As consumer demands shift, the packaging industry is increasingly under pressure to respond to new needs and requirements that challenge the sector.
Alongside the demand for shorter lead times and consistently high quality, manufacturers today need to design packaging that meet an elaborate suite of customer needs that were considerably less prevalent even as recently as ten years ago.
One of the core reasons for this is the change in the buyer-retailer dynamic. With more agency comes more authority. Customers have a greater choice than ever before and proactively give their business to brands that stand out and meet their ethical requirements, not simply the product best placed for the task.
For businesses, packaging becomes intrinsic to the wider brand experience. As the first customer touchpoint in many cases, it’s the primary opportunity to communicate the features and benefits of the product outside of a strong brand reputation. Not only that, with sustainability being so high on the priority list for consumers, being able to promote eco-friendly packaging and the methods that provide it becomes more important than ever. Getting the right pre-press operation is therefore crucial.
Designing packaging that ticks every box begins at the pre-press stage, and making good choices sets the process off on the right foot. Artwork, reprographic processes and plate decisions can turn packaging design into a real competitive advantage that meets exacting audience standards and delivers stand out shelf appeal.
The key to turning standard packaging design into something truly special lies in the reprographics process, long before the product has hit the shelves. Often the unsung hero of the packaging supply chain, reprography is a series of process and methods that turn packaging design goals into a reality. It is primarily concerned with translating design elements and direction into tangible user-ready products and so involves everything from initial design creation and artworking process, through to colour management.
Businesses that understand the importance of reprography are the greatest beneficiaries and appreciate that finding the right reprographics provider can utterly transform packaging from a fundamental basic into an active competitive advantage. Two of the most effective ways to leverage this are through comprehensive colour management and sustainable processing. The key is to find the value – and use it.
Once a packaging design has gone through numerous design and print phases and is ready to appear on shelves, appearance is everything. One popular consumer behaviour theory is that consumers make purchase decisions within the first seven seconds of seeing a product for the first time. This gives limited scope to make an impact, so presentation is key.
Shaping perception with strong packaging imagery that catches the eye can be central to the success of a product. In fact nearly 40 percent of consumers state that colour is the most appealing feature of a product’s packaging, according to research from WePack. It’s therefore important to implement reliable colour reproduction processes early in the production stage, to ensure the colour matches the standard at every point.
This becomes particularly important when multiple substrates are used for different elements of the same brand. It can prove to be a real challenge for brand owners as inks can behave very differently from one material to another. At Creation, we use our extensive reprographics experience to ensure that regardless of substrate, brand colours remains strong and consistent across numerous packaging formats.
In an environment that relies so heavily on vibrancy and impact, reliable colour reproduction is pivotal for packaging and is essential for brand consistency. Many printers find this to be a balancing act – maintaining quality while meeting the high-capacity demands of the market. However, colour consistency is transformed into a competitive edge by effective reprographics.
The importance of good colour management was well demonstrated during ‘The dress’ viral sensation of 2015. Whether you saw a blue and black garment, or white and gold, the image opened up public conversation on the neuroscience behind colour and our perception of it, showing that even the human eye isn’t infallible.
Replicating colour throughout the lifespan of the print run relies on types of inks, their lay-down and the plates used to print the packaging. At Creation, we deliver excellence in packaging artwork, reprographics, screen and polymer plate manufacturing to ensure tonal continuity that not only brings packaging to life but remains punchy and consistent to deliver stand out shelf appeal.
Through reliable colour management, Creation helps brands and retailers to meet their colour quality needs. The company’s scientific approach to the measurement and control of colour critical press and print data is key to this success, maintaining premium standards throughout the entire design-to-print journey. Colour consistency doesn’t just ensure the packaging looks great, it supports brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Ensuring that sustainable packaging can be leveraged as a competitive advantage isn’t just a case of using renewable, recyclable or eco-friendly substrates – it concerns a full suite of production choices that are so much more than simply the physical print process. It covers the whole spectrum of design, production and business choices, from anilox and ink selection right through to energy efficient machines and appliances.
The value of responsible packaging is increasing among consumers, brand owners and suppliers alike. In the wake of the ‘Blue Planet Effect’, more and more brands are finding value in creating sustainable packaging solutions at each stage of the supply chain. This in turn increases the demand and importance of excellence in reprographics and plate production.
One of the most efficient ways to present sustainability benefits at the pre-press stage is using a flexo plate that builds these qualities directly into the process. Creation pioneers the use of Asahi Photoproducts AWPTM water washable flexographic plates, an innovative design that optimises efficiency and output quality while eliminating harmful solvent washout from the process.
Using Clean Transfer Technology, the plate delivers right-first-time production for printers and surpasses other solvent plates in ink transfer, plate longevity and dimensional stability. It ticks all the boxes of a comprehensive Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) programme, which considers equipment availability, performance and quality, by accelerating processes, minimising downtime and reducing waste. In recent studies, the use of AWPTM plates has boosted OEE for printers by up to 33% alongside excellent print quality, making it a fundamentally sound choice for businesses looking to optimise their production quality and efficiency.
The plate is water washable and can transfer and release virtually all the ink it takes from the anilox – minimising ink cost and waste. Typical problems such as ink build-up and dot bridging, which are common with other technologies, are virtually eliminated and the number of press stops due to plate dirtying is significantly reduced. In fact, the ink release is so impressive that the plate is nearly clean at the end of the run. When sustainability is weaved into the core of the pre-press operation, the tangible benefits run organically throughout the life cycle of the packaging.
In today’s packaging world, brands cannot afford to underestimate the importance of reprographics. Whether in strong branding or eco-friendly credentials, the reprography process turns packaging into a competitive advantage, which is crucial in the buyer-led economy.
At Creation, we have used our experience to perfect reprographics as an art, not just a science. In today’s retail environment, we understand the complexities involved in creating packaging design that thrives, not just survives. Standing out and becoming the preferred choice of customers is a packaging process that begins with great reprographics.
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