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My 4th book is now available (the first is sold out). It has a very clear message: how to improve the copywriting, as well as the layout on the back/side panel of your pack. As the previous ones, this book is directed to schools, design agencies, brand managers, sales forces, etc… well, anyone interested in […]

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Typography, a communication tool

Typography, a communication tool

Once I heard that typography was a “beautiful group of letters and not a group of beautiful letters”.

Apr 01

Creativity takes courage

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized


Creativity: the unexpected connections between unrelated concepts or ideas (Edwin Catmull, Pixar).


Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating (John Cleese).


Working with change is what creativity is about (Edwin Catmull, Pixar).


Creativity: things I have collected over time always have relevance at some point later on (Lars Wallentin).


Creativity is about curiosity and the joy of doing something new.


Creativity is intelligence having fun.


Creativity is the generation of novel and appropriate ideas. Innovation implements those ideas and hereby changes the order of things in the world.


Creativity without implementation is irresponsibility (Ted Lewitt).


Creativity is to challenge oneself!


Nonconforming oddities can be enriching and humanising! Indeed, exceptions to the rule are often more interesting than the rules themselves.


Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and last, but not least, having fun! (Mary Lou Cook).


The impetus to conform, so widespread today, will, if not checked, kill all forms of creativity (Paul Rand, 1960).


LW/March 2018

Mar 25

Those of you who have read my books or the articles on know that I prefer both icons (e.g. spokesmen) and design style (identifying a brand) to a logotype, as they are more emotional.

Today, I’d like to give some advice on how to use the brand spokesman in the most efficient manner on packaging, POS or advertising.

If I start with the style or type of spokesman, it can express many different positionings of the brand:

  • –       cheap (inexpensive) or luxury
  • –       basic or special
  • –       friendly or distant
  • –       fun or serious
  • –       childish or adult
  • –       human or animal
  • –       hyper realistic or stylised
  • –       agricultural or industrial
  • –       specialist or layman
  • –       traditional or contemporary, etc.

The illustrations to this article show some of the above characteristics.

Once the spokesman (or icon) has been decided upon (its expression of the brand), the next decision to take is its position on the pack and other media, i.e. attached or non determined position. It’s here many design manuals make the mistake to determine a precise position and fix the size.

As the spokesman is more attractive than the brand, my opinion is to not decide too early upon how to use it, as it is impossible to foresee all the situations that will come up.

It is useful to fix the spokesman’s position next to or attached to the brand logotype when you register it, as it then strengthens the registration, but once this is done, let the spokesman take the best spot on the pack, POS or advertising. Now and then, you have a portrait format and thus the spokesman will most likely appear above or below the logotype. On other occasions, you might have a landscape format and then the spokesman may be to the left or to the right. It all depends on how big you wish the brand logotype to be in relation to the spokesman.

My experience is that, if your spokesman is photographic or a hyper realistic drawing, it is useful to also have a simplified, stylised version, depending on the printing technique, the material, the background, etc.

The following points have also to be taken into consideration:

  • a)    The background: a face looks different against a white background compared to a photographic one. You may decide to frame it which I would advise against, as it limits its use.
  • b)   If it is a person, should you allow it to have diffferent expressions and/or positions? I would be for it, as my experience with the Nesquik Bunny is a good example. Don’t forget that, on a pack, you have a back panel where you can amplify your spokesman (Sardines Lou Ferrignade).

Last, but not least, always allow your spokesman to overlap your brand if you have limited space!


LW/November 2017

Mar 16

It’s about focusing

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

The other day, I drove down to our railway station to pick up my Saturday newspapers, the Financial Times, Courrier international, Die Zeit and L’Equipe, as I’m a fan of sports.

On the way, I passed a poster that CAUGHT MY EYE, as it was simple and emotional – I could imagine myself on it. I remembered ALL I saw, the word MERCI, as well as the thanking gesture as the car stops at the pedestrian crossing!

So far, so good… but a little bit later, there were 3 posters that did not catch my eye. Nevertheless, I stopped to photograph them, as they were examples of what 90% of such outdoor posters look like. I call them “designer’s posters”, as I can imagine the designer filling a blank surface with what he or she likes, without thinking of me, the viewer.

