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The devil in the detail of packaging design

Packaging design is a fine art; its success lies in the minute details of every element of a pack. From structure and substrate to manufacture and printing – the tiny details can make a good pack exceptional. The designers have a large role to play in the successful outcome of a pack. They need to work down to the millimetre to ensure that the finished product will look and function exactly as intended.

Of course, there is a team of people working at every stage of the manufacturing process to ensure that the packaging matches the specifications and look of the original design. Key members of the team inspect the work done – they check the individual components, the printing, the embossing or debossing, the gluing, the joining and the overall pack once completed. Any minor error and the entire batch may be discarded.

Tiny details are borne in the design

During the initial design and mock-up stage, the packaging designers will create the blueprint for the final pack. This includes the flat-pack, selection of substrates, graphics and printing, as well as any textural elements on the surface. All of these choices need to be designed to fit within millimetres. The choices made in this initial stage not only affect the look and feel of a pack but also how much wastage may occur during the manufacturing and printing stages.

The initial design creates a solid foundation on which the rest of the processes can succeed. There can be no errors in this first stage if the packaging is going to function as intended. Mistakes lead to defects, such as leaks and breakages which will compromise the product contained within. This is never desirable and can be extremely expensive when it comes to luxury products and ultra-premium brands.

Millimetres are important in manufacturing

Once the final design of a pack is approved, it is sent to a manufacturing facility. Here, the exact measurements are taken from the design and raw materials are turned into a functional pack. Individual components need to be measured, cut and joined together precisely. The machinery used to cut the raw materials is accurate and can match the design specs to within a fraction of a millimetre.

In the luxury packaging sector, a tight fit is often required between components. Any misalignment or slight error in the manufacturing process can ruin the functionality of a pack. In an industry where protection of a valuable product is of utmost importance, luxury packaging needs to be precise and effective – and this comes from the careful manufacture of the pack.

Printing and finishing are the final stages

Attention to detail is required at all stages of a pack’s development, but the final stages are extremely important. A keen eye is needed to check that the printing matches the original artwork, not just in terms of colour but also in terms of registration and accuracy. The printing process is complicated and often involves several runs through a printing press. At each stage, the ink alignment can be slightly offset. Needless to say that this would ruin the artwork and render all the previous stages of manufacturing and design worthless.

Luxury packaging relies on eye-catching designs, tactile elements and perfect finishes for enticing discerning consumers. The way a pack is put together; how it looks in a display cabinet; the way it feels in the hands – these are all important components of the design that require minute details and perfection in the finish.

World-class packaging design companies will ensure that the pack matches the initial blueprint at every step of the way. A keen eye and incredible attention to detail is needed to ensure that everything fits together and that the pack looks the way the client intended. Millimetres matter in packaging design and these tiny details are what set luxury packs apart from regular consumer goods packaging.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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