A packaging specialist is a design professional focused on developing product packages. These individuals are responsible for choosing the materials and methods of packaging particular products and may also create the graphics associated with the various packaging. They typically interact with the production, sales, operations and marketing departments to determine the best plan for a particular item. In an agency setting, a packaging specialist is often part of a team and might be required to participate in client meetings to ensure that package strategy is in line with the client's overall brand strategy.
One of the main things a packaging specialist must consider is look and feel. This means that the package must convey an impression that is consistent with what the manufacturer wants customers to think about both the product and the company. For example, customers would expect an organic or otherwise "green" product to have relatively simple, straightforward packaging. If the graphics or design seem overly complicated, the customer may doubt the environmental claims made by the manufacturer.
While creating the design and graphics, a packaging specialist must also consider the messaging to be included. This can include logos for the corporation and for any certifying or approving agencies. It can also include the name of the product and messages such as "new" or "improved." Messaging also includes large sections of text that may be required, such as the compatibility specifications on computer software packaging or the story summaries on movie packages. Additional required messaging can include warnings or advisories specified by governmental or regulatory agencies.
Though the look of a product package is a critical part of package design, it is also important that the package be functional. For example, a liquid must be packaged in a waterproof container. Some packages are designed to be resealable, to allow the product to be poured, or to provide other advanced functionality.
A packaging specialist must uncover all the requirements in regard to the specific product. She must then consider how the product will be merchandised in a retail store or otherwise sold and what kind of budget is available. This often means conferring with internal stakeholders and, in some instances, outside clients. Once all information is assembled, the specialist creates a package design and then makes modifications until all required approving parties agree on a final design. Once this happens, the packaging specialist will provide all data and art files to the production facility and might be required to approve proofs before the final package is manufactured.