One of the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs face when developing new packaging (or embarking on a design overhaul project) is identifying the most qualified freelancer or design firm. It’s a good idea to try out a potential design partnership on a smaller scale or with a lower-stakes project first, before committing to them for large-scale or high-stakes work.
Not all designers are created equal, and sorting through available options to find your ideal match can be overwhelming, especially given the breadth of functional expertise and experience. Here are a few critical areas to consider so you can increase the likelihood that you’ll choose the ideal designer for your packaging design.
To begin, ascertain their style. Are you captivated by it? Is it distinctive or “one-of-a-kind” in any way? If not, is the designer willing to work with you to achieve your goals?
In most cases, the first step in shortlisting candidates is to peruse their portfolios. Behance, Dribbble, and Carbonmade are all popular platforms for designers to promote their work online, so you may be able to locate and examine their profile before contacting them.
Once you’ve narrowed your search and identified designers who interest you, it’s critical to request their portfolio. Rather than simply examining the work produced, the portfolio will identify specific styles or trends in their work. Consider it their signature—even if you are not a designer, you will notice hints of features you may (or may not) want in your specific project. Is that minimalist designer an appropriate choice for your high-profile retail campaign? Or is that gifted illustrator with vibrant imagery an ideal candidate for developing a conservative corporate image for your law firm? You’d be surprised how much information is in your midst about what you can get for your design – and who appears capable of delivering it.
Honesty and transparency are critical pillars of any creative endeavor. By asking the right questions, you can ascertain the packaging design company’s creative direction, previous experience and areas of expertise.
- Which industries have they been involved in?
- How many revisions are typically required before the final design is delivered?
- What are some of the potential stumbling blocks for your particular project?
The next consideration is cost. Is your designer priced too high or too low? If they are not charging much, they may have a history of uninteresting small jobs. If they are charging excessively, inquire as to why. Are they good enough to justify it?
This can be a difficult step that relies heavily on your intuition. Prices vary significantly, ranging from $25 (and lower) to $150+ per hour, so it is up to you to determine the cost-to-talent ratio. During initial conversations, attempt to ascertain the designer’s skill set, educational background, and years of experience. Additionally, soliciting referrals from your network can be an excellent place to start.
Additionally, you should agree in advance whether the project will be billed hourly or on a fixed project price. An excellent place to start is by commissioning a trial or smaller project to gauge interest. This is an efficient way to begin what could be a long and fruitful collaboration; at the very least, it’s a fantastic way to save time and money by eliminating freelancers who are simply not a good fit for your project. The adage “hire slowly, fire quickly” (which gained popularity among startups) is applicable here.
As with so many other facets of good business, identifying a design firm that can assist you in accomplishing your objectives begins with creating a list of those objectives. Create a list of your expectations and use this as a barometer for evaluating designer candidates. This type of preparation enables you to distinguish between specialists and those with broad expertise.
The design industry encompasses a diverse range of specialties. To name a few, these include branding, web and app design, advertising, clothing and merchandise, illustration, packaging, books, and magazines.
For packaging projects, you should inquire about the freelancer’s or creative studio’s previous experience with production/printing techniques, substrates (glass, plastic, etc.), and industries (beverages, entertainment, etc.). The World Packaging Design Society is an excellent place to start. Choose a company with previous experience in packaging design with caution, since there are numerous complexities involved with selecting an appropriate printing process (and ensuring the highest possible quality).
A good tip is to exchange ideas with your shortlisted companies. If possible, seek guidance from a designer in your network, which will assist you in making more confident choices. Keep their skill sets in mind and maintain a dialogue—if you’re transparent, the conversation should reveal opportunities for you to utilize their skills and experience.
Your final point of reference should be to ascertain whether the designer can deliver on their promises in advance. Consult with previous clients to determine if there has been a history of concerns. Designers are professionals who may very well become your long-term partner; spend some time getting to know them. Then, learn a little more about them.
Holding someone accountable for their references may appear to some designers to be an “old-school” or overly strict attitude, but it is prudent and can pay off in the long run. Inquire about and verify your designer’s previous work experience. Once you’ve narrowed the field to a few finalists worth considering, request contact information from their previous clients to better understand your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Inquire about areas such as communication skills, meeting deadlines, and potential additional costs. To avoid complications later, draft an agreement or a contract outlining the scope of work.
When you need the best packaging design firm in South Florida, turn to your friendly experts at BPS Glass. Visit us online or call us at (305) 602-5644 today.