It’s a good idea to start a design program like you want to finish: informed and strong.
Starting a packaging design program with a proper orientation and analysis phase of activity is a smart, but often glossed over and a wee bit dismissed step in the development of a successful design project.
Kicking-off a project is a critical moment and it’s important that all of the excitement and good vibes from an “approval” are leveraged to get events, actions and people all headed in the best direction possible – at the outset.
- Do the prep work, get out in the field, dig in…
Before a kick-off meeting, if it’s a consumer good/ supermarket product, its smart to not only have store audits, but also to send the design team out into the “channels of distribution” to get a first hand view of what’s happening at POS. This can be tough to schedule for a variety of reasons, but it’s a smart thing to do. It’s just too easy to be jaded, take the easy way out and rely on store audit images themselves to develop a POV.
By not getting out in the market, the nuance and context that helps a designer achieve a deeper understanding of a design challenge is given short shrift. There is also something to be said for standing in front of a shelf, in a store and talking to your fellow teammate about what is in front of you.
Yes, we surreptitiously capture store audits and do a hard edit before sharing them with our client during our orientation meeting: but really the Audits are for our benefit, the Client has spent far more time in front of the shelf, studying this category than we do. While we are in store, we purchase leading competitive products to study them more closely in our studio, thereby avoiding further stares from shoppers and supermarket staff.
- Meet as a team to conduct an Analysis.
Once back in the studio, the team meets to review and conduct an analysis of what we saw in the field, the images that were captured and the competitive products. At this time we also review the proposal and client brief, making the internal orientation meeting a working meeting, necessitating we provide lunch – thereby insuring timely attendance.
After this internal working meeting we are ready to meet with our client and get their POV as well as “their side of the story” in terms of what the design team saw and came away with opinion-wise.
We can hold this meeting at either client or Biondo offices. But we encourage the meeting be held at the Biondo offices due to the fact we can have more of our team present and meet the client. It’s important to have faces that go along with the names and this is the opportunity to make that connection.
- Craft a solid, meaningful agenda for the client Orientation meeting.
The agenda for this meeting includes client debriefing: state of category, business and marketing strategy, competitive analysis, concerns, caveats, mandatories and other information. From the Biondo side, we share our analysis, POV and observations. The meeting is catered (the food thing again) and as a team we break bread and get to know each other. Getting the people at the table to recognize themselves as a unified team is part of the goal.
After this meeting both Client and the internal Biondo design team have clear expectations regarding process and timing and know what to expect. This activity prepares the entire team for the next Phase of development, the Creative Exploration.