Alan Gilbody

What’s next for plant based?

The world of plant-based foods has taken a bit of a pounding over the last couple of months.

Sales and consumer interest have both waned in the face of increase prices and market saturation of products.

Has the time come to take a slightly different approach with plant-based offerings?

I saw this example, from GU in a store the other day. Now, GU is underpinned by unrivalled, throw caution to the wind, indulgence. This indulgence doesn’t seem to translate that well when plant based becomes the hero of the pack.

Introducing sub ranges is a great way of building excitement in a portfolio but it should not be at the expense of your core brand values. (Especially when your product is so yummy!)

Is there an argument here that plant based could work better as more of an endorsement, rather than a hierarchal lead on pack?

#Plantbased, #PackagingDesign, #Packaging, #BrandDesign

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Using Colour In Branding

This week we will be looking at the use of colour in branding. Below we discuss 4 topics from reproduction to finishes. First up, owning a brand colour..

1. Owning a brand colour

Using colour as a visual shortcut to brand recognition is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. If I was to say name me a ‘red’ or ‘purple’ brand, the chances are you could answer pretty quickly.

If you have a large amount of SKUs or a broad portfolio, a consistent brand colour is a great way to own the shelf.

Whilst it’s difficult to own a colour outright, it’s a lot easier to own a colour within a particular sector. Take for example Colgate and Coca-Cola.

Both use a similar hue of red but because they operate in different sectors that clash becomes less apparent.

If you want to stand out however it’s difficult to be associated with a particular colour that is intrinsically linked to another brand. In these instances it’s useful to look at linking colour combinations that are distinct when used together.

A great example here is IKEA. These brand assets are managed so that the proportions of one colour versus the other are always used consistently so re-enforcing brand recognition.

These colours could either harmonise or as in the case of IKEA, create a stark contrast for increased standout. 

There are many different hues of each base colour. Darker hues of blue for example are used to convey trust where brighter and more vivid shades convey optimism and refreshment.

There are no fixed and fast rules however. It may be that the choice brand colour is used to flex a different aspect of your brand values. All banks for example, want to convey trust but clearly they can’t all borrow from a dark blue pallete as that would create confusion.

2. Colour reproduction at print

It’s always rewarding seeing your pack printed in beautiful vivid colours.

Sometimes however it’s not always possible to replicate the design as it was intended because of how it is going to be printed. 

I’ve noticed recently that some clients are preferring to move from traditional six station print jobs (using Pantones) to cheaper CMYK runs. Especially on pack outers or secondary packs. The benefit of price is obvious (especially in the current climate) but there is also invariably a sacrifice of quality.

Some Pantone colours are easy to replicate in CMYK where others are more difficult. Greens and oranges can be tricky as their equivalents tend to go quite muted and dirty.

Not ideal if this is your brand colour!

The reason that this print method is cheaper is not just because there are fewer printing stations but also, printers can double up or piggyback runs with other jobs on similar substrates.

This piggybacking can create other headaches. If colours need to be tweaked to benefit one part of the job, they will invariably affect other parts.

3. Finishes and effects

So, we have looked at owning a brand colour and how we ensure this is replicated consistently at print.

The other aspect to cover is what this is being printed on and the effect that can have overall. 

Printing onto a matte white substrate will create a completely different feel then printing the same colour on a shiny metallic surface.

You can see in the image below. A print test we did using a flavour colour at different tints with different backings of white on metallic substrate.

Similarly, printing onto a plastic pouch is going to have a different look and feel to printing on cartonboard.

This can cause issues of consistency on brands and products with large portfolios that span different packaging formats.

This is especially true when printing in CMYK as discussed earlier..

Getting the printer to supply a proof or creating a target proof for the printer to match to, is hugely important in these instances so that runs can be tweaked before the big green button is pressed!

That said, always expect a little variation based on the end canvas you are printing on.

4. Help! I’ve run out of colours!

Often, and this is especially true of large portfolios of products. You simply run out of available colours on which to differentiate the flavours!

Whilst there are hundreds of different hues of each colour, our ability to differentiate between these is not as broad and expensive as the wealth of options we have available in a Pantone book!

Say you have one flavour that strawberry and one raspberry, clearly both of these require the use of red. It is important to make sure these colours hues are clearly differentiated and far enough apart so as to not cause confusion. 

Keeping these hues distinct means none of the colours between these two hues can be utilised elsewhere in the portfolio. Without some further differentiation on pack or through the product.

There may be instances where the entire portfolio uses a white out logo. Furthermore white out copy from a darker colour background. This is great because you get lots of punch at fixture.

When those deeper colours run out and you only have lighter colours left it can be difficult to maintain the same consistency . Furthermore the legibility by using white out logos on top of these lighter colours, without changing or challenging this consistency slightly.

If you are looking for some advice on your brand colour system, or think that you could benefit from a quick brand health check, then get in touch for an informal chat.

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What is the metaverse?

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is coming and it will replace the Internet as we know it. But just what is the metaverse? It will replace the two dimensional, search based internet with a fully immersive 3-D world that mirrors the world we live in and provide a space where we can shop, attend concerts, go to school, meet friends and clients and be whoever we want!

It is also a space that is rich for advertisers to promote products and brands.

This shouldn’t sound too far-fetched, it is a space children already know about and inhabit. Brands such as Fortnite and Minecraft already provide vast environments to play and interact. Last year, Travis Scott held concert within the Fortnight game that attracted no less than 27 million viewers ! No more sticky dance floors and ‘overly enthusiastic’ door staff in the metaverse!

Fortnite creator Tim Sweeney isn’t alone in creating a metaverse. Silicon Valley is currently in a race to build the next version of the Internet. Facebook have already announced that moving forward the as a company, now branded Meta, their main focus will be the opportunities created by the metaverse. Facebook Horizon is a user generated, virtual reality world is also competing for space. Whilst Fortnite exists on a two-dimensional screen, Facebook Horizon has created a fully immersive virtual reality world where participants can meet, be creative, socialise, play games and work together.

