By Nsim Team
Becoming a package designer typically requires an education in graphic design, marketing, visual communication, or a closely related field. You may also be able to work your way up to a career as a package design, if you work in jobs that allow you to develop and hone market research abilities and graphic design skills.
If you want to become a package designer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a package designer:
• You have excellent research skills, and are able to gain a thorough understanding of your target market
• You have excellent abilities with graphic design software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop
• You could see yourself working in marketing and brand development
• You enjoy working with computers, and doing work that involves creativity
• You are able to apply communication skills and logic abilities to gain a thorough understanding of a project’s needs
Package designers are responsible for leading the packaging design and creation process for a variety of products, including beverages, food, cosmetics, toiletries, medicine, toys, and apparel.
In the design of packaging for a product, package designers must do market research to gain a thorough idea of what their target market is looking for. They must then be able to create designs that not only appeal aesthetically to their market, to make it “jump off the shelf” at them; they must try to connect the product and brand to the consumer on an emotional level, to make the consumer urged to buy it.
The job of a package designer goes beyond creating aesthetically and emotionally appealing packaging designs however, as they must take many more elements of a package’s design into consideration; they must also ensure that they packages they design suit the company and brand’s overall image, and are cost effective to produce.
Package designers must also be concerned with ensuring that the packaging can survive transportation from packaging facilities, and protect the product inside. They often work with other professionals in their organization, such as packaging engineers, or food packing specialists, to ensure this side of the job is done properly.
The specific educational requirements for becoming a package designer will typically vary from employer to employer, although you typically need a diploma, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, marketing, visual communication, or a closely related field.
Within your diploma or degree program, it is recommended that you pursue courses that are specific to a career as a package designer, such as cosmetics packaging, electronic media, marketing, logo design and food packaging.
Some employers may hire you without formal post-secondary education, although they will likely require that you have an impressive portfolio that demonstrates your versatility and competence in package design and branding. In general however, the more education you have in a field related to package design, the more marketable you are to employers.
In order to become effective in a career as a package designer you need to posses a certain set of skills. These skills will allow you to perform your job duties with competence, and are usually acquired from a combination of natural ability, schoolwork, and practice.
Design Skills: Package designers need to be able to create designs that provide insight into the personality of the brand; designs that use a good mixture of content, imagery, colours, icons and photography in order capture to the attention of consumers and engage them with emotion, ultimately encouraging them to buy the product. In order to create these designs, package designers must also be well versed in graphic design software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and others.
Business Skills: To succeed as a package designer you must have more than good design skills, as you will only actually spend a portion of your time actually creating designs. A good chunk of a your time will be spent performing business-related functions, such as looking at production costs, attending team meetings to debate design aspects, and pitching your design to production executives and clients.
Research Skills: Package designers must be able to effectively research the market of the product they are designing. In order to create an effective product package design, a designer needs to have a thorough understanding of their target market and what appeals to them.
Communication Skills: Whether working as a freelancer or as a permanent employee, package designers must also be able to gain a thorough understanding of their client’s or employer’s needs and objectives. They must also be able to explain why every aspect of a design was chosen as it was.
Physical Abilities: Yes, physical abilities. Not necessarily in the “must be able to lift heavy weight” type of sense, but as a package designer you need to be able to physically (and mentally) ensure working long hours in front of a computer, and concentrate for long periods of time. You also need to be able to perform work that requires visual precision.
Teamwork Skills: Package designers need to be able to work effectively with team members from other departments, such as the brand management and production teams, in order to ensure their design suits the interests of the company as a whole, such as keeping consistent to the company's image, and keeping costs at an acceptable level.
A package designer typically either works as a permanent employee of an organization, or as a freelancer that is hired for a specific project, or for a specific period of time. Whether as a permanent employee, or as a contract freelancer, the following types of organizations employ package designers:
• Advertising and branding agencies
• Graphic design studios and consultancies
• Small, medium and large companies that manufacture, distribute or sell a variety of products, including beverages, cosmetics, toys, apparel and food