How to Avoid the Top 5 Pain Points Associated with Producing Packaging Mockups

By Jason Leggett


Securing mock-ups, prototypes and sales samples shouldn’t be painful. Often expensive, time-consuming and frustrating, yet a necessary and valuable tool that when effectively executed at the right time, amplifies results.

There may be difficulties that brands understandably feel are intrinsic to this process. They need not be. A simplified packaging mock-up solution would mean getting the right mock-up and the right value for every phase of the new product development process. Creating the conditions that allow for consistent success within this process means identifying the root causes of every brand’s frustrations, and ensuring your chosen partner proactively engages in mitigating and solving these issues.

Here are 5 of the most frequent pain points that marketers and packagers experience.

The Quality Differs from Project to Project
Brands often look to different partners to produce mock-ups for different stages of packaging development. From initial design concepts, to consumer research and sales sampling, quality is often the first variable to become compromised. This effect is compounded by multiple partners present across markets and brands. The consequence, is a diluted consistency in production and the risk of suppliers that ignore the reality of production print results, leaving the marketing and sales team confused as to what and where things went wrong.

To comprehensively diminish the risk of quality and expectation becoming misaligned, you can:

  • Simplify by reducing the number of suppliers in the mock-up supply chain. This will, in turn, reduce the number of variables that contribute to the final product, minimizing the chance that the mock-up diverts from its conceptual intent. Choosing a single partner with a standardised workflow will also ensure brand consistent colour and quality globally, regionally and locally.
  • Strategically insert the partner’s print expertise in the correct moments. This is an effective method to mitigate against unrealistic mock-ups from giving a false indication of print feasibility.

The last thing a brand manager wants is to impress leadership with an innovative product idea, only to realise the final product is visually inconsistent due to print incapabilities. Up-front print expertise negates this risk and is a fundamental requirement to ensure that the quality of the mock-up is aligned with the characteristics of the printed packaging.

It Doesn’t Match the Approved Design
Though consistency is important, understanding brand characteristics and the intention of the packaging design is key to executing effectively and responsibly. A weak understanding of brand details leads to a misdiagnosis of mock-up needs and the final deliverable can be an inaccurate extension of the intended design, with glaring deviations from brand design standards. This risk is minimized by collaborative briefing with mock-up experts to ensure both parties are aligned.

This element is especially critical for beautified / “hero” mock-ups as the design intent is intentionally misaligned with the final product to emphasise certain aspects of the packaging. These requests should be briefed with an experienced mock-up expert, to ensure that brand aspects are understood and executed accordingly.

It isn’t enough for the supplier to just know how to create mock-ups. The right expertise needs to amplify unique client features and characteristics; which the client will find has innumerable benefits in the short- and long-term.

The Price Exceeds the Estimate Quoted
It’s possible, and expected, that the variables that determine the price of a mock-up be simplified. However, this is often not the case.

A common reason for confusion in that the pricing process is hidden in costs incurred during mock-up development. The variety of different methods and techniques employed to produce certain effects and finishes can be buried within the cost of creative development. Without these being clearly defined in pre-production, the final invoice may present some surprising and often unnecessary costs.

Ask your partner to simplify your mock-up costs, including file processing and set-up fees plus a per unit mock-up fee. Understanding these components helps guide brands to determining the correct quantity. One of the most common mistakes brands make when engaging with suppliers is misunderstanding that the up-front fee can account for a high percentage of the total cost. Additional mock-ups are passed up because the client has projected an inaccurate final price, and the opportunity to amplify value and market benefit is lost.

A consultation with the commercial expert ensures the job requirements are clearly defined. The expert will ask you key questions about the project and then work with you to tailor a mock-up solution that best serves your needs. The resulting price of the order will clearly be presented so that there are no “hidden fee” surprises upon final invoicing.

It Takes Much More of Your Time Than You Imagined
Managing mock-up projects is not the best use of any marketer’s time. Your time is better spent innovating, planning and amplifying their brand’s category presence. Brands have an opportunity to implement a simplified solution by integrating the production and project management of mock-ups into the wider marketing supply chain.

Wouldn’t it be great if all the technical details of a mock-up order were already taken care of? A smart partner can take the file assets, understand how the designs will translate from a printing perspective in production, and quickly and easily share all the necessary information with their internal production teams. This will ensure the successful replication of the final packaging idea, without requiring time-consuming handholding from brand stakeholders.

Integrating mock-up production with other workflows is a transformative opportunity to facilitate a simplified and streamlined final process. Project management from brief to delivery reduces the total number of touchpoints required from the busiest of brand functions.

This gives you back some of your most valuable currency: Time. Both, in terms of the time required to comprehensively give each opportunity and mock-up requirement the attention to detail necessary, and by shaving critical days and hours from by simplifying the total production cycle.

They Look Great, But They’re Late
Amplifying speed to market is a challenge facing every marketer and brand manager. This, in-turn, makes tight timelines a reality of mock-up production. A product or packaging idea is generated and the window to actualise the opportunity can be gone in an instant.

In this business, the ability to quickly and effectively capitalize on a growing trend, or a unique market event really can be the difference between a project’s success or a missed growth opportunity.

Because of these pressures, the correct approach is to ensure that these time constraints don’t reduce the scope of creativity in which you can innovate.

Technical experts can proactively anticipate future issues and avoid them all together, to smoothen the production and delivery of the project. Combined with the thorough understanding of various print production methods and a myriad of substrates, inks, and laminations, you will be advised on the options available to achieve your goals, within the required timelines.

This way, you get the maximum value available, in all timeframes.


About Jason Leggett
Jason brings 15 years of experience helping many of the world’s leading brands who rely on SGK’s technical packaging expertise and its smarter solution to manage the production of packaging prototypes, mock-ups and sales samples to maximize value for all stages of the new product development process. Jason ensures each packaging prototypes solution is crafted specifically to fit the precise business objectives and needs, providing the right solution for each situation to help our clients achieve higher brand performance.