Whilst the Internet is based on coding and software, the metaverse is based on 3-D worlds created by engines from brands such as Unreal Engine and Unity. Originally these engines created landscapes for virtual worlds in games but their platforms are increasingly being used outside of this, such as in Hollywood for creating super realistic special effect scenes. Think of Unity and Unreal as the metaverse equivalents of Android and iOS.

So what does this metaverse mean for us

Well, no more keyboards and searching as we will utilise virtual assistants to do the searching for us. The metaverse will provide fully immersive spaces that we can explore without the need to search the internet as we currently do. Instead of individual apps we will just travel from world to world in order to access and interact with it.

So instead of travelling to see the pyramids in Egypt we could visit and explore them through the meta verse. Obviously this gives advertisers an incredible opportunity to showcase products and brands from particular countries within the space. International business meetings will be as simple as popping on your VR glasses!

It’s hard to believe but in the next 10 years or so, the Internet and mobile phones will be considered very much a thing of the past in the same way as technology such as pagers and fax machines are today.

The advance of technology is allowing this change to happen at pace. With the advent and rollout of 5G we can now access our phones at 100 times the speed that we previously could with 4G. This makes accessing the metaverse much easier and helps create a seamless link between the world we occupy and the metaverse!

So how do we access the metaverse?

We’ve all seen these huge virtual reality goggles that double the size of our heads! The big brands such as Google and Apple are already working on much smaller VR headsets that are much closer in size and shape to spectacles. These glasses will completely replace the mobile phones we have today and create an almost immediate portal from our world to the metaverse.

The Internet as we know it may currently fit on a single book on a shelf in the library in the metaverse or will be projected on a virtual cinema screen as we walk through this new immersive world!

How will the metaverse change business?

The opportunities for our world and FMCG is immense. Imagine replacing online shopping with fully immersive supermarket environments that you can explore and interact with the products. With a single click or nod of the head products will be packed and sent to you in the real world. No more waiting for shop assistant to scurry out to the back to see if they have the trainers in your size. We can simply try them on in an environment of our choosing with whatever clothing takes our fancy!

The metaverse could also completely transform the design studio workspace. We already saw with lockdown the challenges for teams working in isolation. Teams work and function best when they work together. The metaverse will provide environments where teams can work collaboratively popping in and out of meetings with clients and colleagues alike. Presenting documents, interacting with physical objects collaboratively and in real time.

With the removal of real-world interaction it also provides an opportunity for global commerce, industry and business to continue as normal in the eventuality of a global pandemic.

Crypto currencies will provide the basis for all financial transactions. These crypto currencies is already utilise blockchain chain technology, something that will also power the metaverse.

Whether this provides a fantastic opportunity or dystopian nightmare is ultimately up for debate. It is undoubtedly an exciting new platform but it needs careful policing to ensure that standards are upheld in these new worlds.

What is the metaverse? Read More »

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Everything you need to know about the upcoming Plastic Packaging Tax

From April 1st 2022, a new Plastic Packaging Tax will take effect in the UK. In the article below we are summarising everything you need to know about this new tax. Furthermore, who is affected, what is involved and what steps you should take. 

With the crackdown on plastic use and consumers actively searching for eco friendly alternatives, the Government have decided to take this one step further. Similarly to the Sugar Tax introduced in 2018, they are applying an upcoming charge for plastic packaging. This isn’t the first time the Government have tried to tackle plastic use in the UK though. You may remember October 2015 where retailers were required to charge 5p for single use carrier bags. This charge, which has increased to 10p as of May 2021 was just the start of the new plastic initiative. 

The Government state that the aim of this new plastic tax is to: Provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic in the manufacture of plastic packaging. In turn this will stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste. Therefore diverting it away from landfill or incineration.

What will be affected?

Any plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic will be affected. However any plastic packaging that contains at least 30% of recycled plastic or is not predominantly plastic by weight will be exempt from the new tax. Even if your packaging contains multiple materials, if the majority of the weight is made up by plastic, you will be liable for the new Plastic Packaging Tax. 

Imports of packaging which already contains goods, such as plastic bottles filled with drinks, will also potentially be subject to the tax. Furthermore, products that are designed as single use packaging products such as plastic bags, bin liners or nappy sacks may be affected by the tax. 

Who will be affected?

The new tax will affect UK manufacturers of plastic packaging, importers of plastic packaging, business customers of manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging. As well as consumers who buy plastic packaging or goods in plastic packaging in the UK. 

If your business is in the UK, you will be liable if you perform the ‘last substantial modification’ before the packing or filling process. Operations who import or manufacture less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in 12 months will be exempt. 

This tax may untimely effect everyone from large scale manufactures to consumers buying end products as the cost may be passed down to them. Customers will now be actively searching for brands who are avoiding plastic use or use at least 30% recycled plastic. 

In regards to who will need to pay the tax itself. If the packaging or component is produced in the UK, the producer will pay the tax. However if the plastic is imported to the UK, the person whose packaging it is that will need to pay. 

How much will the tax be?

£200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging that contains less than 30% of recycled plastic. 

How to prepare?

Manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging must to register for the tax with HM Revenue & Customs if any of the following apply. At any time after 1 April 2022, the business expects to manufacture or import at least 10 metric tonnes of plastic packaging within the next 30 days. Or if threshold of 10 tonnes was exceeded in the past 12 months. The HMRC has indicated that it will provide further updates before the tax comes into effect in April. 

What records to keep?

Businesses will need to maintain a variety of records for the new tax. This includes the total amount in weight and a breakdown by weight of the materials used to manufacture the plastic packaging. You will also need to keep record of the calculations used to determine if a packaging is plastic and how much recycled plastic it contains. On top of this, the weight of exempted plastic packaging. Additionally the reason for the exemption as well as the amount in weight of plastic packaging exported.


