Writing a Good Packaging Design Brief: 5 Tips on How to Get Your Briefings Right [Effective Packaging Design]

A good Packaging Design Brief = a good commercial result

‘Sh*t in sh*t out’ is a commonly heard phrase in many agencies when yet another poorly written or overly detailed packaging design brief from a client has hit the inbox.

Over the years we have seen everything from the ‘back-of-the-napkin’ packaging brief to the most detailed 200 pagers documenting everything you can imagine, including those critical historic market share point changes since date of inception.

Engaging specialists to help develop packaging design solutions that do not just look good, but also sell well is not something that is as simple as it seems.

The power of a clear, sharp and focused packaging design brief can inspire creatives that you engage to discover the big ideas that commercially perform, whereas an unsharp and poorly defined packaging brief can lead to ‘chewing gum’ projects that will take forever to complete, frustrate both you and your partner agency and ultimately will never lead to the big breakthrough successes we want every client to enjoy.

So, what makes a good packaging design brief?

Here are the 6 essential elements of an effective packaging brief that can make the difference between an awful and amazing result:

1.Tell us What is Wrong with what you have Right Now?
Why are you doing this project? What do you want to see fixed and why? How does the fix you propose help generate sales? A good brief should spark a discussion. What you want, might be different from what you actually need. Explaining what the issues are that you are facing and defining the commercial objectives you are hoping to achieve creates a context in which some strategic and creative magic can take place that might take your brand 3 steps further.

2. Provide Visual References of Competitors and the Shelf Context.
We need to see what your competitors look like, to be able to develop solutions that will ultimately beat them. We’ll also need to see some actual images of the shelf context in which your brand needs to perform so we understand the environment and its opportunities and restrictions. Where does your brand stand within the retail fixture (at, above or below eye level)? How many facings do you typically have? Which brands are standing shoulder to shoulder with your packs? Is your brand typically bought in modern trade or general trade? If getting sold requires getting seen and if visibility is a function of contrast versus the packs you are standing next to, it is essential that our designers are constantly reminded of this during the design process. So, make sure you provide us with enough clear and sharp competitor and shelf visuals!

3. Explain How Your Shoppers Shop
Packaging is powerful because it performs at the ‘last mile’. Your brand’s packaging design is the final marketing touch point and communication opportunity at the end of a shopper journey, right before a sale takes place. If consumers in your category shop by choosing a brand first, the variant or flavor second and function or benefit third – you might want your packaging structure (the way the eye reads a pack and sequence the brain follows to decode visual content) to be built up and developed in sync. What elements really need to go on the front of a pack? How can you simplify, declutter and prioritize? What elements are absolutely crucial? And what do consumers really look for when shopping? What should be spotted at 5 meters distance, at 1 meter distance and at 25 centimeters distance to draw a shopper in, stop them at the shelf and get them to pick up your pack for a closer look. Achieve that and you’re so much closer to sealing the deal. Eye tracking studies always favor cleaner, more organized and focused designs so avoid overloading your packs with clutter and spam. Focus on things shoppers look for and make sure our designers are clear on the shopping specifics for your product and category.

4. Take us out for Consumer Immersion
To truly get your agency partners to develop solutions that connect, move and engage consumers, to the point where they not just take notice but instead fall in love with your brand and become loyal advocates, try and get your agency team to actually meet some of your consumers. We know, we know.. you need work yesterday and we just don’t have time.. But, if you want to dramatically increase the chances that our design solutions really connect, it is important you expose us to whoever you want our designs to influence. Take us on a market visit to see where and how people shop. Get us to attend a consumer home visit to listen how users use products, where and when products are used, so we get to form an understanding of the role your brand plays in the lives of the people we’re trying to convince.

5. Explain Why They should Care about You? What is your Superior Value Proposition?
So, once we know who we are up against, the arena in which we need to perform and who we are trying to convince we need to know why you matter! What makes your brand so unique, what makes you so different? What superior value are you offering that the one thousand other competitors in your category don’t also already offer? Brand design stories we tell through packaging design solutions we deliver become incredible and unreliable fairy tales if your product doesn’t deliver. So, be clear on your unique selling points but be careful you don’t over hype yourself because people don’t want to buy fairy tales.

So there you have it.. Those are the 5 magic ingredients to prepare the perfect packaging design brief that will maximize your chances for getting back excellent design work that will also perform commercially.

Want to receive a FREE handy packaging design brief checklist? Then get in touch!

To wrap up, one final bonus tip for the best way start to a new project:

6. Review and Discuss the Final Creative Brief before Work starts.
At Square44, we encourage clients to review our interpretation of your brief to us: The Creative Brief. It’s the final document that captures the essence of the challenge. The summary or final concentrate of all we have seen, heard and learned. The creative brief is the starting point of the creative journey and the summary of the most critical points. Connecting one last time before there’s no way back and a project truly kicks off helps to ensure all parties are sharp and on the same page.

Need Help with a Packaging Brief? Get In Touch!

So, we hope our tips and checklist help you produce awesome and effective briefings from now on! If you need help putting an effective packaging design brief together or if you have prepared one you’d like our help with, don’t hesitate to get in touch here and we’d be more than happy to connect and discuss!

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