What to Look for When Adding Cartons to Packaging Needs

Although it’s probably the largest change to Indeed Brewing’s packaging and brand since the Minneapolis brand started 10 years ago, Ryan Bandy said the experience in switching from six-pack rings and PakTechs to cartons has been quite overwhelming.

“But we’re really excited for everyone to see them,” the brewery’s Director of Experience told Brewer.

Internally, the impact of this project is immense, he noted.

“It’s been a multi-year project to get funding for the machine and packaging line expansion, re-configuring our packaging warehouse, figuring out new ways to package other pack-types, working with new vendors, many months of design work to create the next evolution of our brand at retail, and now organizing with our wholesale partners for a good rollout,” he said. 

There are less pieces of information that have to be on the carton packaging, but the TTB/COLA process is applicable to the cans and the cartons are considered more of a marketing package so Bandy said that Indeed has a little more freedom on the cartons than they do for the cans.

“When getting approval for cans, we’ve been dinged for almost everything,” he said. “We submit for approval before printing, so it’s usually an easy change, but we’ve definitely gotten rejected for all types of things.”

The funniest change, he shared, was when itsbeer called L.S.D. (Lavender, Sunflower Honey and Dates) was getting rejected for “not being clear enough whether there were psychedelics in the beer.” 

“We needed to spell out those ingredients more officially on the can,” he said. “But, with cartons, we might be able to just abbreviate those letters again; you know, for space reasons.”

Tips To Plan For

After going through the rigamarole of changes, Bandy shared some things to think about for breweries to look for as they make similar plans.

For Packaging Line Expansion: “I’d say to do what you’ve got to do to hire help installing the line and machines,” Bandy said. “We work with Ska Fab, and they are the best. If you have to wait an extra six or 12 months to budget for that, do it. It’s always worth the money. It’s like moving houses: you can technically do it yourself, but it’s worth every penny in mental and physical energy to hire help.”

For Designing: Like any larger packaging project, always print out and work with it in a real environment. “Print it out to see the colors in real life, look at the art and text outside the screen, tape together 3D models and put them in a cooler door or on a shelf,” he said. “We took our mock-ups to a few different types of liquor stores to make sure it worked practically before designing further.”

Form With Function: A few centimeters can make a big difference on the shelf, Bandy added. “A lot of people can make a cool looking label in Illustrator,” he said, “but the hard part is matching Form with Function and making the cool design work in the physical environment.”

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