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Newbie Needing Advice for Product Branding

Hi! So I've been trying to build a portfolio to get an apprenticeship. I contacted some local businesses asking if they needed any unpaid assistance for graphic design to aid me with my portfolio. A company asked me to meet up with them and discuss it. I met them today and they're basically asking me to design everything for them - van window screen stickers, product packaging, corporate stationery, menus and website, billboards, etc, etc.

Although this is perfect for me, I'm super overwhelmed. I've never done anything like this before. They've offered to pay me so I feel added pressure to produce something really good for them... but I have no idea where to start.

Can anyone offer me some advice or suggestions on how to approach this? They've asked me to initially design stickers for the bags of coffee they sell. Any do's-or-don'ts would be great. I literally have no experience in product design past college-level. All I was looking for was some small unpaid jobs but I've landed myself with a massive project for a huge company that sells its products both nationally and internationally on a massive scale, and I'm responsible for all of the graphic design (other than the logo which they're adamant I don't touch).


Paul Murray

Staff member
I'd think really hard about whether you really want to take this on or not given your lack of experience.

This won't just be a design task, but also an artworking job, which is a whole new can of worms if you're inexperienced. Same goes for the website. Web design is a whole industry in itself, and unless you're well versed in current web technology and requirements, user experience, and a little marketing, then it's probably best to stick to what you know (or what you can learn as you go).

I'm not trying to be negative, but as a whole this is a lot of work that would be daunting even to some more experienced designers. The company owner could be very understanding and be willing to give you a chance, or they could just be trying to get a pretty massive job done on the cheap (and those are clients you will regret working for). If it's the latter you may end up being fired and parting ways with a whole load of experience under your belt. If it's the former, well you could impress them enough to get a job.

It sounds like they have a list of things they want/need to get done, but currently don't have anyone that can do it, and you've perhaps come along at the right time.

I often have to 'prove' to some new clients that I can handle what they want, and this typically starts with a small job that allows the client to see how I work and the final results, without investing too much time or money into me. It also allows me to see what that client is like to work with and ultimately decide whether or not I should jump ship early and save myself a lot of hassle. I'd tackle the coffee labels as a taster, to see how well you handle the job, both in terms of the design, but also how you handle and communicate with the client.

Presumably they have some form of branding in place already that you can use as guidance. I'd get the dimensions for stickers so you know what size you need to create them to (including the bleed), ask the owner to send over the content and just get to work designing them. Check sites like Behance or Pinterest for examples of coffee labels, but be sure that whatever you design is linked to their branding (at the most basic level that's colours, fonts, etc).

Gauge their feedback, take any comments on board and learn from it. You have us here as a community to ask about anything you're unsure of, as well as a number of printers who will be able to help you with print-related queries. Once you've handled that job, move onto something else, but always be honest with the client about your capabilities. Sometimes it's better to opt out of tackling a job you're just not capable of, rather than struggling with it and messing it up.


Well-Known Member
Excellent advice from Paul.

Go for it! It'll be scary at first, but do one job at a time, get paid for it, and go on to the next. If you're unsure of anything, just
ask around or Google it, that's what we do!