Seeking to put the passion back into carton packaging, we hear from STEPHEN SHORTLAND, MD of New Vision Packaging, on how a devotion to design can reap the rewards…
Cartons. Boxes. Containers – there’s many different ways to describe what, for me, is the best packaging format of all. I love packaging and, in particular, cartons. Cartons offer a product so much: shape, wonderful materials, print and design that can really add value to a brand, visibility of the product if required and protection to ensure that the
consumer receives the product as it was meant to be received. In my opinion, there is no packaging format that comes close to the good old cardboard box.
At New Vision Packaging we have a saying that we try to pass on to our customers whenever we can: “give your products the packaging they deserve”. But, more and more, we see products in mediocre packaging, where the packaging isn’t working hard enough to promote and protect the products inside.
So many of todays brands, particularly the smaller ones, do not have budgets for advertising or promotion and, in fact, have only two ways to make contact with their customers: social media and packaging, with packaging being the touch point from where their customers first make contact with their products. So why do so many cartons look unappealing, or ill-conceived, when often packaging is the only advertising medium that a brand has?
WHAT PRICE PERFECTION?
Obviously budget plays a part in this, but as Richard Reid, one of the founders of Innocent Drinks said: “creativity
costs nothing”; and in most respects, this is true. Cartons can still be designed with passion and flair to give a pack
something attractive or unique that draws consumers to the product on shelf. Good design should be something that is carried out with a budget in mind, but any budget should not be used as an excuse for plain or unimaginative packaging.
It is important that brands use a packaging supplier or partner that understands their market and products, and sometimes a poor choice of supplier can result in the unappealing and unimaginative packaging that we see so often. For instance, New Vision Packaging work in a very particular niche (confectionery, personal care and beauty and alcohol gifting) and so we are experts in these fields. Ask us to make packaging for say, pet food, we’ll certainly try to apply our skills and expertise to this market too, but we couldn’t be sure that we’d be offering the customer the most effective or creative solution relevant to this market. So it’s important that brands choose a supplier that is the right fit for their business – not just in size or scale, but in the mindset and experience that a good packaging supplier can bring.
It’s encouraging to see so many large and global carton companies install multi-million pound ‘design hubs’, but in
truth, companies such as ours (and others) have been working in creative packaging for decades and have offered this service to our customers every single day. It’s true that, whilst we haven’t spent millions of pounds recently on our design studio, our design facilities remain second-to-none for one very important reason: we actually believe in the power of design and what this can offer a brand. Creativity isn’t something that comes with computer software or machinery (although this can certainly help), creativity comes from the ethos of a business and the people that work for that business. Design remains our single largest investment every year (and has been our largest investment for the past 10-years) and I believe that good design has been one of the foundations of our company’s success.
We’re also seeing an ‘arms race’ in packaging at the moment, where global carton companies compete to see who can have the latest, largest and most expensive print machine. Again, investment in machinery is important and, of course, any manufacturing business cannot allow its machinery to get out-of-date. But it’s what you do with this machinery that determines whether you are adding value to your customer’s business, or whether you are simply installing machinery for the sake of it. We know that, more and more, designers aren’t content with using six colours in their designs, they want seven, or eight, or more. But I recently saw an image of a print press that has 17 units and we’ve yet to see an artwork that really needed to print using so many colours. Again, a business that understands your particular market and product can advise you on this to make sure you get the best value from your packaging.
PRODUCTS OF PASSION
So please, let me return to the start of this piece – I love cartons. When choosing your carton supplier, please make sure you choose a supplier that loves cartons as much as I do. After all, your products deserve packaging that is created with passion and creativity, don’t they?