December 07, 2021
Did you ever wonder how the same brand can live in completely unrelated areas of the store? From household cleaners and pet food to the frozen section and snack aisles, some brands seem to cover it all. If you’re impressed by this, you’re likely a package design junkie, like CBX’s very own brand design guru, Todd Maute. You can hear Todd wax poetic on this and more on the Packaging Design Unboxd with Evelio Mattos podcast. He’ll take you through his design obsession—from early inspirations and career moves to the success of CBX’s brand-led volume design offering, Forge.
Unboxing the beginning
As a child, Todd spent much of his free time drawing and coloring. So much so, that he knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in art. He paid his way through college and a fine arts degree by working in an auto-body shop (he’s a self-proclaimed “car guy” to this day). On a whim, he answered an ad for a freelance invitation design and turned a simple invitation into a three-dimensional work of art. The invitation was such a masterpiece that it ended up winning awards and started Todd off on his incredible journey through design. Todd made his way from the freelance gig to a couple of long-term agency stints, amassing nearly 40 years of brand and creative design experience along the way. About 15 years ago, he came to CBX with a passion for elevating the creative product for retailers.
Unpacking the package design dilemma
According to Todd, in the past, brand identity on packaging was mostly seen as a production issue. Now, as brands continue to grow into different categories, it’s important to capitalize on the strength of a brand while recognizing both the strengths and weaknesses of the various kinds of packaging out there. And being able to evolve with a brand and its packaging is no easy task—what used to live on a can now may live in a pouch, and what worked on that can won’t necessarily work on the pouch. In short, slapping a logo on a package doesn’t cut it. As Todd says, “Technically, it might be right based on the brand guidelines, but it doesn’t effectively solve a problem in the category.” In a production-driven process, it’s too easy for the brand essence and design qualities to get lost for the sake of production efficiency.
Forging ahead into the future
This is where CBX’s offering, Forge, comes in. Forge marries design and production together by balancing Agile principles and Design Thinking. What does that mean? It means that the Forge team both preserves and builds brand equity while maintaining an efficient and cost-effective process from concept to rollout. And they are able to do this with hundreds of SKUs that cover a variety of categories and packaging differentiation. One great example is iconic NYC retailer Duane Reade. Todd remembers: “We had the pleasure years ago to rebrand Duane Reade. We redesigned their brands, we redesigned their stores. They ended up having five different brands that were segmented across tiers and categories and departments. And we created three brands, repositioned two, and executed 850 SKUs on shelf in less than six months… that included print, pack, and lead times.” As Evelio says, “That’s crazy!” So how did they do this? Todd credits his amazing staff, who have knowledge and expertise across a variety of categories. According to Todd, “For us, it’s really about immersing ourselves strategically and creatively in the brand and understanding what the brand’s essence is and what its purpose is.” No matter the category or the packaging, the talented team at Forge takes a creative, brand-led approach to volume design and rollout.
To learn more about Forge, its offerings, and Todd’s packaging obsession, check out the entire interview here https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/package-design-unboxd-with-evelio–mattos/id1511993897?i=1000536430256 or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.