Packaging is the “salesperson” for your product. Your packaging must do the “talking” to the shopper as he/ she walks through the shopping aisles– no matter how good your product, it will sell less to new consumers who have never before seen or tried your product if your product’s packaging performs it’s “job” poorly. This article explains each type of finish available for your carton or sleeve.
In experiments that tested consumer behaviour when buying the same products packaged in luxury and standard packaging, it was found that consumers were willing to pay more for the products in luxury packaging. You can read more about this experiment here.
Therefore it is always useful for a packaging buyer to be fully aware of all the ways one can enhance their packaging. Packaging can be enhanced in many ways – through the use of special finishes, luxury cartonboard and luxury graphic design styles.
This article deals with ways to enhance cartonboard/cardboard packaging through the use of special finishes only. Packaging design, (by which we mean the creation of the artwork for your packaging which includes the images, shape, colours, fonts, text on your packaging) has been dealt with in a previous blog as a 4 part series, (written by Lorraine Carter of Persona Design) and can be found below.
In this article, we will cover:
Explanation of each type of special finish
Which types of finishes are most appropriate for your product’s packaging?
Important note – if you wish to have special finishes on your packaging, you must discuss this at the start of the packaging production process with your packaging supplier and your graphic designer. This will allow you to weigh up your options regarding cost, the number of colours and special finishes before any particular design is “set in stone.” Read our useful blog on packaging buying here.
UV varnish is a clear varnish that is applied to the cartonboard after printing. It gives the printed sheet a glossier appearance and can help protect the cartonboard from dirt and moisture. It can be applied overall to the printed sheet or it can be applied to specific certain areas only, known as spot UV varnish. The carton shown in Figure 1 below has a UV varnish applied to all areas of the printed carton sheet, except in the “Price” and “Use By” dates. This is to allow for these areas to be overprinted afterwards, as overprinting will not be successful on areas on which there is a UV varnish.
Figure 1 Spot UV varnish with a blank area left for overprinting
Embossing and Debossing a printed sheet creates a raised (embossing) or lowered (debossing) area on the cardboard sheet. It is formed using male and female moulds or dies. Under extreme pressure, these two moulds push the sheet into their shape, creating a multi-dimensional impression. When embossed, the image is raised; when debossed, the image is below the sheet surface. Figure 2 shows an example of debossing. Figure 3 shows an example of embossing.
Both embossing and debossing are known as “blind” when there is no foil of any kind applied to the raised or depressed areas.
There are different types of embossing dies available, each with its own unique appearance.
A flat die creates a three-dimensional image that is raised above the paper surface. A round die creates a curved image curving out from the paper surface. Bevelled embossing gives an image with sloping sides.
Figure 2 – Blind Debossing
Figure 3 – Blind Embossing
Foil stamping is also known as foil application. In this process, foil stamping machines use heat and a die or mould to transfer metallic foil to the printed cartonboard sheet. The most commonly used types of foils are gold and silver foils.
Examples of items that are foil stamped include annual reports, pocket folders, product packaging, note cards/thank you cards, business cards, envelopes and letterheads.
In many cases, areas that have been embossed or debossed will also be gold or silver foiled.
Figure 4 below shows a close-up example of gold foil shown on the words “Dunnes Stores – Simply Better” on a carton printed by Dollard Packaging
Figure 4 Gold Foil
All cartons need to be die cut, i.e. when the cardboard sheets have been printed, these sheets need to be put through a cutting machine or guillotine to be cut out into the carton shape. Therefore each new carton needs a die forme produced for this purpose. The die forme is a set of sharp metal blades set into a wooden frame which is used on the cutting machine. You can find out more about this topic on a previous blog here
While the die forme is used primarily to cut the carton out, the die forme can also incorporate the blades which will cut windows of any shape or size and as a die forme must be produced anyway, this is often a very cost-effective to enhance packaging without incurring excessive additional cost. Small windows can allow consumers to see the product and in some cases, this window may allow the consumer to touch and use the product in some way. Toy packaging often uses windows to allow a consumer to press a button or feel the texture of the toy.
Figure 5, 6 and 7 shows an example of die cuts and unusual die cutting styles.
As with any packaging design element, it is most important to decide what the specific objectives of your packaging are before you begin to request and invest in special finishes for your packaging.
It may be helpful to look briefly at what packaging design expert, Lorraine Carter says about what effective packaging design should deliver:
“Effective packaging design should deliver
An immediate sense of your brand story, promise and values
Trigger a positive emotional response in your primary customer through the expression of your brand’s personality in the design created (e.g. simplicity, elegance, a sense of fun, or whatever sensory experience your brand represents)
Your brand’s primary characterisations whether your products offer luxury, security, environmental awareness, corporate social responsibility, reliability, tradition, or pure indulgent pleasure etc.
Impactful brand differentiation that separates your products from competitors on retail shelves or displays, coupled with strong brand design hooks that attract your core target audience.”
It is also very important to note that if you wish your packaging to have any special finishes, this must be discussed and agreed with both your packaging supplier and your graphic designer at the design stage and no later. For example, if your packaging is ready to go onto the printing press, it is too late to request the use of one of the above special finishes at this point because the use of special finishes require artwork and materials preparation well in advance of the printing stage.
Bearing this above advice in mind
Figure 8 – spot UV varnish
Windows, die-cuts and unusual carton edge shapes can be an effective way to make your packaging looks distinctive or allow the consumer to see or feel your product before purchase. Many consumer behaviour studies have shown that allowing the consumer to see your product (through either an open window or a window, covered in clear plastic) will increase their likelihood of purchasing.
If you have any packaging queries on the above or any aspect of packaging, please contact the Dollard Packaging sales team on 01 847 0044 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be delighted to help you.
Updated February 2019