Gemma: Although CycleEnergy had been synonymous with rechargeable batteries at Sony for some time, CP-AL development was a good opportunity for a far-reaching update in communication design for all CycleEnergy battery products.
The first CycleEnergy-branded products had been NiMH rechargeable batteries and chargers, all representing a specific technology. What we truly wanted to highlight, however, was the act of choosing-and continuing to use-more ecological products in general. Our task was to redefine CycleEnergy, accounting for past efforts, and to explore the graphic design we needed to convey this message assertively.
One facet of our work involved updating the CycleEnergy logo. This was unavoidable, in order to convey the greater significance of rechargeable batteries fairly. After carefully reviewing more than 200 proposals, we chose a logo that's simple yet conveys a commitment to reuse, in the broader context of environmental responsibility.
Another task was to establish a branding and advertising color. Blues and greens are common in rechargeable batteries, because these colors remind us of environmental consciousness and nature. From this palette, we recommended an "energetic" shade of green that we hope makes consumers comfortable with eco-friendly choices and reflects the positive stance Sony takes regarding sources of energy. This color is used on the interfaces between modules, which represent the "structural" part of the product.
Our branding inspirations for these units now extend throughout all Sony battery products. The same shade of green is used in graphic design for non-mercury button batteries, alkaline batteries, and other products developed with the environment clearly in mind. By drawing the line with a color different from the traditional reds, blacks, and golds that dominate disposable batteries (symbolizing a sense of power and energy), we hope to make a lasting impression of our commitment to wise energy and environmental practices.
Hara: Ideally, good packaging design yields packaging that's both ecological and easy to open. By ecological, I mean packaging that contains a minimal amount of plastic and that's easy to sort for recycling. Unfortunately, at many retailers in the U.S. and Europe where sales personnel can't always monitor merchandise on the sales floor, hard-to-open clamshell packaging and blister packs are commonly used to deter theft. We'd like to help improve this situation, because clamshell packaging is made entirely of plastic, and people may even hurt their fingers when opening them.
As a compromise, we chose packaging that's plastic in front with a paper backing. Perforations on bottom (as on some snack boxes) make it easy to open. This way, there's no need to worry about hurting your fingers, and because the front of the package opens wide, you can take the product out right away. There are also other advantages. The packaging as a whole is more compact, so it helps cut CO2 emissions in distribution.
To date, retailers haven't accepted packaging other than clamshells. But this time, the idea received a warm welcome from those in the U.S. It seems like good timing for environmental consciousness, both here in Japan and overseas.
In this project as well, our packaging engineers made critical contributions. With clamshells, it's a simple matter of creating a mold and sandwiching the product between sheets of plastic, but this special packaging called for much more work-from deciding how to fold the paper to testing the packaging integrity against compression and vibration. Battery products in particular tend to be heavier than they look, so they are more susceptible to damage from vibration. As a solution, our engineers chose thicker paper stock and even created a special jig to fold it perfectly. But because all the hard work paid off in packaging that's easier to open, we're satisfied.