Packaging design can be both exciting and overwhelming. If you have a vision in mind, it helps to have a document to help you stay on track throughout the design process.
If you have no idea what you want to do with your packaging, it helps to sit down and figure out what you need. You can easily do this through a design brief! Here’s what you need to know to create your own:
What Is a Design Brief?
A design brief is a document that outlines all your packaging wants and needs. It’s a piece of vital information for everyone involved in the packaging design and production process — both internal and external. A good design brief can act as a roadmap for your project that you can refer back to.
Who Creates a Design Brief?
There’s not a single person that has to create the design brief; instead, it varies by company. For example, in smaller companies, the business owner may want to create the design brief based on their vision for the company. However, in larger companies, it’s usually someone on the marketing or creative team.
No matter who’s in charge of creating a design brief, it’s important to involve more than just a single person in the process. Instead, involve a variety of stakeholders from different departments.
The best way to do this is to use collaborative document-sharing tools like Google Docs. That way, each stakeholder can easily view the brief, add their comments, and make any necessary changes.
Why Is a Design Brief Important?
A design brief is so much more than the paper it’s printed on. Even though a design brief mainly consists of words, these words are then used to bring a vision to life.
Design briefs help brands figure out what they’re looking for in their packaging and help packaging designers meet these expectations. Essentially, it keeps everyone on the same page, working toward the same goal.
How to Create a Design Brief for Packaging Design?
- Include company information
- Create a project overview
- Discuss your goals and objectives
- Find your target audience
- Research the competition
- Add the specifications
- Determine your budget
- Figure out your timeline
- Decide on your deliverables
- Get approvals
While design briefs are certainly useful, you only get out of them what you put in. So if you’re looking to create an effective design brief for your packaging design, here’s what you need to include:
1. Include Company Information
It’s always a good idea to start a design brief with some information about the company. Talk about what the company does, what products/services it offers, and where they offer them (online, in stores, etc.) Include information about the wider industry you’re in as well as the challenges facing your industry in general and your company specifically. Briefly mention future goals and directions for your company that may be relevant in the design process.
For example, say you’re a small subscription box company that offers a curated selection of age-appropriate and safe children’s toys. This section can talk about both the subscription box industry and the toy industry.
You can talk about the problem you solve and what makes you different from the competition. You can also mention that you plan on expanding into retail in addition to offering subscription boxes.
2. Create a Project Overview
Once you’ve established what your company does, you can move on to talking about the project. What are you designing for this project? Why are you designing this product? What are some challenges that come with designing this product? What do you expect to receive at the end of the project?
Going back to the subscription box company example, let’s say that you’re looking for a mailer box to ship your products in. In the past, it has been challenging for you to find a box that can fit bulky and oddly shaped toys without wasting a lot of space. You would like to solve this problem with your new packaging design.
3. Discuss Your Goals and Objectives
After the overview, you need to discuss the goals and objectives of your project. For example, are you looking to increase the protective level of your packaging for fragile items? Are you looking to design more cost-efficient packaging? Are you looking for packaging that’s eco-friendly? No matter your goals, it’s important to lay them out in this section.
In addition to more abstract goals, you also need to discuss more concrete objectives. What would a successful project look like? How would you measure success in this case? What variables are the most important?
Be realistic but ambitious in this section by setting goals and objectives that you can work to achieve.
4. Find Your Target Audience
You’re likely not designing packaging for yourself; instead, you’re designing it for your target audience. Who are they? What do they care about? How will they use your product? Why are they using your product?
If you’re a subscription box company, you have a dual audience: young children and their parents. As a result, you need to create a design that will appeal to both groups. Parents are going to care about things that their children will not. And children are going to care about things that their parents do not. It’s up to you to find a middle path with your packaging design.
5. Research the Competition
Since you’re not the only company out there offering products and services in your industry, it’s also a good idea to discuss the competition. For example, you could include information about your competitor's packaging and discuss what you like and dislike about it. You could talk about your competitive advantage and how you can exploit that with your packaging.
For example, if you have a reputation as a brand that cares about the environment, you can tap into this by offering eco-friendly packaging that’s 100% recyclable. This sets you apart from the competition and strengthens your brand image.
6. Add the Specifications
Now that you’ve laid a lot of the groundwork for your project, it’s time to talk specifics. For example, you need to talk about your size and material requirements. You may also need to discuss your sustainability requirements.
