Jun 14

Design adds value

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

Many food and drink products are today very similar which is due to the use of the same raw material, the same technical equipment in factories, from mixers to packaging line.

Therefore, it is difficult to be different in order to achieve an edge, i.e. a preference in the consumer’s mind. This could mean better profitability to be invested in the future.

It is here DESIGN enters as design, correctly used, does not only add perceived and real value, but also helps differentiation.

This site is about packaging communication, but for this article I have chosen an illustration (which could obviously appear on a pack) that many of the readers have seen in reality.

When you visit a McCafé, you do not only get your Cappuccino looking as good as possible, you are also part of the ritual when the person behind the counter prepares your coffee. Rituals are good differentiations in the packaging and product worlds and here I think of how you eat an Oreo cookie or how to drink a Corona. I am surprised that not more companies try to build in a ritual!

Back to design, i.e. the improvement of a product thanks to aesthetical values and convenience.

Paul Rand, the famous American designer who gave us the logotypes for Westinghouse, IBM (the eye, the bee and the lined M) and UPS said that “good design adds value of some kind, gives meaning and, not incidentally, can be sheer pleasure to behold; it respects the viewer’s sensibilities and rewards the entrepreneur.”

In the food and drink business, the appetite appeal is considerably enhanced through design which can be translated into ‘food styling’. To learn more about this way of improving the looks of a product, I refer to a previous article on the site or to chapter 6 in “The world’s first book about packaging communication” which is becoming more and more a reference for young marketeers.

Feb 01

… or maybe both! The attentive package designer has certainly noticed the great number of brands which are short and memorable, using only a letter, a number, or both.

As I am mostly interested in food and drinks, I have restricted this article to these product categories. It goes without saying that other FMCG categories do have quite a number of examples, as for instance Chanel No 5, or “4711” Eau de Cologne among beauty products.

If I should start with the drinks category, the most famous example is quite recent, as Coca-Cola “zero” is maybe only a decade old, little by little overtaking the more feminine diet/light variety.

I am particularly happy with the success of “zero”, not only because it was designed by my Melbourne friend Mark Cowan, but also because black has more taste than white and the food and drink business is foremost about TASTE!

In the beer category, there are quite a few examples as for instance the Norwegian Hansa “H”, Harmann’s No 4, the Swiss amboss “5”, “1664” from Kronenbourg, as well as the Swiss “1291” (the year the three cantons Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden constituted the Swiss Confederation).

The Irish Ballygowan “B” water, the Mexican “Dos Eyuis”, i.e. XX, the American “V8” vegetable juice, and “7UP” (here in its Chinese version) from Pepsi are good examples, as well as the Swedish Zoega’s coffee brand from Nestlé which uses its big “Z” very successfully.

In Russia, we find two brands, the Pepsi milk brand “M” for milk (from Lianozovo), as well as Coca-Cola’s Rich. “R”.

However, it is on the wine labels that I have found the most frequent use of letters and figures. What about “Cuvée no 3”, “6ème sens” or the cider “Tempt No7”? The “C” for Chardonnay, “M” for Merlot and “G” for Gamay are further examples and I am sure they are not alone!

Moving over to the food category, the first is just “first”, a chewing gum in Turkey! Being an admirer of new ideas, I particularly like Cadbury’s infinity symbol (is it a letter, a figure or both?), as well as Wrigley’s No 5. The master in this group of brands is no doubt “Special K” which, over the years, has become my favourite brand, as it constantly re-inforces its brand positioning with highly creative front and back panels. Well done Kellogg’s!

We saw the use of the first letter being blown up in the wine category. Mulino Bianco is doing the same for several of their products. A highly creative solution is the “S” in Walkers Sensations.

The beautiful “A” which stands for the Danish Anthon Berg has become another favourite and Oxo’s “O” is still going strong!

I was once involved in Nestlé’s “LC1” – I still like the design, but did Nestlé really succeed in making it work like e.g. Danone’s Activa? Anyhow, I don’t think you can have a better radiating blue colour on a pack!

I would like to end this article with the quite recent range of “ok.-“ products. If you wish your product to be a lifestyle brand, you choose products which are popular in the culture where you launch them. How about a condom, a cookie, a mineral water, a beer and an energy drink all under the same roof? Well, “ok.-“ did it! Future will tell us if it works.

P.S.: As I write this article, the ultimate number packs just appear on Dieline. I can only say congratulations!

