Aug 25

Word of Mouth

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

When we use the expression “word of mouth” in marketing, we mean the passing of an information from person to person about a brand, a product or a service. The most common form of word of mouth communication is no doubt storytelling.

If we should call “word of mouth” a media (and think of it, it’s a FREE media!), it is no doubt the most efficient one. Why? Mainly because it becomes personal. The most efficient way to transmit a message is obviously people talking to each other with facial contact.

And then it is a matter of how believable the storyteller is and how receptive the listener. Lots of marketing studies are available on this subject, but as is mainly about packaging communication, the question is how can a pack design participate or promote word of mouth in this media? Well, in designing the back or service panels accordingly.

Here is my advice:

FIRST: instead of  boring product data, why not write the information about the product as storytelling? Which means that it becomes interesting, in the best of cases so interesting that the reader will tell it to someone else. That is why you have to build in a surprise, a unique feature, a funny quote. It has to be what I would call chat worthy, i.e. easy to pass on. It could be a text about an experience, customer service, emotions, etc.

SECOND: print in an attractive, friendly and personal style texts that could read as follows:

“We hope you will be pleased with our product and be encouraged to tell your friends about it. Thank you!”

“Since we would like to always have you as a consumer, please let us know if there is anything we could do better… Thank you!”

“We are very happy you have chosen this product… We do hope you don’t keep your satisfaction just for yourself… Thank you!”

In order to give the text some authority, you may have it signed by a person in your company who is trustworthy, i.e. a CEO, a quality controller, a factory manager or the home economist if it is a food product.

It is amazing how little personal pack designs are today. As a designer, I’ve always wondered why the designer’s name is not mentioned on the pack when the creative people are mentioned for instance at the end of films, on TV programs, etc.

I just got from my friends at Nielsen a list of the top sources of new product discoveries and what came on top…?  “Friend or family told me about it…”

PS: to learn more about EFFICIENT communication, you might buy my 4th book “READ MY PACK” which will be available end September.

LW/August 2017

Aug 08

This time, not a pack!

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

… but a great container and a fabulous promotion!

Many of my articles underline the importance for a brand to have a simple, unique and memorable positioning… and to stick to it from one generation to another!

Today, this is not always the case, as brand managers, rightly or wrongly, try to increase sales by changing the positioning.

One brand that has been true to its initial positioning is, no doubt, Coca-Cola. It is all about refreshment, although the product, from the beginning, was more of a health, even medical drink.

During the years, this refreshing idea has been expressed in many ways and with different slogans, such as

  • –       Refresh yourself, 1924
  • –       The pause that refreshes, 1929
  • –       Ice-cold sunshine, 1932
  • –       Thirst asks nothing more, 1938
  • –       Passport to refreshment, 1945
  • –       Coca-Cola refreshes you best, 1959

or with visuals like droplets, water splashes, dew or frost on the bottles or cans, etc.

The Coca-Cola promotions have also often referred to the refreshment positioning. The latest, in a long row, is no doubt what they do this Summer and that is to offer a free bucket for the purchase of two six packs of the glass bottles.

What’s the learning? Whatever promotion you do, apart from the simple price promotion, is to amplify the positioning. This one is a good example.


LW/August 2017

Jul 21

Great News

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

I am a very lucky man. Not only did I learn a lot during my 40 years at Nestlé, I now have the possibility to transmit this knowledge over my site and also thanks to well designed books printed by Göteborgstryckeriet, one of the best book and packaging printers in Europe.

It is thanks to SIG and Ecolean, that I will publish, this Autumn, my 4th book, entitled “Read my pack”. What makes me so happy is that both companies (as Bobst and Iggesund for my 3rd book) would like the consumers to not only use their packs, but also read what’s printed on them!

Obviously, neither Ecolean nor SIG have any real influence on the design, as this lies with the users, i.e. national or multinational companies. However, by sponsoring my book, these two packaging solution providers promote great communication which is my prime objective.

If Ecolean offers consumers the most lightweight plastic pitcher packages which, once empty, flatten as an envelope, SIG offers easy to pour, beautifully printed cardboard packages like the cardboard bottle “combidome”, the first bottle that can be folded!

Both companies offer different ways to handle liquid packaging and the consumers have a choice which is always a stimulation for progress.

Thank you Ecolean and SIG! You really see packaging the way it should be seen, both as a technically sophisticated container and a great opportunity to communicate with the consumer!


LW/July 2017

Jul 14

Why Complicate…

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

… if it is as simple as selling 7 tomatoes? I think it is high time to stop and think it over. Do we really need to inform the consumer about so much? Or can we do it as simple as the Denner pack for 100 four-ply tissues?

You may say that you can’t compare something you eat with something you blow your nose with. Well, that’s right, but my point is to bring to the reader’s attention that certain categories of products are easy to understand, while in others, there is a tendency to complicate matters.

