Think Outside the Box
Just like life, packaging isn't always so black-and-white.
There is more to package design than graphics. While important, vibrant colors and branding logos will only take companies so far. They also must consider packaging form, structure and consumer functionality.
Is it a transport package, a distribution package or a consumer package?
What is the purpose of the packaging? Is it for protection, information transmission, marketing or is it to keep it safe?
Print Professional turned to some leading packaging manufacturers to learn more about the endless possibilities in this sector.
• Dominic Zaidan, art/marketing director, Vulcan Information Packaging, located in Vincent, Ala.
• Dave Young, vice president of sales, Information Packaging, located in Macedon, N.Y.
Print Professional (PP): Tell me a little about your company. What type(s) of packaging solutions do you offer your customers?
Dominic Zaidan (DZ): Vulcan Information Packaging is a leading United States manufacturer of stock and custom loose-leaf binder and packaging products and private label binders. Founded in 1947, we have a 200,000 sq. ft. production facility located in Vincent, Ala. Other products we offer include marketing kits, boxes, presentation folders and multimedia packaging. We also offer printing and decoration including screen print, offset/litho, foil stamp/deboss, digital and on demand printing.
Dave Young (DY): Information Packaging is a U.S. manufacturer of specialty envelope products such as CD/DVD packaging, MailSaver® postage saving disc mailers, Bind-in envelopes, credit card sleeves, RFID-shielding card sleeves and commercial envelopes. We specialize in unique and custom printed sleeves and envelopes manufactured in paper, Tyvek® and paperboard. Our equipment base and size allow for flexibility with quick turns on runs from as low as 1,000 pieces to runs in the multi-millions.
PP: What are some of the hot trends in packaging right now? In your opinion, what is the most interesting thing happening in this sector?
DZ: As we all know, today and in recent years, people are more aware and conscious of protecting our environment and using materials that are either easily recyclable or biodegradable. An interesting and important thing happening right now in the ring binder segment of our business, in particular, is a move toward polypropylene (PP) for your everyday common clear overlay school and office binders. Polypropylene is a safer, more eco-friendly alternative to the more traditional and common polyvinyl chloride (PVC) vinyl material that has been the norm for years.
DY: We are seeing a couple of hot trends with several areas we specialize in. Small sleeves and envelopes are one of these areas. These envelopes are being used for financial and bank cards, gift and loyalty cards, education and ID, healthcare and benefit cards as well as for flash drives and SD cards. Our RFID shielding sleeves are perfect to block the unauthorized skimming on smart and contactless cards. Adding print to these items enhances the marketing focus and [they] make great giveaways to customers and prospects.
Our MailSaver® line of postage saving disc mailers continues to be very popular. These CD/DVD mailers are all approved by the USPS fall under one once (including the disc), and can be mailed at the automated letter rate—no need for additional surcharges for weight or rigidity. Coupled with the mailing trend is the move from hard cases to printed paper and Tyvek® sleeves; this definitely saves on packaging cost. CDs and DVDs being bound into books and magazines also continues to be a product area we see interest. Being able to bind a disc into a publication increases product awareness and user response rate. Many of our mailers and bind-ins, and all our sleeves are automatable on CD insertion equipment, making it easier to pack and assemble.
PP: With so many different types of packaging visible on the shelves, what influences a customer's decision to choose one above the rest?
DZ: We find our customers look for unique custom designs that are functional and practical. A product development team with experience in printing and materials is essential in working with customers to find the right solution. Besides the actual packaging design, using unique materials and methods along with the decorating method and graphic design also play a major role in catching the consumer's attention to take a closer look at a particular product. One particular marketing kit we produced included materials with varying textures and decorating techniques that make a person want to pick it up and feel it. We used leather straps, ties and snaps along with overlapping materials with smooth and textured finishes. In addition to that, we added a "tip on" (wing logo) that really made the piece pop. Plus, a combination of silk screen and foil stamping.
DY: For our products, the decision is based on fit and functionality. Graphics and print are usually added, which enhance the visual appearance of the piece as well as providing additional marketing and product information. These are great for giveaways and demo discs. Because our products can be used on CD insertion equipment, costs are much lower than hand assembly options.
PP: How does a company most effectively brand itself, and communicate its intended message through packaging? Are certain decorating techniques more popular than others?
DZ: Being a business-to-business company and less direct to consumers, our job is to give companies the tools to present their product effectively. Whether it's a sales marketing kit or ring binder to hold samples of materials, the packaging they present must present their brand in a professional, high quality way. Consistency is also key. Branding logos, colors, graphic design, all need to be consistent throughout a variety of products including packaging for actual product, boxes, marketing kits, brochures, booklets, etc. Offset/litho printing with film lamination is more common in our industry. This method of decorating can be used in a wide variety of products including binders. Digital printing also is quickly becoming a great option as the technology rapidly improves in speed and image quality.
PP: How important is it for packaging to be made from recycled materials? Does your company use eco-friendly materials?
DZ: We are very aware and have systems in place for recycle and using eco-friendly materials. We recycle all excess vinyl and board and ring metals. We have products and binders that are made of raw chipboard. For packaging solutions that include ring binders such as slipcases and marketing kits, we have recently purchased a piece of equipment that allows us to manufacture eco-friendly polypropylene clear overlay looseleaf binders that are in high demand.
DY: Like many of our customers, Information Packaging continues to look to ways to go green. In addition to our environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and environmental compliances, all of our paper-based envelopes and sleeves can be manufactured utilizing a recycled paper stock. We are also the only manufacturer of a 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council™ certified (FSC®) recycled post consumer fiber paper window envelope for CDs and 99 percent of the paper we use in manufacturing is FSC®-certified.
PP: What are some common challenges associated with packaging in regard to production or design? Are there certain printing techniques to avoid depending on the request/goal of project?
DZ: In our custom packaging and binder products, film laminated wrapped segment, lamination can be a challenge on certain types of background colors. On a solid black or dark background, a matte lamination easily can be scratched or scuffed. We have found a type of lamination that works well in reducing scuffing substantially. The other challenge can be a packaging product that contains several pieces that must fit together, but CAD design software helps ensure a good fit.
DY: Marketing design departments sometimes will work independent of the manufacturer. We encourage all our customers to work directly with us so we can work together to provide the best packaging solution. Cost, function ability and the package's appearance are some of the things we will have the customer consider before it goes to production.
PP: What was the most interesting or unique packaging request your company received over the last year?
DZ: There's not one in particular, but a common request we get repeatedly is to design a marketing kit/box that can be carried to sales presentations that contains a variety of products including marketing brochures, binders, product samples, sometimes bottles, glass, carpet, tile, wood and any number of samples. The challenge is for us to design a box/kit [that is] easy to carry, durable and also designed to function easily in a presentation environment.
DY: Some of the most interesting packaging requests continue to fall in those "hot" product areas of MailSavers®, bind-ins and card sleeves and especially the RFID shielding card sleeves where we have seen orders from the U.S. government, banks, hotels, colleges and for many customer giveaways. A recent bind-in we produced was placed in the book by Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home. The music CD was a companion piece for the book with certain tracks being listened to at different points in the book.
For more information about Vulcan Information Packaging, visit www.vulcan-online.com.
For more information about Information Packaging, visit www.infopkg.com.￼