This new tax is a great opportunity for companies and brands to re-evaluate their current packaging, structure, materials and recyclability. Consumers will search for brands who are actively trying to reduce their plastic use. Furthermore they will favour brands who are not willing to pass the tax cost onto them. There are some fantastic alternatives for plastic packaging such as bamboo, wood, natural fibre cloth and palm leaves. As well as alternatives to plastic, this new tax’s objective is to encourage companies to use more recycled plastic. Hopefully this new tax will see brands exploring innovative ways to improve their carbon footprint.

We have collated the top eco friendly alternatives to plastic for packaging in our article which you can read here. The possibilities are endless! 

We hope that helped summarise the new Plastic Packaging Tax of 2022. All information in this article was courtesy of Gov UK and Packaging Europe. For more information on the tax, please visit the Government website as data may change closer to the time.

If you’d like to speak to us about plastic alternatives for your packaging, contact us here.  

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Plant based fibres in packaging

Following our recent blog post on eco friendly packaging solutions, today we are focusing on plant based fibre technology in packaging. With plant fibres being renewable and biodegradable, companies are developing exciting and innovate packaging solutions that are rapidly increasing in popularity. 

Today we are looking at some of the new material developments across the clothing, food and drink industry. Furthermore we will be analysing how plant fibres can help lower the carbon footprint. 


Brands are now actively looking for ways to contribute to the circular economy. They are doing so by introducing products into their range that mean nothing is treated as waste. Whether that be through up-cycling or biodegradable materials, all input to the process should keep circling. Below we have discovered the latest technologies in plant based fibres within the clothing industry. Whilst the materials below are currently used in clothing, this is fantastic opportunities for brands to use these new materials as eco friendly solutions for gift boxes, bags and packaging materials. 


Clothing company Pangaia has developed fabrics that repurpose food waste to look and feel like cotton. First is FRUTFIBER™ which uses responsibility sourced banana leaf fibre, pineapple leaf fibre and bamboo. Secondly we have PLNTFIBER™ which has been created using renewable, underused plants including bamboo, eucalyptus and seaweed. Both have been developed in order to help address issues with the worlds reliance on cotton. These revolutionary new biobased fibres are an innovative alternative. Furthermore they are a way to tackle production and agricultural waste from the fruit industry. 


Many clothing brands are now introducing a Hemp range to their collection. Hemp is one of the most sustainable and economically viable all-natural threads. Some benefits include it growing faster, using less water, clearing the air and regenerating the earth’s soil. Hemp requires 80% less water than conventional fibres and takes only 90 days to cultivate. If we compare materials, cotton requires 10,000 litres of water to produce 1kg, whereas hemp requires only 300 litres. Hemp fibres are 100% biodegradable and can be reprocessed making it a fantastic solution to cotton for clothing. The Hemp Shop and Toad and Co offer a great range of Hemp clothing as an alternative material.


Lenzing’s award winning TENCEL™ fibres are produced by an environmentally responsible process. Also included in Lenzing’s portfolio is REFIBRA™ technology. This involves up-cycling cotton scraps and transforming them into cotton pulp. Lastly we have VEOCEL™ which are the latest generation of fibres with botanic origin. Lenzing are “Committed to establishing the circular economy as a suitable, future oriented concept in the industry to project the earth” and are taking a huge step with their range of diverse fibres. 

Piñatex ®

Ananas Anam have developed an innovative new natural textile made from pineapple waste. Piñatex ® is a natural leather alternative and suitably sourced material which has a low environment impact. In making Piñatex ®, 825 tons of waste leaves were saved from burning which would have released the equivalent of 264 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere!

Food Packaging

With the clothing industry looking for alternatives for cotton, food brands are also actively searching for alternatives to plastic and are turning to the natural world for inspiration. Below we take a look at some of the brands and technologies that utilise plant based fibres as solutions. 


Congra Brands have been using plant-baed fibre packaging bowls for the past 3 years and have recently added more products to their portfolio using their RESPONSIBOWL. Since introducing the packaging, Congra has avoided the use of 2.5 million pounds of plastic packaging. Furthermore, they have accounted they are aiming to make 100% of their plastic packaging, renewable, recycle or compassable by 2025. The plant based fibre bowl is designed by Footprint® who design alternative solutions to single use plastic. The bowl is microwave safe and non stick making it a fantastic option for brands looking to make a change. 


Ocean-based plant fibres to create biodegradable containers and wrappers are increasing in popularity as brands are turning away from plastic. DS Smith have recently announced they will be exploring the use of seaweed across their packaging network as an industry first. The firm will be focusing on its potential use for food produce as a replacement for single use plastic. Evoware won an award for their seaweed based packaging across their Bruxel vegan waffle range.


Sugarcane fibre packaging is another eco friendly alternative to more traditional packaging sources. It uses the fibrous part of the stalk that is often discarded after the juice is extracted. The packaging alternative is renewable, biodegrade, compostable and can used used for food packaging, drinks packaging, domestics packaging, paper and textiles by replacing materials used to make cardboard boxes and plywood. Idealpak have a range of sugarcane tubes that are made from bio-plastic derived from 100% renewable resources. They are the same structure and function as traditional tubes. One brand is who already utilising sugarcane packaging is Bulldog. The personal care brand is the first male skincare brand in the world to use sugarcane as a raw material in their packaging.


Flax fibre material is one of the strongest natural fibres in the world. It’s resistance to heat as well as the ability to bio-degrade makes it a fantastic material for food packaging solutions. The material is stronger than cotton fibres and is resistant to bending. With the multitude of benefits, companies are developing Flax fibre packaging solutions for brands looking for alternatives. SWM offers a range of fibre products that are processed from unused straw and a blend of oilseed flex fibre. 