I ask myself: when designing a poster, a pack, POS material, do we not want it to be read and understood instantly?

These 3 posters have been chosen randomly and I do not wish to comment upon them, as the reader certainly understands very well why I write these lines… with the hope that designers conceive communication not for themselves, but for the potential viewer!


LW/January 2018

Jan 11

Has Pepsi woken up?

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Dear reader, look at this design and ENJOY! Well, it can still be better, but isn’t it great to re-discover a logotype equally good as Coca-Cola? Forgive me that I have forgotten in which market I picked up this can. My wish is that this special edition becomes the new standard.

I fully understood Pepsi’s campaign many years ago which led Coca-Cola to change their recipe in the US. Not only did Pepsi have a little bit sweeter taste for the young generation, but also the design looked more modern.

But as we live in a constantly changing world, it’s high time Pepsi forget their uninteresting thin logotype in favour of the great traditional one they had once upon a time! Young consumers do appreciate today something that looks as if it had been around for a long time, especially as they have not a clue of “The Pepsi Challenge!”

I make no comments to the round icon, as it speaks to me as little as the Vittel squares… I don’t think my comments matter, as it is a strong and recognisable icon, but my philosophy is that icons should tell a story.

Let us keep our fingers crossed that this ‘special edition’ has come to stay!

LW/January 2018

Jan 06

Multi-layer materials

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

This is why we need multi-layer materials and packages that weigh as little as possible

By combining different materials, it is possible to create “customised” protective packaging with the least possible material consumption, above all for foodstuffs. The most common combination is paper, plastic and aluminium foil. These materials are all good on their own, but the combination is even better. The composite materials are lighter and less resource-consuming than one single material with the same properties. Thus, the amount of waste is reduced. This is of course even more valid for flexible plastic packaging.

In general, many different properties are demanded from a package. The classical description of the main demands on a package says that it shall contain, protect and preserve, facilitate handling and use, inform and sell.

In practice, it is exceptional to find one single packaging material whose properties meet all these demands. This is the reason why much of our present-day packaging consists of multi-layer materials in the form of laminates, e.g. materials that are composed and combined in different ways.

By combining two or more materials, it is possible to build several properties into the package and to have the composite material fulfil many functions. Each separate material layer can represent one or more properties. The combination of many thin layers of different materials gives a package that provides the product the best possible protection, using the least amount of material. Compare with the “multi-layer parinciple” recommended when dressing for bad weather. You should have one windbreaking layer, one for warmth, one against moisture, etc.

X  X  X

The foundation for modern distribution

It is a fact that composite packaging materials have been of vital importance to our modern way of distributing goods. Cardboard and paper were used originally without being combined with other materials, e.g. wrapping paper, shoe boxes, cake cartons, flour bags and sweet papers, for purposes with simple functional demands.

The development of composite materials began when we learnt how to coat paper or cardboard with plastic. Now quick and reliable heat sealing (welding) could be substituted for paste and glue. The technique suddenly made it possible to pack liquids in paper! It became possible to develop different cardboard and paper based packaging solutions for new products, e.g. deep-frozen food. This also created new opportunities for rational production and distribution of food.

The self-service system and an increasing variety of products created a demand for packaging with even better protection for the products. This meant fast development towards more and more “customised” multi-layer packaging. Not only were different types of materials combined (e.g. paper, aluminium and plastic), but different plastics were also combined into materials with very advanced properties.

X  X  X

For a given product, there are often several effective packaging solutions able to perform the required functions. But some solutions are more resource efficient than others in that they use less resources.

Today, resource efficiency is a critical objective, given the Earth’s limited resources and, more generally, the World’s environmental challenges. It is at the core of the flagship initiative for a resource-efficient Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy, seeking to transform Europe’s economy into a sustainable one by 2050.

What does ‘resource efficiency’ mean exactly for packaging? This has to do with the minimal use of material and energy resources throughout its lifecycle and also the minimised amount of material leaving the cycle (i.e. not recycled).

X  X  X

The general perception is that a pack, serving the same consumption purpose with a high recycling rate, is better than a pack with zero recycling. This is not necessarily true as the packaging weight must be taken into  account.