  1. Do we really need to tell the consumer that a tomato is a vegetable (in fact, it is a fruit);
  2. Do we really need to tell the consumer, on this small surface, that it is recommended to eat every day 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (please note the non-readable text around the “5”);
  3. do bio tomatoes also need to have a brand, “Gustosa”?
  4. do we have to tell the consumer that 7 tomatoes (not marked) make 300g? Yes, one needs net weight, but not that big;
  5. why duplicate bio with both bio and biosuisse?
  6. do we really need a list of ingredients mentioning “bio tomatoes from Switzerland” when we have already said the same thing on other sides?
  7. do we really need to inform that there is no salt nor fat in tomatoes?

Yes, I know that the brand manager has internal guidelines and legislation to follow, but think it over, is all the above really necessary?


PS: for the sake of simplicity, I have only included 3 sides of the wrapper, as the 4th just repeats certain information.


LW/July 2017



Jul 11

Brand or Company

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Whenever I can, I try to make brand managers understand the difference (seen from the consumer’s point of view) between a brand that can stand for

  • – taste
  • – convenience
  • – modernity
  • – varieties, etc.

and a company that always will stand for

  • – trust and tradition
  • – innovation
  • – size
  • – origins, etc.

Thus, the brand belongs to the front of the pack and the company to the back (preferably with an explanation). However, in an advertisement, if the brand manager wants both the brand and the company to appear, these have to be clearly separated, as it is the BRAND that is going to be bought in the shop.

I do not understand when, as in this ice cream ad, the brand is so to speak played against the company… what is it? Unilever or Carte d’Or?

I don’t think the Unilever logotype adds anything here and, if taken away, I  would make Carte d’Or far more important. Advertising is normally about making a brand stand out and be memorised.


LW/July 2017


Jul 07

(an article on readability inspired by the Tetra Pak House Magazine No 70)

“GIGANTIC” is certainly a great name for a very big Pizza. Tesco’s lettering for “Greek style” is another good example how to amplify a communication. The ‘modified’ typefaces for Tunnel, Bombe, Champagne and Déchiré, although a bit dated, are also good examples.

However, what is even more important is the readability of the texts that appear on a pack. When designing letters, a number of rules need to be observed in order to obtain a text that is balanced and easy to read. Harmonious proportions are also required between the text, illustrations and the size of margins.

The visual characteristics of a text have much to do with whether it is easy or difficult to read. Some of the factors involved are the size of the letters, the type face, the length of lines and the distance between them, the width of columns and headings. The ability to read is acquired by experience, that is, by learning to recognise, assess and decide what we see.

Photocomposition has given us thousands of different typefaces. But the fact remains that for ease of reading, it is prudent to use Roman forms such as Times or Baskerville. By and large, however, the most readable type is the one to which the reader is most accustomed. There is a broad range of typefaces – some of them exceedingly elaborate and, unfortunately, difficult to read.

A text written entirely in capitals is more difficult to read than the same text in lower-case letters. In the former case, the reader has problems in taking in complete words and has to read them letter by letter. A rhythmic relationship between the letters of the alphabet, regardless of how they are combined, is the primary requirement for a balanced word picture. Letters that are too close together have a tangled appearance, making it difficult to decipher long words. More space between letters reduces the problem of troublesome combinations (for instance LA, VT, KJ), but the word is liable to fall apart. The latter is not necessarily a drawback – the word can acquire a decorative appearance.

The reason I decided to write this book was to try to show that texts on packaging are as essential as illustrations, logotypes, flashes, patterns, etc. I hope I have succeeded.

Text printed in black is likely to be most legible. Negative printing (white on a coloured ground) demands a very high standard of reproduction and printing. This is particularly the case with Roman letters, the thin parts of which are liable to be lost.

Chinese characters are being simplified and streamlined. In Japan, as well as China, the number of traditional characters has been reduced and some characters have been redesigned with fewer strokes. Manuals have been compiled to explain how the kanji (the Japanese name for the Chinese characters) resemble pictures of objects or abstract concepts. A good example is the Japanese character for drink, simpified by the Japanese designer Katsuichi Ito to make it intelligible to the uninitiated (the rectangle has been transformed into a cup).

I hope these small advice will help the designer or brand manager to spend equal time between the visual and verbal communication on packaging.


LW/June 2017

Jul 04

My two Prides

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

How do you judge a great pack design? One way is certainly its longevity on the market, with or without cosmetic updating.

When I participate in design projects, I normally do not know what happens once the pack is printed and the product enters the market. However, now and then I have the possibility to follow the progress of a pack (a product) on the market when it is close to where I live. That is why I have some pride in seeing how two French brands have become highly successful from the day I was involved in creating/updating them.