Drinks Packaging

Similarly to the food industry, drinks packaging manufactures and brands are opting for materials that omit the use for single use plastics. Below are four examples of recent developments and technologies in plant fibres drinks packaging. 


With coffee brands looking to move away from single use pods, technology such as NatureFlex offers sustainable coffee and tea packaging. The compostable packaging films provides superior oxygen and moisture protection. This is extremely important for coffee packaging which is sensitive to oxygen and moisture. Moreover, the film also has an aroma barrier that prevents tea or coffee airing out. Natureflex™ produces opaque options to stop UV damage which is key for tea and coffee packaging.

Wood Pulp

Stora Enso and Pulpex have recently teamed up to create eco-friendly paper bottles and containers made from wood fibre pulp. These products are an alternative to PET plastics as well as glass. The bottles are produced with sustainably sourced formed fibre pump. Furthermore they have a significantly lower carbon footprint then traditional drinks packaging materials. Whisky brand Johnnie Walker have introduced a paper-based bottle made from wood pulp which is sure to inspire other brands. 


Bamboo is a natural ligno-cellulosic fiber obtained from bamboo culm and offers a solution for bottles, cups and straws. Panda Packaging combine tech and nature for a greener future. Furthermore they have developed bamboo cups, flasks that cater for consumers and brands searching for sustainable and reusable solutions. 


This eco friendly and 100% recyclable material offers brands bespoke packaging options. Colourform™ can be tailored to colour and texture of your choosing. The innovation is a thermoformed, plastic-free and moulded fibre packaging alternative. James Cropper created the unique material for a circular economy with a luxurious look and feel. 

Cosmetics Packaging

Lastly, we are taking a look at packaging innovations cosmetics and personal care industry that utilise plant fibres. With the legislation to ban the use of non-recyclable plastics in sachets, alternatives are going to need to be developed and adopted more quickly than ever as consumers seek greener packaging. 

Caster Oil Plant

Geka have launched new sustainable fibre filaments for their mascara brush. The range of exclusive fibres are made of 100% renewable raw material from the castor oil plant. Combined with the properties of Geka’s EOS fibres, the innovative solution is also effective in terms of volume and lengthening. As well as the brushes, Geka offer eco-friendly caps moulded of 100 % PCR-PP material and bottles moulded of 100 % PCR-PET material.


A plastic free solution for creams has been developed by Papacks that consists of plant fibres. Papacks are a pioneer in using plant fibres such as wood pulp, hemp, jute and flax fibres in moulded packaging. The cream pots are moulded into shape through fibre casting before being coated with a specially developed organic coating. The solution is 100% plastic free and the packaging can be alternatively used as a jar. Both of which can be disposed of in paper or organic waste after use. In addition, they remain 100 per cent compostable and biodegradable by microorganisms. Furthermore, Papacks product portfolio covers a wide span of industries including food, pharma and consumer goods.


Ideal for cosmetics, Sulapac is a packaging solution that doesn’t compromise on functionality or aesthetics. As well as dry, wax and oil based substates, Sulapac have now introduced a barrier for water based cosmetics. The premium packaging solution is universal with most lines and moods and uses think walled structures for all impact strength. 


Stora Enso have recently introduced a new paperboard tube for cosmetics that is an alternative to plastic packaging. The advantage of paperboard products is that they are created from renewable resources. Furthermore these will eventually grow back if sustainably managed. In addition to this, renewable materials such as paperboard typically have a much lower carbon footprint than plastics.

With the rise in plant based fibres packaging alternatives and increasing demand for green products, brands will need to consider eco friendly packaging solutions as part of their sustainable marketing strategy. In conclusion, we predict these innovation new materials to drive more sustainable packaging solutions in the future. 

If you would like to talk to us about packaging design drop us a line here

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Eco friendly packaging alternatives to plastic

We are all very familiar with images of swirling plastic islands floating in the middle of the oceans. In many instances, plastic is actually the best option. But what are the Eco friendly packaging alternatives to plastic?

Each year it is estimated that 80 billion plastic bottles are produced, 80% of which end up in landfill sites globally. It takes on average 800 years for a plastic bottle to decompose.

The word plastic has become intrinsically linked with disposable. You could argue that the main challenge is changing consumer habits rather than eradicating plastic packaging completely. 

Firstly, let’s put one point straight, plastic is widely recyclable and often best and safest option for food packaging design. Therefore the issue is often not the plastic itself but how people dispose of it. 

Additionally, millennials are pushing brands to be much more responsible with their approach towards environmental concerns. New market places are being created that push social responsibility and zero waste in an attempt to change shoppers habits.

So what are the alternatives and what is the best strategy to adopt moving forwards?

Sustainability – what is it?

There is currently a lot of buzz around the term sustainable packaging. Sustainable packaging refers to the use of packaging materials that have a minimal environmental impact and carbon footprint.  

This reduction can happen in a number of ways. Firstly, by using 100% recycled or raw materials in manufacture and minimising the production process. Also by extending its life cycle and usability.

In order to be considered sustainable, packaging needs to meet eight specific criteria. As detailed by the sustainable packaging coalition. These are:

  • Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle.
  • Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
  • Sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
  • Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  • Manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
  • Made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle.
  • Physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
  • Effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles.

Below are a list of strategies and packaging design innovations you can adopt to become more eco-friendly with your packaging.

1. Reduce the amount of packaging.

The first and most obvious strategy is to reduce the overall amount packaging that you use on a product. This could mean moving from six sided cartons to pillow packs. Using smaller boxes or bags not only helps reduce the amount packaging materials. This can also can help reduce your distribution costs and ensure that you’re not shipping ‘dead space’ and filling shelves space more efficiently. Consumers always respond negatively to packs that are substantially bigger than the product inside. Reducing the amount of packaging can positively effect the perception of your brand.

