Great packaging is essential to the marketing of any product. While shopping, consumers give us1/16th of a second of eye contact so that package has to do a great deal in an almost unimaginable amount of time. Therefore, that package has to communicate efficiently and quickly what the toy is all about. In order to make that happen there needs to be a strong level of communication between the designer and the company seeking the design.
In order to learn more about how to communicate effectively, I asked Jill Chase, Art Director of the Go Dog Design Group to give us the benefit of her 15 years in design. Jill started her graphic design career in publishing where she learned paper engineering for pop-up books. This rare talent developed into a unique perspective for designing product packaging. She has had the opportunity to apply her fresh approach to design and marketing to brands such as Power Rangers, Terminator and Family Guy.
Whatever the creative project, whether it is branding or toy design, internet or print, it all should start with a good creative brief. A good brief is the foundation of understanding between Client and Creative team. All too frequently, people skip this step which is shocking because a project launched without it is like a house built on sand. If a client provides one – great! If not, you had better ask the questions up front and get your understanding down on paper, and then you will avoid problems later. Here are some of the things I like to get straight before starting a project, but keep in mind that questions will vary depending on the project.
Get a good general description of project parameters. You should have a solid idea of the scope of the project or you may find that you haven't the resources available and haven't given the client an estimate that is realistic. When a client says "What I need is so simple," find out exactly what they define as simple. Their definition might be totally different than yours.
What is the objective? Is there a marketing goal or a measurable objective? What do we want the consumer to think or do?
What is the time line? Does the full scope of the project work with the schedule that has been proposed? The old adage of "Anything is possible with time and money" is true. Make sure you cover one with the other.
Are there pre-existing assets or media? Know up front if you need to integrate with some campaign or branding or if you are at liberty to start from scratch. If there is equity in an existing tag line, you had better know about it.
Who is the target market or intended audience? Tween girls or boys 3-8, it’s critical to know or you might turn people off.
What are the key points or communications? What features need highlighting and what is the hierarchy of communication?
Make a competitive analysis. In the case of packaging, we like to know where our product might sit on the shelf and who is competing for the shoppers’ cash. Try to find the thing that makes your product great. I find that when a client sees the competition all lined up it is so much simpler to determine the tone and direction to take.
Determine tone. If you look at the product and think Extreme Sports and your client is expecting a General Sporting Goods vibe you will be wasting a lot of time. It is best to get on the same page now, rather than figure it out on round 3 of the creative.
A good brief is meant to protect both the client and the creative team. Don’t think of it as a limiter. Without knowing what the boundaries of the job are, how can you push them? With this necessary step out of the way, everyone is free to explore the project fully and end up with the best product possible.