Apr 12

Together is more

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

There are many types of promotions, as for instance “3 for 2”, gifts, etc., but one I’d like to promote in this article is what I would call ‘combinations’.

What can you add to make your product more attractive? I have chosen two examples, but I’m sure you can find other, maybe even better offers out there in your supermarket.

For a brand manager, it’s a little bit like ‘thinking outside the box’. How can she (yes, today we have mainly female brand managers in FMCG, especially in foods) look around to find another company willing to participate in this game: 1+1=3? This is stimulating, challenging and fun, as the new pack design must preferably give equal visibility to both items without overloading the pack.

The mistake most brand managers do is to repeat branding two or even three times (Parmigiano Reggiano) instead of highlighting the new benefit.

The Wyssmüller kit design is not much better so here, again, great progress can be made if you follow my basic advice “Do it BIG or stay in bed”, i.e. amplify the one or two words that sell the concept/combination.

We still have a lot to learn in pack design communication!


LW/April 2017

Apr 01

The Check Out Facilitator

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Young brand managers, to you I say: store check, store check, store check… there is so much more to learn by analysing brands, packages, POS material in the stores than in an office behind a computer!

The other day, I visited the local ALDI and got once more the confirmation that retailers seem more creative, these days, than brand owners! I can give many examples, but today, I wish to just speak about one thing and that is how to use the bar code in a creative manner. Yes, I’ve done that before, so it is nothing new for those who read my books or this website.

Speed is important at the check out, whether you do it yourself, or if the cashier does it. So, the bigger the code bar can be and the more visible, i.e. on two sides (or more), the better. Here are two examples:
LW/February 2017

Mar 30

Where are you from?

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Walking up the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich the other day, I passed the Davidoff Cigar shop. It struck me once more that one of the most visible trends in marketing, these days, is to inform the consumer about the origin of a brand or rather a company. It is clear, for me, that adding … of Geneva is more positive than just writing Davidoff. There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. Geneva has a positive image (it’s Swiss, it’s the home of the UN, the WHO, etc. and it’s known for quality watches);
  2. it stands for quality, as new consumers might believe that Davidoff is Russian. In fact, it is a Ukranian immigrant coming to Geneva as a child at the beginning of last century that became the greatest cigar specialist worldwide;
  3. in a world with more and more misinformation, it is a positive point to state where from you are!

By the way, I bought a bottle of water in Zurich and what did it say: “local water”.

I can give many more examples – you’ll find them in another article on this site under “from global to local”.


LW/February 2017

Mar 14


Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

There are many ways of improving what you do. The best is no doubt to be curious of what’s happening around you by looking at competition, doing the obligatory store checking, visiting Dieline or why not www.packagingsense.com?

Another approach to knowledge, perfection and being ahead of others is no doubt to… compete!

If you win prizes and maybe even stardom… you most likely wish to stay on top! To do that, you have to constantly improve, i.e. learn more in order to be more efficient, faster and hopefully make more money.

There are different competitions to take part in, the Pentawards being the ‘nec plus ultra’. But there are also other ones such as the Red Dot Design Award.

Why not look beyond and even create a design for the future to inspire the world of packaging? A new competition has just been launched by the European Packaging Design Association.

Some of you may say “we have no time for that”. To this, I usually answer: “if you do not set aside time for improving, close your business!”

Luckily, a design agency is not like a factory where you have to be at your work station from 8 to 5 (or whatever), but an environment where flexible hours are a must, as creativity is something that comes and goes. Participating in a competition? Well, you may do this when you are inspired, on a Saturday afternoon, on a Monday evening, well even over lunch time while eating your sandwich and drinking your Coke or your Red Bull!

A new competition has just been launched (http://epda-packaging.com/award/), so why not try to do something exceptional, as, this time, there is no brand manager holding your pen and telling you to stick to the guidelines! Good luck!

PS:   please note that the competition is open to any designer!

PPS: an advice from Lars: “Do not forget that the role of a pack design is to sell, so this is not just a beauty contest.”

LW/March 2017

Mar 06


Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

I wish it were a buzzword! This term comes to my mind ever so often. I have spoken about it in my teaching since a long time. And here I come again: If you offer more than what the consumer expects, your brand or business will reflect a positive image. That’s what generosity is about.

The dictionary gives the following definition:

  • – willingness to give or to share time, money, etc.
  • – an act of unselfish giving;
  • – to be big hearted;
  • – you find also words as plentiful, free, abundant, etc.

Generosity is a quality – like honesty and patience – that we all probably wish we had more of. When you show generosity, you might give away things or money or put others before yourself. But generosity is about more than cash and stuff. When you’re forgiving and gentle to people, you show generosity of spirit. If you give others help or credit, that shows generosity. The world would certainly be a better place if more people showed generosity to others.

How can pack design develop this feeling of generosity? In fact, it concerns equally any other communication tool such as point-of-sale, advertising, word of mouth or sampling.

For me, generosity is more than ‘value for money’ which the Anglo-Saxons use for many marketing activities. Value for money is short term, while generosity, as I see it, is a long term concept. I also see it as highly emotional.

As the reader well knows, package design plays a vital roll in the promotion of a product through great design, mouth watering illustrations, perceived quantity or emotional involvement.

What pushed me to stop, sit down and write these lines as I walked through an airport the other day? It was the display in one of the many bars. Looking at the wall, you get the feeling that the bar has a lot to offer and it is here the word generosity comes in. You are not only offered countless drinks, but also a lot of flavours, tastes and atmosphere. Great package design makes you stop and purchase what was not planned!

