Hands-on Team Player

Q&A with:

Peter DiDonato, owner of DiDonato Design

Judy Dixon, vice president of production at Hornall Anderson

Terri Goldstein, CEO of The Goldstein Group

Pamela Long, director of client services at Little Big Brands

John Nunziato, founder and creative director of Little Big Brands

Faster and cheaper has been the business directive from time immemorial. This desire, Little Big Brands’ founder and creative director John Nunziato says, is fueling a disturbing modern trend in package design. “Because of timing and cost being hero, people are approving PDFs as proofs,” he explains. “This type of proofing will most likely result in a client who’s disappointed when the product gets printed because they’ve seen the image in a very different way,” Nunziato says, noting that packages printed on white ink look different from prints on white paper and very different from images viewed on screen. A physical prototype can more clearly communicate concepts and how the package will look in different retail environments.

A prototype also lets everyone involved in the process, including the designer, brand manager and retail buyer, examine the concept closely.
A consumer packaged goods company understands the proposed direction much earlier in the process as well. “The ability to actually hold a prototype or walk up to it—depending on the project—really accentuates the detail,” Hornall Anderson’s vice president of production Judy Dixon notes. “It’s amazing how many details you realize about a design concept once you see it in 3-D.”

Nunziato adds, “That [the prototype review stage] is when the brand manager really starts to fall in love with the design idea. A prototype gives them a real package that they can go to the store with and put on the shelf. They can keep it around at eye level. They can send it to other people for review.

“It’s also easier for clients to be able to visualize type and color tweaks compared to a 3-D rendering or even a lay flat,” he adds. “A prototype can spur more creativity from the client side. I think it can even lead to some buy in from their side and result in a few more dollars invested in the project because they can see just how beautiful the brand’s going to look.”

To make sure that designers and brand managers are getting the most out of their prototypes, Little Big Brands’ director of client services Pamela Long recommends using a service that’s flexible enough to partner on some of the decisions. “They need to be able to roll with the changes,” she remarks.

Nunziato warns that designers should avoid services that “just receive a file, run it and say, ‘Well, that’s what we received.’” Prototyping services with this philosophy don’t add to the creative process. “I believe creativity continues from the agency to the prototypers to prepress to the printers,” Nunziato explains. “But I believe some of them are not using their creativity. So you want to make sure the prototype house you’re using is asking lots of questions. You want to make sure that the prototyper is invested in the client’s brand as much as you are because they’re a part of the project now and not just a piece of the process.”

That’s why Terri Goldstein, CEO of The Goldstein Group, lists service, a consultative approach and knowledge of retail environments as her top three criteria for choosing a prototype house. A commitment to customer service will help ensure that the prototype house will not only manufacture a viable prototype but also will build a plan for the packaging supplier for making the final packages. A consultative approach helps an agency get the most out of the technical expertise of the prototype house. Knowledge of the retail environment will help ensure that the package design’s intent is met despite how the package is displayed.

Goldstein explains that a good prototype house can then contribute to the design process by making sure that the best substrates and coatings are chosen for the project. “Often a brand can be sitting on the bottom shelf or way up on the top,” she says. “A prototype house that truly understands the retail environment can note how elements might look darker on a shelf or what parts of the design are likely to be covered by shelf tags. A good prototype house also keeps up with the latest technologies and substrates so they can make suggestions that adjust for these conditions.” These suggestions can have a great impact on the efficacy of the final design.

That’s why Peter DiDonato, owner of DiDonato Design, says the first and the topmost question he asks himself when choosing a prototyper is, “Do I trust them?”

“Yes, you have to consider price and quality,” he adds. “But it really comes down to the person you’re working with.”

When you trust that person, Nunziato says, you know that everyone is working toward the same goal. “I trust that they’re a business that’s invested in building beautiful brands with our agency,” he explains. “As a business owner and creative director, I believe it’s important to let creative people be creative. I try to find the ‘specialness’ in a brand and in my team, and, of course, manage expectations.”

Goldstein adds that businesses can quickly reap the financial rewards from a good design-firm and prototype-house relationship. “A good prototype service paints a picture of how colors are met with exact formulas, how blends are achieved, basically how everything is broken down,” she says. “When a client goes to their package printer with a prototype from a great comp house, they don’t have to stay at the printer for two, 15-hour days. They simply say, ‘Here’s the target and here’s how you hit it.’

“My mandate is never to let a design go out of my studio without a comp that the client has signed off on and the formula to hit that target,” Goldstein remarks. “That’s how you get great brands that look as good on shelf as the phase one concept the client fell in love with.”

A peek behind the curtain
In our December 2013 issue, Package Design will showcase prototype services companies as well as manufacturers
of prototyping equipment in a product and services focus on prototyping. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the early submissions:

Manufacturing Target Development
Guy Conti Art & Design Inc. specializes in package design exploration and development. Specialties include folding carton, tube, jar, bottle, box and bag prototyping. Package decorating and finishing options include foil stamping, custom embossing, custom spraying, chrome finishing, shrink wrapping, laser die-cutting, custom dry transfer and silk screening. The firm can also create digital proofs and prepare mechanicals and production targets.

Packaging Prototypes
Schawk’s brand deployment packaging prototype services range from providing comps for “live” local market tests in-store, to production comps used to sell new products at retail, to hero comps suitable for media exposure and public relations opportunities. SGK can produce a wide range of CPG prototypes, comps and sales samples, particularly for the food, beverage, health and drug industries including: both rigid and flexible packaging, comprising cartons, pouches and shrink labels, which can be produced using clear, white and metallized substrates, along with heat shrinkable films.