Nov 21

Wine in bag-in-box

Posted by Packaging Sense in Design | Trends | Uncategorized

During a recent travel through the South of Sweden, I visited a few ‘Systembolag’, that is to say the special shops where you buy hard liquor, wine and beer. I was very impressed to see the creativity in the category of wines in bag-in-box and was not surprised to learn that 50% of all wines sold in Sweden are now distributed in this type of pack. This is no doubt a proof of what great package design can do! The creativity lies in graphic design, as well as in shape design and material.

In Switzerland, my attention had already been drawn to the category as we quite often drink “Château Carton” from a wine dealer in Geneva. The other day, I even found, on the other side of the lake, a bag-in-box in wood from the big French J.P. Chenet wine company.

So what is the learning? It is obvious that we should think more ‘out-of-the-box’, i.e. ask ourselves every time we get a briefing if there could be another material or shape and not think only graphic design. This is why we are called package designers!

Back to Sweden. In today’s Dieline I see that the 2011 Award was given to “STEVE’S LEAVES” which brings one more proof why the Swedish bag-in-box category is so creative. Interesting denominations are also created such as “Wildboar’s Rock”, “30 Miles”, “Drop in”, “Vernissage”, etc.

Great package design is a matter of

• material (Douglas Green);

• shape (Vernissage);

• graphics (Le Bistro);

• name (Wildboar’s Rock);

• RTB (still missing on most of them!);
• convenience (Manifesto);

• ecology (Douglas Green as plastic burns well in incinerators!);

• efficiency on pallets (most bag-in-box).

Package design no doubt helps products to

• look contemporary;
• be interesting (promoting impulse buying);
• be unique (which means that trade and media like to speak about the new product/pack, i.e. we receive free advertising);
• be different (creative packaging helps to make similar products different).

As seen above, the bag-in-box wine sector has become very creative and we may therefore be inspired by looking at it.

Other creative packaging design categories are

• breakfast cereals (mainly in UK)
• cheese (mainly in France)
• energy drinks (Red Bull started a whole new category!)

To summarize: Packaging is about where, when and how. It goes without saying that I prefer my wine in the restaurant to be served from a glass bottle with a real cork. But I can very well drink my ‘vin du jour’ at home from a convenient bag-in-box from which I can pour one or two glasses, keeping the remaining wine in a better condition than in an opened bottle. Bag-in-box is a great invention! Ask those who work in the catering business! But this is a subject for another article as it is more about convenience than attractive design.

Oct 31

Do you have a pattern?

Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Trends | Uncategorized

I have always found that an icon is superior to a logotype as the icon is usually more emotional. An icon can be an animal (e.g. a Tiger), a graphical device (e.g. the Swoosh), a person (e.g. Uncle Bens), etc. The icon which I’d like to promote today is ‘the pattern’.

The reason for promoting the pattern is that it is probably the most efficient communication tool through all media. I thought of it the other day in Malmö, Sweden, when I saw the shipping cartons for Cloetta KEX, the wafer chocolate which, in my opinion, is less good than KitKat, but which has an identity far superior to KitKat as it explains the product. If only KitKat could better exploit their unique break idea!

The brand in Europe that best employs a pattern, in fact a very simple one, is certainly Bonne Maman. You find it to the right, to the left, on top, etc. The efficiency lies in the fact that the pattern is the brand and can therefore be used even on the lids.

A pattern I like is the repetition of the brand logotype. I call it “Gucci Gucci Gucci” and one who

uses it to the maximum is the Swiss retailer Migros for their Budget range. Not bad to use a symbol you usually find for super-premium brands on a low-price range. Chapeau!

Speaking of using the brand as a pattern, why not use your product? IKEA’s biscuit pack is a wonderful example!

Mars has recently added stripes in order to highten interest and make their flat-coloured background more attractive. Well done!

The most recent examples of using a pattern to increase visibility in print media are no doubt the Nespresso Pixie and Schweppes’ fruit (Agrum’) soft drinks. But why not exploit these two pattern better on the machine vs. the label?
Synergy effect is Economy!

Oct 11

Waste or Energy?

Posted by Packaging Sense in Trends | Uncategorized

Do you want to see things in a positive or a negative light? Do you put your used packages in the earth for the coming 100 years or do you burn them and recuperate the energy to be used for other purposes?

Well, unfortunately you cannot choose yourself as it all depends on where you live and how the local government looks upon carbage. I thought of this the other day when I visited Bern to get a visa for an oversea’s travel. It was a beautiful sunny Summerday so I seized the opportunity to walk up and down the arcades of our capital. And what did I see shining in the early morning light if not beautiful blue plastic bags, ready to be picked up and brought to the incineration plant.

