochures, a website, and a design for a custom packaging box.”
Step 1: LOGO DESIGN
We begin, first and foremost, with the logo. The logo is essentially the brand of a company. There are a lot of people that don’t mentally tie together brand and logo, but take for example the logo from Target department stores, and the brand/logo strategy becomes quite clear. In this case, the client understood the purpose of a logo, so that made this first step of the process easier to achieve. During this phase, it is important that a service provider maintain a solid consultative approach, so we always offer our clients this questionnaire for the best results:
1. Business name as you would like it to appear for the logo (include any L.L.C., Inc. or taglines if applicable). Business type? Do you have any preference as to if the logo appears with upper and lower case? All caps? One or more lines? Horizontal or vertical?
2. What type of company philosophy or mission do you have? Do you employ a corporate or casual environment?
3. Describe your company in 3 words or less.
4. How was the company formed? Is there a unique story to it’s formation or mission?
5. Who are your competitors? Please provide URLs. What do you feel makes you different/better?
6. How would you liked to be viewed within the market? Where do you see the company in 2 years?
7. Do you prefer a strong text designed logo or one with a graphic? Please provide samples of logos you really like or dislike and why.
8. Do you have preferences (or strong dislikes) for type styles (Serif fonts like Times New Roman, SanSerif Fonts like Arial, Scripts, or more creative fonts)?
9. Do you have any preferences or strong dislikes regarding colors?
10. How will you judge the success of this project?
After a few rounds of changes, we ended up with this:
Step 2: DIE CUT DESIGN
At this phase, most people would naturally want to begin doing the graphic design for the box, but that is a huge mistake. The project actually needs to start at the end and work backwards. What is meant by that is that everyone (client, graphic designer, printer and die cutter) needs to understand what is going into the package. The client needs to provide the physical product, so the service provider can create rough drafts (drawings) on how the package will be laid out to accommodate the product. In this case, various wrist splints of different sizes, an instructional DVD and therapeutic putty were the items in question.
A graphic designer cannot typically come up with these particular rough draft drawings. You need an experienced die cutter to come up with the designs and measurements. Die cutters will often have some kind of experience in their past such as a drafting education, etc. It is crucial to work with a die cutter because if a measurement is one millimeter off, the project is dead. As an example, envision a box of Advil bought from the grocery store. Imagine how the tabs can be flipped open and the box can easily collapse, and vice versa. If a single measurement was incorrect, that box would not be able to close appropriately because it would not line up.
Here is a rough draft we agreed on:
Step 3: MODELING
Modeling is where you simply create physical samples of the die cut design. It may be obvious, but the reason for this is to make sure that the items fit in the package as they were meant to. If for some reason the items supplied by the client did not fit appropriately or the client simply did not like the item arrangement, the service provider would need to ‘go back to the drawing board’ so to speak, come up with a new approach and redesign accordingly.
This case is great example of redesign. At first we were given a set of items as described above (splint, putty, DVD). What no one (client nor provider) accounted for was the different sizes of splints that were tied to the different therapeutic options the client was offering to the consumer. Thus, we had to ‘go back to the drawing board’, and on the second round we decided to use the largest splint (wrapped tightly) in the redesign, knowing that the smaller splints would fit just fine.
Here are some snapshots of the modeling process:
Step 4: PACKAGE GRAPHIC DESIGN
When the physical design of the package is approved, then we receive a dieline template (an unfolded drawing with measurements) from the die cutter:
The graphic designer will use this dieline to begin designing the artwork for the package. However, before the designing begins, a good service provider would repeat the process of the questionnaire in Step 1 to determine the types of designs they will venture into. There is a lot more to consider at this point of the graphic design phase, like logo placement, instructions, pictures, disclaimers, etc. With that comes a lot of revisions to perfect the vision of the project.
We ended up with this:
Step 5: PRINTING
Like at any other step, the project can go horribly wrong at this point. It is absolutely critical that the communication between customer service, the print department and the die cutter remains consistent and undying. Essentially, the die cutter is calling the shots- the kind of paper being used, what size the sheets need to be when they reach their facility, etc. So everything that the printing department plans to do has to be reviewed by the die cutter. Lack of review and one silly mistake will have the printing department re-running the job and losing money for the company.
Step 6: DIE CUTTING
From this point, the project gets printed and is then sent to the die cutter. The die cutter will then cut, score, fold, glue (glue can be done by machine, but in this case it had to be done by hand) and pack the product (in flat form) into boxes for client delivery.
Written by Kak
ProjectCenter is a single-source service company in Phoenix, AZ providing marketing and document solutions to businesses nationally. ProjectCenter’s services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, document scanning, etc. For more information, please visit these fine online establishments: