Begin with the end in mind – the dieline

Congratulations brand manager! You have presented your brand plans to the senior leadership team and  you just received approval to launch 5 line extensions. It’s time to get started on package design!

Question: What is the first thing you do?


  1. First things first – With the help of your package designer, form a cross- functional team of SMES (a.k.a subject matter expert stakeholders).  Include your assistant brand manager, package designer, packaging manager, pre-press house, printer etc)
  2. Begin with the end in mind – Shape then graphics are what consumers see first at the  moment of truth. To ensure a successful project, start the die-line conversation before you begin graphic design.

Here’s the dieline drill:

Kick-off your packaging project with an approved dieline. Take the time to ensure the dieline is clearly marked and approved at the beginning of your project.

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Once your packaging is printed, it is too late.

Even if your team tells you that you are using the same dieline as the existing family of sku’s, it is a good idea to refresh the dieline each time you begin a new packaging project. Simply put, things change. Things like the production date code area may have moved due to a new equipment function in your production plant and no one has told you yet. Your packaging manager will confirm all manufacturing requirements such as eyemarks and date code areas. Or, the printer may have recently changed a corner radius on the dieline for better printing efficiency and may have shared the old dieline by accident. (Ugh! – update graphics into new dieline 24 hours before print run – rush!)

A clearly marked dieline is a good investment. Need help identifying what a best practice dieline looks like? Contact me to learn about my checklist of dieline “must have’s”.

PS- It is also a good idea to mock up a 1:1 or mini version of the packaging following final round of graphic design and before releasing final art files to your pre-press house or printer. A mock up will help you to ensure your graphics and key messages are free and clear of any obstructions such as folds or ink/varnish free areas. Better yet, invest in a print trial. Small batch print runs (digital) are cheaper than small runs on conventional presses . While digital print may not be colour accurate to pantone or printed on the exact substrate they are a good investment. Like the old sayings “crossing t’s and dotting i’s” or “measure twice, cut once”.

Best wishes for a successful project! Need help? Reach out to me with questions.



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