Grushka had this to say about his passion for packaging design: “I have always been obsessed with branding and design, and I’ve always been drawn to the food and beverage space. Even as a lawyer, I would occasionally take on freelance work for large and small restaurants and non-profits. Was just the perfect fit for me at the end of the day.”
The Creative Process
When creating a new package or brand identity, a solid plan of action is an integral part of the creative process. Grushka touched on Works Design Group’s brainstorming process: “Whenever we take on a new branding or package design project, we often start by creating (or closely reviewing) a creative brief. Brainstorming is an iterative process for us, as we begin brainstorming when the project is introduced, and then we continue doing so as we build the creative brief and dig in with research.”
He continued, “In terms of formal brainstorming sessions, that generally comes after the preliminary research has been completed. Depending on the nature and scale of the project, we will sit down with 3-5+ members of the design and account team for structured sessions. The format will vary, but the key ingredients are that we generally have a moderator, always have a time limit, and always have specific goals in mind.”
Grushka explains the keys to making a packaging design stand out: “The key in my opinion is to have a deep understanding of the context where the product will live. The key is to study what the competitive products are, what environments will be home to the product (i.e., what stores and what sections within the stores), and even how the product is priced or will be priced as compared to its competitors. You need to really understand the world in which the product lives—and how it will be positioned—so you can create an appropriate design that is creative, distinctive and eye catching. The nuance comes in creating maximum shelf impact while staying within the parameters of the project.”
He continues, “In order to be a great package designer, you need to be able to step into your client’s shoes, and understand the business problem that is being addressed by the project at hand. I think you can do this by taking business courses in school, reading business magazines and books, and/or just keeping up with the industries for which you are designing.”
Citing Pace as a recent example of exciting new branding: “We recently designed a line of super hot salsas for Pace Salsa, where we were allowed the flexibility to create a truly differentiated brand as compared to most national salsas on the shelf.”
When designing, it is important to always keep things fresh and exciting. This year, Works Design Group branded a line of craft beers; last year, a premium carrot cake brand; and the year before that, it was a chocolate cello bottle.
A new year brings all new design trends. Grushka gave us some insight into what he is most excited about seeing: “I really like seeing a packaging design that is totally new for a given product category, and perhaps even borrowed from another category. For instance, water in a milk carton, or in an opaque black bottle. I also think there are some amazing things happening in the world of functional packaging.”
“Veuve champagne, for example, just released a package that doubles as an ice bucket. And of course, simple and uncluttered design is a must these days… it’s a trend that most everyone will follow for the foreseeable future in the packaging world (as in most other areas of design).”
Final Words of Wisdom
For those involved or interested in package design, Grushka leaves this: “I think the most important piece of advice is to be extremely self-motivated. Be very curious and stay on top of the latest trends and news – particularly in your industry, but also outside of it. And always keep working on side projects that are outside of your comfort zone.”
We look forward to seeing more branding and packaging designs from Kory Grushka and Works Design Group.