2. Plant based packaging.

Simply put, these are are made out of organic materials. From fungi and seaweed to corn and even food waste.

Choosing the correct material will ultimately depend on what you’re planning to pack. Bio plastics such as those from companies like Good Natured, are often better for items such as food that need protecting from contamination and increasing shelflife. More robust examples could utilise packaging made from much more durable plant materials such as mushrooms.

Polylactic acid (PLA), also known as Bioplastic is a biodegradable polyester derived from renewable plant materials such as corn starch. Bioplastics big advantage is that has a carbon footprint up to 75% less than traditional packaging materials and is now commercially composted. The trade off is that it can be prohibitively expensive on smaller runs.

Mushroom Packaging consists of 100 percent biodegradable and renewable plant based material that can be recycled both in and by nature.

Saltwater Brewery in America have developed a material for their six-pack rings which is not only biodegradable and compostable, but also completely edible! The rings are made from barley and wheat remnants which are a by-product of the brewing process which will actually benefit the sea life if they find their way into the ocean.

3. Recycled materials in packaging.

Aluminum cans are one of the most recyclable materials. Turning recycled aluminum cans into brand spanking new cans uses on average 95% less energy than making new ones from scratch. It has been estimated that the energy saved by recycling one single aluminum can is equivalent to what is needed to run a television for 3 hours.

Brands such as Rightwater have gone plastic-free using 100% recyclable aluminum cans. These are also free from BPA to make them suitable for consumers concerned about possible plastic contaminants in their water.

The most widely recycled plastic globally is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). Recycling PET preserves circa two-thirds of the energy usually required to make new plastic bottle which successfully lowers greenhouse gas emissions. PET plastic is an inert material. This means that it resistant to attack by microorganisms so reducing the risk of ground water contamination. As mentioned previously though, the issue is that much of this plastic ends up in the oceans.

Some brands such as Method, successfully use this ocean reclaimed plastic rather than create plastic bottles from scratch. Sports brands such as Adidas are successfully adopting this process in the soles of their trainers.

4. Compostable and biodegradable alternatives.

Compostable packaging is made out of materials that can be composted at home and commercially. Hence why they are often made from plant-based polymer that can break down in compost.

Depending on what the source material is, a commercial compost facility can break down this type of packaging in around 3 months. Domestic composting such as the type in your garden, achieves the same in a little longer at around 6 months.

Fazer and Sulapac to bring an eco-friendly chocolate that consists of handmade pralines from Fazer that are held within the wood chip derived, biodegradable box.

Snact is a snack brand on a mission, fighting food waste and plastic pollution. The packaging is made in conjunction with startup TIPA from surplus fruit and veg that would otherwise be thrown away.

It is just as durable and impermeable as ordinary plastic but it decomposes within just 180 days. This innovative packaging is available in 100% home compostable packaging which is the first of its kind in the UK.

5. Organic coatings.

Most paper or card packaged food products needs a plastic coating to separate the contents from the less durable outer. So whilst it may look compostable and eco friendly, the fact is, it often isn’t.

The UK-based ice cream brand, Northern Bloc, has launched tubs for its products that are recyclable and biodegradable. The tubs are treated with an organic coating instead of plastic to ensure the product stays contained. Additionally this allows the sealant to break down when the packaging is being recycled.

Normally separating the paper and coating is difficult at the recycling stage due to the by-product of the two ends up being too contaminated to reuse. However, the tub protected instead by a fully natural organic compound made from sugarcane which is fully reusable and therefore breaks down naturally.

The Sherwood Group’s Puracoat® has created a product for use in food barrier packaging. Hence, offering food manufacturers an eco friendly solution to conventional plastic, PE and other forms of barrier control. The growing problem is plastic waste as attributed to the development of this. The coating is:

  • Suitable for direct food contact
  • An eco friendly, water-based barrier control
  • Grease resistant to highest ‘Kit 12’ rating
  • Verified independently by Smithers Pira
  • Fully recyclable and biodegradable in line with BS EN 13432
  • Suitable for frozen conditions
  • Microwaveable and ovenable up to 220 C
  • Flexible application levels to meet end use requirements
  • Reduced turnaround time, improving speed to market
  • Used in conjunction with biodegradable window films for an optimum eco friendly solution

6. Refillable parent packaging.

The use of refillable containers operates on a simple principle. The store provides products in bulk, and customers bring their empty refillable containers and fill them with product. The cleaning and personal care sector widely adopts this practice.

Refillable containers reduces both transportation and manufacturing costs. The biggest challenge is acceptance by the public and having the availability of the source containers to fill in the first place.

7. Paper pulp bottles.

There has been lots of innovation in the area of paper pulp bottles. The huge cost of collection and recycling both plastic glass and in some cases aluminium has led to the need for a more compostable solution.

Carlsberg Group has been busy working on 2 new research prototypes. These are 100 per cent bio-based and fully recyclable and made from sustainably sourced wood fibres.

One of these bottles uses a thin, recycled PET polymer film barrier to separate the liquid from the pulp, and the second a 100 per cent bio-based PEF polymer film barrier.

Companies such as Paper Water Bottle for creating bottle structures with an eco-skeleton constructed from a combination of wheat straw, bamboo, husks, sugar cane, and/or bulrush. They are incorporating increasingly less barrier material with more sustainable content. The ultimate goal is 100% biodegradable layer.

8. Bagasse.

Bagasse is a made from dry pulpy fibrous material that remains after crushing sugarcane to extract the juice. It is very similar to polystyrene in that it can be easily moulded into packaging suitable for take-aways. The big advantage though is that, it’s 100% biodegradable and compostable, and as it is a by-product of sugarcane processing, it is much more sustainable to manufacture.

Bagasse takes around 4 months to fully decompose in the ground.

