There’s a silly trend in packaging design that I’ve noticed while meandering down the isles of my local “UberMart.” It’s called Green Packaging.

You’ve seen ‘em. The brands that slip and slide their way through your subconscious and into your cart with the wobbly front wheel…

Spouse A: “But it says it’s ‘green,’ honey. It’ll help save the environment…”

Spouse B: “Horse Puckey (dear)… put it back.”

I see it this way… Sure, “Mega-CrunchyChip” decided to jump on the “green” bandwagon, but how? Their product is made primarily of sawdust, crude oil, and mono sodium glutamate (YUMMY), and that’s all packaged in a cellophane / foil bag with oil-based inks printed on the shell.

What’s the green advantage there?

I can almost hear the suits theorizing across the boardroom table right now…

“If we reduce the amount of ink we lay on the bag (more white space — tee hee), and maybe incorporate a little green leaf in the logo, consumers will perceive that we’ve ‘Gone Green.’ ‘Cuz branding IS all about perception, right?”

Again… Horse puckey. (Sir)

Green packaging.

That doesn’t mean green-colored ink or green paper. Heck, it doesn’t even mean recycled paper! Sure, it’s about the environment, but it’s also about your brand’s disclosure. And, it’s about your consumers’ choices.

It’s important for consumers who want to make greener purchasing decisions to pay attention to the fine print. If you offer packaging or products that tout being “green,” then you need to give the consumers a little more than a “green design.” Give them a little clarity on why it’s green.

Here’s a short guide that can help lend a little “green” to your packaging design, and maybe a little credibility to your “green” brand.

Complete Compost: “Recyclable.”
This means that the product can be recycled, but it doesn’t mean that the manufacturer has done anything to make it greener through the manufacturing process.

Some Fertile Soil: “Made From Recycled Materials.”
This means that the product is made in part with once-used materials. But it doesn’t specify percentages.

Springy Greeny: “Made from 100% Recycled Materials.”
Made with pre-consumer waste left over from the manufacturing process, this means that no virgin materials were mined or harvested to make your product.

Screamin’ Green: “Made from 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Materials.”
In addition to saving on natural resources, post-consumer waste is the greenest category because it reuses materials once used by consumers. Many products will include a mix of post consumer and pre-consumer recycled materials.

Your green efforts aren’t about just “looking” or “saying” green. The process, your clarity, and your commitment to the environment will make TRUE green branding part of your consumers’ buying decision. If you try to fake it, you’ll end up with more than green on your face…

Food for thought…

Keep Cooking
Andrew B. Clark
–The Brand Chef