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Streamlining Branded Packaging Initiatives: Creative Project Management and Process Improvements

In the world of product packaging, creating visually appealing and structurally sound branded packaging is a multifaceted task that involves numerous stages, including graphic design, structural die lines, asset collection, mockup creation, digital printing, final proofing, and full-scale production. Project managing creative packaging projects and these complex processes efficiently and effectively is crucial for ensuring project success and delivering high-quality packaging on time. This article explores how process mapping and robust project management practices can streamline the packaging design and production process, making it more manageable, predictable, and client-friendly.

Growing Naturals Plant Protein Packaging - Flexographic Printing
Plant Protein Packaging Line - Flavored Rice, Pea Proteins, Design and Flexographic Printing

Wine Label Design and Printing
Wine Label Design and Printing


Aquarium Mini Filter Clamshell Packaging
Aquarium Mini Filter Clamshell Packaging


European Cosmetics Packaging
A line of European Cosmetics Packaging


Himalayan Soapberry Laundry Detergent Packaging Design and production
Himalayan Soapberry Laundry Detergent Packaging


Imperial Jade Dit Da Jow Tincture Bottle Packaging
Imperial Jade Dit Da Jow Tincture Bottles


Caramel Confections Packaging Project Management
Caramel Confections Packaging Project

1. Process Mapping: The Foundation of Efficiency

Caesar's Palace Virtual Tour CD Custom Packaging
Caesar's Palace Virtual Tour CD Custom Packaging

Before delving into project management techniques, it's essential to map out the packaging design and production process thoroughly. Process mapping is a visual representation of each step involved in creating branded packaging. By breaking down the process into its constituent elements, you gain a clear understanding of how tasks flow and where potential bottlenecks might occur.

2. Define Key Milestones


With process mapping as your guide, it's time to set clear milestones for your packaging project. These milestones should encompass all critical phases of the project, such as:

Potato Tarts Photography and Packaging Project
Potato Tarts Photography and Packaging Project

  • Asset Collection: Gather all necessary elements, including copy, logos, photography, and legal disclaimers. A central repository for assets can streamline this step.

  • Graphics and Structural Design: Create the initial packaging design, incorporating both visual elements and structural die lines. Ensure that all design work aligns with the brand's guidelines and objectives.

  • Mockup Creation: Develop initial mockups to visualize the packaging's appearance and functionality.

  • Digital Proofing: Utilize digital printing for proofing, enabling quick revisions and adjustments.

  • Final Proof: After revisions, produce a final proof, ensuring color accuracy and design integrity.

  • Full-Scale Production: Commence the actual production process, involving CMYK and Pantone color printing, die cutting, folding, gluing, and shipping.

The Matrix® Limited Edition Collectors' Set Packaging
The Matrix® Limited Edition Collectors' Set Packaging

3. Project Managing Creative Packaging Projects: Tools and Techniques

Now that you have your milestones and process mapped out, it's time to implement project management practices to ensure smooth execution. Here are some key strategies:

  • Task Assignment: Assign specific team members to each task within the project, clarifying responsibilities and deadlines.

  • Project Timeline: Develop a detailed project timeline that incorporates each milestone, deadlines, and dependencies between tasks. Use project management software or tools like Gantt charts to visualize this timeline.

  • Communication: Establish clear lines of communication among team members and with the client. Regular updates and check-ins help ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Quality Control: Implement a robust review and approval process to catch any errors or deviations from the design and brand standards. Include checkpoints for color accuracy, structural integrity, and legal compliance.

  • Risk Management: Identify potential risks and develop contingency plans to address them, mitigating the impact on project timelines.

  • Client Collaboration: Keep the client informed throughout the process, sharing progress reports and involving them in key decision points. This proactive approach builds trust and minimizes surprises.

Jasmine Rice Crackers Retail Packaging Design and Production
Jasmine Rice Crackers Retail Packaging Design and Production

4. Continuous Improvement

Process improvement is an ongoing effort in project management. Regularly review the packaging design and production process to identify areas for enhancement. This could involve optimizing asset management systems, refining the proofing process, or exploring new printing technologies for cost and time savings.


Benefits of Streamlined Project Management and Process Improvement:

  1. Efficiency: Clear processes and milestones help teams work more efficiently, reducing wasted time and resources.

  2. Predictability: Well-managed projects are more likely to stay on schedule and within budget, offering predictability to clients.

  3. Quality Assurance: Robust review processes ensure that the final packaging meets high-quality standards, avoiding costly rework.

  4. Client Satisfaction: Regular communication and collaboration with clients lead to a higher level of satisfaction and trust.

  5. Competitive Advantage: Efficient project management and continuous improvement give companies a competitive edge in delivering innovative and timely packaging solutions.

In conclusion, the packaging design and production process for branded packaging is complex, but with process mapping and effective project management, it can be streamlined for success. By defining key milestones, employing project management tools and techniques, and continuously seeking process improvements, businesses can ensure that their packaging projects run smoothly, deliver exceptional results, and meet client expectations. Proper project management and process improvement are indeed the backbone of successful packaging projects.


About the Author

Chris Shemza, Process Improvement Specialist

Chris Shemza is a seasoned multi-disciplinary project management and process improvement specialist with over 16 years of experience. With his experience as a creative services account executive with a background in agency work, Chris brings a unique blend of creative thinking and technical expertise to the table.


Chris has planned, project managed, and process-improved many custom packaging projects, including all the examples included above. The packaging projects involved international clients from Asia to Europe, graphic design, photography and structural design teams, legal and regulatory reviews, as well as digital, flexographic and offset printing and distribution, for projects encompassing food, entertainment, hospitality, cosmetics and much more.


Throughout his career, Chris has honed a diverse set of skills, encompassing both soft skills and hard skills for effective team leadership and technical abilities, including robotic process automation to drive efficiency and speed at companies such as Petco, West Coast University QuidelOrtho and more. With a track record of successful client retention, Chris is known for handling complex projects and implementing process improvements, particularly in marketing, creative, digital, internet, packaging, and print industries.

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