9. Palm leaves.

One of the biggest pet hates for consumers is plastic packaging on fruit and veg on supermarket shelves.

Holy Lama use palm leaves to create stunning packaging for their handmade soap range. The leaves are harvested from the natural waste and leaf fall of the plant and moulded into the delicate clam shapes to contain the soap. The end result is fully biodegradable.

Berlin startup Arekapak is developing packaging for the fresh food industry and beyond using the same palm leaf packaging technology.

They produce their products in cooperation with small producers in rural areas in southern India. This helps support local manufacturers and ensure the employment of workers from the surrounding villages.

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Home Care Trends 2021

With the majority of the country working from home during lockdown, it’s no surprise that home care and DIY has sky rocketed in interest. Whether it’s tackling your garden fence you’ve been putting off for years or fixing that wonky picture frame you always stare at during your zoom calls, consumers are spending the time transforming their home.

Today we look at the upcoming home care and DIY trends for 2021. We will also be analysing how home care has evolved over the past year and what exactly people were searching for. 

Lockdown Searches

On the 23rd March 2020, the first lockdown was announced. The very thought of people having to work and live in the same 4 walls encouraged a significant amount of searches that day for the following home care terms according to Google Trends:

  • DIY
  • How to paint
  • How to fix
  • Fence paint
  • House extensions 

As we couldn’t hire a professional during lockdown, many people tried to quickly work on their DIY skills and turned to brands and tutorials for guidance. Whereas before any home issue could be fixed with a phone call to a tradesman, consumers had to rely on themselves to solve their DIY disasters. 

Following the lockdown, there an a shortage of paint across the entire country. Consumers have now perfected their DIY skills and we predict a lot more consumers turning to home care brands as opposed to calling in a professional in the future. It’s key brands offer guidance for people who are still unsure and need the extra confidence boost that they can do it themselves. 

The word “Paint” saw a 77% increase in searches between March and April, but which type of paint were consumers looking for? Below are the top searches and increases between March and April 2020. Interestingly Kitchen paint topped the highest searches however bedroom paint saw the highest increase. With many people setting up their living room as their office, the bedroom may have been the room to relax in the evening therefore invoking a makeover!

  1. Kitchen paint – 20,097 – 29,137 (45% increase in monthly searches)
  2. Bedroom paint – 3,927 – 7,057 (80% increase in monthly searches)
  3. Bathroom paint – 30,000 – 35,031 (17% increase in monthly searches)

Google Trends shows a huge increase in searches related to garden fence paint. This search term increase from 172.9k to 511.3k in just one month which is a total increase of 196%! With this amount of people searching for garden fence paint, we predict this trend won’t slow down anytime soon. There will certainly be some green fingers who will need to redo their garden fence again shortly due to sun damage and they will turn to DIY brands to assist with this. 

1. Bigger spaces

Being confined in your home for so long in recent times may be a factor as to why 25% ok UK residents want to move to a bigger space within the next year. People are looking to create more space within their home. Whether you are redecorating with new colour to open up your space, or adding decorations like mirror to elongate the room, consumers are searching for products that can make their home appear larger. 

2. Outdoor Focus

Homeowners are now favouring properties with gardens. Those of us without gardens during lockdown flocked to parks in the hope for some greenery so it’s clear why a garden would be a priority for future properties. Those with gardens during lockdown paid a lot of attention to their outdoor space as a hobby and something to do in the evening or weekend. Sheds, fire pits, summerhouses and fence paint saw a huge growth in popularity and the upkeep of these who gave their garden a makeover means this trend will continue to rise.  

3. Redecorating

With people living and working in the same 4 walls, it’s no surprise that redecorating remains hugely popular. The most popular redecorating trends include: Vintage furniture, colourful bathrooms, interesting bathroom features, nature inspired pallets, all white kitchens, modern kitchen finishings and bathrooms with baths and showers together. 

4. Bathroom 

One of the most popular rooms to redecorate is the bathroom. The latest bathroom trends are marble, wood features, eco-friendly, black details, brass and industrial. Marble has seen the highest increase with wood features following closely behind. The most popular colour scheme for bathroom paint is blue with a 95% increase following by pink which has seen a 79% increase. Other popular colours include green and grey. A survey revealed the number one reason we renovate our bathroom is to make it more modern. 

5. Marble & Brass

Finishes such as marble and brass are seeing a significant spike in popularity. With people spending so much time at home, consumers are turning to luxurious finishes to give their home a dramatic makeover. Marble features saw a gigantic rise of 366% in 2020 and brass sales increased by 120%. Both of these finishes as a touch of class and go well with any colour scheme.

6. Industrial 

Features such as metal framework, piping and stone features are amongst a few of the industrial trends which have seen a significant rise in searches. There has been a 58% increase in industrial features recently. Whether this is people working from home who are trying to feel like they are at work, or people trying something dramatically different, look out for this upcoming trend. 

With so many people tackling their home and taking on DIY themselves during lockdown, brands will have a whole new set of consumers to appeal to. Trends such as making space bigger and innovative ways to redecorate are fantastic NPD opportunities for DIY and home care brands. Consumers will be looking for guidance and exciting new opportunities that are easy to execute and can inspire! Trends are courtesy of MoveIQ

If you would like to talk to us about packaging design drop us a line here

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Personal Care Trends 2021

With the pandemic affecting everything from our shopping habits to our skincare routines, today we look at 6 of the upcoming personal care trends of 2021. 

Wellness and relaxation is now integral to regimes and brands are consciously creating products that keep consumers protected and valued. With the new movement in the industry there are plenty of upcoming trends to look out for. 

1. At Home Peels

With the increase in Covid has come an increase in at home beauty treatments. Our usual go-to facial or dermatologist appointments have been put on pause and consumers are opting for products that can aid in giving them that salon glow. Currently Sephora’s most popular skincare product is Dr. Dennis Gross’s Clinical Grade Resurfacing Liquid Peel. There is also a rise in consumers investing in home treatments that focus on the jaw and neck area. 

