Strategies & Insights

Catching daydreams: Right-brain packaging design in a left-brain world

Posted: November 28, 2011 by
Brandy Lockaby

Have you ever found yourself in a trance; when your imagination takes over, your task at hand is forgotten, and you are transported into another world? Don’t get any wild ideas; I’m not referring to a hallucinogenic or psychedelic state, but a beautiful, lucid daydream. Catching daydreams helps me thrive as an artist and design director in a branding and packaging design agency; or as I call it, a right-brain person in a left-brain world.

The “right brain” is sympathetic to spontaneous thought, and spends much of its time solving multiple creative problems. The “left brain” is more straightforward, analytical, and precise in its musings. Working in a branding and package design agency requires understanding and appreciating both left- and right-brained thinkers to attain maximum results. This can be difficult if you are a “righty,” as sometimes left-leaning thinkers can (in a righty’s estimation) overwork a creative vision by adding lengthy lists of objectives, success criteria, and consumer validation. After reading a list of “can’ts,” how do we right-brain folks stay inspired and create brilliant package design solutions that also deliver solid business results?

• Build collaborative relationships. Invite key client and agency stakeholders to participate in a joint creative session. Gather team members in one room to brainstorm ideas in a fun, supportive atmosphere. Do prep work in advance so that everyone engages fully instead of spending hours refining an equity pyramid or pulling ideas from reluctant participants. When the session concludes, everyone will feel vested in the ideas and be able to track the development process much easier.

• Identify your canvas. Set strategic ground rules that keep the off-the-wall ideas relevant, and give all team members a springboard to jump from creative thought to practical execution. Keep your foundation focused on the big idea, but don’t narrow design parameters too early in the creative process.

• Allow room for mistakes. Every idea won’t be a winner, but a dark horse may generate the best idea of all. Keep the collaborative dialogue positive versus vetoing everything that seems slightly off the design brief.

• Get back to child’s play. Do you remember what it was like to transform a box into a rocket? Or a playground into a pirate ship? Try to recall how your neighborhood pals would work together to stretch your imaginations.

These approaches have helped me and my coworkers “catch” a daydream and turn it into reality; to articulate a creative vision in a way that is inspiring, tangible, and relatable to all stakeholders, whether they are right- or left-brain individuals. I challenge you to stretch your own canvas – and your thinking – to find additional solutions. The reward is definitely worth the effort.

Brandy Lockaby is a Design Director in the Cincinnati office of Interbrand. She can be reached at or 513-421-2210.