September 16, 2014

How to Start A Packaging Design Company

How to Start A Packaging Design Company

Gather ’round, kids — Uncle SmashBrand is going to tell you how you can begin your own highly successful packaging design company with only a shoe box, a length of string and Adobe Creative Cloud!

Alright, maybe it’s not that easy. (Who on earth keeps string handy anymore?) However, you don’t necessarily need a huge amount of supplies and equipment right at the outset; what you need are knowledge and passion. Starting your own packaging design company requires that same plucky, Horatio Alger can-do spirit that was so often celebrated in the films of the late Mickey Rooney. Let’s put on a show, people! And speaking of people…

Getting the Right People

Now that the seed of entrepreneurship has been planted and nourished, it’s time to decide upon the team that will turn the little sprout of enterprise into the great, big choking vine of success.  This is probably the most important aspect of any business, so get it right!

Clearly, you will have to have a diverse array of personalities on board with you, all with high degrees of expertise in their respective fields. However, when it comes to your brand, you will need people that also fit into your particular culture and help you sell not only your skills, but your identity and the process you use to bring about your products or services.

In an interview during a documentary about the highly influential and extremely successful band The Who, rock star Pete Townshend once discussed the different strengths of his band mates. We’re paraphrasing a bit here, but the essence of his comment was: “Keith Moon was a genius. John Entwhistle was a genius. I had glimpses of genius. Roger Daltrey was a singer.” When he said “singer,” he used the same tone of voice people generally use when uttering the phrase “personal injury attorney.” Now, maybe it was a bit of a shame that he didn’t think that Daltrey was as naturally musically gifted as the other three, but what Daltrey did have was presence. Don’t discount presence and appeal when it comes to the presentation of your brand. Your business might be chock full of genius, but if you don’t have someone selling that genius, then you’re left with an exceptional organization being outsold by a brand with nothing but sexiness to recommend it.

No one is telling you to embrace flash over substance, but you will want to weigh your team members’ core competencies very carefully.  Rarely does a team comprised of just experienced designers make it very far.  You are going to want a mixture of brand strategists, packaging designers, sales and account management to be successful.

The Best Equipment for Your Purposes

Naturally, your purposes are packaging design. However, once you’ve established the best and most efficient methods for your particular needs, you’ll have to find the best equipment. This does not mean the most expensive, nor does it mean, bizarrely, the best equipment available in the industry. You’ll have to choose the most malleable, reliable and industry-accepted equipment within your budget.  From Epson printers to press check to 3D Studio Max to render and visualize in 3D.  There is a lot to think about and a lot of cost to budget for.

Even if money is no object, you still have to operate within the confines of your own industry. You see, not everyone uses the latest software available. You might find that a clients box printer cannot support the output of your illustrator files.  It is all well and good to produce excellent work, but when you load your updates into, say, Dropbox, and find that the cloud fairies have impishly corrupted everything, you have no recourse but to do everything over again, risk missing a deadline and possibly losing your sanity.  What are you using for your secondary backup plan for archived client work?

Having a Grand Vision

So, being a packaging design company might not be the ultimate cosmic endeavor, but your company can help others if your practices and philosophy help move brands forward and possibly the world as a whole. Corporate social responsibility is a huge industry (we’ll leave the irony of that alone for now), and if you can integrate your selfless mission into your brand identity, you will have given yourself a selling point above and beyond the excellent work you do. Nevertheless, don’t make your vision too big; sometimes “teaching the world to sing” is a bit beyond the remit of a company just trying to sell things.  Find your niche and own it, with that you will find success.

So, what have we learned today? We learned that people and things are essential components of any business (you’re welcome). We learned that having a well-constructed brand template might be just as important as providing a great product or service (just ask the Shark Tank judges). We learned that Dropbox has your business’ reputation for efficiency by the throat. Most importantly, we learned that we didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of everything that goes into building a reputable and talent-filled packaging design company! Once again, you’re very welcome!


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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