Sustainable Material Meets Sustainable Design: UPM Raflatac Ocean Action

February 16, 2023 Design Photography Sustainability

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Waste. Sustainability. Oceans. Three topics that, together, make up one of the largest global challenges we’re facing in our lifetime. For brands, it’s essential to step up, lead the way and try to make a positive impact, and this project does just that.

A global material supplier, UPM Raflatac created a new innovative label material made from ocean-bound plastics. To launch to the wider market they approached us to create a wide variety of assets, including label design, label prototypes and marketing images.

This type of project is our bread and butter, a brand launch that uses each aspect of our unique service offering. Working on a brief that concerns sustainability requires a unique approach at every step to do it justice.

When creating a new campaign, it’s important to consider the brand’s ethos, beliefs, values and brand pillars, incorporating all that into our work, and championing it throughout the entire process.

To explain how we did just that, let’s go back to the beginning and break it down…

The name of the game is: research

As we all know, before you start designing it’s all about research, research, research.

Research into what the customer has asked for, and research into the elements that we wanted to use. UPM Raflatac’s brand vision is centred around protecting the planet and finding ‘future-proof label materials’. They are committed to making the best choices for the planet when it comes to label materials and the labelling industry, with initiatives such as ‘make the switch’ and ‘close the loop’.

These values fed into the main body of the brief, and we were tasked with creating a versatile, evolving design which portrayed the key elements of the campaign while using colour and depth to connote the ocean and water. We needed to factor this into our designs and, to truly hit the brief, we needed to consider how our actions would affect those values.

We asked ourselves:

How can we be more sustainable?

How can we create sustainable designs? 

What changes can we make in our processes to be more in line with the brand’s values?

Often, making little changes is more effective than trying to overhaul everything you do in one go.

That was the case with this project.

Sea-stainable Design

Making sure we’re aligned with the overarching theme of any brief, we like to ensure everything we do ties into our design process, we consider each design choice and how it would line up with the brand values. 

UPM asked for something that would fit in with their existing brand messaging and projects, geared towards the personal care market but versatile enough to extend into other markets and products.

The material, made from abandoned plastic waste found within 50km of a shoreline and chemically recycled, comes in both white and clear so we wanted to create a design that would transfer seamlessly between the two types of substrate. 

As the initial product focus was to launch for the health and beauty sector, we steered ourselves away from many embellishments, we wanted the designs to have a purity and simplicity to them, and in a practical sense, they needed to be water-resistant and durable. 

With these elements in mind, we created a large, colourful visual which signified the ocean and waves. From this visual, we took elements which were amplified on each product, one used the centre of the visual, and the other used the left corner. This would make each product, and future products, illustrations unique but consistent; part of a larger image, reminiscent of the ocean itself.

Pier-fect Prototypes

When it came to marketing collateral, we wanted to provide the customer with an abundance of options. 

We decided that the most effective solution would be to offer 3D renders (from our highly talented rendering team), physical samples and slick photographic visuals in line with their existing campaigns.

Once the designs had been thoroughly checked and signed off by our in-house artwork team, it was onto the 3D renders and the final label production. It was time for the design to come to life!

Instead of completing a full print run, with lots of extras and possible waste, our team decided to produce label prototypes through our proofing house: Proof+. They can produce as little as one label sample and use specialist processes to ensure that waste is kept to a minimum – ensuring we’re also doing our bit to help the environment! 

They even handled the colour management, making sure those colours really pop whilst protecting the brand identity. The labels perfectly matched what our designers had visualised (like they do, every. single. time), and once applied to the bottles we were ready for the final step in this project, photography.

Sand-tastic Photography

Our mission on this project was to use only pre-loved and recycled props. Fully embracing the recycling and sustainable message. Our photography team utilised what was already available in our prop store and also borrowed a few items from their homes and even delved into some of the team’s children’s shell collections (we promise we gave them back!).

Playing with lighting, depth and water, the final images are unique in each frame, and capture the motivations of the campaign. We were able to follow the photography brand guidelines while injecting a disruptive feel, using ocean waste and natural elements. Creating the juxtaposition between the two. 

We’re biased but we think the end result turned out fantastic. 

Just a small drop in the ocean

You’d have thought we’d covered everything with this project, but there’s still much more we can do! From sustainability, to eggs, to spirits, to pizza. No matter the subject matter, the product, or the requirements our teams will become an extension of your own. 

Living and breathing brand values to ensure we create end products loved by both ourselves and most importantly the brand. 

Want to take another dive into this project? Head over to the project page to find out more.

Interest piqued? Have a project in mind, or simply want some advice? Give us a message and we’ll be right on the other end. 

If you’d like to know more about UPM Raflatac’s Ocean Action Project, click here.