New Product Development - the Designers' View

Posted by Meridian Design Team - Andy, Naomi, Gaz, Rachael on 9th Mar 2018

In the last few months, the design department has been thoroughly busy designing, developing and producing a whole new product range hoping to feature in next year’s brochure. The final shortlist is more or less completed and we are planning to introduce over fifty new lines from the hundreds of prototypes we created.

At Meridian we know how important it is to continually expand the stock packaging range - adding more gift packaging or filling out segments such as our popular hamper trays. It's a time of year when we as a design team are asked to turn our gaze inwards - instead of working on custom packaging projects for our customers, we work on our own range and Meridian becomes the customer (probably our most demanding one!!)

After months of hard work, weekly meetings and vital prototyping, the project is now coming to an end. Excitement hit hard in the design department as the new challenge was set with two new designers joining our team. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce a new and fresher range which will complement our current products - and to plug some key gaps in the range.

The aim was to expand our existing Christmas, Love and Easter range and additionally consider trying to break into the Halloween market while also being able to showcase what we could do and create as a design agency as well as a manufacturing company.

A Creative Mess

t's fair to say a bomb site quickly developed in the studio (Yes, we did clear it all up eventually! It was called expressing ourselves!) with an estimated 200 designs and concepts being generated and sampled - some concepts working and others going straight into the bin.

An example of the extensive reject pile! (some of which we cried over)

It was a harsh process which included us quickly generating as manyideas as possible no matter how simple or crazy as this was the only way of achieving product exploration. Inspiration was gathered from existing packaging products, visiting our local supermarkets and scrolling down what felt like thousands of Pinterest boards.

With a brief so broad, our designers established their own interpretations of how our new ranges will look, with the hope of generating a successful design. With over 30 years of design experience collated between them and a new set of eyes, our designers took it upon themselves to tackle the new artwork and create fresh, fun packaging which would rocket off our stock shelves.

Experimentation with Structure and Finishing Techniques

Experimenting and drafting new templates, these products have included a range of new advents; Single Door, Double Door, Kraft and Pyramid advents; Character Bag Sleeves; Seasonal Afternoon Tea Boxes and Seasonal Crackers.

More examples of packaging which didn't make the grade - but we'll never forget it...perhaps you like it enough to ask us to produce it...!!

We wanted to explore both printing and hot press foiling options. Most of the samples were printed with artwork we had generated through Illustrator and Photoshop which was altered or amended. As we have a Kongsberg X20 CAD machine, we can print and cut out digital samples which help us quickly visualise how a final product would work or look. Hot press foiling is a cheaper alternative to printing, however can bring a design to life with simplicity or intricate detail.

Customer Feedback - the Vital Step

After exploring all our possibilities, we have managed to narrow the designs down to a select few which underwent customer feedback. This was a crucial step of the marketing process as we needed to see if the products have the potential to sell. A design can be incredible, however if its priced to high due to expensive production, or even just impractical, this can cause product failure. In addition to this, it’s essential to be as original as possible to complete against the mass market. Nevertheless, this has enabled us to express our creativity and truly explore potential designs and areas which potentially have never been considered before now.

We generated a small electronic brochure and a customer survey which was sent directly to lots of customers and promoted via our website - hopefully you participated but look out for next year's pack if not! Our hope was to find lines that people loved - and we learned a great deal about attitudes to colour and form in the process. This enabled us to receive constructive feedback which will determine which of our drafted products will be most successful and popular if put into production. Even if they don’t feature in the brochure, we will be able to showcase these concepts to different customers, some of which have already worked with us to create custom lines for their own ranges based on our original concepts. That's a hugely rewarding part of the process.

The End - what happens next?!

It is a slight relief to see that the end is near and that a fair few of the drafted-up designs will be hitting the shelves in the next two months ahead of the launch of our new brochure. The design team has worked so well together and we're so proud of the range we've produced. We can’t wait for you all to see our final products!

Want to develop something with us?

For any queries about custom packaging, please contact the team...