The Difference Between Average and Awesome Comes Down to Character


Have you ever seen a print promotion so awesome you wanted to kiss it? Ok, maybe that’s taking my adoration of ink on paper a little far but I swear that’s how much I love the new piece, Character, from Neenah Packaging. I know what you’re thinking – Neenah has a crazy budget and if your clients had their budget you’d produce something awesome too. But here’s the thing, it’s not about the budget, it’s about inspiration and execution. After examining this promotion, I am convinced the difference between average and awesome comes down to character.

I had the chance to speak with Pum Lefebure, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Design Army, about designing the Character promotion for Neenah and was curious about her process. “I’m very old school. I start with swatchbooks first. I look at the colors and textures and from there I go to the paper that inspires me. Then I design, not the other way around.” She credits this process for Design Army’s reputation for producing award winning work that stands out. If this piece is any indication, I can see why the process works so well. This promotion speaks to power of paper when it comes to building a brand’s character and how it connects with its audience.


The second in the series for Neenah created by Design Army, Character is actually five different promotions housed within one. Each promotion reflects a different character and provides loads of ideas for designers and marketers. Part luxury packaging promotion part print production extravaganza, if you aren’t inspired by the examples it contains I fear all hope may be lost.

Before you even look at the contents, the exterior carrying case conveys a sense of luxury about this brand. “Luxe brands pay attention to the little things, that’s what increases a brand’s value” says Lefebure. Sporting an embossed copper foil stamp and deboss pattern on a hefty 24 PT. folding boarding in deep black, what really got me was the little detail on the side – a licorice API foil stamp with suede-like ribbon. Oh Neenah, you had me at hangtag.


According to Lefebure, this was a dream project to design. After diving into it I can see why. As I mentioned earlier it’s not necessarily about having an unlimited budget but rather knowing when and where to spend it for maximum impact. Take the Memphis inspired gift cards and holder with holo foil. I have to say I have never seen anything like that holo foil gift card before and that’s what Design Army was going for, that “OMG, that’s paper,” reaction. Lefebure said they went “maximal,” to turn up the volume. It’s about “experimenting to create something new, part inspiration, part aspiration. If there’s something that makes you drool take elements of it.” (Please just don’t slobber on the samples).


The cast of characters – the digi-generation, the new shopaholic, the artisan crafters, the savvy socials and the eco evangelizers – all share one thing in common, some pretty incredible design and print techniques produced on 15 different Neenah print and packaging papers. Aside from the carrying case, two of my faves inside the piece include the hangtag in Cruise (blue green) API foil on So…Silk Glamour Green in the new shopaholic and the Tequila label on Bright White Estate Label in Vellum with a “smugglers gold” embossed API foil in the artisan crafter.



What I love about the promotional pieces Neenah has been doing is that they are really good examples of the type of design and print production that can be achieved when paired with the appropriate paper. I’m the first to admit I love a good foil stamp, but a foil stamp for the sake of decoration doesn’t do it for me, sorry. I’d much rather see a piece with elements that are simple in production value but maximal in functionality and design like the the lampshade/box featuring white opaque ink on Environment Grocer Kraft Raw that was printed digitally – an element that is totally possible on a budget.


When it comes to areas of focus in terms of growth, packaging design is only going to get hotter. Brands are looking to savvy designers to help them connect with their audience, according to Jamie Saunders, Marketing Communications Manager, Fine Paper and Packaging, Neenah Paper. “Differentiating a brand not only on shelf but online will become even more important than it is today. The consumer is super savvy when it comes to knowing what packaging they like…and don’t like for that matter. Social media has become an important platform for brands to connect with consumers, and in turn, consumers are forcing the development of true brand personalities. Creating a voice to represent your brand is challenging — choose the right voice and your brand soars, the wrong one and your on-shelf presence is diminished.”


“The world is moving faster than ever and brands have to do the same. Digital printing allows brands to become more nimble, to change packaging on a whim, follow the latest design trends or seasons, and allow consumer feedback to influence the packaging,” says Saunders.

It seems the key to packaging success lies in the ability to be authentic and connect with the audience in a responsive tangible way. “You have roughly 4 seconds at shelf to convince a consumer to buy your product. In order to capture the consumer’s attention, a brand has to create an environment where the customer is seduced by the packaging,” says Saunders. “Using unique paper or unique printing techniques helps entice the customer to engage with your brand. Indulgent packaging papers coupled with inspiring design create anticipation for what’s inside the box. Touch and emotions go hand in hand. Once you get a consumer to engage through haptics (science of touch), you potentially have that customer for a lifetime, simply based on how the packaging and the product made the customer feel.” Based on my reaction to the Character promotion, I’d say my romance with Neenah just might last a lifetime.

And because I’m one who shares the love, Parse & Parcel is giving away the piece to 5 lucky readers. So sign up here for your chance to win some free love.

2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Average and Awesome Comes Down to Character”

    • Well, you know we love sharing samples, and this one is free to five lucky winners. Maker sure to enter the giveaway and click the link in the post above so we know where to ship it in case you win ?


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