Apr 10

The Ararat Experience

Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Bottles | Design | Uncategorized

Mr Musheg Mkhitaryan, native from the Ararat region in Armenia, is a very special man. He not only built a water factory in the Ararat Valley, but after three unsuccessful design studies, he saw me on Russian television and decided on the spot that I was his man to help out with his project.

To make a long story short, we met in Geneva one Friday evening, whereupon I flew to Yerevan the following Wednesday. In order to help designing the identities for the brand and the company Ararat, I said: “I must see what Ararat is all about”. I had of course heard about Noah’s Ark and also about Armenia being the first Christian country in the world.

After two days on the spot, I got a good idea of this very special project. I chose my friends at ARD in Vevey to design the labels as they have talented designers, a reasonable price level, a capacity to cope with some 25 designs and last, but not least, were willing to follow my advice as a creative director.

Why do I tell the story? Because it took us only about two months to finalize the project. We are obviously proud of the result and when the bottles will be available in Summer, I am sure people will speak about the Ararat water.

Why only two months? Because we were given the freedom to work ‘the correct way’. Here is what happened: I wrote and designed the briefings together with the client, in this case Mr Mkhitaryan, the CEO himself, accompanied by his marketing manager, Nadezhda Gulaga. From the very beginning, we had the same objectives. The company Ararat should have strong category labels and I should add art, culture and character to the designs.

We worked stepwise, beginning with my magic marker sketches which were discussed on the spot in Yerevan with the client. These rough sketches showed the three different directions: tradition for Ararat, modernity for another water brand and taste for a lemonade brand.

The design agency ARD then translated these concepts and produced 2-3 design solutions for each brand. Even if we had to re-do one of the brands (we had not followed the client’s wish… thought we were more clever!), we managed to finalize the designs in only two steps and thus also kept down the costs.

As the Ararat Group had decided to trust my advice and as I had decided to trust an agency which had proven to have a high creative level, we moved very smoothly forward, still letting personal taste have some influence over the positionings of the three brands in question.

These designs will not be tested as we see no reason to ask consumers what they think of designs that clearly express the positionings. The products will be sold in Armenia and in Russia, but it is obvious that the Ararat Group hopes to see this water one day in all Europe!

The conclusion I have drawn from this experience is as follows:

  • the higher up design is being dealt with in an organisation, the more efficient;
  • you do not need 5-10 alternatives from your design agency if you set your goal together and work stepwise;
  • an agency must have marketing- and design knowledge, as well as copywriting capacity;
  • the agency can be anywhere in Europe, as long as the key meetings are held with real eye contact! Design is an emotional business and it is important to be able to read body language.


It goes without saying that of the many design projects I have taken part in, this was my most passionate and efficient one! Future will tell us if the designs were the right ones.

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