One day, many years ago, Nestlé France wanted to launch a cooking/baking chocolate already available on Anglo-saxon markets. As the briefing said “homemade, traditional and everyday use”, I said: “craft paper”. The rest is history. Now all the me-too products are in craft paper!

The other design was more of an update, i.e.

  • – optimise branding
  • – optimise comprehenson
  • – optimise appetite appeal
  • – optimise back panel without photocell, i.e. continuous print

Well, it’s also history, with one improvement which came later on: the “best before…” has been highlighted and put smack in the middle, as it is so important for a chilled product.

The back panel is of course totally new, but follows my suggested idea to work without photocell (i.e. higher speed) and in post-it style.

LW/June 2017

Jun 30

During my 40 years at Nestlé, I was nicknamed “Mr Back Panel”, as the back of a pack interested me as much as the front. Why? Because I was never satisfied with the way the industry tackled this part of a pack.

I have always taken both the consumer’s and the company’s side. Regarding the latter, I refer to a recent article on this site about brand vs. company. I’ve always believed that, what is important for the consumer (on a food or drink pack), are informations such as cooking instructions, ingredients or simple nutritional data.

In constant pursuit of ameliorating this famous back panel, I’ll publish, this Autumn, a book entitled “Read my pack”.

To give an example of how bad it is today, I’ve selected a Swiss Coop pack (see ill.), but it could as well be one from Unilever, Migros, Nestlé or Aldi.

As any reader will see, the 5 point text about how to cook these raviolis has been given roughly half the space compared with the food profil, i.e. the nutritional information which I believe will be read by about 5% of the consumers only!

Furthermore, I learned, as a junior designer at Nestlé some 50 years ago, that a recipe without illustration is almost worth nothing. Here, it takes up precious space.

Last, but not least, I believe that today, the most important message on a back panel should be the company website, as it is there modern consumers are looking for information. Well, unfindable!

Maybe I’ve been a bit too negative in my comments, but I hope the reader gets my message: “make BIG and clear what is of real interest to the consumer”. You need no guidelines to do this, just common sense!

After having written the above, I found an even better worse example with the smallest cooking instructions I ever saw and where the key text about the vegan food could be twice as big if the brand were left out (it’s already on the front). Furthermore, if composed differently, the nutritional information could take up half the space only and still be very readable.


LW/June 2017

Jun 27

Brand stretching

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Brand stretching, also called brand extension, is often an efficient and economical way of launching new products.

The potential for brand stretching depends on the positioning, i.e. how it is seen by the consumer. The new products (or services) have to fit the positioning and, hopefully, be more profitable.

It is possible for brand stretching to be the fundamental idea of a company. Virgin is a good example for their strategy, leveraging their irreverent, challenger brand across music, airlines, trains, telecoms and even banking.

Among FMCG brands, the first one that comes to my mind is KitKat which has successfully introduced, in Japan, all sorts of sizes, flavours or services.

In Europe, I doubt KitKat has done a good job, as the core idea of “the break” is totally lost in a product such as KitKat balls!

A brand which successfully stretches into other categories is no doubt Guinness. As it is rather difficult to have a younger generation drink a stout as rich as Guinness (they prefer lager), the latter now sells all sorts of products in their home market and I must admit that they fit very well in the Guinness imagery.

Don’t I do my fitness in a black Guinness T-shirt? If Red Bull today make most likely more money through media (and not the drink), I can imagine Guinness making a lot of money thanks to all their brand extensions. The latest I found were Guinness chips (from Burts), a Guinness steak sauce and Guinness Luxury Chocolate!

This being said, if you do brand stretching wrong, you are in for great troubles! I once saw Chiquita Orange juice… you cannot be two different things in marketing and that’s why brand stretching is so fascinating, i.e. to find a new product (or service) that fits the positioning, well even strengthens it!


LW/June 2017

Jun 23

Once again… do it BIG!

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

I have many times repeated my mantra: “Do it BIG or stay in bed!” To design BIG is one of the best solutions to stand out on the shelves (pack design) or to be seen in any type of advertising.

During our Easter holidays in Ireland, I found two Easter Egg packs which stood out. Quite different, but highly unique both of them: the Lion Bar and the Snickers cartons. In the case of Snickers, I wonder if it was a real success, as my experience tells me that the consumers want to see what they are buying… but I can be wrong, of course.

I’m definitely not wrong when I give 10/10 to the Kellogg’s single service packs. I picked them up at breakfast in my hotel. I just say wow!

I have already mentioned the current Ford campaigns which I find outstanding, as advertising of cars is, of course, mainly about branding.

However, brand managers and pack designers still have a long way to go when it comes to turn the display trays into an advertising space, i.e. get rid of brands (they are on the cans) in order that the message can be read from a bigger distance. See my proposal for “boost up your sales”.



LW/June 2017

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