Think about the best packaging design you have ever seen in your life. Even if you had no reason to think about it in the past, you can probably remember at least one great piece of packaging. This is because good packaging transcends being a mere container for your product, and instead becomes an experience.
Great experiences could be anything from a package that is easy to open in an industry that isn’t known for such things (computer parts, as an example), or boxes so beautiful you keep them on the shelves. Striking designs that tell the story of your product can also be an experience.
All of these things have something in common – a great designer was behind them. Most companies today hire freelance packaging designers in order to make memorable packaging happen, and you can too. Here’s how.
What Freelance Packaging Designers Don’t Do
While designers are critical, it’s important to know their limitations. You may think all you need to do to get your packaging ready is to hire a designer and wait for your first shipment. Designers are a very specific part of the process, but there are some things they don’t do.
Freelance designers don’t make the physical packaging. While they may create mock-ups for you, they’re not going to send you an actual shipment. They simply design what the packaging will look like for the manufacturers. Their job is strictly to handle the look and feel of the packaging, not to actually mass produce it. For that, you’ll need to hire a packaging manufacturer.
Beginning Your Search for a Freelance Designer
Before you can hire a designer, you need to create a design brief to help them. A design brief contains as much information as you have available regarding the project. Even if you want the designer to come up with ideas themselves, sharing some specifics with your designer will speed up the process. Among these ideas, you should include:
- What industry the design is for
Different packaging is needed for different types of products, and customers expect to see that. You wouldn’t sell men’s cologne in a pink sparkly bottle any more than you would try to impress kids with sleek, modern, colorless packaging. The industry, and more importantly who your customer is, can make an important difference on how the designer decides to handle your work.
- What you want your packaging to do
All packaging tells a story to your customer. Do you want it to tell them the product is luxurious? Inexpensive yet still reasonable quality? High-tech? You can imply any of these things with the design itself. If you have any ideas for how the packaging should look, your design brief is a good place to add it.
- Who your competition is
You don’t want your packaging to look identical to products belonging to your competitors, nor do you want them so different that they don’t seem to belong to the industry. A look at your competition can help your designer know what needs to be included.
- Pricing and deadlines
There is nothing more awkward for your designer than to find out you need your design done superfast without prior warning. Giving your designer a general idea of your budget and deadline expectations can help avoid surprises before the project begins.
Once you have your design brief together, you’re ready for the next step – finding a great designer to do the project.
How to Find a Great Designer and Avoid an Amateur One
The downside to hiring a freelance 3D designer is that anyone can offer their services to you, whether their skill is up to standards or not. That means you can’t simply run a search for a designer and hire the first person you find. You need to use a certain amount of caution when reviewing available designers.
A portfolio is one of the best ways to separate amateurs from experts. A portfolio can immediately tell you what the designers’ skill level is and if that skill is good enough for your business. It is by no means the only thing you should take into consideration, however.
Once your designers’ basic skill has been established, you can make the design of your dreams more likely to happen by selecting a designer who reflects the ideals of your company. It’s helpful to ask questions of the designer such as where they get their inspiration from, or even do a small test project to see if they are pleasant to work with and understand your requests.
It’s worthwhile to take the time in this phase and ensure you get someone who has just the right spark for your business.
Where to Find a Freelance Designer
Finding a freelance designer isn’t as simple as clicking around on an agency website and picking a designer who appeals to you, but they aren’t as well hidden as they used to be. Freelance designers can easily be found on freelancing websites such as Cad Crowd.
These websites allow you to browse through a number of readily available designers, look at samples, and in some cases, even let them compete for your approval. All of these options have benefits and drawbacks, depending on your needs.
If you’d rather not work through a freelancing website, you can also use a portfolio website such as Behance to find a freelance CAD designer. Behance simply displays portfolios, so you won’t be able to use it to purchase a freelancer’s services, but you can get contact information to ask designers about doing work for you.
There are other websites out there you can use to find a new freelance product designer, but if you’re not sure where to begin, these websites are a great place to start. The packaging for your product is one of the most important parts of your product. It helps a customer decide if they want to buy your product, tells them about your company values, and may even tell them the quality of your product. It’s well worth the effort to find a great designer for your packaging.
Common Red Flags
Just like in every other field, there are good and bad designers. Even if a freelancer has a great portfolio, they may not be the right choice for you. Common red flags include:
- Takes days to respond to you
If someone takes a long time to respond to you, they probably don’t highly value your project. Successful artists will quickly respond to you, even if it is to let you know they can’t take on more projects at that time. Swift response times are a sign of someone who will be prompt in all other aspects of their work as well.
- Is rude or difficult to get along with
You may be working with your designer for several weeks on these projects, or for future projects down the road. It’s far easier to work with a person who is able to take criticism, is polite, and on time than someone who is fragile or difficult to work with.
- Has poor reviews from many unhappy customers
Reviews tend to be a good reflection of the designer. If there are one or two poor reviews among hundreds of glowing ones, that is often just a case of an unreasonable customer. If you constantly see the same criticism over and over again, it’s probably a very real flaw. Read reviews on your designer carefully, and make sure the good reviews outweigh the bad.
- Doesn’t have experience creating things you’re interested in
Even if the designer has a great attitude, prompt response, and rave reviews, if they don’t have a single example of packaging in their portfolio, they probably won’t be a good choice. Designers tend to develop their own niche, and if they specialize in logos or book covers, they might not be prepared to handle the jump to packaging.
Finding a packaging designer doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take paying attention to what is available and looking for a designer who is perfect for you and your company. Once you’ve found the perfect designer, you will be reaping the rewards of your patience with quality packaging for as long as the product is in production. It’s well worth the wait.
At Cad Crowd, we have a network of 3D modeling services ready to help you design the perfect packaging for your product. Whether you’re in the beauty industry or you work on electronics, we can connect you with someone who knows just what to do. If you’re interested, contact us for a free quote.