Raise a glass to luxury
Embossing is no longer just the preserve of luxury packaging, offering true value to brands keen to find a cost-effective way to make their products stand out on the shelf. Emma-Jane Batey spoke to Richard Duerr of F. Duerr & Sons, Carsten Berkau from Ardagh Glass Europe, Michelle Chadwick from Crabbies and Nigel Taylor from Foldabox to learn more.
Embossed packaging has long been a shorthand for luxury. From heavy board boxes with embossed crests to expensive beauty packaging with embossed branding, this well-established technique is a great go-to for on-shelf quality. But embossing is more that this now. Thanks to fresh-thinking ideas from packaging manufacturers, and exciting approaches to reusing packaging and engaging with consumers on social media, embossing – and debossing – has moved a little more mainstream.
As England's oldest family-owned jam maker, Manchester-based F. Duerr's & Sons knows a thing or two about tradition. Founded in 1881, the company is in the fifth generation of Duerr family ownership and offers a selection of jam, marmalade, peanut butter and preserves. But it is a resolutely forward-thinking business too. It was the first company to introduce easy-open lids, using the Orbit closure in 2011, and has many innovative products and packaging formats.
New to old
Working alongside respected glass and metal packaging manufacturer Ardagh, Duerr's recently launched its new Citrus Jar. Using 'sculptured embossing', a new technology that has resulted in delivering an award-winning appealing jar that looks like 'a citrus fruit with a peel effect'. Richard Duerr, sales and marketing director of F. Duerr & Sons, says, “The fact the shape and format of preserve jars hasn't changed for a long time, combined with consumer research telling us that we needed to do something to shake up the category in order to appeal to a younger customer, meant we knew the new packaging design had to make as big a statement as possible.”
This brief resulted in the highly-tactile, citrus-shaped glass jars that, Duerr adds, “not only provided impact on the shelf, but also created a premium experience that would transform the jam and marmalade fixture.” Using 'sculptured embossing', the new Citrus Jar from Duerr's is perfectly suited to the Instagram generation – as well as everyone who loves marmalade. Duerr says, “Embossing was vital to creating a stunning and tactile 'citrus' jar that creates both the look and feel of the citrus fruit that's inside. The end result is a jar that consumers want to reuse and even display in their homes – using them for everything from cocktail jars to table flower decorations.”
Being designed with that dual purpose in mind – the unique representation of the marmalade within thanks to the citrus-shape and peel-effect of the jar that 'provides the wow factor that younger shoppers look for when choosing premium products' as well as the 'easy-peel label that allows customers to upcycle with ease' – means that Duerr's is ticking lots of boxes with its new launch.
The industry is taking note too, with the Citrus Jar winning Best Packaging Design at the World Food Innovation Awards. Feedback included: 'Looks like peel, feels like peel. All round great packaging design. No wonder shoppers can't wait to buy, use and then repurpose the jars.’ This shows that Ardagh and Duerr's launch has started something big. Already a packaging partner for many of the world's biggest brands, Ardagh Group – with 109 glass and metal manufacturing facilities in 22 countries – has 'a reputation for innovation, pushing the boundaries of what's possible, pioneering new production methods, new design techniques, and new ways to recycle and save energy'.
Ardagh used crossover innovation to deliver high-definition embossing on glass, with the team adapting technology that is traditionally used in the chocolate sector to add interesting texture to glass. The resulting 'sculptured embossing' technique creates intricate detail with depth and dimension such as the peel-effect of the Duerr's Citrus Jar. This adds a truly premium feel to glass packaging. Ardagh Glass Europe design manager Carsten Berkau says, “The technology has brought benefits in terms of design aesthetic and quality improvement, which has made it a real win with our customers. Following the success and positive customer feedback, we have invested in two in-house design licenses for the Sculptured Embossing software, which are now available to our glass customers worldwide.”
Embossed glass has also been used to great effect by Scottish beverage brand Crabbie's, famous for its green ginger wine. Owned by Halewood International Holdings since 2007, Crabbie's was founded by John Crabbie & Co in Edinburgh in 1801 and has continually been associated with its alcoholic and non-alcoholic ginger wine and beer as well as various scotch whiskies.
Crabbie's brand manager Michelle Chadwick tells Converting Today, “Crabbie's heritage, provenance and character is proudly bottled up into its quality packaging which reflects the brand's traditional, craft appeal. Adorned with the beautiful design of our prominent, trademark Asian elephant – which is natural to the area where our ginger is sourced – it inspires and captures consumer interest with its unique story. It's such a strong, distinctive symbol of our brand identity, that it's embossed onto the lower shoulder of each bottle, together with the date that Crabbie's was established.”
Chadwick adds, “Glass is the preferred choice when it comes to making a brand stand out on the shelf. In terms of embossing, it's the 'in thing' in glass packaging, enhancing appeal and making the Crabbie's bottle truly unique.”
Halewood International Holdings worked with well-known glass packaging manufacturer Beatson Clark to develop the bottles for its Alcoholic Ginger Beer. Chadwick notes, “It's very important to get the look and feel right to evoke what a brand stands for, provide better cut-through on the shelf, and enhance the experience and enjoyment. Our packaging is consistent, relevant and simplistic – and set to attract and retain customers.”
On the box
Embossing on cardboard is also subject to innovation and Luton-based Foldabox offers this fast-track-to-luxury packaging solution using a new approach. Established in 2005 to work alongside its sister company, bespoke bag and packaging manufacturer Nile Consultancy, Foldabox is dedicated to meeting the demand for high-quality luxury packaging in the specialist field of space-saving folding boxes.
Foldabox specialises in creating folding boxes for luxury gift packaging in smaller volumes, a niche it identified and has proved to be highly successful. A new approach to embossing is a core offer from Foldabox, and the company's attention to detail means that it has developed a new technique to truly add value. Foldabox branding director Nigel Taylor tells Converting Today, “We don't offer embossing. We do the opposite of embossing, which is where the letters are raised from the surface; what we do is called debossing, where the image is pressed into the surface. Debossing offers a very stylish top-end finish to a high quality box. This is luxury packaging and debossed foil provides the perfect finishing touch.”
Taylor continues, “Debossing is a 'craftsman' process – a world away from high-tech digital printing. The machines we use are large, heavy, and need care and careful maintenance to produce consistently great results. We can offer blind debossing, which is an impression with no colour, and debossed foil, also known as foil blocking, where a sheet of foil is introduced before the machine closes to make the impression. It's even possible to use two colours of foil.”
As brands continually look for ways to enhance shelf appeal and tap into the highly-profitable luxury market, Foldabox has identified that embossing offers a visible advantage. Taylor says, “We're seeing a trend towards tone-on-tone foil, which is a very stylish and subtle approach: gloss black on a matt black box, or shiny silver on matt silver boxes for example. Colour-wise, rose gold and copper have been proving popular recently. Foil blocking debossing is not an inexpensive process but the results often look stunning.”