1st Ever Packaging Design and Graphics Institute

Harris DeLoach of Sonoco, left, and Harris A. Smith prepare to "open" the door to the new packaging design and graphics building.
Harris DeLoach of Sonoco, left, and Harris A. Smith prepare to "open" the door to the new packaging design and graphics building.

In exciting branding and packaging news Clemson University, recently opened the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics. Researchers and students will study package design and production as well as how products will be perceived, marketed and consumed in the future.

This is the only university program in the country that combines packaging science, graphic communication, materials, environmental science, manufacturing, marketing and psychology.

The institute initially will focus on four areas:

  1. Designing environmentally sustainable packages;
  2. Developing electronic films that can be printed on packages to create displays, track shipments or apply environmental or biological sensors;
  3. Testing the impact of package design on consumer attention, buying patterns, use and disposal in its consumer experience lab; and
  4. Integrating the multiple steps in package design and construction into a single workflow.

For the retailer trying to grow Private Brand and create differentiation this is an exciting development. Retailers typically rely on manufacturers’ to bring packaging innovation to their shelves.  A forward thinking retailer could and should develop a partnership with Clemson University and use both the packaging capabilities and the research/testing to build their Private Brands. This type of partnership combined with similar ones at Cooking Schools and Food Science programs could provide the credibility and innovation needed to transform boring private labels into National Brands.



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.