Good design is good business, which is why Burger King recently tapped award-winning visual identity and packaging design agency Turner Duckworth to upgrade its packaging experience in July. As reported in Adweek, the new packaging is a way for the fast-food chain to position itself more uniformly on a global scale. While the burger chain’s logo will remain the same, the revamped design includes retooled cups, wrappers, bags and containers.
Burger King isn’t the first company to give a little TLC to this crucial part of the branding strategy (in fact, KFC and rival McDonald’s just made some tweaks of their own)—and it certainly won’t be the last. From Tiffany & Co. to Coca-Cola, hosts of memorable brands have become synonymous with iconic packaging. They know that a package contains more than a product; it’s the prelude to the product’s story.
It’s also a concept that Fred Collins, president of Groton, Massachusetts-based DFS, understands. “The combination of the right design, pattern, imprint and accessories creates an immediate impression about your business and puts your brand front and center with the customer,” he said. “It is communicating your organization’s image. The package itself has to have the same perceived value as the product you are putting into it as it transports and reinforces that value for the customer.” (Though a Tiffany’s diamond could be given to us in a beat-up piece of cardboard and we wouldn’t care.)
With more and more companies fighting for control of retail shelves, and prime positioning in general, it’s easy to lose sight of what drives purchase intent. And an uninformed vision can lead to multiple variables (e.g., color, shapes, symbols and text) working against each other. Now that distributors double as marketing service providers, it’s their job to get it right. Print+Promo wanted to help, so we asked Collins and Michael Dohm, vice president, sales for Triangle Printing & Packaging Company, York, Pa., for some of their best tips. Read on to see what they had to say.
FIND A NEED AND FULFILL IT
DFS recognized that its resellers needed an engaging product to help their retail clients increase brand visibility and stay top of mind with current customers. So, in February, the company announced the launch of Signature Packaging, a premium, wholesale packaging line offering consumer-oriented supplies, such as paper, plastic and fabric bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon.
“We wanted to provide our resellers with an affordable and stylish new product line that could help create a new source of revenue,” Collins shared. “[Signature Packaging] provides a one-stop source for any packaging need with on-trend designs we refresh twice a year and high-quality products at extremely competitive prices.” Bonus tip: Collins pointed out that distributors can market ribbon or tissue as “simple and affordable add-ons” that will make the customer’s packaging stand out.
KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE
Take some time to check out the competition. Where do they excel? Where do they miss the mark and, better yet, how can you improve on their mistakes? Maybe you can outshine them with unique shapes or a trending substrate, Dohm said. “If you’re looking at [packaging] from the retail level, it is a ‘feel me, touch me,’ type of thing, so you want to make sure the tactile side of it could come into play,” he commented. “There are decorative add-ons that you can put onto it—either raised UV or the soft-touch coatings.” Triangle Printing & Packaging Company currently offers a series of striking pattern UVs.
Understated, but uniquely branded, retail packaging that can be used across several different types of businesses is another growing trend, according to Collins. “Kraft, natural packaging and eco-friendly bags are popular with gourmet food stores, spas, organic markets and gift boutiques,” he observed. “We have also seen an increase in food packaging, which is a perfect fit for bakeries, cultural stores and catering companies.”
DON’T BE A BYSTANDER
Dohm encouraged distributors to get involved early on in the process to ensure the appropriate solution is delivered to the client. “[In terms of the package’s structural design], we, the suppliers, are the architects. When you build a house, you go to the architect first,” he explained. “Then, you go to your interior decorator, who in our business is the graphic designer, so you need to get involved early in order to help control the project—whether it has to be controlled from the standpoint of keeping it within a budget or meeting another objective.”
Include the decision makers in the conversation, Dohm added. That could be the product manager, the operations manager or the marketing team—really, anyone who has a direct influence on the project’s outcome, he said.
WORK AROUND BUDGETS
Is your client on a tight budget? The good news is that “low cost” doesn’t have to mean “low quality.” There are ways to create a dynamic packaging solution without placing an imprinted logo on the product, Collins maintained. “For example, take an affordable, simple, white or brown Kraft bag and add your choice of colored tissue,” he said. “Take it a step further, hole punch a business card and tie a vibrantly colored ribbon onto the bag for added impact.”
Advances in digital printing have created new opportunities for the packaging sector. In addition to allowing for faster speed-to-market and the ability to order in smaller quantities, digital allows distributors to coordinate the customer’s entire brand, look and feel by the other printed marketing tools with the capabilities of the packaging, Collins said. “In supporting the speed, look and feel of the customer’s ‘brand’ within this new packaging, advances in digital printing now enable other printed support materials to match up with highly consistent color and printing treatments to create a highly coordinated marketing campaign,” he noted. “From product to packaging to marketing to branding, the customer can count on [his or her] provider to deliver professional results without breaking the bank.”
Triangle Printing & Packaging Company has firsthand experience with the benefits of digital. “We had a customer that had 3,000 total units, but within those 3,000 units, there were 14 different SKUs, and each of those SKUs had a unique piece of art on it,” Dohm recalled. “So, we were able to print 3,000 cartons with unique art on 14 different pieces of art very competitively.”
LEAN ON YOUR SUPPLIER
Leveraging the capabilities of your supplier partner is key to attracting long-term accounts. Together, you can match the particular needs of each client or prospect, but open and honest dialogue between both parties must occur. Collins recommended that distributors inquire about their supply-chain partner’s capabilities upfront. “Understand any extra charges or timing on custom orders and get clarification on any questions before you commit to an order,” he said. “Have good communication with their sales representatives and ensure that their customer service team is knowledgeable and available to help when you need them.”
From seminars to facility tours, Triangle Printing & Packaging Company takes a proactive approach with education, having trained more than 30 distributors over the years. “The key ingredient to all of this is making sure distributors understand their clients’ needs,” Dohm said. “Twice this week, I was on the phone on a conference call with one of our distributors and their client, discussing the objectives of a project or a campaign.”
By asking the right questions, Dohm continued, the plant gets the information it needs to make the client happy—a win-win for all. Some questions are basic. For example, when it comes to promotional packaging, ask about distribution. Is the packaging going to be mailed, or is it going to be given out? If it’s a retail product, Dohm said to ask where it will be displayed: a Wal-Mart, a grocery store, a pharmacy, etc. Then, there’s shelf space (how much) and the type of shelving (end cap, top of shelf) to consider.
Also, ask about the price point of the retail product. “A lot of times, ‘under $20’ are considered impulse items and people will make more of a decision there based on the feel/touch aspect than the real benefits of the product,” Dohm mentioned.
Collins added a question of his own. “If a customer is doing an event, ask if they would be reordering the piece instead of a one-time use,” he instructed. “If it’s a one-time use, the cost of ink imprinting instead of hot stamping could be a cost savings.”