3 primary factors when considering in-house or outsourcing packaging design

by | Nov 28, 2017 | Uncategorized

Should you take your packaging design in-house?

Why pay a design agency the big bucks when it can be done in-house and save thousands?” an astute marketer may ask. This article examines the pro’s and cons of taking packaging design, or any commercial design in-house?

Is this you?

If you’re reading this article then chances are you maybe asking yourself the above question. In-house or outsource packaging design?  If you are a Business Owner, a CEO, or Marketing Director and perhaps you’re struggling to decide whether or not to keep partnering with your packaging/graphic design agency (or to change it) or bring your design in-house and take control of it yourself?

Maybe you already have an in-house design team and you are asking yourself why should you outsource it to a professional design agency? Whilst this may be a new question for you, this question of doing it in-house or outsourcing has plagued business leaders for decades now. How ever in recent times the spotlight has been turned up on the function of packaging design.


My own personal bias

Obviously…as a partner at Jam&Co which is a branding and packaging design agency, I am likely to be biased somewhat toward outsourcing design to a professional agency like ourselves. That said my objective in this article is to remove my agency hat and put on my business cap. I aim to provide you with information from both sides of the equation.  In this way you’ll be able to judge for yourself what’s best for you and your business.

Typically, for most key decision makers, when it comes to the question of in-house or outsource packaging design,  there are three primary factors you’ll be considering.

The three primary factors when considering in-house or outsourcing:

  1. Time
  2. Money.
  3. Quality of design

The most important question that must be asked.

The vast majority of business projects are bound by the pyramid of three sides, time, money and quality. More often than not, both time and money are shorter term requirements and are easy to measure. That said, one also must factor in the qualitative aspects of the design into the equation. The desired outcome for the design is imperative when considering making an effective financial decision. Desired outcome ultimately being the quality of the design and the results it’s been designed to deliver.

When is design quality not so important? Example:

Recently we had a client who required a new logo to be developed. They also needed packaging done for a cosmetic product to be sold in China. As far as the requirements of the clients were concerned, the logo was far down the totem pole in terms of importance in comparison to the package design. The brand would be an unknown in the Chinese market so the pack had to be premium packaging to drive the sales. So yes, whilst the client needn’t invest big dollars on creating and developing a “brand essence” and a logo that speaks to that essence, they did however need to invest in quality, high touch, premium design. The need for high quality design may well be a significant factor in choosing to partner with a design agency like Jam&Co.

Time is money

When it comes to timing, if you have strict deadlines that you are working towards, then time is money. Every day that goes by beyond your deadline costs you money. Imagine you’re chasing a special promotional pack for Easter next year. You are chasing a marketplace deadline, and therefore if you miss that deadline the consequences could well prove financially disastrous. Being able to meet deadlines is a critical point of consideration.

Money is money

If you have lived on this planet for a while, you learn the lesson of “no free lunch.” Life teaches us that “you get what you pay for”.  Warren Buffett is famous for saying that price and value are not always the same. “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” 

The price you pay for a design by doing it in-house or outsourcing it may not deliver the value you require.  Buffet’s quote is just as true when it comes to packaging design a it is when it comes to investing in stocks. A great design is not a great investment if you pay too much because it fails to convert. The costs of not cracking a design can prove costly eating up all the savings you made by taking your design in-house. ( See Blog: Dangers of taking design in-house). That said, it may make perfect financial sense to bring your design in-house. Just like everything there are pro’s and con’s.

Quality design means designing with a result in mind

As a marketer, it’s vital that your efforts translate to sales success. A professional designer/design agency has the knowledge, skills and experience to create a design that connects and converts, whether it be on the shelf or via the web.

Unfortunately, designers available to be hired as “in-house” designers are often junior designers or what is know in the industry as “mid-weight” designers. There are times when a senior designer can be found, however the reason they are considering a corporate role is very often they are burnt out or on their way out.

Cost benefit analysis

Of course on paper if you conduct a simple cost benefit analysis, financially it may make sense to bring your design in-house. On the other hand if you must factor in your costs the lost opportunity costs of time and money and other associated outlays, poor brand exposure, as well as other benefits lost by pursuing the in-house design option. (BTW – if you’d like help with developing a business case for this, feel free to email me at: ian@jamandco.com.au.)

The number one question that must be asked regarding your packaging design isIt it a requirement that your design must attract and convert consumers to buy either online or off a retail shelf?

If the answer is yes then there are a host of important criterion to be considered other than simply just time and money.

So with the above in mind, let’s review the most salient pro’s and cons of taking your design in-house or outsourcing it.

The pro’s & con’s of doing design in house.


The pro’s & con’s of  outsourcing your packaging design.