The Quest for Excellence
There is something about seeing examples of some of the best packaging in North America spread out across a big conference room that can make you a little giddy. From wine and spirits labels to snacks to POP materials and more, there was an array of superb examples that showed just how astonishingly good package printing can be. The entries showcased the capabilities of technologies spanning flexography, litho, screen, and digital. There was even a new screen-printing technology in the mix, further extending the scope of entries to be judged.
Five judges whose experience spanned flexography, substrates, prepress, digital imaging, and inks and chemistry came to packagePRINTING's offices to examine, evaluate, discuss, and rank some 115 entries. Loupes in hand, they looked hard at all the submissions and at the end of the day settled on the top three in each category and the top three overall.
A big thanks goes out to our judges for taking the time out of their schedules to participate in the awards. While judging makes for an enjoyable day, it is still a challenging task to select the winners from a strong group of entries.
It was an honor to have these gentlemen taking part:
- Jim Conte, Hazen Paper
- Joe Hamway, Mark Andy
- Allan Hanlon, Esko Graphics
- Ken Hanulec, EFI-Jetrion
- Peter Menzian, Dupont
Many entries were for labels, and as we did last year, we had a separate category for wine labels. There is some terrific work being done in this segment and you can see the range of work being done in any good wine and liquor store. While you certainly can't judge a wine by its label, vintners offering up high-end wines know that labels not only help build image, but can convey a clear perception about the contents of a bottle. In fact, many purveyors of wine and spirits work actively with their chosen label converters to push the envelope and create truly compelling labels. You'll see some of the best on the following pages.
As you look at all the winners, I know you'll appreciate the imagination, skill and printing expertise that went into producing them. And I hope that seeing these will inspire you to submit your own work in the 2015 Excellence Awards.
Best of Show:
According to John McDowell, president of Plano, TX-based McDowell Label and Screen Printing, the key to creating an innovative brand package is making the exceptionally complex look simple.
That concept, combined with a high-degree of difficulty, is evident in McDowell Label's Best of Show winning wine label. Printed for Duchman Family Winery's 2012 Vermentino, the label features a soft palette beige color, a tightly registered foil stamp, doming and screen tones.
The ability to produce a large run of these labels while consistently producing its many fine details, is part of what McDowell says makes this a particularly strong entry.
"When you're printing pastels or soft palette colors, being able to effectively vignette screens with incredibly fine dots and detail is quite a significant achievement in our world," he explains.
While it's always enjoyable to see a strong finished product, McDowell says the preliminary creative process behind this label was particularly collaborative and effective. At that time, Duchman was in the midst of some significant changes to its branding. "Working with co-founder and proprietor Lisa Duchman and winemaker Dave Reilly was a great experience because they knew exactly what they wanted the finished product to look like."
Having a highly engaged brand owner working in concert with the label printing team, McDowell says, is a great way to ensure the finished product is printed to the customer's precise specifications. Being a part of a successful branding process, he adds, is an honor.
"What's fun about working with brand owners who are very creative and cognitive with respect to what they want, is that we basically give them freedom of design," McDowell says. "There was never a time where we were put in a situation where we had to tell the customer 'no.'"
From a technical perspective, Vice President of Technology Jay Luft says maintaining the fine details was one of the most challenging elements. While the front featured doming and foil stamping, vignetting in the watermark on the back label required significant attention to detail. "The design and the execution on the back label was just as important as on the front label."
The winning label was produced using a Gallus press, Dupont plates, Harper anilox rolls, Rotometrics dies and a Fasson substrate.
In addition to this label winning best of show and first place in the "wine labels–flexo, line and screen" category, McDowell Label submitted 21 additional entries that placed in the top three in their respective categories.
McDowell says receiving any type of printing award is always an honor and is quick to recognize just how much talent is in the industry. While he says there is no definitive answer as to why his company has been so successful in competitions, the company's culture and a commitment to quality is imperative in producing strong work.
"With all of our presses and all of our press operators, every shift we run and operate is run under the premise that we only manufacture and ship award winning labels," he explains. "Whether it's a one-color label or a 27-color label, the mantra and credo is being identical day to day, shift to shift, press to press, department to department, and employee to employee."
Second Place Overall:
While making top-quality labels is an obvious priority for Sanford, Fla., based Consolidated Label, the finished product is simply a bonus from succeeding in the company's highest priority–strong customer service.
Consolidated's label making skills were on full display with its eye-catching label for Tres Ochos Tequila, earning Second Place Overall and first place in the "Labels—Combination Process" category. When Operations Manager Jim Voltoline, looks back on producing this label, the time spent with the customer is what comes to mind first.
Though the customer was based in California, Voltoline says they flew to Florida to spend two days at Consolidated to make sure the finished label met their needs.
Voltoline says the two biggest features in the label are the cold foil and embossing color scheme. Producing the label was a 10-color job and combined with the additional options added to the label, Voltoline says it actually had to run through the press a second time for the final UV coating.
"The bright colors make you look in that direction when you're looking at tequilas," he says.
This winning label was printed on a Nilpeter FB-3300 press using Harper anilox rolls, Rotometrics dies, a Fasson substrate, a line screen of 150, and an anilox line count of 1100/600.
With this or any other label, Voltoline says creating something that both the company and customer can be proud of is the most important end result.
"We're trying to provide the best product out there," he says. "There's great pride put into the project from start to finish."
Third Place Overall:
And now for something completely different. Taking Third Place Overall is the entry from Monvera Glass Décor of Richmond, Calif. This wine bottle was produced using a CNC (computer numerical control) screen printing system from Fermac, an Italian company that has developed the new technology. The design wraps around the bottle and features silver and gold ceramic inks applied using a four-station Fermac 06 machine printing at a mere 80 lines per inch. The gold ink for the copy on the front and back was applied via one print station. The silver wings required the other three stations because of the way the wings wrap around the body and shoulder of the bottle. Designer Pete Nixon of Icon Design rotated and divided the wings into three sections to accommodate the changing contours of the bottle. "Combining a bottle and artwork in this way is really a kind of marriage and can be very challenging," explains Caitriona Anderson, vice president of marketing at Monvera. "Designers have to understand the bottle they are working with and create art just for that bottle."
Such unique labeling is a mainstay at Monvera, which specializes in glass decoration, including glass etching and decals, primarily for the wine and spirits industry. Anderson says the ability to print directly on odd-shaped and contoured surfaces is especially appealing in the wine and spirits industries where vintners and brand owners are always looking to convey brand image and gain eye-appeal using unique labeling approaches.
TO SEE THE 2014 EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS CLICK HERE (PDF) OR ON THE IMAGE BELOW:
Cory Francer is an analyst at NAPCO Research. He formerly served as editor-in-chief of Packaging Impressions.