Make your Sustainable Packaging SMART — Part 4 of 5 — Relevant

Adam Peek
3 min readFeb 4, 2021

I remember back in the days when I was a Youth Pastor (I was not a very good Youth Pastor, FYI…), there was this movement to make Christianity more relevant to the younger people. Heck, there is even a magazine that was birthed during that time called Relevant!

Relevance is important to be certain. What good is it to craft a fine sermon for a bunch of 14–17 year old’s if you can’t make the connection with them, right? Similarly, all of the sustainability goals you set and all the new materials and all the new marketing will be for naught if you your brand can’t make the connection to your customers. Your sustainable packaging goals must be relevant to your customers.

As I covered in the first 3 parts of this series, your sustainability goals have to be specific, measurable, and have a level of attainability or plans for attainability. However, if you can’t make the relevant connection to your customers, then these plans are not, by definition, sustainable because you will stop selling products and go out of business.

Some helpful ways you can accomplish achieving relevance in your goal setting and doing, what I call, failing small. My dad used to tell me when I was growing up…

You can’t hurt yourself too bad when you fall out of a basement window

  1. Use the fine people at Package Insight to help apply data to your goals. Their mission is “to understand the intersection of design and human behavior, and then make that knowledge applicable.”
  2. Connect with your customers through social media during your goal setting. The internet is the great democratizer of information. Use your email list, invite them into the discussion, make sure you get a large cross section and diverse amount of people to avoid group think.
  3. Leverage the combination of prototyping and digital printing to ideate small and test small. At Fortis, we do this all the time for labels, shrink sleeves, and flexible packaging. You could also work with a company like Virtual Packaging to help with short run prototypes.
  4. Engage a good design company who bases designs on research and expertise. I have had great luck with Interact Boulder, Mind the Font, Pearlfisher, and Evelio Mattos. A good designer will help you avoid lots of back and forth on your packaging making the connection. Evelio also has a great Packaging Design podcast called Packaging Design: Unbox’d with a ton of great resources for you and your brand.
  5. Once your design is ready and live, you can use the tools at Retail Aware to drive iterations and further ideations to make sure your products, if they are in a retail environment, are landing.

Branding and relevance go hand in hand with packaging. Maybe you’re wondering what this all has to do with sustainability still? As much as companies don’t want to admit it, sustainability has to be linked with profit and sales, so making that connection to branding and relevancy is a step that brands simply can’t afford to skip.

Tomorrow will be the final article in this series on sustainability with a great contribution from Camille Corr Chism on tips for packaging engineering related to time goals.

As always, you can reach me at for more information on sustainability, packaging, or to hear why I was such a bad Youth Pastor



Adam Peek

I help food, beverage, direct sales, personal care, and CBD/Cannabis companies use labeling and flexible packaging to sustainably sell products