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Lightwave Labs: Environmentally Sustainable Packaging Design

20 October 2021 | Greig Silvester

Welcome back to Lightwave Labs. One often overlooked but vitally important design element of any product is its packaging. This edition of our innovative blog series will open the box on the Lightwave design process. We dropped in on the team responsible for redesigning Lightwave’s packaging to discover the process behind designing  versatile, sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging. 

The need for Environmental Sustainability

At Lightwave, we are always mindful of how our business impacts the environment. We know that our smart home devices can help people cut down on their energy consumption, but now more than ever, it is essential to make sure we are also cutting down on waste as much as possible. We decided to examine the various layers of all our existing brand packaging to ascertain its environmental sustainability. In addition, we needed to formulate graphic design elements that fully aligned with our recently refreshed brand look.  

First, we wanted to determine the dimensions of all the products sold and consider the best way to ship our products to customers. Upon close investigation, it was found that the packaging was not recyclable. The existing packaging came in multiple sizes that were large and had too much void space within them. This highlighted the fact that the packaging was not cost-effective. Next, we looked at the interior elements of the packaging. This highlighted that several paper booklets containing product information in many different languages were included within every product. It was time to cut down on paper waste and make an environmental refresh! 

What were the central goals of the project?

At Lightwave, all our new design projects start with the formulation of a central project brief. In order to successfully design product packaging, there were three central questions that needed to be addressed. First, it was important to establish what the products were and how to package them securely, second, it was vital to ascertain who was buying the products being marketed and finally, where and how were potential customers going to receive the products? We will discover the answers to these questions below.

All Lightwave products contain elements that must be kept safe and secure and any packaging would need to be durable to prevent products being damaged or broken. Therefore, the packaging should protect Lightwave products in transit to minimise any potential damage or returns. It was agreed that the packaging system must be uniform and consistent and be dimensionally modular, which will help in the future with potential to create custom bundles and smart home starter kits. It was also important to use materials that would increase the ease of disposal and be capable of being recycled.

The packaging needed to provide a cost effective solution in order to reduce costs compared to the old packaging. By incorporating as few individual elements as possible, it would have the dual advantages of reducing both production costs and environmental impact. It was worth taking the time to create a robust brief, to decrease final costs and increase the ease of reworking any package elements, if required. Finally, a conclusive design concept was needed to allow versatility for all Lightwave marketing and promotional material. 

In this particular project, the final design brief was clear, “to design and launch a Lightwave packaging system that was environmentally friendly, cost-effective, versatile both commercially and logistically and that was a viable solution for all of our channels and customers.” All of these central elements combine to embody the Lightwave brand.

The Final Concepts

The Lightwave team formulated both the final exterior and interior packaging solutions. They achieved this by focusing on creative strategies to create environmentally sound packaging solutions and conducting customer research. 

  • The box itself – Working with Lightwave’s design agency partner, Design Packaging, the team focused on producing a single box size that could easily house specific products with very little void space. The final box would include only four inserts, which could neatly encapsulate Lightwave’s vast and varied product range. It was stipulated that all materials chosen were 100% recyclable. 
  • The outer sleeve – It was voted that a recyclable sleeve for each box would add a fantastic premium look to the packaging design. This would add a particular wow factor, which would look great on any premium retail shelf. 
  • The exterior artwork – It was vital to create visually stunning and brand-aligned artwork that was kept simple and efficient for printing purposes. 
  • The ‘Essentials’ sticker – Another streamlined design element was making the essentials sticker double as the box seal, cutting down further on waste and improving upon the existing logistics of the packaging solution. It was initially inspired by the label found on the sides of shoeboxes. At a glance, the label informs customers and staff of all essential product information. This easy identification tool would be vital for Lightwave’s electrical wholesale and distribution partners, who usually have dozens upon dozens of boxes stacked together on a shelf.
  • Installation Videos & Digital Manuals – We’ve added a QR code to every product box, which directs customers to an online library of all of our installation details. This includes a brand new library of product overview and installation videos that have been produced specifically for this use. This will not only make the unboxing and installation process significantly smoother, it has also allowed us to cut down on all of the multi-language installation manuals that used to be in every product box.

An essential survey – sleeves or no sleeves?

One of the central considerations of product packaging is focused on who and where customers are purchasing products. For example, if a product was on a retail shelf and this was the customer’s first impression of the product, a striking outer sleeve would be ideal. It would be the ideal medium to include fantastic visuals and a product description on the box itself. While the old design and the sleek presentation of the product sleeves were aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it was felt it would be more beneficial to cut down on environmental waste by not including sleeves. In order to reduce the impact of Lightwave packaging on the environment, it was agreed that as few printed materials would be created as possible. 

Since the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, E-commerce (including Amazon) channels account for the overwhelming majority of sales in the consumer electronics sector. In these channels, customers are introduced to products in the digital space, allowing them to consume much more product-specific content than they would have in a retail environment.

A key element of reducing the impact that Lightwave has on the environment is to consider cutting down on waste when shipping orders directly to customers. With this survey, we are aiming to gain feedback from our customer base to see how you weigh up the environmental impact vs the premium presentation of the packaging itself. To take the survey, click here.

So, in a nutshell, after closely examining the old packaging design and answering the central questions of what the products were, who was buying them, and where they would be purchased, the talented Lightwave design team created durable and environmentally sustainable packaging for all Lightwave products. Great work!

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