headline press information

Date 21st December 2011 / www.procarton.com
Title A Fan of Cartons
Text Born in Sweden, he was, during almost 40 years, responsible for the development of creative design solution for strategic brands of Nestlé: Lars Wallentin. “For those of you who are afraid to design good packaging – this book was made to give you the courage”, he says. And, little to our surprise: he is a fan of cartonboard packaging. For download in print quality, please click on the photo.

How can we recognize a good package when we see it? It’s well designed, functionally. It takes the environment into account. Tactile qualities are considered. It communicates. And it’s interesting. Very few packages meet these demands to 100%.

There is a reason why the communication aspect is so important. In a modern supermarket, packages replace people. There is nobody there to introduce you to the various products, nobody to help you choose what’s right for you, nobody to explain the benefits of a specific product to guide you in your purchase. Packaging has to do all that.

In order to succeed with a package design there are some very simple rules, guidelines or advice to follow and they can be summarized as follows: (1) must be seen; (2) maximal appetite appeal; (3) simplicity; (4) value for money; (5) uniqueness. Packaging design can be outstanding and considerably increase sales if the above 5 advice are taken into account. Unfortunately it is seldom the case as we live in a risk-aversion society and do not dare to constantly chance, thus improve the package.

If the consumer has the opinion to get more than expected she or he will always return. Here package design can play an important role by not overpromising or being misleading. Honesty is a must which does not mean that you cannot photograph the product in a brighter light or increase contrast. A reclosable pack design, a pack easy to open or single serve portions are different ways to add value to the product, highly appreciated by the consumer.

Many products are by nature very similar. Luckily we can, through packaging design, make each of these products unique. First of all we have a unique logotype for the brand. The package design can be given a special shape which, however often means extra costs. A third way is to combine materials as for instance cardboard packs with plastic windows. Uniqueness can also be achieved by a unique layout, i.e. not following the standard layout with logotype on top, illustration below and ‘New’ in the corner.


10 ways to improve your packaging design
Packaging design is a multi-disciplinary occupation. To succeed you need knowledge in many fields of activities. Here is a summary of the ten most important ones:
1. Understand the consumer: To find out what the consumer likes or wants, first of all think of yourself.
2. Understand the meaning of simplicity: There is no doubt too much (useless) information on today’s packages.
3. Understand positioning: a package design must strengthen the idea behind a brand (or product).
4. Understand hierarchy: There is always something that is most important.
5. Understand legislation: This is the area where things often ‘go wrong’ as we do not make a difference between a must and a guideline.
6. Understand material: It is just common sense that carton packages with transparent windows have today become very popular as most consumers want to see what they buy.
7. Understand layout: There is a deep rooted syndrome among most marketing people. It is called “the upper left hand corner syndrome”. A package design can have ANY layout.
8. Understand ecology: Would it not be a good idea to use the packages to educate the consumers about ecology?
9. Understand 3D: A full-fledged packaging designer cannot be only a graphic designer. He or she must understand shapes, forms and how to achieve them.
10. Understand total packaging, i.e. the synergy effect: Until this day I have never been at a meeting where all of the following responsible persons were present: project leader, designer, technical designer, creative director, legal adviser, someone representing the trade.

To succeed a good design can be enough, but what is better is good Design Management. The success of Swatch and Nespresso is not only due to their names, or their designs, or their brochures, advertising or packaging. The success of Swatch and Nespresso is the unity that comes from using design thinking in all areas. Successful companies have some sort of Design Management (Apple, P&G or Bang & Olufsen) that promotes design in the organisation and do not only push product or pack design.


My favourite material: Wood fibre
Being in the packaging design business, obviously all materials are interesting to me as it all depends upon the product to be packed. Consumers in the Western world become more and more educated about materials, either as children at school or through TV programs or websites, as well as newspaper articles. All this information gives a positive picture of cardboard and paper as consumers understand, that (1 ) it is easy to recycle; (2) it is biodegradable; (3 )it is rather light; (4) it comes from a renewable source, i.e. the forest; (5) it burns easily in incinerators. Every ton of paper or board that travels down the supply chain is pure bioenergy that can replace fossil oil.

So far so good, but there is so much more to say about paper and cardboard, especially from an ecological point-of-view. Most consumers still ignore that (1) the forest industry plants at least two trees when they chop down one; (2) the trees bind more CO2 than they give away as trees absorb CO2 when they grow and CO2 is then partly bound in the ground via roots and stumps; (3) the young trees absorb more CO2 than old ones, i.e. no harm to chop down the old tree; (4) the paper and cardboard we use come from trees in the Northern hemisphere and not from Borneo or the Amazones; (5) many paper mills will, in the coming years, use no more fossil fuel as the energy they need comes from part of the tree that does not go to paper and cardboard production; (6) the wood fibre, at the beginning quite long, can be re-used 4-5 times before it becomes too short to be turned into cardboard or paper again.

The reason why I am so positive about cardboard is that it very often combines well with other materials. There are numerous laminated papers or cardboards, either with aluminium foil, Wax or plastic. Although steel and aluminium, as well as glass are natural in the sense that the raw material can return to their original stage, cardboard and paper are still seen as more natural.

Lars G. Wallentin, The world’s first book about packaging communication. Packaging sense, Book #1, Helloswe, Göteborg 2011


Exemplary: Toblerone.




Suzanne McEwen +43 1 218 6918 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.