We often share these with a business that hires us to design packaging for their wares, so I thought it might be helpful to post the information for everyone to read. Here goes…

1. Leave (a lot of) Room For Your Buyer
The buyer at the retailer will have a say in the packaging design. Sometimes it’s not just the branding on the packaging design, but also the structural design. Some clients we work with have become pros at handling this part of the relationship, and initially present a somewhat incomplete version of the packaging. Then during the revisions stages we show the evolution of the packaging that would have created anyway, but it includes the buyer in on the creative process.

There are occasions where heads butt, differences of opinion on branding and structure come into play, but a quality corporate buyer should know when to back down. Same goes for the manufacturer – be prepared to give a little to your buyer. What you lose in control you will hopefully make up for in the volume of the order from good sales numbers.

Keep in mind that the buyer’s job isn’t to ruin your brand. Buyers know their store and department(s), and simply want to help you and the retailer sell as much as possible.

2. Ask About Translations
There are good odds that you will need the copy on your packaging translated to South American Spanish if you are selling your CPG to a big retailer. If this is the case, then get in touch with the buyers from the stores you’re wanting to sell in, and ask what standards, if any, they have for translations.

Here’s why: Several years ago we designed packaging for a brand, and the main buyers were two major competing retailers. We learned that one of these retailers had wisely established a lexicon for all products sold in their stores, and only pre-approved translators could provide translated copy with a special code so as to keep all the words in a store consistent.

The lesson learned: Whenever we designed packaging for this brand, we used the pre-approved translator for all SKUs no matter the store being sold in. It turned out to be a nice cost-effective win-win for the brand and buyers. Translations are one of those seemingly “little things” that can really cut in to slender margins over time.

3. Do Not Over-Think Your Product Packaging
When embarking on a new packaging design project we often are given the following instructions: “Keep the design clean, simple, and eye-catching.” But over time, as we get into the design process, and pressure mounts on a brand manager or business owner, we soon enter into the time trap of trying to over-think how a product should be branded on the packaging.

Over-thinking can show up by trying to be overly clever with the logo treatment, or trying to cram a lot of little violators that point out product benefits on the primary face panel. It’s avoidable. If your branding was created by a professional then the best thing you can do is to stay consistent with what you paid for.

The best sales pitch packaging can make is one that is simple and direct on the face panel, and then provides the consumer a logical visual hierarchy of information spread out on the packaging that points out other benefits and uses. Trying to cram all that onto the front will make for a busy, ugly package… that doesn’t sell as well as it could have.

Those are 3 of several lessons learned from designing CPG. There are more we use, share, and are learning while working on a packaging design project. The big picture here is to go into the process with a plan and a goal. Decide beforehand what is most important to you, your brand, and your business as a whole. Often times getting into a major retailer is a years-long process, so if you’re going to be persistent enough to get there, be sure to know what you want to do when you get there.