Designing Digitally Printed Custom Packaging
Time to read 8 min
Time to read 8 min
A pain point for most brands is the cost of their packaging. The problem is they all take a one-size-fits-all approach to their design, and print that design over and over. But what if you could have multiple design options, and change with the market? Well, designing digitally printed custom packaging means just that.
Digital printing used to have the stigma of only being good for low volume, but now that we live in the age of ‘personalization’, you need to do more with your packaging.
Your packaging is a valuable marketing asset. It communicates your brand, your product, and it helps to leap out at your target customers.
Read on to learn about how Digital Printing will take your packaging to the next level!
Table Of Contents
At Bennett, we offer a variety of printing methods, but we are Digital Printing specialists. That’s because we were one of the first manufacturers to invest in Digital, and that’s put us ahead of the learning curve.
Check out the three main printing methods below:
Digital is the best choice for ultimate customization, creating multiple designs, and getting to market faster than your competition. No printing plates, which means no tooling costs, and no waiting for the plates to be created.
The Flexo process applies colors to your packaging one-color at a time. This won’t produce high quality images, but it is the most commonly used printing style. There are tooling costs, and production lead time though.
Finally, Litho involves printing a design directly onto the corrugated substrate. This produces a sleek image and is great for a premium look. The downsides are the tooling costs, production lead time, lack of customization, and the large material waste.
Related: Printing Coating Options
When designing your packaging, think about it from the target customer’s perspective. Is this made for me?
The payoff for branding that takes a targeted approach means that their product and packaging becomes an instagrammable experience. Rather than being a throwaway element, the packaging is part of the experience.
You move packaging from the commodity to become a personal experience that customers will come back for!
Taking your product to market is now less expensive than it has ever been. Digital Printing gives you the flexibility to quickly prototype, adjust your messaging, and change with the marketplace.
Here are 8 benefits of Digital Printing that will take your brand from plain to premium.
First, let’s talk about designs. So many brands take a one-size-fits-all approach to their packaging, and that’s because they’re using traditional methods.
If you have alternate product sizes, special product offerings, or are testing a new product - Digital is the answer. Quickly iterate on your design as fast as you can imagine.
Next, create a special sales event, and print that directly on your packaging. If you put your packaging in a display, and the packaging stands out with a fresh design, that will increase sales!
Change your logo, color choice, and create one time only designs.
Or if you are heading to a trade show, adjust your packaging to match the event quickly and without any additional costs or lead time. No other method can allow you to do that.
When you want to create packaging, other printing methods need several weeks in lead time, and the up front costs to create printing plates. That means before you get your first package, you need an up front budget.
These are one-time costs, and can discourage many brands from creating alternate packaging designs. Imagine if you didn’t need to factor those into your budget? Where else could that money go?
Your packaging is the first interaction most customers will have with your product. That means you need to bring as much creativity to the packaging.
Adjusting your messaging with the marketplace can help you create a successful product launch with eye-catching designs.
Are you going through a brand refresh? Send the new art file.
Small volume designs used for promotional events are easy for Digital, not to mention extremely cost effective when compared to other printing methods.
Many health, cosmetic, and food items use this approach. Adjusting their colors, ingredients, and even new products to test in the marketplace.
Forget about a generic looking packaging design. Choose something more professional.
Next, consider the speed to market that Digital Printing gives you. Deliver alternate artwork to Bennett, and get it printing on your packaging by the end of the day. What other printing method can give you that?
Step up your game with VDB, Variable Data Printing. That means you create an extremely personalized package, even including your customer’s name.
While this isn’t unique to Digital, you can easily create unique designs for product variations utilizing the inside of the packaging.
Give your customer an experience of luxury, or one that’s fun and vibrant. Change the messaging based on the product type (a Red Wine over a White Wine). The sky’s the limit.
That gives the customer something worth sharing online, aka free advertising!
Finally, Digital Printing gives you the best bang for your buck. There is no minimum for it thanks to the no-tooling costs.
Make a product and attack a new niche directly. Create prototypes while you figure out the marketplace.
No matter what reason you are looking at Digital for, there’s a great reason to try it.
The actual design process with Digital is similar to other methods, but it really opens the door up to new possibilities with colors and fonts.
The designs can be anything that fits with your brand. Read on to learn some tips for designing packaging with Digital Printing.
Typical printing methods offer a CMYK printing style ( Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). But with Digital Presses, you can print the entire CMYK color gamut with 2 more colors, OG!
Instead of creating Orange or Green by using color combinations, it includes those base colors for a richer appearance.
Your designs can take full advantage of this CMYK + OG color capability with bright and vibrant graphics that POP at retail.
A special bonus that Digital Printing brings you in the design process is better black ink.
Typically, many ink layers are needed in a single location to generate the proper black desired in a design, but that can lead to printing and drying issues. Not to mention it can easily smear or smudge, and is generally avoided.
Often black is created by combining 100% Black, 100% Cyan, 100% Magenta, 100% Yellow. That means your ink coverage will be 400%! And if it fails to cure properly, you will have one of the above mentioned production issues.
Instead, using 100% Black and 30% of the other colors, you will create a deep and rich Black color, without the issues.
But, Digital can have issues with Black ink and sometimes suffer from overspray. Be careful when designing with pure black elements to ensure your design prints properly.
Next you want to make sure that your fonts are readable on the packaging. Typically you want to avoid smaller fonts, sticking with 10pt or larger.
You do need to be careful with cursive and thin fonts, but Digital allows you to iterate quickly and see what option works best with your prototypes.
A key thing to do is converting your text to outlines to make sure they display correctly during the printing process.
With all steps, be sure to check in with your printer to ensure your deliverables are approved.
Choosing a reversed type option can be a great design, contracting white text on a black or dark background.
If you do choose a reversed type approach, you will need to choose a heavier font to have the text display properly.
Avoid small symbols in these scenarios, trademarks, registration marks, etc. These can easily disappear due to their thin size.
Typically your artwork should have a minimum bleed of 0.125” on all sides, including the glue flaps on the design. Doing so will ensure you are in the safe zone.
During the printing process, you will use the bleed if your design needs to touch the edge of the dieline. Your designer will then extend the artwork slightly beyond the edge to stop any interference during the cutting process.
Lastly, your file resolution needs to be a high enough resolution for print. That means 300dpi is needed. Files with 150dpi or less will look “fuzzy” and low resolution. Not something you want to pay to print!
Sometimes lower resolution imagery can suffer from a type of “aliasing”. Which means you can have pixelation, diagonal lines that form a staircase are edges.
Now that you’ve designed your custom digitally printed packaging, the correct file type is needed to upload to the Digital Press.
We accept most file formats, but prefer Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, ArtiosCAD, or something similar. But be sure to check with your printer for their exact specifications.
Bennett is a premier packaging and retail displays manufacturing company striving to protect and promote our clients' products with customized corrugated solutions. When you work with us, you’re part of the family. We will partner with you every step of the way.
With our fully-integrated design-to-delivery process, we can be the single supplier source. We are an award-winning manufacturer of virtually anything corrugate. We offer everything from plain brown shipping boxes to sophisticated, high-graphic printed point-of-purchase displays, and everything in between.
Digital Printing is when you print a digital-based image onto some form of print media. It allows a more versatile printing style compared to traditional methods, and it allows you to create unique designs for different product sizes.
Variable Data Printing (VDP) means printing completely custom designs for your customers. This is only possible with Digital Printing, and it leads to a new level of personalization.