First things first! Confirm that dieline

Hi Brand team:

It’s time to get started on package design for 5 line extensions!

Let’s call them: Lemon soda, Papaya swirl, Strawberry rhubarb, Coconut mango and Pear lime.

They will be a family of 6 when you include the master sku, Grape apple.

Your operations team advises that final packaging is due at the factory in 8 months. (ok, I know that timeline is luxurious – today I am giving you a very well deserved break!)

The creative brief is ready.

Every good packaging project starts with a thoughtful creative brief and an approved die-line.

Question: When designing a family of 5 line extensions and the master sku is already in market, what are the first 3 things you do following presentation of the creative brief?

First things first!



  1. Begin with the end in mind – To ensure a successful project, get dieline confirmation and approval before you begin graphic design.
  2. With the help of your package designer, form a cross- functional team of SMES’s (a.k.a subject matter expert stakeholders).  Include your assistant brand manager, package designer, packaging manager, pre-press house, printer, photographer etc). Share the current master pdf (grape apple) with the team.
  3. Create a work back schedule with critical control points. Share it with your team at the first cross functional team meeting. Make sure everyone is aware of roles & responsibilities in the work-back.

This blog is all about #1. Here’s the dieline drill:

Kick-off your packaging project with the correct dieline. Take the time to ensure the dieline is clearly marked and approved by your production team, printer and designer before you begin creative.

TIP: You can do this at any point prior to creative briefing. Just be sure you confirm the dieline before your designer starts to work on creative!

I know, sometimes dieline confirmation is not possible. More often than not, it is possible.

And worth the effort!

Artwork changes = resource costs + time

Changes mid-stream may cost you and your brand time and/or money and tend to be disruptive.

Why take that risk?

Do the work upfront to ensure the dieline is 100% correct!

Even if your team tells you that you are using the same dieline as the master (Grape apple), it is a good idea to review and refresh the dieline each time you begin a new packaging project and docket.

I know, it sounds a little over the top, doesn’t it.

Truly, it is worth it.


Simply put: things change. Sometimes no one announces how or why a dieline changed. It just happens!

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. TIP: Your packaging manager will confirm all manufacturing requirements such as eye marks and date code areas. Or, the printer may have recently changed a corner radius on the dieline for better printing efficiencies and the designer may have shared the design dieline with the team by accident. (Ugh! – update graphics into new dieline 24 hours before print run – rush!).

Someone on the team may have learned about a new sustainability feature called: economy flap seal-end. TIP: That is worth investigating for all 6 sku’s.

A clearly marked die-line is a good investment.

TIP: For line extensions, the printer is the best source of the master dieline!

Need help identifying what a best practice dieline looks like? Reach out to me to learn about my checklist of die-line “must have’s”.

TIP – It is also a good idea to mock up a 1:1 or mini version of the packaging following first round of graphic design. A mock up will help you ensure your graphics and content are free and clear of any obstructions such as folds or ink/varnish free areas. Better yet, invest in a print trial at final art stage. Small batch print runs (digital) are cheaper than small runs on conventional presses . While digitally printed mock up’s 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”.

Your designer should be doing mock ups already. If they are skipping this step, ask them to provide a mock up!

Best wishes for a successful project!

Need help?

Karen Blumel Consulting Inc is a firm that specializes in packaging innovation & inspiration. Please reach out!

Be well!


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