From packaging designers to channel managers, a range of people contribute to each piece of packaging we deliver. Our ‘A day in the life’ series interviews team members and explores how they work with our customers to make each project a success.
This time we’ve caught up with Head of Graphics Gavin Lawrence and Senior Packaging Artworker Haresh Ladha. They give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life at the heart of packaging innovation.
1. What’s the main purpose of your role?
Gavin: To oversee all of graphic design. This involves making sure our print jobs and sample briefs are on schedule and we’re meeting our deadlines.
Haresh: I’m an in-house packaging artworker, which means I provide our pre-production team with artworking support. I’m responsible for anything that relates to the pre-production of the products we sell.
2. What common challenges do your customers face?
Gavin: A common challenge is the desire to leverage the latest fashion in packaging design while still standing out from competitors.
As a result, keeping up with the current trends is hugely important to us. This includes being on top of styles, colours and fonts, understanding what’s out there in the market and improving on it.
We’re constantly providing our customers with designs that look that little bit different from the next brand. We therefore develop packaging that pushes boundaries, with features such as different window shapes, so our customers’ products catch the consumer’s eye.
3. How do you help customers overcome their challenges?
Gavin: We do a great deal of research into the marketplace and the customer brand. Some customers may want to follow the trend, but we can also help them define their own.
Haresh: We always gain an understanding of the brand and the customer’s objectives so we can maximise their packaging. There are lots of shapes and sizes available to us. It’s for us to make the best use of them to ensure the brands we work with look as strong as possible on the shelf.
We also help by producing work that’s right first time around. For example, many of our customers have a big push for Christmas; it’s crucial the work we produce is spot on because there are time constraints around getting the products on the shelves.
4. What are some of the creative projects you’ve worked on recently?
Haresh: We recently completed an innovation project for McDonald’s involving new packaging and brand design work – that was very creative. There are also times when our customers want to try print techniques that are more unusual, which involves exploring new ways of working and proposing a solution.
Other projects involve taking creative features, such as bespoke window shapes, and understanding how they will work best for our customers.
Gavin: We also really get to flex our creative muscles for the exhibitions we take part in, which have taken us to locations such as Germany and France.
In the past I’ve been involved in creating giant-sized point-of-sale packaging for our stands. For example, for one of the Pro2Pac shows, we created a six-foot tall sandwich wedge and a salad tray coffee table. Here we were striving for standout at the event, and the displays generated a great deal of attention.
5. What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
Gavin: There are instances when some of our larger retail clients, for example Asda, build 40+ new lines with the same launch period. We balance these immediate requests (which can happen two to four times a month) with the rest of our schedule, so everything is delivered to the highest standard within the required timeframe.
There are also general technical challenges we have to consider, such as making sure every print run is consistent. It’s one of the reasons we work so closely with our factory and technical teams – to ensure we achieve consistent results.
Haresh: In the last year or so we’ve been working on the development, and now production, of Softpack, which is already being used by many major brands including Co-op. It’s been an incredibly challenging project, but also very rewarding.
6. What accomplishment are you most proud of at RAP?
Gavin: The way we’ve creating an integrated process that includes the creative side, print and manufacturing. How we’ve combined all our services from our factory to our pre-production team is really impressive, and unique in the industry.
Haresh: We’ve devoted a great deal of time and resource into developing and growing our creative capabilities from a print, artwork and design point of view. Our clients see a great deal of benefit as a result, because they get more innovative, eye-catching packaging and a very efficient production process.
7. Describe working for RAP in five words
Gavin: Dedicated, skilled, friendly, loyal and evolving.
Haresh: Challenging, engaging, interesting, exciting and rewarding.