- February
Posted By : Tom Huetz
It’s Never Too Soon to Engage an Agency!

Structurally Speaking.

Often I am asked “When should we get you guys [agency] involved?” And I always respond, “As soon as you can!” Far too many times an agency is brought into a design project too late. For example, the packaging structure has already been developed and assets are identified to create the packaging. This leaves the agency to design within the structure (rather than designing a structure that supports the brand) and eliminates the ability to affect the final packaging design.

So what?

Take the fruit juice package designs by Naoto Fukasawa, specifically the banana container. He was able to design the graphics along with the structure to bring to market a design solution that could not be more obvious as to what the consumer was buying.

Check out the DIESEL cologne bottle. Wow! The fist shape of the bottle fit perfectly with the name of the brand. The urban dictionary definition of diesel: “Awesome or strong, as in physical power. Also – great, cool, or sexy.”

Then, there’s GLOJI. Ahhhh. The design agency would have been challenged to develop a compelling design solution if they were stuck with the typical bottle shape. The reveal of a light bulb as you pour out the product is brilliant! Not to mention the play off the name of the goji berry.

There are many, many great examples of where design encompasses structure and brand equities to deliver a meaningful brand experience for the consumer.

So, when a client asks, “when should we get you guys involved?”, I always say “yesterday.”



  • Rowland Heming

    You are right Tom,
    I would go a step further, I personally think that we should be involved even before the brief! Often clients write the brief based on marketing needs, they don’t go see the market and compare with other competitors who are not necessarily in their category, but still compete for the same consumption moment. So the brief can be “blinkered”.
    I agree clients could benefit from creative input right from the beginning, can you imagine a car being designed as many packs are, you wouldn’t do it, because the engineering and shape are part of the product…. well so is the pack in most cases for the consumer

  • Tom Huetz

    Hello, Rowland.

    Good point regarding the brief. The agency and client should work together in creating a brief that includes marketing, customer, consumer strategic branding design insights, etc. from both the client and agency. What better way to develop a game-plan for branding design than with a collaborative session as a forum for healthy debate?

    And no, I could not imagine sitting down with a blank sheet and having to design a car without proper inputs!

  • As market researchers, we had discussed these issues a length with our friends in design agencies. Usually, designers complained about clients not providing essential customer insights, or just good market background.

    We presented this thinking (and suggested a methodology for creating meaningful input for designers) to some clients and they said – no way, guys; we like your approach of research-based design but we have our corporate procedures of doing things.

    That was not encouraging. And things stayed the way they were.

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