You raise me up

29 April 2019

A popular shortcut to luxury, embossing is an appealing way to add value to your brand. But with the expense usually associated with embossing both a positive in terms of value proposition yet a potential barrier in terms of cost, plenty of options are available that deliver the positives without the negatives. Emma-Jane Batey reports.

All those visual cues that packaging offer to either obviously or subtly share an element of the brand identity – gold elements, heavy weight, that appealing click of the closure – sit well alongside embossing. Brands have long relied on embossing to convey their point of difference, with cheaper brands unable to compete due to the associated costs.


Yet now that packaging is being shaken up, and previously 'cheap' cues like brown paper are considered artisan and light-weighting is considered responsible across the value chain, where does that leave embossing?


Glass packaging expert PONT Europe says that embossing is firmly in the realm of accessible for everyone, thanks to its unique innovative of 3D labels that are suited to both glass and plastic packaging. PONT's 3D labels give the impression of embossed packaging but without the tooling cost – and indeed, they tie into the all-important second-life of glass packaging as they can be easily removed with hot water. PONT's marketing director Ulric Lonfils tells Converting Today, “Our 3D labels are a perfect solution for innovative brands that are keen to empower their premium or traditional product positioning. This attractive solution gives volume to brands without having to invest in the high tooling costs of real embossing – the transparency of the labels and the ease of applying them to a range of substrates means that anyone can incorporate them into their packaging.”


Embossed without cost


PONT has over 100 years of experience in developing and manufacturing glass packaging, so it's knowledge is second to none. Lonfils continues, “We love glass and we know that brands and consumers love glass too; it looks beautiful – especially our wonderful glass carafes that are hugely popular for soups and juices and are perfect for reuse as vases and on-table jugs – and glass helps to add a timeless luxury to brands. By adding our 3D labels to glass packaging, brands get the best of both worlds; the premium association of glass and the sustainability element of reusing the packaging, while also being able to brand the packaging exactly as they want, at a price they can afford. Our 3D labels are really shaking up the packaging sector.”


Brands agree that embossing adds a certain something to packaging, and with so many categories crowded with excellent offers and terrific new launches, whatever can  be done to differentiate has to be embraced. For Halewood International, the UK's leading independent alcoholic drinks manufacturer and distributor, it's latest launch highlights how the story of a brand can be cleverly told through fabulous packaging.


Halewood has recently launched a heritage Cornish spiced rum brand Dead Man's Fingers, with its unique storytelling a key differentiator in what is a fast-growing sector. While artisan gin has been having a moment for quite some time, rum is now the new kid in the category, with the masculine branding of Dead Man's Fingers gaining fans across demographics. Brand manager for rum at Halewood Lucy Cottrell tells Converting Today, “Packaging is the only marketing tool where 100% of purchasers will touch, so at Halewood packaging is of huge importance. We have extensive facilities in-house and we take a great deal of time to get each product packaging just right. Branding is a huge part of customer appeal and we approached the Dead Man's Fingers' branding in true Halewood style; we love taking risks! But they're calculated risks...when we acquired the incredible Dead Man's Fingers brand from the independent Cornish owner that set it up, we knew we wanted to stay true to the Cornish heritage and the fabulous storytelling of the black and gold packaging. Now we're in our second implementation across the range but it's still got that raw, Cornish, masculine feel.”


Premium packaging


The premium styling of the Dead Man's Fingers' black glass bottle with gold rough lettering branding is key to its on shelf and online appeal, as well as cleverly tying in to its dark spiced rum characteristics. Cottrell continues, “Packaging is the single most powerful tool to position your product in the market, so we've taken the Halewood ethic of giving convention the finger by creating this awesome heavy black glass packaging that's like nothing else! Dead Man's Fingers pops off the shelf, just like our other eye-catching brands. Most dark spirits look fairly similar in terms of packaging, but we broke the category by using our black bottles. The black and gold packaging has been a real evolution; now we've invested in a bespoke mould to increase the premium look and feel. We've gone from a metal closure to a cork, which gives added cache for the price point. Our gold embossed lettering is all done in-house too; the embossed elements really elevate the brand. We work closely with our producers to make sure that every aspect is true to the rugged spiced rum that we love.”


It's interesting to think that this traditional technique is enjoying a fresh new way to be appreciated, either as 3D labels or as embossing on glass for a rugged new brand. For Pryor Marking, a 170 year old company that specialises in creating the tools needed to produce embossing of all types, its unrivaled knowledge of embossing means that it is the perfect observer of trends across the sector.


Old and new


Pryor Marking's sales and marketing manager Lydia Paul tells Converting Today how the company has cleverly stayed at the forefront of the embossing technique through constant innovation alongside an appreciation for traditional methods. Paul says, “Pryor's solutions encompass the three essential tools for implementing traceability within manufacturing operations – precision marking equipment, vision devices and data management software. We were founded in Sheffield in 1849 and Pryor has grown into a single source supplier, offering a complete portfolio of solutions.


Paul explains, “For the packaging industry, we produce indenting types or logotypes – although this is what our engraving expert says is not embossing but may be what other industries refer to as embossing! Packaging type has declined over the last ten years as more and more companies have moved to ink jet applications for speed of process. However, while the embossed die market has declined during the past five years, during the last 12 months there has been a growing interest in embossing as a method of product branding. For embossing, the majority of our products are manufactured for marking steel; metal and stainless steel components for industrial applications. Many embossing and debossing applications have moved over to CNC machining which provides greater accuracy and is essential when controlling tolerance and depth, both critical factors in the embossing process.”


Pryor Marking offers both normal engraving and reverse engraving, with the latter popular with blister packaging applications. Paul adds, “When assessing customer requirements, key elements to consider are the material that is being marked (hardness is the main factor), the depth of the emboss or deboss required and the tonnage that the customer has available on their machine. Each project is different and every enquiry we receive has to be assessed based on its specific requirements.”


It's no wonder that embossing is seen as an added value packaging element when there are so many aspects to consider, not least the costly tooling and technical expertise required to make sure the character is maintained.

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