Bits, Bytes, Branding

Posted: May 16, 2014 by
Linda Casey

In a matter of weeks and with less than $10,000, Aaron Powers, president and CEO of Aquagenics Technologies, was able to take Natural House from concept to marketplace. Compelled by both his desire as a husband and father to provide safe cleaning solutions that wouldn’t aggravate his wife’s allergies and the want to showcase the marketability of Aquagenics’ industrial strength, eco-friendly, probiotic line of cleaning products. Powers embraced technology to launch the premium, natural household cleaners brand.

“Natural House has acted as a marketing magnet for us,” Powers explains, “because we were able to pull this off with a shoestring budget.” Aquagenics’ internal biochemical laboratory, a wide-format Roland ( printer and an Allen Datagraph Systems’ ( roll-to-roll iTech Axxis HS Digital Label Printer enable the firm to launch product for testing quickly and affordably and efficiently adjust the formulations and the packaging based on that feedback.

 “Where some people have three different points or three different process centers, we have a single, central hub, which everything radiates from—allowing us to be ultra efficient,” Powers adds “We’re able to run circles around any competitors in the field that are constricted by traditional print processes and a totally outside, disconnected graphic design processes.”

The company has had the Roland inkjet printer for approximately six years, and it proved to be a flexible solution for printing labels that look good and stand up to harsh environments. So Powers knew that a digital printing system could produce high-quality, high-performance labels when Aquagenics purchased an Allen Datagraph Systems’ roll-to-roll iTech HS Digital Label Printer to produce higher volume labels that are applicator ready. “The web of excess material is removed from the label roll, leaving optimized [dieless diecut] labels ready for our automatic label machines to place on our bottled products,” Powers exclaims.

Same day service
By helping get salable product out the door, in-house printing and cutting also helps the creative team at DesignPac contribute to the bottom line for parent company— Inc. “Emergencies happen,” Scott Jensen, vice president of product development and packaging engineering at DesignPac, says. “Sometimes, packaging from a vendor doesn’t come in right or stock of a popular product is running low or you have an excellent idea that you need a small quantity to test quickly.” In these situations, Jensen’s team uses its internal printing and cutting equipment to create production-quality packaging quickly.

“But we try not to lean too heavily on those resources for manufacturing because those resources are focused on development and innovation,” Jensen adds. “Our business is extremely fast paced. When I first joined DesignPac, we needed more control over the package design innovation. Having this speed to market changed the game here at DesignPac and increased our innovation along the way. Now we can leverage an internal design staff, with both structural and graphic designers—to turn a concept, a sketch or simply an idea into something tangible. Often this starts with our Zund ( cutter creating a white sample so our internal graphics team has something in hand for art direction.

The quicker process enables Jensen’s creative team to feed and support the corporation’s revenue stream by quickly executing a concept from a retailer or conceive a new offering to present to a retail buyer.

The local ‘seen’
Sean Lilly Wilson, president of North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, is the founder, “chief executive optimist,” and although the title isn’t on his business cards or email signature—CMO—of Fullsteam Brewery. Working with an international team, Wilson has created a brand identity with package design that uses original illustrations, color and decorative type. “I have a designer [Christian Helms of Helms Workshop,] in Austin, TX, and an illustrator [Wilson’s longtime friend, Kurt Lightner,] in Sweden and a printer [Logo Label Printing,] in Durham,” Wilson explains.

Despite the miles between the partners, the team is highly collaborative, right down to executing the designs. That’s how Wilson’s favorite beer label design—the initial offering of First Frost—was born. “That label did a good job of capturing that kind of love for local persimmons and this beautiful beer is a unique piece of art.” Wilson says. Each bottle is individually numbered.

 “I still have a bottle,” Wilson continues. “Label No. 1 of 800 bottles of this persimmon beer. The globe persimmons are intentionally slightly offset to add a touch of ‘digitally rendered imperfection,’ if you will. The imperfection evokes a time and an era of art.

“We won a national Good Food award for this beer,” Wilson adds. “I spoke at the food show in San Francisco at the Ferry Building. Before me was the keynote speaker, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, the godmother of the Eat Local movement in California.”

This retro look also resonates with Fullsteam’s local market, and the durable packaging is inspiring the brand to give fans more opportunities to interact with the brewery’s artwork. “The EFI ( Jetrion press’ UV cured ink is hard as nails,” says Dave Grossman, COO of Logo Label Printing, which prints packaging on an EFI Jetrion press for Fullsteam Brewery. “So Sean and I are talking about other ways we can use his labels, including making extra labels to sell as bumper stickers—giving Fullsteam even more marketing exposure.”