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Consider All of the Options Before You Design Your Next AICC Packaging Award Winner!

By Tom Weber

August 7, 2017

width=257Paperboard packaging designs can certainly be developed to meet the top three design conditions below:

  • Win any number of well-publicized major industry awards and proudly let it represent you.
  • Meet your customers’ marketing and marketplace demands, and make the package profitably.
  • Be kind to your operations team from both a supply chain and key manufacturing standpoint.

This is what I refer to as the “trifecta of design”!

First and foremost, how do we accomplish these wonderfully creative designs for our key clients, and win awards? You need to ask the client and your sales team some very basic—but essential—questions, in order to properly prepare your designer(s) to “do battle” on your clients’ behalf.

The ones listed below are my “dirty dozen,” and there are others that I am certain should be added:

  • What is the package style and structure?
  • What are the critical package dimensions? Why?
  • How many colors (topside/inside)?
  • What type of coating(s) (functional, appearance, combinations)?
  • What specialty applications may be used (foil, emboss, deboss, reverse cuts, etc.)?
  • What type of adhesive(s) will be involved in manufacturing, final package filling, and in what specific package locations?
  • What is the substrate and caliper of choice (SBS, CNK, CRB, microflute, hybrid, etc.)?
  • What is the desired finished pallet/packing case size/weight? What are the transportation and distribution network considerations?
  • Is there a budgeted cost/acquisition price, and are multiple materials being considered?
  • What is the timeline for initial design submissions and ultimate completion?
  • Are there mechanical packaging requirements that must be considered, and what is the desired functionality of the perfect package design?
  • How will the success of the new package design be measured, monitored, and communicated?

Secondly, how do our clients view their market(s), and what must we consider as options on their behalf … in advance of any design work?

  • Research. Have we done our work to fully understand our client, their competition, the end-use packaging consumer, and lastly, how we may resolve these with a particular design strategy?
  • Visualizations and concept renderings. Have we had an appropriate number of design strategy sessions to create our internal options as a result of our team investigation? Can we “narrow it down” to the most creative, logical, and cost-effective solution(s)?
  • Color renderings and CAD samples. These should be fully vetted internally against all design criteria garnered, and then utilized for initial client presentations.
  • Prototyping to create the final “talking dogs” for a full marketing and client presentation. These will, in many cases, be fully mocked-up, digitally printed, coated, CAD cut/scored, and glued packages that will be presented to the client’s end user … the retailer or club store, for example.
  • Customer approval occurs after a concept is selected, and the design is finalized through a cooperative effort between your creative team and the client.
  • Production … hurrah! At this point, all preparation turns to full manufacturing of the final approved package.

Lastly, what might you expect to see if you have indeed created a package design that “knocks it out of the park” for your client?

  • A compelling shelf impact for their brand(s) with a new package that breaks through the shelf clutter and increases sales, in a meaningful and measurable way.
  • Consumer appeal with specialized attributes that you have specifically designed, that compete effectively and efficiently against their toughest competition, and possibly store brands as well.
  • Brand identity that will support repeat sales and stand the test of time.
  • Cost savings that have been designed and developed into the package design right from the research inception and concept stages.
  • Time savings that you have created through a process that you own and have personally developed to support your client’s concept to commerce strategies.

Let the packaging design and development opportunities come forth. You

and your client are ready to win!

width=150Tom Weber is folding carton advisor for AICC. He can be reached at