The Branding and Packaging Design Process for Craft Spirits

Starting a new brand is exciting. Seeing your vision become a reality is a benchmark that many individuals don't have the pleasure of experiencing. A lot happens before launching, and it's important not to rush through steps. The design process is the start of the brand formation, and as exciting as this step is, you don't want to fast-forward through any of the operations.  

Choosing the right agency should come with a lot of consideration. It's true; compelling design will bridge the gap between a consumer's curiosity and purchasing your product. However, with branding being a non-verbal sales tactic, you don't want to leave anything to chance. Success starts with choosing the right team of designers and understanding the different phases that make up the entire process. 

How to Choose the Right Design Company

The first step of the process should begin with selecting a design partner. It doesn't matter if you decide to go freelance or with a branding agency, the most important aspect is their experience working with packaged goods. A lot rides on package design. Printed in large volumes, any error could be costly to fix. When you meet with a designer, make sure they have a strategic approach to a design concept and production. 

Additionally, you don't want to get swept up and blinded by beautiful design. There should be elements that resonate with you, but how they approach problem-solving is crucial. It's hard to discern just by looking at their portfolio, but the way they communicate their project plan should be a good indicator. Ask them questions about their process and how they arrived at each design solution they showed you. 

Different Phases of the Design Process

Having a strategic approach to branding produces work that not only looks amazing but delivers on functionality. The primary goal of branding design is to sell your product non-verbally. It motivates your audience and engages them on an emotional level to purchase your product. That being said, the initial phase should focus on understanding the core values and essence of your brand and mission. When you work with the right designer, the process will unfold over a series of phases. 

First Phase: Discovery and Analysis

This first phase is all about you the brand. Ideally, your designers will develop a deep connection with your objectives. Walking through your target market and mission statement will give them the information they need to start working. A great designer should assess competitive set, consumers, retail environment, and vision to set you apart. 

Second Phase: Design

After accumulating information about your business, the design process can begin. Often, agencies present companies with a selection of ideas based on their research. These concepts are reviewed internally with open discussions about the direction and modification. By the end of this phase, one design should be selected for further refinement. 

Third Phase: Comprehensives

Once you've chosen a theme that resonates with you, the designers will streamline all the project details. Here they will work on back panel designs and other elements that were discussed in the original proposal. A final presentation is put together for your review and to sign off on their artwork. 

Fourth Phase: Implementation

The implementation phase includes production and is crucial to success. As we previously mentioned, a great designer will have experience with packaging development and have the ability to work with printers and fabricators to establish specifications. From a financial standpoint, this is essential for your production budget as any issues at this stage could be costly to your business. Before sending artwork to a printer, your designer should provide you with an example of every element including the specifications. Review this information carefully. This is the final proofing stage before being shipped off. You'll want to have team members on-hand to attend print runs of the various components. It might seem excessive to have someone there for quality management, but there is always an opportunity for something to go wrong in the first run. Sending someone with authority to make decisions can help the production process run smoothly. 

It's easy to assume great branding is either a stroke of luck or the result of a design savant. The reality is somewhat different, and any great project is developed from a clear strategy and expertly managed process. A firm grasp of your business concept and values can inspire creativity that produces compelling package design. Ultimately, you want to grab the attention of your target market and turn brand curiosity into loyal fans. 

At Brindiamo Group we’ve helped build successful beverage companies and their brand image. Our team of veteran beverage industry entrepreneurs utilizes a unique approach to assisting with development on all fronts to help you reach your goal! Contact us today to learn more.

Sterling, Cynthia. “Branding: Distilled. A Guide to Package Design for Craft Spirits.” Distiller, Summer 2017, p66&67.