/PANTONE 2017 (EMEA)
/PANTONE 2017 (EMEA)

How to Work With Metallics—And Your Printer—To Create Packaging Designs That Outshine the Competition

6/17/2019

How to Work With Metallics—And Your Printer—To Create Packaging Designs That Outshine the Competition


One of the key challenges facing every packaging designer is how to help your client’s product stand out. Since a potential consumer gets their first impression of a product through its packaging, impactful design can provide the competitive advantage necessary to make it off the shelf, and into their cart.

Using metallic colors in packaging is one way graphic designers can catch the eye of the consumer in a retail setting. These shiny, shimmery hues evoke luxury and elegance, and lend a ‘premium’ touch that can differentiate a product from its competitors. That’s why Pantone Metallics Guide and Chips Books offer over 350 durable Packaging Metallics colors and more than 300 metallic inks for commercial graphics projects.

If you’ve specified metallic colors before, you know sometimes printers can balk when it comes to putting these specialty inks into production. To help designers better use metallic inks in their packaging designs, Pantone caught up with Scott Hosa, Associate Director of Technical Graphics at Landor Associates and super-savvy former printer. Scott shares some of his favorite examples of metallics used to enhance premium product packaging, as well as tips on how to work with your printer to challenge their assumptions about metallics, and get the most out of your designs.

Scott, a printing veteran-cum-designer, hears “no” a lot in his job reviewing print feasibility and packaging development at Landor, a global brand consultancy with a long list of well-recognized clients. “For the consumer product companies that we serve, ‘no’ is the default answer when approving packaging embellishments like metallics,” Scott notes. “And for good reason, as foil stamping, spot varnish, and embossing can become expensive and ultimately subjected to rigorous handling and threats of possible damage when packaging is assembled, filled, packed, shipped, and then unpacked.”

“But designers want this cool stuff on our packaging because it works,” Scott points out. “Competition is tough and relentless. The right special effect can attract consumers and create significant return on investement.”

Through his experience first as a printer, and then as a designer, Scott has learned how to challenge both typical design and production logistics. Below, Scott shares some of his favorite product packaging case studies demonstrating the successful specification and application of metallic spot inks.

Exhibit A – Product Innovation

Challenge: Create a design that delivers attention to a revolutionary product design. The brand wanted a metallic foil wordmark but the shape, size, and style won’t allow transparent ink to register and read as foil.

Scott: “Febreze ONE marks a milestone in the evolution of the brand with a dynamic actuator that works on both fabrics and in the air, and allows you to switch between other scent refills. This breakthrough of strong odor fighting with a delicate scent deserved an equally-paired wordmark.

The strong metallic letters could not be achieved with transparent ink over silver foil because of the registration tolerances required in the delicate features of the letterforms. Metallic blue ink provided the slight punch needed, it could be used throughout the sleeve (including the smaller fine print), and it could be easily registered on press. A spot ‘soft-touch’ varnish adds a premium tactile finish that elevates the glossy details.”

Solution: Metallic ink was used for the workmark instead of foil, with a complementary spot “soft touch” varnish to highlight the details.

Exhibit B – “Healthy” Premium Packaging

Challenge: Making metallic ink pop next to the matte finishing, to create brand packaging that is affordable to produce, but with a luxurious look.

Scott: "The packaging for Blue Diamond’s Gourmet Almonds was made with the same meticulous attention as the product it contains. Front and center is the fine product styling, photography, and printing. A matte background is accented with an etched watermark effect. And metallic ink provides the ideal premium cue and maintains the appropriate priority of communication."

Solution: Subtle, carefully placed metallic ink accents with added spot varnish were used to create just the right level of impact.

Wrap Up – Challenge your designs, and your printer.

Always fascinated by technology and committed to pushing the limits, Scott continues to work with metallic inks and encourages designers to not always accept “no” for an answer.

“I am very fortunate to work every day with wonderful printers and grateful when they share their capabilities. I get so excited to discover new techniques that I feel like Charlie in the chocolate factory,” Scott says. “I encourage designers to explore the wonders of packaging and create their own cool stuff. If you see something that catches your eye, share it with your printer. Find out how it’s done. Challenge them to reproduce it or make something better.”

Collaborating creatively with printers and producers has helped Scott overcome or avoid the barriers between his ideas and their execution. “Working hard together to satisfy our customer and building trust in each other have allowed us to quickly innovate, solve problems, and minimize risk,” he observes. “Designers should share ideas with downstream partners early in the process and let printers use their talent and expertise to help bring your ideas to life.”

Shop Pantone Metallics

Metallic Chips Book
Metallic Chips Book
€336.00 (inc. VAT)
Metallics Guide
Metallics Guide
€144.00 (inc. VAT)