Digital LED masks have also seen a rise in popularity recently. Performance skincare and high tech tools offer a go-to solution as they revolutionise skincare routines. These smart beauty products produce faster and easier results which is ideal for the busy consumer. 

Sephora’s Brand Director, David Razzano says “This past year saw most of us stuck at home, without access to salons and spas, and combating things like ‘maskne’ breakouts. As such, we saw a large number of people turn to products that allowed them to create a spa-like experience at home with the same professional-level results.” 

2. Hero Ingredients

It’s hard to keep up with what the latest “Hero” ingredient is within personal care that everyone will reach for. Previous years have been everything from hyaluronic acid to bakuchiol. So what is the next hot hero ingredient? The answer is Polygluatamic Acid. What is that you ask. The up and coming skincare ingredient is ultra hydrating and perfect for those with dry and dehydrated skin. 

It is popping up in more and more skincare launches, derived from fermented soybeans and naturally occurs in our bodies. Polygluatamic Acid can also boost skin elasticity, minimise pigmentation, help reduce the appearance of fine lines and can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water! Pretty powerful stuff!

There is a growing interest in ingredients like sea plasma and marine collagen to protect skin against blue light radiation. Blue light damage is a growing concert due to working from home, so consumers are seeking ingredients that can help and protect them. These particular ingredients harness the power of marine ingredients and being termed “Oceanic Beauty.”

3. Beyond Bath & Body 

The past year has been seen a focus on the importance of self care due to the stress of the pandemic. With the majority of the country working from home and spending all time indoors, a new or improved beauty routine has proved to be a positive distraction. 

There is a real focus at the moment for mood-boosting, energy and stress relieving products such as masks, oils and fragrances which have seen a staggering rise in sales. With consumers beginning to rate how products make them feel, these new types of skincare products termed “Emotional Beauty” will only continue to rise and inspire new innovations. 

With a huge focus on self care due to Covid 19, experts also predict seeing a growing demand for luxury bath oils and aromatherapy products. Turn your bathroom into your own personal spa and relax!

4. Scalp Care

There has always been such a huge focus on skincare routines, that it’s time for something else to take centre stage. Recently there has been an increase in discussions around the importance and benefits of scalp care routines. Advancements in LED hair masks as well as scalp specific products such as scrubs and serums means scalp care is front of mind. Experts predict that hair care aisle will see a rise in scalp care products and treatments due to the rise in more holistic beauty regimes.

Aleixa Inge, Cult Beauty’s Co-Founder states “The scalp has huge wellness potential, particularly in the realm of aromatherapy. Owing to how quickly essential oils applied there can hit your bloodstream. ‘Hair tea’ infusions aka formulas steeped with natural tea ingredients are also a growing trend that we’re seeing.”

5. Biotech Beauty 

Experts are predicting that biotech beauty will be everywhere! As eco friendly and sustainability issues continue to be addressed, brands are now exploring biotech to innovate and actively enhance sustainability. Biotech beauty describes lab made ingredients that either fuse natural ingredients with synthetic chemicals or create synthetic alternatives to natural ingredients. 

Biotech ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and squalene are also claimed to be more portent and efficacious. Combined with the increased sustainability, it’s no surprise that brands and consumers are showing an increased interest in Biotech and eco friendly packaging.

Director of Content and Curation, Maureen Choi says “Innovation in biotech beauty will advance beyond our imaginations this year. We’ve already seen beauty brands tap into the biotech space with many breakthroughs”

6. Focus on Eyes

As wearing a mask indoors and on transport is the new normal, there is a focus on the eye category. When it comes to make up, consumers are being much more experimental about eye make up shades. The reason being, this is the only part of their make up they can experiment with. As your eye will be the sole focus of your face wearing a mask, brands are upping their formulas. These include creating more creamy products that deliver unique and perfect results. 

Due to the increased attention on eyes, eyeshadow palettes remain ever popular. They hold a large variety of shades for consumers to play and experiment with. Innovations with eye make up currently include multi chrome eyeshadow to creates a colour shift for a truly unique look. Products that focus on increased eye improvement such as creams that target fine lines and tighten will continue to rise. 

That’s our top 6 Personal Care Trends of 2021! Which of these trends will you be looking into first? All trends are courtesy of Editorial List. 

If you would like to contact us about your personal care packaging design, drop us a line or pop in. We are located in the centre of Hammersmith, London.

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How to create perfect packaging design.

So, how do you go about creating the perfect packaging design? Something that draws the consumer in and allows them to navigate all your products and portfolio with ease. Importantly, packaging that conveys why your product is better than the competition.

Here are our golden rules for creating the best, most successful packaging design for a brand.

1. Be single-minded:

If you are launching a product with an array of consumer benefits it’s always wise to focus on one ‘killer claim’ rather than try to hammer home absolutely everything on the front of pack. This just creates visual clutter and confusion for consumers. Rather than attract attention, the pack ends up looking like a ‘pound shop’ window!

Consumers only spend around 3-4 seconds make up their minds when scanning a pack, so it is important to get the key messaging across in the most efficient way possible.

2. Be different:

Communicating the core unique selling point is paramount for any brand. It’s no good shouting that you are the tastiest food product out there. Wouldn’t every brand want to say that? I mean, try thinking of a brand that shouts “Hi everyone, we’re quite average!”

Focus on what the product does best. It could be an ingredient, the way it is made or a service that only it offers.

3. Don’t be afraid of the blank bits:

Negative space is good. It’s your friend. Create a perfect moment of calm on pack to let the brand colour shine through and shout on shelf. Its not about trying to wedge some claim / comment / benefit /offer into any gaps just because it looks like you have space.

