Why is Packaging Important?

I recently read a book (Ready Player One) in which the lead character became absorbed into a matrix style online gaming world which he felt was better than the “real” world around him. A world of warcraft style adventure ensued as they battled to win a prize to inherit their digital world from its inventor after his death.

Even in this fantasy world of a digital tomorrow, the character had to order his food and hardware to be delivered or collected from an outlet or storage.

I am normally a strong advocate for independent retail and the high street. It pains me to admit, however, that this year I purchased about 90% of christmas presents online. (though 2 gifts haven’t arrived in time which strengthens my argument)

This year (2012) online shopping is expected to reach nearly 10% of all retail spending in the UK and is growing quickly with almost two thirds of adults reported to make online purchases. [www.huffintonpost.co.uk, www.telegraph.co.uk ]

Even in the world of online, we still need Things and things need packaging.

Apart from the career it has developed, to me packaging is important for several reasons:

Product protection.

  • Cucumbers last three times as long on the shelf when shrink wrapped, which increases shelf life and therefore reduces food waste.
  • Good glassware packaging can reduce transit damage to almost 0%

Cucumber

Storage

  • For a retailer, liquids and grain would be much more expensive to distribute without convenient packaging.
  • Also as a method of preserving. Tins were developed between 1810 and 1813 to improve shelf life – It’s hard to imagine life without this type of packaging.

Tin Can

Communication.

  • For a brand owner, packaging can communicate a product benefits
  • For the consumer it can help make purchase decisions.
  • Packaging is also a great way to communicate environmental or ethical status e.g. ‘fair trade’ or ‘recyclable’

Can Communication

Product Extension

  • A container can be a way for the consumer to identify and interact with the product for example a shampoo bottle.
  • Packaging can also become a product in itself for example gift packaging where a collector will keep the packaging both for storage and as a keepsake.

Bottles

By carefully choosing the correct materials and production methods, not only can we reduce cost and environmental impact of the packaging, we can also reduce waste (e.g. food or perishable goods) improve consumer choice and increase the value of the finished product.

The type of project I enjoy working on the most is gift packaging. The sense of satisfaction when creating a design which will be kept and cherished, rather than disposed of, offers a much greater sense of reward.

Advertisements

Cohesive Packaging Design

These days, you don’t have to look far to find a blog about packaging design. There seem to be hundreds of people from various walks of life giving their top tips about how to create great packaging. Living in the world of 2D, it is easy to forget the stuff that makes the packaging. Many designers aren’t aware of the constraints or capabilities in manufacturing and find it difficult to look beyond the on-screen graphical representation.

Packaging is a tangible thing which you can pick up, hold and open. I wanted to talk about this; the assembled bones and flesh that make up the creative design in the real world. It’s important that all the elements of a design are considered together. The way they interact, look and feel is as important as the pictures and type placed upon them. I have always believed that it is the little details that make a big difference. A minor change can really affect the overall feel of the end result. If, when developing an idea, the designer (or project manager) considers all the following elements, the end result will be a truly cohesive packaging design:

but before I start…

…I realised, while writing, that each element could independently become a huge topic, so over the coming weeks I will start to expand on these component parts along with several sub-headings which have evolved in my notes. In the meantime, however, I will try to summarize as a pre-cursor.

Shape or Structure

The shape is important for many reasons; identification, style, size, mechanics of storage and display. The shape can also determine the ease at which the product is dispensed. Structure for me is the method by which the shape is constructed. Whether it’s the position of a seam line or method of opening, a simple change can be the difference between nice clean lines or low-cost alternative.

Materials

From cost to weight ratio, strength and security through to nice ‘touchy feeliness,’ the substrate plays a huge part in the final result. Carefully choosing materials which complement the design in a consistent way can really help the final message. In dealing with large global projects, the availability and environmental impact of the material is also a really important consideration. Poorly managed choices can adversely affect brand consistency, corporate image and cost.

Print Method

Whether a single colour flexo identity stamp or a complex gravure security label, the method by which we apply our text and graphics (although somewhat determined by material and volume) can help ensure our artwork is presented as intended. Rather than making a compromise because of supply constraints, by understanding the benefits and performance of each technique, we can apply our artwork both effectively and efficiently.

Finishes & Techniques

After print comes ‘finishing.’ The generic term for what might be described as the final enhancement. From in-tool embossing to glitter varnish, these enchanting augmentations can easily lead to a garish tackiness if badly executed. With careful consideration, however, they can also be the little detail that you can’t quite put your finger on; an indefinable quality.