Transitioning from honeymaking to moneymaking generally requires both a methodical and creative mindset. Some people are fortunate enough to possess both, along with the time and assistance to accomplish all the tasks required to make money with honey.
For the rest of us, it’s likely to be about figuring out what we can do competently ourselves, and outsourcing the rest. Relatively few people possess the depth and breadth of knowledge to create stellar shelf-worthy product design and packaging themselves. Instead, we concentrate on creating the actual product—whether it be artisanal honey, varietal honey, or honey beauty products.
As someone with a design background, even I quickly learned to seek help from someone with extensive experience in honey package design. As part of that process, I have developed some questions to get you thinking about the challenges in transitioning from producing honey to selling honey products.
My motivation is to pass on the gift of honey knowledge that I attained from my own experience. Initially, I made countless phone calls and emails to more established beekeepers, many of whom had written books and do public speaking. I discovered many of them weren’t interested in sharing knowledge or experiences about honey package design—even when offered consulting fees.
Answering these questions is a first step to help make the graphic designer relationship all it can be, not to mention address critical business model, marketing, and operations issues:
- How will you name your honey product(s)?
- Will you have a slogan?
- How much honey are you producing each year?
- Will your apiary increase in size over time?
- How many bottles will you need per year?
- What types of bottles are available?
- Do you want to design a custom bottle?
- How will you be delivering your honey?
- Are you just packaging honey or will you be creating other products with your honey?
- What will ALL of those products potentially be?
- What can you afford to spend on this project?
- How will you price your honey?
- What will the market bear?
Okay, now take a breath. And get ready for the next “thinking steps” you’ll need to take to create a commercially viable product or line of products.
- Write up a creative brief. It doesn’t have to be fancy but should include: who you are, what you are doing and why (goals and objectives);
- Create a set of five “Image Attributes,” five words that evoke the essence of your brand. Are you cute and cuddly or scientific? If you are scientific, come up with words that evoke scientific-like responses. This process took me several tries and I involved friends, family and former colleagues. Later, when reviewing designs, you will revisit the image attribute list and compare the words with the designs. This will drive your final choices, not the fact that your wife, cousin or boyfriend preferred one design over another.
- Explain the process you will go through in bottling your honey. Spell out the process so that you understand what amount of labor you want to invest in the packaging portion. Hint: If you only have a small amount of honey, elaborate packaging is easier than if you have thousands of bottles to dress.
- Define and list such project deliverables as:
- logo design
- glass jar and label design
- soap label design
- mailing label
- Be sure to outline all sourcing needs for packaging elements. Having this information will tell you, among other items, where to buy the jar used in the mockup you are shown, and where to locate printers and any other specialty packaging items. (Make sure you’re purchasing all elements directly to avoid paying a markup every time you need something.)
- Be sure to get a few of the actual jars you decide to purchase and send them through the process to see how they do. Some glass manufacturers create great looking catalog images that don’t look so great “in person.” I learned from making calls to honey and maple syrup bottling companies that some bottles are discontinued because of their tendency to break during shipping—either because of glass flaws or shipping issues.
- Create an inspiration board for yourself. I found that Pinterest is an excellent tool for doing research. I created a honey package design board that I used to dialogue with Eric and share with him what I liked, and what didn’t work so well for me.
- Put together links, stories and photo albums to describe all that you do in your beekeeping and farming process. These stories can serve as the cornerstone of the design.
This was “Part 2” in a series of articles about honey package design “Part 1” covers the first stage of concept development.