||||  TIPS + TRICKS: CREATING FLAWLESS BEVERAGE PACKAGING  ||||


_BEER, CIDER, WINE AND SPIRITS PACKAGING BASICS

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You’ve distilled, fermented or brewed to perfection, and now you have a product worth packaging. But the packaging side of things isn’t as simple as envisioning a great design and having it printed on a bottle or can. To avoid backtracking and bottlenecks, always keep production in mind when you’re designing. Here’s what to consider in order to produce flawless packaging.

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- / 01 / HOW YOUR BOTTLE SHAPE RELATES TO YOUR LABEL

If you produce wine or spirits, you’ll probably be packaging in bottles. Whether you use a stock or custom bottle, shape and size will affect how your label design can be displayed or adhered. Loop in your design team if you’re going the custom route.

We always recommend selecting a stock bottle shape or finalizing your bottle shape before signing off on label design. You’ll avoid having to throw out or rework designs, and you’ll keep budgets and timelines intact. If you have a short runway, have your bottle creator or provider share dimensions and other pertinent info early so your designers have everything they need. 

When picking a custom bottle type, consider look, fit, storage and usability. Breakages are also more of an issue with custom bottles, which is something to consider when working at the small-batch or extreme high-end scale. 

Custom isn’t the only way to achieve an ownable bottle shape. Stock bottles can generally be modified with embossing and neck and opening options. Spray coating, frosting/etching and ceramic coating can add additional differentiation. 

Beer and cider producers can go the bottle or the can route. Dark bottles are used to prevent UV exposure; cans do the same but with a wholly different look. Consider how your label will work against dark glass; if you opt for a can, check your brand is distinguishable even if a can is rotated while on display.  

- / 02 / WHETHER TO OPT FOR LABEL, SHRINK WRAP OR DIRECT PRINTING

The design on your bottle is the most important part of your package. It’s what conveys your brand and carries your messaging. It’s what compels someone to select your product from among all the others.

There are a few approaches you can use for your design. Paper labels are printed separately and then applied to your bottle; they’re used most commonly in wine and spirits. Shrink wrap or shrink sleeve labels cover the whole container and are widely used in beer and cider, although their popularity is growing in wine and spirits. 

Direct screen printing applies ceramic paint to the surface of a bottle. The paint is then fired, fusing it to the glass for a scuff- and wrinkle-proof result. A wider color palette can be realized using UV screen printing and UV inks.

We believe it’s essential to hire a quality design team to handle your packaging from inception right through to the production process. This will minimize any potential errors during production. Your design team will liaise with the printer to confirm that what’s on the page is exactly what will end up on the bottle or can, and that the printer has the right files and file types to make it all happen.

Before proceeding with the whole run, you’ll first want to go though preproduction. This includes PDF proofs, printed proofs, drawdowns and die-blanket tests. Drawdowns are a color test print on your chosen paper stock to confirm the colors of your design will print as intended. A die-blanket test involves cutting your label to size and placing it on your bottle to ensure fit before going ahead with the whole print run. 

If going the label route, consider where extra labels (and your product) will be stored; damp or humid conditions will cause certain types of papers to warp or pucker. Consider wet-strength papers, which have higher tensile strength when saturated. If your product will be cellared, consider direct printing to reduce the risk of bubbling, wrinkling or tearing.  

- / 03 / CUSTOM CAPSULES, TOPPERS AND CLOSURES

These cap off the experience of your product, providing an additional branding moment while also being functional. From screw tops to corks in materials spanning wood, ceramic and aluminum, they’re ripe for customization. If you’re going with a stock bottle option, a custom capsule, topper or closure is a simple, cost-effective solution for taking your packaging up a notch. 

Work closely with your vendor so you know the status of your order at all times, and have some test pieces made to ensure a good fit with your bottle design. Your design team will help you review the deliverable and make sure that it looks, and fits, the part. You’ll also want to gauge availability and ensure that you can get the item you need for years to come. 

- / 04 / DESIGNING AND PRINTING SHIPPING BOXES

Product shippers, cartons and containers make a great branding first impression, but they bring their own set of challenges. Lead times vary depending on the materials being used and the design complexity, so factor this into your production schedule. Get started early, but not too early – your vendor will need a sample of your bottle or container to confirm fit.

Most shippers use a type of printing called flexographic printing. This process uses flexible printing plates mounted on cylinders to press the desired design on to your material. It’s fast, versatile and cost effective, but it does have some limitations. It can’t reproduce highly detailed designs, and colors tend not to be as bold. Digital printing can be an option, but is better for small quantities. 

Your design team can help create a design that optimizes your shipper while working within the capabilities of final printing.

NEED SOME HELP WITH YOUR BEER, CIDER, WINE AND SPIRITS PACKAGING PRODUCTION?

We’ve spent years designing and creating high-performing packaging. Wherever you are in the packaging process, we’re happy to step up in a consultation or creation capacity, taking you through the process and ensuring that the end result is top-shelf. 


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