How sustainable packaging adds value to companies’ brands


For some time now, the entire NOMON DESIGN team –both personally and professionally– has been tending towards a common interest: boosting sustainability. We have been particularly focused on trying to work out ways to reduce­–or even completely suppress–plastic packaging from our lives and consumer habits.

Consistent with this purpose, we have been busy researching, seeking and learning about alternatives of conventional materials and technologies. We have attended specific trade shows, and we have been meeting with suppliers specialising in this particular area. We have furthermore made the commitment to becoming a more sustainable NOMON by identifying and executing a number of measures, including obtaining the B Corp business certificate.

During the last edition of Barcelona Design Week, we have organised a workshop with our client Zicla, in which we shared the company’s success story –How to create a branding for a sustainable company–, and we were pleased to find out that this is a shared concern among many professionals of our sector.

During the session, we reflected on sustainability. We agreed on the fact that design and designers are important promoters and levers for change. We also discussed how in recent years sustainable packaging design has been increasingly becoming a differentiating factor for companies that embrace their own willingness to change, as well as to promote new shopping habits and consumer awareness.


What do we mean by sustainable packaging?

57% of professionals in our business sector believe that sustainability and recyclability are major trends in product packaging (Gráffica magazine, nº 9, Packaging). But, first of all, it would be important to define what “sustainable packaging” actually is. As a matter of fact, once we delve into this subject, we realise that it covers a lot of typically unknown aspects.

Among all the available definitions, we particularly relate with the characteristics exposed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. This organisation claims packaging is sustainable when:

– it is safe and salutary for people throughout their life cycle
– it meets the market criteria in performance and costs
– it is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy
– it optimises the use of renewable or recycled source materials
– it is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
– it is made of materials that are going to be healthy throughout the life cycle
– it is physically designed to optimise resources and energy
– it is effectively recovered and utilised in closed loop cycles

Taking into account the above-mentioned criteria, we can clearly see that packaging is sustainable, not merely based on principles related to the origin of the utilised materials, or even their subsequent management, but rather encompassing a much broader context such as safety, performance or costs. In other words, sustainable packaging is a balance between the general objectives of sustainability and the care for the environment, and the economic objectives of companies and markets.


Packaging design as a fundamental part of the branding process

For some time now, branding agencies and professionals who are dedicated to the conceptualisation and design of packaging understand that, in addition to attracting, informing, and convincing the consumer, packaging is a very important part in the construction of company brands, creating long-term value.

A new generation of more environmentally-conscious and responsible consumers are demanding plastic-free packs, with environmentally-friendly, renewable, biodegradable or reusable materials. And brands need to act accordingly.

When conceptualising a piece of packaging we must not lose sight of their effects on the environment and preferences of the consumer. Through their packaging, companies also express and reaffirm their commitment to this important issue. They turn it into a key element in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

According to a report by the OCU and the NESI Forum on New Economy and Social Innovation on Sustainable Consumption, almost three-quarters of Spanish consumers are already making purchase decisions based on ethical and sustainability reasons.

Likewise, packaging is presented as the silent seller of a brand, since it is a piece of communication that goes beyond the product itself and has the ability to connect with consumers. For this reason, this dual function –protecting the product and relating with the consumer– is what makes packaging so compelling and important for branding.

Creating a good packaging concept and design clearly projects the brand image, which in turn correlates with a branding strategy and a business model, and potentially stands as a differentiating factor, having the ability to improve sales in the different channels, both offline and online.

Purchasing habits, and the subsequent assessment that consumers make of products and their packaging through digital channels, directly influence the definition of new corporate and sales strategies for companies.


A challenge for all of us

Branding agencies, especially those like ours, which also carry out packaging design, are part of this paradigm shift. We must be prepared for the new demands of the market, and to be able to properly advise our clients.

At NOMON DESIGN we have focused on making responsible proposals to our clients, adapted to their needs and possibilities. For example, we have recently developed, alongside LC Paper–a company with over 140 years of experience, a pioneer in the manufacture of paper with zero CO2 emissions–its new packaging for the Dalia® range of ecological toilet paper products for mass consumption.

The new Dalia® packaging is mainly characterised by being the world’s first packaging, in the category of toilet paper and kitchen paper, that replaces plastic with the new concept of “transparent cardboard”.

This new packaging concept, based on printing the product image on cardboard as if it were a transparent pack, has been patented worldwide by LC Paper.

Whenever possible, we also design packaging solutions that turn packs into a part of the product itself, providing it with a use and purpose that prolongs its cycle at home, while it also has a surprise effect at the point of sale. One example is the 100% reusable pack that we designed for Lékué in 2015, and which was awarded the Bronze Laus: an apron with printed recipes used as a wrapping pack for the brand’s silicone steam case.

Furthermore, we increasingly seek and propose solutions and alternatives using more sustainable materials, taking into account the production processes and origin of the raw materials. Because we understand that packaging design is an important phase within the so-called circular economy.

The new rules and regulations imply that by 2030 all plastic packaging placed on the European market will have to be reusable or recyclable. This means eco-design ­–or ecological design– is the only alternative to the current unsustainable model of producing – consuming – throwing away.

We must work with an innovative outlook on the entire life-cycle of a product and its corresponding packaging, from its conceptualisation, design, production, marketing, and use to its subsequent transformation into waste.

In that respect, in many cases we inform and train our clients on how important and necessary it is to use sustainable solutions, not only because it adds value to the branding of their companies, but because it is a global need that requires the joint responsibility of all of us, increasingly becoming the axis on which the organisational transformation of the companies of the future will be anchored.


Esther Agustench, Creative director at NOMON DESIGN

Tags: Packaging design