Branded labels the key to product promotion
Interview with Corinne Ullmann, Managing Director of Packthis AG
Labels are not all the same. Indeed, they differ in many respects. There are differences in quality, costs, production processes and finishing options. These factors are key to the distinction between “no-name” labels and labels for branded products. In this short interview, Corinne Ullmann, Managing Director of packaging design agency Packthis AG, provides an insight into the creative designer’s perspective on these differences, the process of creating branded labels, customer priorities and the importance of different finishing options.
Ms. Ullmann, what characteristics do you believe a label for a branded product needs?
Packaging and labels play a key role in product promotion. The label is often the most important means of advertising a product. It therefore has to communicate the brand’s image and be representative of that brand or product. Clearly, it is also important for a branded product label to suggest higher quality than a comparable label for an own-brand product.
Can you outline the process of creating a branded label from the designer’s perspective?
We start by examining the briefing the customer has provided in writing or in person. There are usually a few questions that come up and certain things we need to check. We use the briefing and this additional information to produce a re-briefing.
The next step is to identify unique selling points – what makes the product stand out from the competition? Market and competition analysis may be time-consuming, but it is crucial to ensuring that the label is designed with a strong concept. We also analyse and evaluate how the product’s properties justify its price. What are the attractions of the product that will make it sell? And what will be the best way to position the product? All these factors must be reflected in the label design.
We then do some design research to determine the focus for designing the label. This is not restricted to the particular category of the product in question. We often look for inspiration in completely different products that may be positioned in a similar way or directed at the same target group.
We use the market and product analysis and our research to establish the design concept. This takes account of the design positioning, requirements of the brand, tonality and customer benefits as well as which aspects are most important.
The design concept serves as a basis for creating several draft designs. These are discussed and improved on within the team. The best two or three proposals are presented to the customer.
The customer selects one of the proposals and contributes any further ideas for change or improvement. The design is adapted to the customer’s preferences, final touches are added and the texts are inserted into the concept layout.
The approved design is set and prepared for litho printing.
For important products, we also provide a proofing process for the customer.
In your experience, what do customers place particular emphasis on in the design process?
Customers want to be understood. They like to see a strong concept behind the design – it is important to them that we really focus on the product and the brand rather than simply creating an “attractive” design without a real concept. The key factors for the customer include creativity, quality and attention to detail.
What exactly does a customer briefing or specification look like? Does it include requirements for finishing processes and packaging instructions or are these left to the designers?
Unfortunately, most of the customer briefings we receive are very vague and the descriptions are not particularly detailed. This is where our extensive marketing expertise comes in, particularly in terms of product and brand management and our market, customer and consumer knowledge.
It is rare for finishing options to be mentioned in the briefing. However, depending on the product’s positioning and its strategic importance for the company, we do advise careful consideration of finishing options to accentuate and promote brand quality.
We provide a simulated impression of the finishing option in the design so that the customer can gain a better idea of what the label will look like. In some cases, the costs involved mean the customer unfortunately has to decide against the finishing option, despite being impressed by the effect. Sometimes we also have to adapt the finishing process to the tools available.
The specifications we receive from the customer usually relate to the shape of the label, as this is often determined by the production process. Even when we are given the chance to decide the shape of the label ourselves, the choice is rarely completely free. The shape has to suit the production process and certain aspects of what is practicable in printing have to be taken into account.
Are designers familiar with the different surface finishing options and their effects? Where do you get information on the options available?
We make sure we are always fully up to date on the latest design trends and surface finishing options. This is simply part of a designer’s job.
We have also had the opportunity to design labels for Gallus regularly over the last few years, and part of our role has been to include certain finishing options. This gives us a good insight into the latest developments in surface finishing.
Branded product with finishing features, designed and developed by Packthis. Printed with Gallus presses. back