In a world where competition is rife on retail shelves, packaging design is a primary weapon in the armoury of brands on every continent. Shelf appeal is vital to achieve, as only with a touch of differentiation can products hope to catch the eye of their potential consumers.
Trends in packaging design vary significantly, depending on the product category in question, and can range from bold colours and clear simple lettering, to vintage designs that evoke feelings of nostalgia. In any case, creating a sense of brand recognition is very important and any element that has the potential to detract from a product’s appearance should be carefully addressed during the design phase.
One such element is coding and marking, which has evolved alongside trends in packaging types to ensure information can be displayed in a clear, coherent fashion regardless of the product in question. Single serve packs, for example, have seen packaging become smaller in size, leaving marketers with less package real estate to truly capture the customers’ attention for impulse purchases. Brand marketers have long understood the high stakes of fighting for impulse purchases, and brand representation and packaging can make the difference between capturing a sale and losing one. Clean, crisp codes can only add to the appeal of a brand, while poor quality codes can have a detrimental effect, therefore it is important to consider coding solutions as part of overall branding efforts.
For the food sector, flexible packaging has been one of the major revolutions in recent years due to its lightweight and convenient characteristics. Innovations such as stand-up pouches, cut-out windows and re-sealable bags provide features that consumers are increasingly looked for in perishable goods. Use of flexible packaging can also minimise transportation costs between the converter, packer, retailer and end-user, as they are typically lighter in weight and take up less space than other packaging options such as tins or boxes.
DESIGN IN MIND
Where flexible packaging is concerned, in almost all instances a thermal transfer overprinter TTO will be recommended as the coding and marking solution of choice and where a brand is looking to incorporate the coding and marking element into the overall design of a package there are several advantages to working with an expert provider of TTO technology. For example, the ability to test the various ribbon options against a particular packaging material and design under specialist laboratory conditions will pay dividends. In doing so, customers can ensure there is consistency in their designs and colour schemes through a large number of options, which can enable packaging to be displayed in more prominent places on retail shelves.
Selecting the right ribbon matters, as not all ribbons are created equal. Specific application needs, such as smudge resistance or high-resolution bar codes or even packaging film type can affect ribbon selection.
Understanding these factors, experienced suppliers should offer an advanced portfolio of high-quality TTO ribbons, and their expertise can help brands to get the most from TTO printers.
Code requirements should be considered as well and can vary greatly from producer to producer. For products where lot and traceability information are required, Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) and laser printers are a viable solution, whereas if brands require more content, TTO adds more flexibility.
The latest TTO models on the market today have incorporated advanced technology to further improve the value added to food manufacturing lines. Videojet’s iAssure™ technology, for example, provides intelligent code assurance to customers through image capture, comparison and analysis. A built-in sensor, lens and light source create an image of the printed TTO ribbon waste as the ribbon indexes to the next print. The image is then processed in real-time, with multiple algorithms automatically checking the printed image compared to the intended image. Images are then compared and areas of mismatch between the printed image and the intended image are evaluated with sophisticated algorithms that examine for common defects such as image darkness, misalignment, ribbon crease and other common defects which could produce poor print quality to determine the pass/fail of the print. iAssure™ can reduce waste and rework time and is able to leverage image capture technology and analysis to catch significant recurring print defects, ensuring only the finest quality codes make it through to the retail supply chain.
Quality is everything where packaging design is concerned as it is this element that inspires confidence in the product within. By taking coding and marking quality into consideration in the design process, brands can be 100% certain that they have closed the door to a potential and avoidable weak link