Be sure to include what needs to be incorporated into the packaging, including legal information, artwork elements, etc.
7. Determine Your Budget
With these specifications in mind, you need to outline your budget for the project. How much are you looking to spend per unit? How much are you looking to spend overall? Are you willing to pay more for specific designs or products?
In this section, it’s important to be realistic based on current rates in the packaging industry — keeping in mind that this is another area where you get what you pay for. Instead of seeing packaging as a waste of money, see it as an investment in your products and brand.
8. Figure Out Your Timeline
Next, you need to set a timeline for when this project needs to be completed. Be sure to consider the different phases of the project, including the design phase, the approvals phase, the printing phase, and the shipping phase.
Again, it’s important to be realistic here as you likely won’t be able to go from the design phase to the shipping phase in just a few days. However, some packaging providers offer expedited timelines that you may want to consider if you’re working with a tight internal deadline.
9. Decide On Your Deliverables
As you wrap up your design brief, you need to rope everything into the deliverables you expect to receive at the end of the project. In terms of the design, do you need a PDF? Do any images need to be in specific formats, sizes, or resolutions? In terms of the actual packaging, what products are you looking for? How many units do you need? Clearly outline all of this information in this section.
10. Get Approvals
Finally, you need to discuss approvals in your design brief. When are approvals necessary? Who is going to make these approvals? Who is going to make the final approval? In this phase of the project, it’s important to be involved enough to get what you want but not too involved to slow down the process.
For example, you may not want to approve every single element but instead approve different components at a time while working toward final approval.
How to Bring Your Design Brief to Life?
- Find the right packaging provider
- Prioritize effective communication
- Share with stakeholders
- Stay on track with your timeline
- Adjust the design as needed
Now that you have created a detailed and comprehensive design brief for your packaging project, it’s time to bring it to life with these five tips:
1: Find the Right Packaging Provider
The first thing you need to do to bring your design brief to life is to find the right packaging provider. The right packaging provider will have the knowledge and experience necessary to transform the words in your brief into a beautiful packaging design.
For example, Box Genie is a premier packaging provider that is trusted by over 2,000 top brands worldwide, including Black & Decker, Bose, Canon, and more. We have worked with a wide variety of different clients with different needs, so no matter what challenges your design brief presents, we can help you tackle them.
To get started, you need to select your box type on our website. We offer mailer boxes, one-piece folder boxes, shipping boxes, and triangle document mailers in countless sizes, shapes, and colors. From there, you can customize and design your package from scratch in our design studio or send us your design requirements via email. In the final step, we review your file and work to bring your vision to life.
2: Prioritize Effective Communication
Even when you’re working with a great packaging provider, communication is key throughout the design process. Your packaging provider should be communicating with you along the way, but you should also be communicating with them about any thoughts or issues that you may have. It’s always best to bring up any issues as soon as possible to keep the project on track.
3: Share With Stakeholders
It’s important to involve different stakeholders in the packaging design process. For example, you may want to include your marketing department so that you can include your new logo and slogan on your packaging. You may also want to include your sales department in the process since they tend to know your customers the best and may be able to offer helpful insight into what they’re looking for.
4: Stay On Track With Your Timeline
Be sure to refer back to the timeline you set in your design brief as you move through the different stages in the design process. Work to complete any necessary tasks to stay on track and meet your deadlines.
5: Adjust the Design Brief as Needed
Finally, you should feel free to adjust the design brief as needed. Use the brief as a general guide instead of something set in stone. If you change your mind or receive new information along the way, you should be able to make small changes to improve the design and the finished product.
As you can see, a design brief is a key component to a successful packaging design process. So while it may be tempting to jump right in and start designing right off the bat, it’s often helpful to nail down the goals and requirements of your design. From there, you can work with your packaging provider to bring your vision to life.
With Box Genie, it’s easier than ever to make your vision a reality, thanks to our online design studio. As always, if you ever have any questions about our products or process, feel free to reach out to our experts for answers and guidance.
Over 2,000 brands trust us to help them grow and build successful businesses. Find out how custom packaging can work to help take your brilliant brand to the next level!
“They can’t be beat for price, speed, and quality. We trust them with all our packaging needs!”
Megan D., CEO at SSBD
“They can’t be beat for price, speed, and quality. We trust them with all our packaging needs!”
Megan D., CEO at SSBD