Complex Prototypes
Bridge Premedia prototypes allow clients to reproduce metallics, white ink, spot varnishes, and embossing effects on production substrates such as shrink overwrap film, shrink sleeves, foil, paperboard, biaxially oriented PP, PET and corrugated board. Prototypes offered include cartons, pouches, shrink label and overwrap, rapid prototyping of jar and bottle structures, and interactive virtual prototyping.

Food Packaging Prototypes
As a digital printer of FDA-approved food packaging, PrintSure can manufacture prototype pouches, cartons and shrink sleeves that can be used for direct or indirect contact with food.

3-D Structural Prototypes
IBC Shell produces 3-D printed prototypes on a Cimquest fused deposition modeler to communicate the beauty and confirm the functionality of packaging concepts. The 3-D CAD Buildware can transform design concepts into complex, finished decorated prototypes that can also incorporate moving components.

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Brand Makers: Jeff McLemore

Jeff McLemore 
Vice president of North America marketing at Sunsweet Growers Inc.

What should you do before making that first call to a package design agency?
Know your consumer and understand your brand in a way that is reflected in the design.

What are the top three criteria you use to select design firms?

1 Strategic approach

2 Graphic capabilities

3 Innovative ideas

What are your top methods for discovering design agencies?
Researching the top agencies coupled with recommendations from key industry trend setters. Positive past experience with agencies is certainly a good barometer as well.

How strongly should a brand weigh an agency’s client list?
It’s important from the standpoint of showing positive history with other quality brands, but it doesn’t necessarily impact the whole decision.

What are your pet peeves when working with design agencies?

1 Assuming they know everything about the brand

2  Lack of communication on keeping up with market and consumer trends

3  Conforming too often with old ways and templates used in the past

How would you classify your relationship with design agencies?
We feel it’s important that we balance the strategic company direction with outside perspective on the best approach for us. Our agencies would be classified as a junior partner based on our structure and approach to our business. We consider our firms to certainly be partners and have regular strategic meetings to understand our company and brand direction. 

What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had with a design firm?
The worst is when you’re in a situation leading direction without getting any market insight from the agency. We definitely battled this with a past agency several years ago, and it really let the brand stagnate.

How do you screen agencies to make sure that they won’t commit these pet peeves?
A good discussion about strategic approach is the best way to avoid potential issues. In addition, starting with a smaller project is a way to get an understanding of a new agency’s process.

What are the top three criteria you use to select structural design firms?

1 Understanding of objectives of a particular project

2  Understanding of packing capabilities

3   Innovative ideas

Please describe your “dream” design agency?
My dream agency’s understanding of Sunsweet Growers’ objectives, competitive marketplace and consumers would lead to innovation and dynamic ideas to help grow our brand.

What are the top three characteristics of great design firms?

1          Strategic understanding of your brand

2          Understanding your packing and manufacturing capabilities

3          Innovation in both design and structure

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"Creating it myself," a driving trend in 2013





Posted by Jack Mans — Packaging Digest, 2/13/2013 10:47:17 AM

Anthem Worldwide, part of the brand development practice of SchAnthem.jpgawk, whose integrated global network provides innovative solutions to articulate, unify and manage brand impact to create compelling and consistent brand experiences, announced that its most recent consumer insights study reveals Creating It Myself as a driving trend in 2013.

Anthem Worldwide identified 10 Consumer and Shopper Trends and Counter-Trends and fielded a study to get a pulse on these sentiments in the U.S., U.K. and China. One of these, Creating it Myself vs. Buying Ready Made, related to what consumers want. Consumers were asked which they believed would be more prominent in 2013: “Buying Ready Made” or “Creating it Myself.”


The study conducted by Ipsos from December 17-25, 2012, included an international sample of 1,500 people (500 from the U.S., U.K., and China, respectively) from Ipsos’ online panel.

Across all three countries, in aggregate, more than half of respondents (56 percent) believe that Creating it Myself will be a more prominent trend in 2013. However, U.S., respondents weighted the results towards “Buying ready made,” with 59 percent believing this would be more prominent. Anthem laddered this to a broader theme of “Do More for Me.”

“Let’s face it, most of us in the U.S. operate at maximum capacity, and adding one more thing to the ‘to do’ list can tip the scale,” said Kathy Oneto, vice president, brand strategy, of Anthem’s San Francisco office. “So it’s not surprising to find that U.S. consumers appreciate products and services that do more for them, taking tasks, steps, or organizational needs off their plates and providing helpful, simplifying solutions.”


On the flip side, 66 percent of U.K. respondents and 61 percent of China respondents believed Creating it Myself would be more prominent.


Oneto noted: “In the U.K., two trends give credence to the Create Myself trend-the rise of cooking-by-scratch (called “Scratch Cookery”), driven by economic conditions, and the increase in self-created content, such as music, videos, and imagery, driven by new technologies that make self-creation easier. In China this is likely influenced by the rise of the entrepreneurial spirit, with increasing opportunities to start one’s own business.”


Oneto concluded: “The Create Myself trend is influenced by the building movement towards what some are calling the ‘maker economy.’ With lowered barriers to production and distribution, new tools for making goods on one’s own, and new platforms upon which businesses can be built, creators are becoming business builders, not just hobbyists. Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine, and author of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution is championing the movement towards manufacturing democratization. It’s essentially the next generation of DIY. Some may make things solely for their own use, while others will build businesses that in decades past were never possible.”


For more in-depth data, click to read more and access “Anthem Sightings, Vol.4, 2012: The Forecast Issue.” http://www.schawk.com/knowledge-center/white-papers


Click to watch Kathy Oneto, vice president, brand strategy at Anthem Worldwide in this recent BrandSquare Live Webinar “Inflection Point: Where Will 2013 Take Us?” 






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