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Monday, February 6, 2012

"Kohl's" Box Designer is Part of the Production Package

Found on 02-06-2012 at URL:

"Job Title: Packaging Design Manager
Kohl's Department Stores - Greater Milwaukee Area
Experience: Mid-Senior level
Functions: Design, Management
Industries: Apparel & Fashion, Retail, Design


Responsible for the creative development of Kohl's private, licensed, and seasonal brand packaging programs. The Manager of Packaging Design will act as a key liaison between Product Development and Marketing on the development and management of all new and updated brand programs. This position will lead a creative team, working closely with the Director of Packaging, to ensure all private, licensed, and seasonal brand packaging is designed to meet all strategic and marketing brand objectives ensuring brand programs are competitive with boutique, specialty store, and national brand benchmarks.


•Build and Maintain Business Partnerships

•Work directly with the Director of Packaging to create private, licensed and seasonal brand packaging with focus on designing to strategically elevate the brands in order to compete with retail boutique, specialty store, and national brand benchmarks.

•Focus on building relationships between Packaging team and extended production teams (PM, Separators, Copy Editing, Copy Proofing) with goal of managing partnerships, mentoring teams, defining communications, of all technical aspects of the production process and procedures.

•Manage effective communication of private, licensed, and seasonal brand vision amongst all internal clients (PD, Merchant teams, Marketing teams) with focus on partnership in order to service all brand packaging objectives.

•Build partnerships with internal and external talent (photographers, copywriters, illustrators, and production support) to ensure consistent brand vision.

•Maintain Packaging Design and Production Processes and Procedures

•Facilitate daily design and production procedures, including scheduling, time and action plans, staffing requirements, layout reviews, internal proofing, and final project approvals.

•Coordinate and manage to internal and external packaging department Design and Production processes and procedures for all areas of Home and Fashion packaging.

•Work with Director of Packaging to ensure consistency of all private, licensed, and seasonal brand packaging.

•Manage communication and brand vision with packaging vendors & manufactures establishing all design and production requirements, standards, timing and action, and approval process.

•Research and Define Packaging Trends

•Build team and individual awareness of competitive marketplace and packaging design trends through research elevating Private, licensed, and Seasonal brands to strategic benchmark levels.

•Partner with manager of Color & Trend to establish competitive brand standards and positioning with focus on all packaging brand objectives (materials, pricing, positioning, brand differentiation)

•Work with Director of Packaging on approvals of all private, licensed, and national brand standards and positioning (materials, pricing, brand positioning)

•Set and communicate trend vision and standards for team on all private, licensed, and national brand packaging

Management of associates

•Manages direct reports, systems and projects to achieve unit goals in accordance with Company policies and practices.

•Prepares and analyze unit plans and reports.

•Provides leadership by exhibiting influence and expertise, thus affecting the results of the operating area.

•Creates an effective work environment by developing a common vision, setting clear objectives, expecting teamwork, recognizing outstanding performance and maintaining open communications.

•Develops staff through coaching, providing performance feedback, providing effective performance assessments and establishing performance and development plans.

Desired Skills & Experience

•3-5 years of talent management role.

•Experience in Cross Company communication and culture.

•Experience in team building.

•BFA in Design or Packaging Design

•A minimum of 5 years design or package design experience.

•Working knowledge of up-to-date design programs (InDesign, Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop)."

Considering the order of duties and the preponderance of communication / influence skills listed in the KSA qualifications, it seems the Packaging Design Manager is more of a negotiator than anything. Sure, a fine arts degree and half a decade of package design are also required, but the successful applicant will placate the desires of Product Development and Marketing as well as soothe the ego of anyone who feels shortchanged in a compromise, which should be just about everyone in a truly balanced compromise. The Packaging Design Manager also “work(s) closely with the Director of Packaging.” How many cooks do they have making Kohl’s stew anyway?

I know that Kohl’s is merely applying Henry Ford’s specialization principle to the concept-through-production process, but there comes a point when there’s too much bureaucracy from having to write myriad status reports for a dozen different stakeholders, as evinced by the requirement “experience in cross-company communication and culture.” Because the description says nothing about working with colleagues in other countries, I would suppose that readers of external communications by this position generally understand eighth-grade English such as you would find in a newspaper. If the style guidelines and unwritten rules of your organization forbid plain speaking which can be readily understood by others outside your company, then perhaps it is time to revise your firm’s communications code to reduce the amount of translation of business buzz words and proprietary jargon.

I also imagine that package designs get watered down from all the tweaks and alterations which arise from building a consensus. Others without your training and experience weigh in one how to “improve” your design because otherwise you don’t have a “team.” Rock star package designers need not apply! And yet, another duty is to “influence…thus affecting results of operating area.” This sounds like the time-tested process of listening to others’ suggestions, acknowledging their perspectives, and then convincing them you are correct after all, but primarily through your personality rather than by anything so impersonal as “facts” or “statistics.” Some business cultures don’t like those.

Most business intelligence regarding package design boils down to such arbitrary preferences as the number of scallops in the wavy design on a box. Beyond container dimensions and edge crush testing, package design is much like fashion in that trends rarely have lasting relevance and often have incidental correlation with sales. Would any readers like to provide evidence to the contrary?

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