“My eureka moment was sparked by the Neenah Epic Black promotion I saw in GDUSA. I literally ripped it out and did a dance,” says Kate Stites, Senior Graphic Designer at Brown-Forman. At the time of her epiphany, Stites was contemplating the redesign the Jack Daniel’s gift sets and discovering the solid Epic Black made her realize, “We can really take these boxes to a new level.”
Her goal was to elevate the packaging to create a higher-level on-shelf presentation. “The package design incorporates full bleeds inside and out, and because we were using SBS (solid bleached sulfate) we were left with white edges along the cut lines. I wanted to eliminate those edges,” said Stites. Eliminating those white edges meant moving away from SBS, a product so entrenched in the spirits packaging industry that using anything else was, as yet, unheard of.
Stites and her team worked with Chattanooga TN-based Textile Printing Company (TPC) to source a new folding carton product. Stites says Neenah® Folding Board came in above the rest, “It’s a dyed-through board so it resolved my mission to eliminate the white edges. It offered characteristics that made it particularly suited for the larger and heavier cartons we needed for our products, and it was receptive to the decoration techniques that I wanted to employ; silkscreen, thermography, foil stamping, emboss and deboss. It was the most cost-effective and flexible solution.”
The new folding carton for the Jack Daniel’s gift sets became a 26pt. solid black Neenah Folding Board in Matte finish, with the rigidity and durability that meets the brands requirements, and a product that Stites refers to as “solid as a rock.”
Ultimately, what began as a small project to redo the gift sets became a strategic move across the whole family of Jack Daniel’s brands — and began an industry wave. The new packaging has received several packaging awards for design, innovation, and sustainability. The move has also garnered nods from other spirits brands; the industry is now watching, and taking cues from, Stites and her team.
“I have a great appreciation for the importance of packaging substrates. It is exciting and inspiring to cast a beautiful substrate in the role of significant design element, rather than just a blank surface that needs to be covered up,” says Stites.