Three Steps to Finding A Great Package Designer

Folks new to the industry often get shocked when they start uncovering how much some design firms will charge to re-do their package graphics, essentially. A considerable strategy fee (for what?). Some kind of brand/visual identity fee (OK). A whole lot per UPC/SKU (penalizing a bloated brand and rightfully so). 

Look, agencies have overhead. Everyone there wants an upper-middle-class lifestyle. Whatever. I won’t judge. But you should understand that there is ALWAYS a range of pricing for any kind of executional service. Always. So, you should:

  1. Research the best packaging design on the shelf now in your package format
  • This assumes you are willing to do the homework about what constitutes an excellent pack design. Why should you be entitled to receive superb design if you are not willing? I mean, really. Sometimes you have to check your entitlement. I do. 
  • Some tips: logo at the top. Logo big. Uncluttered front panel. Key attribute somewhere, unless it’s implied. 

2. Find out who did their designs Yes, more homework. Again, do you care about doing this well or not? This can be done by, you guessed it, calling them up! These companies are not hidden like celebrities. Can you tell which of these was designed by a big design firm and which was not?

Yeah. Didn’t think so. Mother Kombucha was done by an independent but very experienced agency refugee. Skuta was done by the usual suspect agency catering to large clients in the nine figures (many outside of CPG). 

3. Filter for your budget OR negotiate away the upfront strategy portion

  • You should have found a reasonable person with a package below $40K for 6 UPCs or less if you did this correctly. 
  • If you insist on an agency, negotiate away the strategy portion and hand it to them in your creative brief, including competitive positioning consumer intel to support it. This assumes you have someone inside good at strategic communications. Out professionalize them, and they may back down if they like you. Just don’t be arrogant about it because these folks love doing strategy, and they love the profits. And they hate narcissistic founders. I wonder why. 

I hope this time-intensive approach saves you money because it should. If you like these kinds of tips, you should consider signing up for my Founders-only VIP newsletter. Twice a month, with special whitepapers for operators new to the industry. Just take my little online Quiz first.

Dr. James Richardson

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