Package redesign is “The Cat’s Meow”

Cat leash package originalCurmudgeon Disclaimer: The following post reports on a package redesign by my daughter Lia J. Spaulding. Every effort has been made to stay objective.

As a project for her Applied Computer Graphics course at Madison (WI) Area Technical College, Lia’s assignment was to find an “overpackaged” product and redesign the package, making it more environmentally friendly. If an alternative paperboard container was chosen, it could use only minimal folds. Also, part of the assignment was to change the product name and design a logo for it as well.

“My unfulfilled longing for a furry friend of my own was the reason for my decision to redesign the Premier “Come With Me Kitty™” Harness & Bungee Leash package,” Lia says. The originally plastic-clamshell container has only a four-color printed insert for decoration (above right).

Cat leash package frontThe new “Walk Me Kitty Kitty” package design (at left) is a radical replacement on several levels. Recycled paperboard is used for the cat-shaped, peggable fold-over that holds the harness and bungee leash inside it through a series of die-cuts. Only two bright purple and yellow Pantone® colors in different tints are used, thus saving on ink. Instructions for using the hardness are now printed on the inside surface of the fold-over, rather than in a separate packet that had been placed into the clamshell. The cat’s head and face design are from an original sketch.

“Because walking a cat can be a difficult feat in a long training process, it’s reserved for those devoted, original and possibly ‘strange’ owners who may be more attracted to an equally unique, flashy package,” Lia explains. “Pet products are also usually designed similarly to children’s products. The quote bubble personalizes the owner’s relationship with their cat along with holding the new ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ company logo.”

Cat leash package backThe new package provides a visual display of how the harness fits on the cat. The remaining slack of the leash is safely tucked away inside the fold-over. A short section of the leash hangs out from underneath to serve as the cat’s tail but also allows potential buyers to feel the product’s unusual bungee leash (at left). “Most people aren’t going to want to walk their cat, so the leash hangs on the cat-shaped package to show how it hangs on a real cat,” Lia says. “The bungee function is unique, and when it’s hiding inside the original clamshell package, you can’t use it.”

The initial assignment to be more environmentally friendly slowly diminished throughout the creative process, Lia explains. She preferred to have chosen something for a smaller package which didn’t stray from the sustainability theme. Still, the new “Walk Me Kitty Kitty” fold-over is labeled as “green” on its reverse side and a Website address directs consumers to instructions in digital form rather than on printed paper.

“The packaging as a cat shape is not only cute, but it also could be reused for a cat toy,” Lia concludes. “Playing with the leash and packaging as a cat toy itself promotes positive associations with the leash and in turn, your cat becomes more comfortable with going on walks. Children without pets may also be attracted to this product as a toy to walk their stuffed-animal cat.”

Lia, who holds a bachelor’s degree in art and art history from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, will graduate next spring with an additional associate’s degree in graphic design from MATC. Her special interest in typography lead to an internship in 2008 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis.

My Thoughts: Lia’s package redesign achieves many of its goals. However, she would be the first to admit that (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight) some of the fonts used weren’t necessarily the best choices, and not all the text required for a real package is there. But Lia also expressed a sincere interest in learning more about the regulations, printing, secondary packaging and materials needed for her redesign.

My suggestion for materials would be MeadWestvaco’s Natralock® or something similarly tear-resistant. While the original plastic clamshell wasn’t RF-seal closed, Lia’s paperboard fold-over needs to offer the product a certain measure of security. A Natralock fold-over would make the product at least a little harder to steal.

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1 Response to Package redesign is “The Cat’s Meow”

  1. Lisa Pierce says:

    Mark, you did a great job being objective considering how talented Lia is, a trait she, no doubt, inherited from her mother, ah, I mean, parents. Love the “out of the clamshell” thinking. But … package security, really? There’s a rash of people who pilfer cat leashes from stores? 🙂 Merry Christmas, Mr. Curmudgeon.

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