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Manufacturing Excellence: The Building Blocks of Stronger Brands

By: Simon James
Posted: October 14, 2008, from the June 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

The competitive pressures facing consumer product companies in the health and beauty sector not only continue unabated, but continue to grow. As a recent Wall Street Journal article points out, more marketing dollars are shifted toward packaging and point-of-purchase promotions, increasing from $17.6 to $18.6 billion. As more new products are introduced each year, efficiently managing the package-design chain will only grow in importance.

Savvy marketers realize they can gain

key competitive advantages in speeding time-to-market by driving out inefficiencies in the package-design chain, while, at the same time, fostering the innovative packaging that helps build brands.

Implementing a software and hardware suite that manages and integrates the packaging supply chains from ideation to production is a demonstrable way to achieve these goals. An ideal design life-cycle management solution allows consumer product companies, private-label retailers and their graphic communication partners to communicate, collaborate, and execute packaging in the most efficient and innovation-fostering way possible.

As efficient communication and collaboration are obviously good things—and managing the actual production of a package is even better—design life-cycle management means business, literally. Lest you think this is a pie-in-the-sky conceptual artifice, let me give you a very technical example. Software applications are available that contain advanced trapping and ink tools, allowing designers to ascertain that their renderings can actually be printed in the colors they’ve selected. This is no small feat, as it allows potential production problems to be resolved long before a design is sent off to the printing plant, and thus reduce time-to-market and related expenses.

Knowing the challenges that lay ahead in the package design process is paramount. When we consult with potential health and beauty clients, we make it a point to know the terrain and understand their design-chain management issues in the aggregate. How many layers of approval are there in-house? How many brand managers, designers, lawyers, and corporate executives? Outside the company, how many stakeholders exist, such as ad agencies, design firms, prepress, converters, printers, and various suppliers?