Lindy Hughson, associate publisher, business press at Yaffa Publishing, examines the homegrown design talent in the fast moving FMCG packaging market.
Australian packaging design competes favourably on the world stage, but our local talent is under-utilised and there's a need for input from pack designers earlier on in the brand development process than is current practice. These are among several key messages conveyed in the recently published annual PKN+ AdNews Pack Design Special.
The publication airs the views of many of Australia's leading packaging designers, across topics that are close to the collective heart of this fraternity under pressure to deliver better packaging design faster and cheaper than ever before.
Asked how our designs fare by global comparison, local agencies gave a mixed response.
Australian packaging design can, and does, compete successfully on the world stage – as a recent WorldStar win for structural design agency Outerspace Design attests – but there's scope for so much more. Some designers feel there's too great a distinction between pack design and brand design. As a result, local talent (which abounds) is not harnessed optimally as designers are often only called in to develop the pack concept long after the creative direction for the brand has already been set.
Pack design, as a key element of brand design, is more successful when it forms part of the creative process from the outset, and designers and brand managers need to work together to integrate packaging early in the creative process.
Some designers maintain the scope for truly innovative design is limited by our market size and ever-tightening marketing budgets, which means overseas designs are often adapted for Australian markets rather than developing a fresh design from the ground up. But there are also examples of innovative brand and pack design, most often for small entrepreneurial brand owners who are open to pushing creative boundaries.
In the face of the increasing onslaught from private label – a segment in which there is significant design work coming to the fore – designers suggest that now is the time for brand managers to exhibit bravery, break with category conventions and make bold design decisions.
A highlight of the publication was the announcement of finalists and winners in PKN 's inaugural Shelf Shout Awards. Best New Pack Design was awarded to Percept Brand Design for the Lazy Days wine brand and label design (client – Karri Grove Estate), while Best Pack Refresh was awarded to Outerspace Design for the structural redesign of Berri's Daily Juice On-The-Go bottle.
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