Yes, I know that other countries are as clever as Switzerland – Denmark, Sweden and maybe some more, but I cannot understand why it takes such a long time for cities all over the world to

  • build new efficient incineration plants (invest in the future!)
  • ask a couple of euros for each garbage bag which is then taken care of in the most professional way. Was it not Ruben Rausing, the founder of Tetra Pak who said something like “garbage is not waste, just raw material in the wrong place”?

After my visit to Bern, I see garbage in another light!

Oct 03

Be top-of-mind

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

… thanks to creative package design.

Let it be said straight from the beginning: Don’t play around with your identity, nor with your package design! You will only water down your identity, tamper upon brand image and maybe even destroy your price policy.

By changing a part of your pack design in order to increase the attraction of your product, you may achieve any of these improvements:

  • • strengthening the brand
  • • perceived added value
  • • reinforcement of the positioning
  • • seen as more contemporary
  • • better communication

This can also be achieved with promotional activities as done in a category like breakfast cereals. But a promotion can be a risky business if you don’t coordinate it properly.

To do something with your package design is not risky and costs you only new artwork, new printing plates or cylinders. Why do I say that it is less risky… because if you have found out how your present design is perceived, seen and appreciated, you will know which part of it is untouchable and which one you can vary. If the design is changed in the right direction as is often the case with the Toblerone triangular pack or the round Nivea cream tin, then you are strengthening your brand in the consumer’s mind. You may call what you do “a special edition” to increase the perceived value, but this is not necessary. What is important is that the consumer gets a feeling for a certain urgency, i.e. if she doesn’t buy the product now, it will be too late when she visits the shop next time.

What you do to your design must also be seen as an improvement or as added value. This is why ‘playing around’ is strictly forbidden!

Having followed some companies over the years, I have come to the conclusion that they must have found out that such controlled changes must be profitable!

As I write these lines in June 2011 the Cannes film festival has just ended, but I am reminded of its importance as I drink my S. Pellegrino “Hommage à la dolce vita”. I thought it would be impossible to do such a thing to an iconic label as S. Pellegrino, but no, it was a success! As was last year’s version with the Missoni labels. These two examples show that if you have a clear and simple positioning as S. Pellegrino has, such changes will enhance the brand and make it even more appreciated, and valuable!

Apart from Toblerone, Nivea or Kinder who in principle don’t change their product, I should like to mention here the Ritter seasonal designs. I recently bought a “Summer Delight 2011” Stracciatella, unfortunately not an attractive label design, but clearly a special edition they did to make the Ritter brand stay top-of-mind during the Summer season when less chocolate is purchased.

To those who will have a try at changing their design, I can give the following advice:

  • • Find out the consumer’s view on the design which may be very different to your own view as to identity and communication.
  • • Make the change so big that it is immediately noticed.
  • • Focus on the brand’s positioning!
  • • Try to add humour. If the consumer smiles when she sees your pack, you have a winner!
  • • Don’t be afraid to overlap even your logotype. See what TIME, ELLE, etc. do every week.
  • • Stay within the colour-scheme you have. Don’t add new colours!
  • • Make it unique. Surprise!
  • • Plan it well in advance so you have time to check if you are within the positioning limits.

Now, just do it!

Sep 12

Contemporary chocolate packaging

Posted by Packaging Sense in Trends | Uncategorized

The present trend towards more dark/bitter chocolate, the arrival of exotic fruits and new ingredients such as chili, as well as Fairtrade and Bio messages have given birth to 4 very clear trends :

  1. Strong, vivid colours to achieve contrast;
  2. Windows to expose the product;
  3. Embossing and gold stamping to express quality;
  4. New formats and types of packaging to stand out on the shelf.

The chocolate category, as well as the cheese and other chilled products category are today, together with breakfast cereals and biscuits, the most creative categories as the victory over the consumers’ stomach and wallet is fundamental to stay in black figures on the balance sheet.

Creativity is thus high and it is therefore worth analysing these 4 trends as they can be useful to adopt in other categories of FMCG products. Some trends have their origin in the design computer, like as colours and layout. However, the most interesting trends come from understanding materials and technology, so important to achieve real outstanding packaging solutions.