Compare, for example a non-flexible pack weighing 50g with a recycling rate of 80% and a flexible packaging weighing 5g with the same functionality, but with zero recycling. Which pack is the more resource efficient? The flexible packaging of course! Even after recycling, the net material loss of the non-flexible packaging is 10g – twice as much as the 5g flexible pack.

X  X  X

New methods created

New materials made it possible to develop an entirely new technique for maintaining freshness and quality in foodstuffs and to facilitate cooking in microwave ovens. New improved plastics opened new possibilities. The number of layers could be increased. New techniques for the lamination of material layers made production cheap and the method of co-extruding plastics (one single work operation to combine different molten plastics) revolutionised the production of multi-layer materials. It has been established that if one single material is used instead of a laminate (= multi-layer material), the material consumption would be at least quadrupled in some cases. Also, more energy would be consumed in production and distribution and the amount of waste would increase considerably.

X  X  X

Recovery – a challenge

As can be understood, the use of multi-layer materials is highly motivated. But new demands for material recovery from household packaging waste cause an undeniable problem. Therefore, the development of new techniques for the manufacture of multi-layer materials suitable for material recovery has now become high-priority for the packaging industry. Some problems are well on the way to being solved. For example, there exists a functioning method for the separation of the polyethylene, aluminium and paper in milk and juice cartons.

It is also highly likely that it will be possible to material-recover plastic laminates. This will be enabled by the developmet of super-thin layers of newly developed barrier materials (barrier materials = materials that are impervious to gases, aromas and light). One such material is silicon oxide (in principle = glass) which is used as coating on plastic film in such thin layers that they can be disregarded when the packaging material is recovered.

If the recovery of multi-layer materials is aimed instead at energy recovery by incineration of the material in ovens where the generated heat is recovered, the multi-layer materials are an interesting resource, as they generally make splendid fuels with high energy content.

X  X  X

Alternatives on the way?

At present, interesting experiments are being conducted with multi-layer materials where one and the same plastic – but with different properties – is found in all layers. Such “mono-laminates” are easily re-cycled because, despite their many layers, they basically consist of one and the same kind of material. A good example is micro-flute corrugated board.

Other exciting trends concern wood fibre based barrier materials, similar to greaseproof paper which, in some cases, make it possible to substitute the aluminium foil in, for instance, dairy packages. Since both the basic cardboard and the barrier layer are made from cellulose, the material recovery is considerably simplified. Long-term, one can also see some development of plastic “alloys”, i.e. compounds of polymers instead of layers of different materials. Each such plastic alloy can be given desired characteristics and then be recovered as a specific material for a specific purpose. (Compare with the metal industry recovery of different metal alloys.)

There are many ideas about how problems with recovery can be solved technically. In Germany, for instance, chemical recovery to oil is one alternative.

X  X  X

Information obtained from Flexible Packaging Europe, as well as the aluminium and paper/pulp industries.

X  X  X

The 3 illustrations are randomly chosen for the following reasons:

  1. Danish Cookies: gold metal for long shelf life and to look precious, cardboard for easy handling, stockability/merchandising and appetite appeal;
  2. Fresh meat: wood for being a natural material, paper label for branding, appetite appeal, etc.
  3. Irish pork: rigid black plastic as the main tray sealed with a plastic film to be airtight for longer shelf life and cardboard wraparound label for branding and origin, as even the farmer is pictured.

LW/December 2017

Dec 11

One of the leading brands in the mineral waters category is no doubt S.Pellegrino thanks to an efficient communication translated in the slogan “Fine Dining Lovers” used for both S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, i.e. great tables/restaurants serve S.Pellegrino!

I also like the French translation of the S.Pellegrino positioning: “synonyme de l’art de vivre à l’italienne dans le monde entier”, a bit long, but a very powerful statement.

More and more consumers prefer still water to their meal. Nestlé saw the potential of a brother/sister approach and, as far as I can see, they succeeded in so to speak replacing Vittel (Nestlé) with the brand that looks like a sister to S.Pellegrino. Acqua Panna, from the beginning quite a feminine positioning in Italy, is now standing in good restaurants next to her brother S.Pellegrino. Well done, Nestlé!

The reason why I’ve selected these two labels (the S.Pellegrino green bottle was initially a wine bottle), is that the design is at the same quality level as great wine labels, i.e. masterfully blended typography!