4. Own the shelf:

It is paramount that any new pack design works at fixture. Allocating a large portion of the pack to the brand colour or logo creates impactful signposting and draws the consumers eye.

If you try to shoehorn too much onto the pack, you risk disappearing into the shelf with the mass of messages from the rest of the competition.

This doesn’t mean removing other salient pieces of information, remember a pack is a three-dimensional item, there are multiple faces on which to convey messages and introduce a hierarchy of information.

5. Make sure your logo passes the ‘Mars Bar’ test:

“What” I hear you say? This isn’t some convoluted agency ‘trademark process’ is it?

Grab yourself a Mars Bar. Cover over part of the logo and look at what is remaining. It’s still clearly a Mars bar logo. You know that. The black, the red, the gold and the letter form, all convey the strong brand cues and messaging.

Building in ownable elements creates a fantastic visual shortcut and moves it beyond just a typeface. This creates instant recognition by the consumer and allows you to utilise your key asset successfully on multiple touchpoints.

6. Be consistent:

Wherever a logo or pack element is recreated on other products, size and positioning should be kept consistent. This uniformity creates instant recognition and authority and provides powerful blocking at fixture. If you allocate 30% of the pack to the brand logo, try to keep this relationship across all products in the portfolio.

7. Create a robust pack architecture:

Whilst this may sound like the approach you would take when designing a municipal car park, pack architecture is hugely important in defining which part to the pack holds which piece of information.

Having a robust brand area and variant area helps with the previous point on maintaining consistency. It also aids navigation for the consumer. Pack architecture should also create a perfect line of action to guide the consumer from one piece of information to the next.

Establishing a robust architecture also allows for easily extending the range into other variants and NPD.

8. Follow nature:

There are plenty of examples in nature and also classic architecture where the golden ratio has been maintained. The golden ratio details the perfect proportions and positioning of elements in relation to one another.

Whether it’s the spiral of a seashell, or the curling shoots of a seedling, these powerful principles dictate much of natures beauty and have been adopted throughout the centuries in classical architecture, painting and are even seen in facial symmetry.

9. Catch their eye:

Be different. If all the competition are green then why should you be green? If all the other packs are symmetrical then break symmetry.

IfThe elements of your pack are like actors on a stage. Each has a valuable role to play at different points in the performance. Packs need to work efficiently in 2 fields of view; from a distance as the consumer approaches the shelf and close up when they pick it up. Entice first, Educate second.

10. Have a big idea.

Probably the most important one. Successful packaging design has a big idea behind it. A clever hook. A story on which to convey the key points to the consumer and leave in their minds after they have put the pack down.

When done well, these big ideas can also have a life off pack in a brands communication strategy.

You can see some examples of how we have utilised the above to create the perfect packaging design, here. You can also find Slice’s Best Packaging Design on Design Rush.

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Free pitching.

If you ask a design agency to pitch creative ideas for free, are you approaching the project in the right way and are you going to get the best agency work back?

To free pitch or not, is something each design agency needs to decide based on the return for their initial creative investment.

If the win for the agency is a continued relationship and more paid work with a client over a bigger portfolio of products, then obviously the initial free pitch may be well worth it. The same may not be true, however, for a free pitch on a ‘one-off’ project.

Below are some of the key points that you need to consider before asking your agency to pitch for free…

1. You may not end up with the best agency fit for your project.

Free pitching creative work is part and parcel of the big budget advertising world. However, in this arena budgets are huge and investment of studio time can see rewards in excess of 20 times the initial investment of agency time. There is a huge incentive for agencies to throw their top talent against this free pitch.

Outside this world of ‘super-massive’ budgets, lets take branding and packaging design, agencies are asked to pitch for potential projects with much lower budgets.

The advantage to the client is free creative work, however, if this work is also based around defining a new brand positioning, then a sizeable piece of work needs to be undertaken by the agency well in advance of producing any actual creative or realised ideas.

The fact is, that the best agency to work on your project may ultimately not want to, as they do not want to give ideas away for free.

2. You may not get the best people working on it.

In some design studios, the work on a free pitch often tends to be squeezed in around paying projects and not given as much time as a paid project.

The other factor to look at, is that you may not get the core team on a project, only whoever is available at that point to work on it. Especially if there is a tight deadline and the right people are tied up on paid work.

So realistically, are you getting the full set of deliverables and design breadth of thinking that you would normally get from a paid first creative stage?

3. You will not own the IP of the work.

If you don’t pay for the creative work then put simply, you don’t own what is presented. The IP is retained by the agency that created the work.

We were recently in a situation where we presented work on a paid pitch. We won the pitch and one of the other ideas that we presented was saved for a project further down the line. From the clients point of view that’s a win-win they own everything that was presented including an additional design for a future rollout.

Introducing a pitch fee is one way round this. Therefore, the agency gets paid a reasonable rate for the work that they have produced and the client maintains intellectual property of everything presented at that stage.

So how should you choose an agency?

We always encourage clients to select agencies based on the three C’s: ChemistryCase studies and Credentials.

Let’s start with Chemistry. A quick phone call for a chat or an online meeting is a great way to dig around and find out – Do I want to work with these people? Don’t forget, that question works both ways!

Secondly, Case studies. The reason that you are talking to the agency in the first place is that you have seen their work and concluded that they are able to do a great job based on previous examples.

Ask yourself, do they need to prove to me that they can do an equally good job on my snack brand, or does the wealth of experience shown in their case studies and design thinking give me enough confidence?

Lastly are agency Credentials. Don’t forget, an agency is also a brand. They have to differentiate themselves and explain why they stand out from the competition and why they are right for you.

Here in the UK, we have a fantastically talented design industry. We are lucky to attract the interest of clients from all over the world. So it’s not just about design ability in an industry filled with talented individuals. Ask your agency what makes them special? What makes them stand out from the crowd? What makes them different?

You can see some of our work here.

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