Strong vivid colours
As most designs for dark chocolate have black or very dark backgrounds (the white of Lindt is an exception), it is just common sense to use bright orange, violet or mint green to obtain maximal contrast and shelf impact. Some of the colours that some years ago were considered as impossible as they looked almost ‘poisonous’ are today common practice.

The trend towards transparent packages goes through almost all categories. Its origin is no doubt found in Japan where the consumer wants to see what she is buying and how fresh it is. This is, however, a two-edged sword as the chocolate may look old (white) if you cannot control the distribution.

Embossing and gold stamping
If cardboard is used and thus offset printing and embossing by sheets, it is today very easy and also less costly to add quality by high touch/high gloss. In Rotogravure, it is more difficult, but equally possible if the printing run is sufficiently big.

New formats and types of packages
Not only do packages become smaller (50g instead of 100g) as consumers prefer ‘little, but quality’, we also see more and more stick-pack solutions (easy to break off a piece). The tobacco pouch/envelope has also entered the category and we will most likely see even more creative solutions in the years to come as more sophisticated machines are developped.

An area which has not yet reached maturity is the back panel communication which is the most boring on chocolate bars. This is a pity as there are so many good things to say about cacao and its virtues ! Unfortunately, I see little hope as the manufacturers seem to believe more in what the legislators recommend (please note that nutritional composition in table form is not yet obligatory in Europe) than what consumers really want to read and, if well designed, help to increase sales and consumption.

May 02

A strong brand identity is always built through proper use of the brand logotype and graphics, the colour or colour scheme and/or the brand spokesman, icon or symbol.

A disciplined, but at the same time creative use of these elements over a long period of time leads to unique identities such as MARLBORO, AMERICAN EXPRESS, NESQUIK and, not to be forgotten, COCA COLA.

Today more than ever it is important to be creative with an identity in order to not only be contemporary, but stay ahead and awake interest as Google is doing so well. One ingredient in an identity which plays an important role is the style which in most cases is the sum of logotype, colour, graphics and symbol.

The master in doing this was by far MARLBORO as was seen in the advertising during the Winter months when the warm red-white colour scheme was even changed to snow-white without loosing its impact.

A brand which today is doing an excellent job using a style is Apple with its products. Can anything be done simpler and still leave freedom to choose different colours?

Another good example is H&M which has created its own style (copied by several other fashion brands) thanks to simplicity, i.e. only three messages: a beautiful mannequin, a clear price and the brand logotype H& M.

Two other styles that have struck in my mind:

  • Lacoste with people jumping in the air
  • San Pellegrino’s label pattern that was temporarily changed last year into a Missoni pattern without loosing its identity

As brand strengthening is one of our ‘weapons’ to increase the bond with consumers we must constantly team-work on building more unique styles for our brands. This can only be done if there is a strong link between those who design our communication, i.e. the design company (mainly packaging), the POP company, the advertising agency and the brand manager with the help of a communication manager when available.

Total communication has been a buzz word for decades. However, really great total communication is still in its infancy and money invested in communication wasted.

Nov 29

A couple of years ago I did an ‘A to Z’ in Swedish, published by Nordemballage and highly appreciated as it gave a personal touch to the various aspects of package design.

As a change, this Alphabet which you now get will not start with the letter A, but with F and go all the way to G. F like in ‘FASTER’, as I find it one of  the most important words to use today…   so here we go!

The faster you develop a new pack or improve your present one… the better
The faster the cunsumer understands your package design… the simpler is your message
The faster the turnover on the shelf the fresher the product
The faster the pack moves on the production line… the lower the cost etc…

Accentuate the ”grabb-effect” with a highly characteristic shape which calls out to be held in hand. As tactile as possible… i.e. emossed or mat

A happy consumer comes back
To increase happiness, amplify taste or easy handling
Always find out what makes the consumer happy

Do it big or stay in bed!
Simplify in order to amplify!
Remove what is not necessary!
Highlight the key element that lead to sales!

Develop special editions for Halloween, christmas, New-Year, Easter, Ramadan, etc…
If well designed, amplifying the positioning of these packages makes them become ”collector’s items”, thus strenghtening the brand image

Understand all communication tools and what influences the cunsumer-

  • material
    photo vs. drawing
  • …and know what you don’t know!

    To design a unique package, no guideline will give you the optimal result! Forget common practice and so-called rules. First decide upon hierarchy then layout that surprises!