If I often teach simplicity (do it BIG or stay in bed), these two labels are exceptional masterpieces, like the first Julius Maggi Aroma bottle, with traditional typography that expresses QUALITY, ORIGIN and UNIQUENESS which is so important for brands for which one is ready to pay a premium price. Well, that is what I call great marketing!

X  X  X

I suggest that you visit the website of these two brands. Can layout and typography be done better? I doubt!


LW/November 2017

Dec 04

Print inside!

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

There’s always more space for communication than you think: print inside!

As a designer, it’s not enough to think 3D. When we sit in front of a computer or a drawing pad, we often forget to also think ‘inside’.

Package design is a matter of analysing where, how and what. This article wishes to promote the inside of a pack, a tray, a bottle, a carton, etc.

Yes, it is a matter of money, as any extra print or fold operation when producing a pack will add costs. However, it is very likely that this focused communication will be noticed much more than for instance advertising. Thus, you have to decide what information is most important.

Ferrero has chosen branding and appetite appeal (Giotto), various transparent bottles (glass or plastic) have a decorative element and Choco Crossies in Germany chose a funny text!

If your pack is a carton, you can, as Kellogg’s often do, inform the consumer on the inner flaps that they do not produce cereals for any other company, be it a retailer or a second brand.

There are many more possibilities and I hope these lines will stimulate you to find them!


LW/November 2017

Oct 26

I’ve already written several articles on the subject of secondary packaging, the stepchild in the packaging world. Why is it so? Because the shipping cartons or corrugated boxes are dealt with from a technical side only, forgetting the marketing potential… unless your brand is Chiquita!

Even in the water and beer business where the display cartons are already quite good, the shipper could be better dealt with as a marketing tool, as it is a costless advertising space. Every shipper is a display carton!

Apart from certain technical data such as barcode, article number, etc., you can in most cases print a message, exactly as in advertising. This message can relate to the positioning, to a price offer, etc. but it must be BIG to achieve the required impact.

If your brand identity is very special, as in the case of Marqués de Riscal, it goes without saying that the shipper should be a copy of this unique bottle label. However, this great box design could have been even better with a message promoting the remarquable building by Frank Gehry or a mention about the ‘award-winning wine’, etc. It would make this famous wine brand even more attractive!

LW/September 2017

Oct 17

… in many cases not! But it must be said that, to arrive at a good result, i.e. obtain a design that has shelf impact, is interesting, stimulates interest, it is not easy to do this in monochrome printing. It is possible for categories that do not need appetite appeal as for instance wine (Fabelhaft) or chewing gum (first).

Looking at examples in various markets of packs in monochrome printing, I realize that, first of all, the denomination or the brand must be interesting. If you then combine your mono colour label with an interesting type of pack (Le Rustique), real appetite appeal (Tapas) or a surprising illustration (Tyrrells or Nivea), you have a winner, as such designs stand out thanks to their uniqueness. To be unique is very important when there are over 30’000 SKUs on the shelves in a grocery store.

In my latest book “Read my pack”, I push for better copywriting on packages. I don’t think you have to go as far as choosing “….in’ hot”, but why not use a popular word such as “naked” (without) or a text as “red wine warms you”…

Next time you approach a design problem, why not think monochrome? not forgetting my above advice!

LW/September 2017

Oct 10

OXO, the first

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Beef extract sold as cubes to be dissolved in water dates back to the late 19th century. The inventor just added an “O” to “OX” and created, in 1889, one of UK’s most wellknown food brands (Liebig had invented ox stock already in 1866).

OXO is owned by Mars, Premier Foods or Knorr, depending in which part of the world you live.

When I teach branding and brand creativity, I often mention that a brand logotype does not have to appear integrally, as the consumer automatically fills in the missing letters or icon.

I’m totally against playing around with logotypes, as there is a risk that you might weaken them. However, cutting off or hiding a part of the logo can be a very useful way of communicating, say you wish to give a more important message such as NEW! or a USP which then is placed in front of the brand.

But the real reason for not showing the whole logotype is the ‘perceived size impression’… the bigger the brand, the larger your pack will look like! OXO tells us how to do it!


LW/September 2017

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