November 1, 2013

3 Questions You Must Ask Your Label Designer

3 Questions You Must Ask Your Label Designer

When interviewing a potential label designer, you must be as thorough as you would be during an interview for a potential nanny or surrogate parent. After all – your product is your baby, isn’t it? Why leave it in the hands of a potential asylum escapee?

Apart from DNA samples and credit histories, you’re going to want to look through their portfolios and talk to former clients, obviously. Make certain the pay structure is suitable and clear, and that the time commitments are agreeable and reasonable (if, after interviewing numerous potential label designers, you find one that claims to be able to get the job done waaaaay faster than the rest of the pool, don’t get excited and hire them – the designer is either lying or you’ll find out how they economize their time the hard way).

Once you’ve gotten the initial screening out of the way, it’s time to explore their personal design philosophies and emotional stability. While you’re going to want to ask numerous questions, here are three that you cannot, under any circumstances, fail to ask if you want to ensure that your designer has the skill to meet your loftiest expectations.

Have you had experience designing labels for similar products?

If at all possible, go for a label designer that’s experience in your kind of product. This may seem overly obvious, but designers are crafty; they can use all sorts of industry techno-babble to convince you that they know all there is to know about your industry. Don’t be fooled; soft drink labels and wine bottle labels are entirely different, as are detergent labels and shampoo labels.

If they’re up front about a lack of experience with your product category, make sure that they’re willing to do the necessary work to make sure that their concept and design is market appropriate. If they can give you examples of successful projects that were, in the beginning, outside of their comfort zone, then that will give you a good idea of their adaptability.

What was your most successful label design?

The most successful label designs are those that lead to an increase in sales. Your designer may have won some great awards, but if they cannot demonstrate marketing savvy, you might want to think about looking elsewhere.

It’s very easy to be seduced by an award-winning designer; they can charge more, they’re well respected and their work is obviously first rate. But ask yourself: Does this designer produce what the client wants, or what they know the design industry loves?

But aren’t awards a good thing? Of course they are! They prove that the label designer can design labels that have academic appeal, and that he/she is creative and excited about design. But did the award-winning label result in more money for the product manufacturer, or a just significant boost in brand recognition for the designer? You want your brand to be the star, not the label designer.

What can you offer me that other label designers don’t?

Your label designer should have a solid list of strengths that set him/her apart from the rest of the field. Does the company offer brand recognition strategy consultations? Does the label designer have a firm grasp on trends and innovations within your particular industry? Does the label designer welcome client collaboration and input? If you are a hands-on type of person and your designer simply doesn’t want client interference of any kind, your working relationship will be rocky. On the other hand, if you want to leave your designer alone with much of the responsibility and the designer isn’t comfortable making judgment calls without a great deal of checking and approval, then that wouldn’t exactly be a match made in heaven, either.

Finding the right label designer for your purposes isn’t an easy task – it may, in some cases, even involve espionage. But don’t worry! There’s a lot of designers to choose from, which makes it easier for clients to find exactly the right designer for their needs. Some of them are so desperate might even work for nothing but a Linkedin endorsement. Ah… thank you, unstable global economy!


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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