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The benefits of decoupling the packaging development process

The benefits of decoupling the packaging development process
The agency’s recent redesign for Carlsberg beer involved custom artwork and fluorescing inks to enhance and differentiate the brand.

Newly appointed CEO Julien Tessier of Diadeis North America, which has expanded into NA from Europe, discloses how brand owners can get the most out of the packaging production process in this exclusive Packaging Digest interview.

Diadeis, a company that provides European brands with premedia, packaging design and production expertise, acquired New York-based Graphic Systems Group in 2014 to double the size of the agency and establish a presence in North America. Julien Tessier, newly appointed CEO of Diadeis for North America, discloses how brands can get the most out of the packaging development and design production process in this exclusive Packaging Digest interview.

Please explain the “decoupling” of the packaging design and production process: Why does it matter and what does it mean for today’s brands?

Tessier: Decoupling has been around for 10 years, and the model continues to gain momentum.

The process of decoupling separates the execution of the strategy from the package design. For example, a brand may work with one or more agency of record to drive their packaging strategy. In the old model, the agency of record would not only be responsible for the design, they would also oversee all of the premedia and packaging production with a specified printer.

Decoupling separates these functions, letting each company focus on what they do best and giving brands the flexibility they need as packaging becomes more complex. In this model, the agency of record continues to drive the strategy, while a production agency manages all the premedia work and vendor relationships.

Separating these functions gives brands a much more efficient and faster way to produce their packaging. Brands have a centralized resource for their assets, so changes, prepress and retouching can all be managed much faster and with less cost. One of our major Fast Moving Consumer Goods clients measured an increase in speed to market by 20% thanks to the decoupling process. Brands are no longer required to work with a specific printer, so they can achieve greater economies in their production and choose printers with specific expertise or in a geographic location.

And, at time when many brands are expanding internationally, working with a production agency gives the brand access to a global network, so brand consistency can be maintained on a global basis. We make sure that both layouts and colors are consistent any time the consumer touches a brand, wherever the consumer is, and whatever packaging substrate or print technology is used. We especially allow brands to get consistent colors on their packaging across all markets by implementing global color management programs that work in close collaboration with print suppliers in all regions.

Diadeis has extensive experience working with European packaging producers. Now you’ve expanded into North America. What are the biggest differences between the two markets?

Tessier: Both are major markets and produce similar products. The North American market is much more consolidated. In Europe, for example, packaging is always produced in multiple languages. Some packages (such as, large flexible bags in the pet food industry) may display up to 20 languages, with not only English, German, French, Spanish or Italian, but also complex alphabets such as Greek, Russian, or Scandinavian and Eastern Europe languages. In North America, there is generally only American English and Spanish, and sometimes French.

We do see that brands in North America are expanding globally. These brands need localization services, and look to our experience managing multilingual packaging production in Europe.

Packaging structure is used by brands to differentiate their product lines. What are the challenges in producing this type of packaging?

Tessier: All over the world, brands are competing for shelf space and the eyeballs of consumers, so they are increasingly trying out new ideas, including things like structural design.

Structure is just one example. Designers keep coming up with new and innovative packaging ideas. For example, our designers recently completed a redesign for Carlsberg beer that included custom artwork and metallic ink (see image above). These ideas are exciting, but often present technical challenges when it comes to production.

That’s another benefit of the decoupling model. Working with an implementation agency like ours gives brands access to the expertise they need as packaging designs evolve.

We provide consulting services that advise brands on their designs before they go to production. Once finalized, we support the brand with prepress and color management services. Finally, we have relationships with a global network of vendors, many who have expertise producing a specific type of packaging.

Together, these are the resources brands need to ensure that their corporate identity is maintained and that the final package matches the expected results, no matter what printing technique or format a brand requires.

Next: The role of technology, SKU proliferation, advice and a look at an award-winning Orangina redesign...

Diadeis handled the design for the Orangina bottle, which won the 2014 Brand Identity GrandPrix in the Beverage Packaging category.

Please comment on the challenges associated with the growing number of stock-keeping units (SKUs).

Tessier: More and more aggressive promotion from brands has resulted in this high number of SKUs, and it’s not likely that this trend will change any time soon.

This number of SKUs cannot be managed without a solid workflow system to support both marketing and operations. At Diadeis, our workflow system is called Mediabox, which we developed to provide complete visibility into the entire packaging production process. 

For example, major clients like Nestlé, Danone and L’Oréal use Mediabox to efficiently manage and streamline their Graphic Chain process. Mediabox gives these brands an online connected workflow and approval platform that includes an integrated digital asset management system.

In 2014, we have managed more than 20,000 SKUs in Mediabox.

Technology is increasingly shaping package design. What role does technology play in helping to improve the production processes?

Tessier: The complexity of packaging and the global reach of brands mean that the number of inputs and production sites has multiplied. Today, no company can manage this process without the right technology, specifically, the right workflow technology. A good workflow solution can streamline the packing process and ensure everything runs efficiently and produces quality results.

Mediabox, which is our own workflow solution, gives users the tools to manage each part to the process including planning, coordination, approval and archiving of projects.

What advice do you have for those brands and package designers who want to get the most out of their production process?

Tessier: We just talked about technology, but I’ll mention it again because it is critical. Technology has always been a priority for our company, and I believe it needs to be a priority for anyone involved in packaging production today.

I also see that packaging is global, but it is also local. Brands are distributing their products on a global scale, so they need resources that have global expertise and partnerships in the region. In the age of social media, everything is local. Mistakes are no longer just a local issue—everyone can see and share when things go wrong. Packaging must always be of good quality and ensure brand identity is maintained, wherever the package is produced.

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