08 Jan Swannack: Premium, printed corrugated cardboard shipper
Creating a premium shipping solution that offered protection and visual appeal in equal measure
Swannack approached GWP with a brief to safely package premium cricket bats that had been ordered online or their other distribution channels.
Whilst there were major innovations in terms of how the packaging was designed and constructed – not least the integrated corrugated fitting allowing the elimination of bubble wrap (improving appearance, cost and environmental impact) – the “story” of this pack was shifting the expectations of what was possible.
As a result, the packaging came to add value and play a crucial role in brand positioning and driving customer satisfaction & loyalty.
Swannack are a manufacturer of premium cricket bats, with a focus on quality and their long heritage within the game.
The company was originally founded in 1867 by a young man named Percy Surridge, who had been making cricket bats for a company in London. However, having become frustrated at the way they were produced, he became certain it could be done better.
As a result, he set up his own business repairing and making cricket bats. Business thrived and became known as Stuart Surridge and Co.
The business was passed down through generations and became intrinsically linked with the sport. For example, Stuart Surridge captained Surrey when they won the championship 5 years on the trot (a record that remains unbeaten), and he designed the Jumbo bat made popular by Viv Richards. John Surridge also designed the infamous Turbo bat, used by Graham Gooch to set his record of 333 runs in the test match against India in 1990.
At its peak, the business was sold, but the family remained in the game, sourcing and supplying the finest English willow to cricket bat makers throughout the world (something he still does to this day).
However, in 2017 Swannack (John’s middle name and also the maiden name of his mother) was launched.
Their range of exclusive cricket bats are designed, sourced and made all in the UK – something very few other brands can claim to do.
Whilst the business quickly became a success, there was one notable problem.
Initially, the products were sent out in plain brown boxes, protected with bubble wrap. Whilst this had the desired effect of protecting the items during transit following ecommerce or telephone orders, the boxes in no way looked premium or reflected the strong heritage within Cricket of the Surridge and Swannack brands.
Whilst this issue did not lead Swannack directly to GWP Packaging, subsequent meetings and discussions between the two companies led to the creation of a brief – and ultimately packaging – that added significant value and strong branding to Swannack’s products.
As alluded to above, and perhaps unusually, the brief actually evolved significantly from the customers’ initial requirements.
The main criteria was obviously to ensure safe transit of the product range – 3 differing types of premium cricket bats – through multiple courier and distribution networks. This is in addition to all materials used being fully recyclable, that all products could be accommodated within a single box design, and that it was easy to manufacture and assemble.
However, at the outset, initial expectations consisted simply of a plain brown 0201 which would also see the use of bubble wrap to protect the products.
However, following initial discussions, the brief was amended for 2 reasons.
Firstly, it was felt this solution would not reflect both the Swannack brand and the specific products’ “premium” positioning within the market.
Secondly, the experience for the customer receiving the products also needed to “excite and delight” upon opening the packaging – again highlighting the quality and value of the product. This unboxing experience became a key design consideration alongside the transit protection required.
As such, a large part of the brief actually became expanding Swannack’s expectations and understanding of what was possible in order to enhance and affirm their products market placement.
Rather than the initially expected 0201, a top opening 0427 was developed that also incorporated an integral fitting.
This integral fitting was one of the key innovations (from a structural / design viewpoint at least), immediately improving the presentation of the products and environmental credentials simply through eliminating bubble-wrap. It was also designed so that it secured the handles whilst cradling the V-shaped reverse of the product.
This design also ensured the 3 differing bats in the Swannack range could be sent using the same box, and that the front of the product (highlighting craftsmanship and logo) was immediately presented to the customer upon opening.
Besides this, the fitting also eliminated movement during transit, whilst the volumetric size of the pack did not increase greatly when compared against the initial 0201 expectation (helping to keep courier charges down).
The pack also passed numerous real life transit tests during development. Not only were products protected from damage, but the orientation – critical for the initial presentation once opened – was also maintained.
From a more practical point of view, assembly speeds were also kept to a minimum due to the simplicity of the webbed fitting and cradle being attached to front of pack. The 3 large locks also removed the need for taping, making it faster to close and keeping a clean, premium look to the box.
Creating a customer experience
Having taken into account everything detailed in the brief, the pack also presented two further, significant opportunities.
First was the potential to reinforce the premium perception of the product to the end user. Second, however, was to redefine the expectations of the role that packaging could play in brand positioning and customer satisfaction to Swannack themselves.
As a result, a huge focus (alongside the transit protection) was the visual impact the pack created.
For example, using an EB flute (partly for structural integrity) allowed for maximised impact from the flexographic branding. This took the form of a reversed-out logo on “cricket ball red” flood-colour to create a striking aesthetic and distinct appearance unique to Swannack.
This – crucially – also helped to reflect the rich heritage of Swannack in their specific market.
The integrated cradles also eliminated the “messy” appearance given by using bubble wrap, whilst not needing to add tape for the pack closure (which was instead achieved with the large tabs) further cemented the premium appearance of the pack.
Ultimately, Swannack received a printed, top opening box with fittings that offered protection and presentation in equal measure, affirming the products premium market position and price – in stark contrast to the plain 0201 initially requested.
Feedback on the finished packaging
Both GWP and Swannack were so delighted with the packaging that it was entered into the 2017 Starpack Awards.
The Starpack Awards – having been running since 1958 – are widely regarded as the leading awards programme focusing specifically on Packaging.
Entered into the B2C “Home Delivery” category, the Swannack pack narrowly missed out on an award but was highly commended by the panel of judges. It was praised in particular for its reflection of the Swannack brand and market positioning, as well as its environmental credentials and ease of use.
It was a really interesting project to work on. Once we began talking to Swannack it was clear how passionate they were about their brand and heritage, and we really wanted to create packaging that reflected that for them. I feel that we achieved that, and I personally think the overall effect is fantastic and adds real value to the end user.
Paul Stevens | GWP Designer
We’re very pleased with how the packaging turned out – we feel it reflects what our company is about and helps to highlight the premium product we offer. GWP were responsive, easy to work with and follow customer service has been great too. I would be happy to recommend them to anyone looking to source high quality packaging.
Charley Surridge | Director at Swannack
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