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How To Write A Packaging Design Brief (With Free Template)

Consumer Packaged Goods companies of all sizes should employ a packaging design brief for all package design initiatives. A design brief is a useful document that gives an outline of the design request from the customer to an agency. In this blog, we outline and explain what contents need to be included along with a free packaging design brief template to help write a design brief yourself.

A design brief is critical because it enables a collaborative process and a smooth transition to the desired finished packaging design. In a fast-paced environment, a packaging design brief creates organized documentation, reducing confusion and increasing productivity. A proper packaging design brief is also necessary because:

  1. It records all background information and design agency instructions. This enables management to review the task and estimate the amount of effort and time required for their designers to complete the project.
  2. The brief clarifies what must be completed by your design team, by the design agency, and by any other partners that may be involved.
  3. From the perspective of a designer, it serves as a guide to the requirements and specifications needed to create the artwork. It also enables the designer to prioritize and work efficiently.

The Preliminary Details

Project name

Identify the name of your project. Developing a naming convention can allow both parties to file and organize several of your projects.

Brands

As companies can have many brands, list the name of the exact brand for the project. This will help organize various activities.

Date

List the date the brief will be sent to the agency.

The Overview

Background

Provide the agency with general information about the product and package design. Describe the current state of the packaging and product, as well as the reasons why your company would like to change the design. Consider this section to be the “why” for the initiative.

Perhaps your company conducted qualitative research indicating that your brand could benefit from a new visual identity, or perhaps your marketing team has statistics to back up an opportunity that your competitors have not pursued.

Purpose

Describe the general package design needs. This can cover a few general points with specific details to follow.

For example: Update the colours of the Lip Balm packaging to fit the new branding colour scheme.

Challenges

Describe what challenges you want the packaging design to overcome, such as lagging sales, product visibility, or others.

Strategic Details

Marketing Objectives

This is the business goal and objectives that the new design will help to achieve. This could include raising brand awareness, informing consumers about a specific aspect of your product, introducing a new product, increasing sales, or developing a new look to gain shelf visibility.

Target Audience

Describe the intended market for this design project. The agency and designers must keep this in mind throughout the creative process. Ideally, you will provide the agency with consumer market research that supports the definition of your target audience, or you may choose to include this as part of the scope of design work.

Brand Positioning

This is an important factor in distinguishing your brand from the competition. You will need to share your brand card or positioning statement to ensure the agency understands what is unique and special about your product.

Brand positioning is created through effective, consistent communication across all the consumer touchpoints (packaging, brand name, customer service, advertising). It can be viewed as a continuation of the value proposition, which defines the core reason consumers purchase your product over a competitive product. This is the brand’s single most important benefit for your target market.

Brand positioning is essential – not a nice-to-have. If you don’t have an articulated position, you can find out more here.

Research and insights

This information is critical for understanding your company’s “big picture.” The design agency should consider key aspects such as brand equity, industry, tone and personality, target market, niche offerings, and so on.

Any research conducted by the branding or marketing departments (surveys, sales figures, in-store tests) should be forwarded to the agency. This information will help the account and creative teams gain a better understanding of the reasons for the need for change. As the designers consider these insights throughout the assignment, the result will be a more effective outcome.

Competitive Set

The agency can provide a competitive audit that details significant aspects of the main competition’s activities based on brand, communication hierarchy, packaging, retail environment, and so on. This serves as a valuable reference for the designer to achieve specific design goals (stand out from the competition, learn from the mistakes of others).

Packaging Requirements

Scope Of The Project

The following is a list of criteria that will detail the exact deliverables needed from the design agency.

1. Package Design Objectives

You have provided greater detail above. In this section, please summarize the following in a few brief sentences,

  • What do you want to own from a category leadership perspective? Are there any equities that your brand currently owns in the category?
  • Is there an existing brand/package design that you find to be inspiring or best-in-class?

2. Creative Mandatories

While you may want the designers to be free to explore creative ideas, certain aspects of the design, such as legal requirements, must be carried out. Other creative mandates that should be considered include:

  • Specific imagery
  • Mandatory legal copy
  • Claims (including 3rd party certifications)
  • Communication hierarchy

3. Number of options

Make a list of the options and concepts you’d like to see. You will most likely receive feedback and will require the agency to make necessary changes.

4. Deliverables

Describe the file type (PDF, AI), dimensions (11″ x 17″), or specific form (mounted board) that the agency requires, as well as where it should be sent (person, server). These also include the timing and date by which the agency must release the files.

5. Medium/substrate details

The brief should include information about the design’s materials and format. This information is critical because it can have an impact on the design process and the final product. Printing specifications, the number of colours allowed for the project, and the dieline should all be included.

Using this guide will assist your company in creating the best packaging design brief by helping you provide clear communication between your company and the design agency!

Use our design brief template below to write your own brief!

Originally posted June 30th, 2013, updated September 19th, 2022.

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