    Offer more than what the consumer expects and he/she comes back
    Repeat, but change within the given framework
    Be generous

    Concentrate on what counts, i.e.:
    – what is understood
    – what strenghtens the brand
    – what sells more

    Concentrate on what counts, i.e.:
    The more often the consumer comes in contact with the brand, the more you strengthen it

    Always build into your design something that makes it more difficult for competition to copy as e.g.:
    – shape
    – colour combination
    – easy opening feature
    – unique and characteristic denomination
    Think about Design Registration

    ”Nothing will be creative unless you take risks”
    Betty Carter

    ”An idea that has no risk attached to it, is not worthy to be called an idea”

    ”There is the risk you cannot afford to take and there is the risk you cannot afford not to take”
    Peter Drucker

    Secondary packs
    The 6 sides surface is so large that it is an ”advertising space”! The potential of improving shipper designs is enormus… at besically no extra cost, Four-colour flexography is not expensive nor are the printing plates

    Easy-opening features, be with a simple performation that works or with a more sophisticated re-closure. They create a positive image for a product that sets it appart from competition

    • ”If you are not seen, you cannot be bought”.
    • ”Stand-out” comes from layout, material, shape and last but not least simplicity

    Why warehouse? Because the package should not only please the consumer, but also the distribution, i.e. take little space, be easy to handle, have clear information (e.g. article number on the shipper) and be solid

    X = 10
    So here are the 10 Do’s when it comes to package design

    1. Simplify & amplify
    2. Surprise
    3. Always a ”call-to-action”
    4. Communicate, don’t just inform
    5. Be the best in category
    6. Tell a story
    7. Whet the appetite!
    8. Think 3D
    9. Choose the best material
    10. Make it easy-to-open

    Yield is what you really get. Yield is important in order to judge th price and the perception of the quality of a product (package). The legal advisors are interested in communication weight and volume, but the consumer is looking for number of servings. Therefore, it is essential to print very clearly what the consumer, caterer or operator are looking for… wich is yield

    …easy-opening is so important but so neglected… this alphabet has it twice

    Appetite appel
    •Think big • Add emotion • Focus on the essential • Maximal food styling • Borrow appeal if your product doesn’t have it • Be generous • Don’t be too perfect… • Make it as fresh as possible (water drops, etc…) • Use an attractive vocabulary • Respect size, structure & colour ( but optimize!!) • Always use fresh colours • Don’t forget the window
    Back panel
    …no…Service panel is the correct name as it is here the consumer comes in contact with not only the product, but the company.
    ”If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”

    All copy on a package must be:

    • short and with simple words
    • clearly understood
    • easy to read (type siza, type face and contrast)
    • amplifying the taste or product experience
    • encouraging re-purchase
    • using ”descriptive words” like flavour, aromatic, crispy, fragrance, etc…
    • interesting & often combined with symbols for improved understanding
    • written by a proffesional copywriter!

    The display carton is the most important package in a retail environment. it is on this surface we invite the cunsumer to purchase with a call-to-action illustration or text. Most display cartons are wrongly designed, as they repeat the brand, wich is anyhow seen on the package once opened. More important than the brand logotype are brand colours, brand icons and appetite appel
    Without emotion, no sales, no consumption, no pleasure, no repurchase. As simple as that! So why do we not put more emotion into packaging?
    Aug 16

    The 5 stages…

    Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Design | Trends | Typography | Uncategorized

    …to successfully visualize and verbalize an idea

    1st stage
    DESIGN the key properties, i.e. the visual and verbal identity for the brand or product to be used in ALL media. This is a conceptual work, i.e. an IDEA and not a final execution! To be done in collaboration with Design and Advertising agencies. The idea is best ‘conceptualized’ with rough layouts using traditional magic marker sketches.

    2nd stage
    Execute the chosen idea in several media as for instance packaging, print advertising, website, POS material, TV or outdoor. Here the design computer is the best tool, but remember that the execution is still on the conceptual stage. Do not yet judge the executional quality!

    3rd stage
    Design the final execution of this idea for the package which will ALWAYS be the main medium for the identity as this is what the consumer is looking for and buying. Build in a powerful ‘call-to-action’ message, be it an extraordinary appetite appeal, a powerful USP text, easy-opening or re-closure systems, a nutritional plus, etc.

    4th stage
    Prepare a one-page identity sheet with a short explanatory text and DISTRIBUTE it to all parties involved, i.e. agencies, purchasing, sales people, legal advisors, etc.

    5th stage
    UPDATE, SIMPLIFY AND AMPLIFY continuously. A brand or product identity is a living matter as the competitors and distribution channels change.

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