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The Changing Role of Packaging Design in the Era of Mass-Production Digital Decoration



When it comes to product packaging, brand owner perception is separated into two domains: marketing or brand empowerment campaigns and mass production. This separation occurs because decoration technologies that are currently used for mass production are not suitable for the dynamic nature of brand empowerment.

For a technology to be applicable for brand marketing, it must deliver short lead time (for special editions) or visual decoration capabilities that are a step above conventional mass production decoration technologies, such as photo-realistic images or embossing. Yet, when the focus is marketing or special case applications, low total cost of ownership, low cost per copy, and higher production speed are not the priority. For mass production applications, however, key attributes of the decoration technology are production speed and low total cost of ownership, as well as overall quality (texts and lines, colors matching, solid surfaces, and basic imagery, etc.), and regulatory compliance. This split focus creates a technological dichotomy.

For mass production applications, conventional analog decoration technologies, such as Dry Offset, Silk Screen, and Flexo, are generally used. For marketing applications, on the other hand, digital printing is the primary decoration technology. Brand owners are then forced to use both digital and conventional decoration technologies to satisfy their needs because they can’t leverage the attributes of one in the applications of the other. Consequently, packaging design plays a limited, stagnant role in a brand’s overall marketing mix, and brands invest a huge amount of time and resources into alternative market channels such as advertising, social, and other tools.

How to have it all

What if a new technology came to market that can deliver the best of both worlds? For example, one that provides the flexibility and unique capabilities of a “marketing” technology yet is also applicable for mass production (full production speed, low TCO, and high overall quality). This would elevate product packaging design to a major pillar in the brand strategy, a new domain for brand owners for increased consumer engagement and brand loyalty.

These new brand and marketing opportunities can be divided into three categories:


Power to Engage – By using dynamic, always changing designs, brands can grab, and more importantly, hold the attention of consumers, directly engage, and profoundly impact their buying decisions. Brands can constantly innovate and stay relevant: match messages to micro-targeted audiences; highlight special events, even local ones, throughout the year; and, increase brand loyalty by integrating customers’ input in the design, a technique that prompts consumers to interact with the brand in new and fun ways. Having these dynamic and highly flexible decoration capabilities gives brand owners the power to transform the most consumer-facing elements of the brand – the product decoration – into a long-lasting consumer engagement platform.

For example:

  • Localization/micro-segmentation with any granularity – Localization is key to engaging different groups of consumers across different geographies and cultures. Having the ability to decorate digitally in mass quantities allows brands to focus their packaging design messages to specific groups of consumers at the local level or even to more targeted audiences, such as sports teams or universities.
  • Breathing life into the brand – When product decoration can easily change, decoration is “alive” and increases consumer attention. Dynamic product decoration could feature fruit of the season, painter of the month, or tip of the week, among other ideas. Product decoration will not be ‘looked at without being seen’ by the consumers.

Synergistic Partnerships – A popular way to enhance brand exposure and reach targeted customer segments is to partner with specific retailers, point-of-sale (POS) players, or complementary brands that are targeting the same customers. With the unprecedented decoration agility enabled by mass-production digital decoration, traditional design limitations disappear, empowering a new level of partner synergy. High-end cosmetic brands, for example, can provide special editions to elite retail chains or small boutiques. The payoff comes with increased exposure in competitive markets and the power to harness high-end micro-business trends without sacrificing brand identity. Extreme flexibility in decoration modifications dramatically simplifies the execution of these valued partnerships, making them a much stronger brand marketing tool.

For example:

  • Dynamic design options – A major cosmetics brand creates a special edition for a hotel chain. Having decoration agility removes the limitation to reach loyal consumers on their vacation and enjoy both worlds – their favorite hotel and cosmetic brand.
  • Member perks – A joint campaign between a major cosmetics brand and a major airline provides personalized products and a sense of personal touch to their Platinum members, strengthening customer loyalty.

Operational Agility – From packaging design to product launch and ongoing product management, the product lifecycle has been transformed. Unlike with conventional decoration technologies, brands can immediately and cost-effectively get a few printed copies of each design option on actual products – for focus groups or other decision-makers – and base decisions on real consumer experiences with actual products. Supply-on-demand is becoming the solution for one of brand owners’ greatest pain points: the need for fast time-to-market. Now, the time between deciding on special product editions or an urgent request for additional decorated pieces, to having them placed on store shelves, is dramatically reduced.

In an aim to deliver ​​​​​the best of both analog and digital printing, Velox has developed, from the ground up, a direct-to-shape (DTS). This technology can mass produce direct-to-shape digital decoration. By developing both the inks and system architecture for this application, Velox aims to offer a different approach to DTS decoration that delivers a real breakthrough in the rigid-packaging decoration market. We believe Velox technology is different from other digital technologies available in the market today because both of these two important aspects of printing differentiates were developed in concert and consideration of each other.



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