Generosity cannot be small illustrations. In the case of food package, I think that 50% of the illustrations are too small to have a mouth watering effect on you. Generosity is also to offer something you did not expect and that is what great packaging can do:

  • – clear, suggestive, interesting verbal information;
  • – stimulating appetite or product appeal;

  • – stimulate your desire to discover something new and different (while respecting category norms);
  • – a prolonged satisfaction, as for instance easy reclosing and handling. Your pack should be your friend and not your enemy (many packages have failing opening devices or texts difficult to read).

Generosity is something which is never forgotten and therefore of vital importance to strengthen the link between the brand (or product) and the consumer.

Generosity shows you care. It means honesty, simplicity, good opening devices, etc.

I would say that the KEX (chocolate) tumble display is a great example of generosity and so is the Lindt chocolate bear display.

A transparent pack is almost always ‘generous’ if the product is appetising.

When communicating generosity on pack or POS, it can be both visual and, of course, verbal. The message “feel free to try….” is certainly an act of generosity!

So next time when you design, think GENEROSITY!

LW/February 2017

Mar 02

Simple comme ALDI

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

In my region, we have basically three retailers selling on price: DENNER, ALDI and LIDL – yet, they are different and so are their customers. I think that the differences are the following:

ALDI:  simplicity, no zig zag shopping and little choice, as they have their own brands.

LIDL:  more colourful displays, but same simplicity. In my opinion, they seem to lose their great designs on shippers.

DENNER:  close to me with 5 shops in my small town, wider choice, i.e. more branded products (local and international).

Needless to say that I prefer DENNER, but I am very impressed by LIDL’s in-store communication on packs, trays, shippers, etc.

I will give my comments on DENNER and LIDL later. Today, it’s ALDI, as I found quite a few interesting facts.

The creative use of barcodes

The barcode is often integrated as part of the design, as seen on the OMBIA pack or on Frischkäse-Fass.

Interesting own brands

Flying Power is no doubt a good way to copy Red Bull, Gusto Italiano says what it is, so does Happy Harvest. However, the best or rather the one I like most is “Just Veg!”

Appetite appeal/Food styling

Looking at the ALDI Gourmet journal “Simplement exquis” inspired me to go to the next ALDI shop. Yes, the Germans are still Europe’s masters in attractive food photography, mainly thanks to numerous journals such as Essen & Trinken, der Feinschmecker, as well as their packaging (Twisted Sticks, Edle Kirschen, bread basket).

I learned food styling during my Nestlé years by running a couple of Food Styling Seminars with German food stylists and photographers. Food styling is, of course, a matter of personal taste (de gustibus non est disputandum). France and the UK have also great photo teams, but I feel the German style (less fancy) is superior.


I found an excellent example of what I am preaching, i.e. “the icon is more powerful than a brand logotype”. OMBIA, an ALDI brand, uses it the way it has to be used… BIG!


I would say it’s a missed opportunity and it’s not taken as seriously as the LIDL next door. Kägi uses the tray the way it should be used, i.e. for a message. I only found one good example from ALDI: Le Petit Moulin.

X  X  X

Learnings: It is a must for any pack designer to, periodically, visit not only the big chains such as Carrefour, Tesco, etc. but also the very efficient low cost retailers. You always learn something!


LW/February 2017

Feb 24

WHO sells WHAT to WHOM …

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Here comes my third book! Buy it and you will learn more about packaging and communication. Some of my more interesting articles on www.packagingsense.com have been improved with new illustrations and given the selling title “WHO sells WHAT to WHOM”, but also WHEN, WHERE and WHY which is Marketing in a nutshell! I also hope you will agree that the designer, Alexia Armbruster at ARD Design Studio in Vevey did a great job! Enjoy!

Now, let’s dissecate WHO sells WHAT to WHOM…

WHO: … branding, identity, creativity, icons, positioning, synergy, etc.

WHAT: … appetite appeal, USP, loaded words, illustrations, etc.

WHOM: … targeting, humour, rituals, demographics, etc.

WHEN: … special editions, on the go, etc.

WHERE: … supermarkets, display units, call-to-action, online vs offline, shop in the shop, etc

WHY: … Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, design attractiveness, local vs global, underpromise, but overdeliver, emotion, etc.

X  X  X

You’ll find all of this in the book, but a better way to learn about it is to invite me to give you a two-hour lecture in marketing communication!


LW/February 2017


Feb 16

Have you bought it? If not, hurry up!


There’s a lot of inspiration. It’s a feast for a designer’s eye! Creativity has no limits. Where does our own creativity come from? Well, it is obviously a combination of what you have seen (like in this book), what you yourself have experienced, as well as the stimulation from your client.


When it comes to graphic and shape design, a Pentawards book is a real gold mine. On the other hand, when it comes to copy and verbal commmunication, you need to look into the advertising world. Indeed, package design is both verbal and visual or, as Robert Monaghan once said, pack design is like a decathlon, you need to be interested in many fields, from industrial design to basic human behaviour. As we are in the selling business, I believe design agencies need to put as much attention to the verbal, as to the visual communication which is not the case today – anyhow, that’s my experience, as I still participate in a number of interesting projects in Europe.


The Pentawards give us the possibility to have a look at all their winners, be it digitally or in their great books. The reason why the design quality is so high today (apart from the comment mentioned above) is no doubt thanks to this competition that inspires us all to push the limits. Long live Pentawards!


LW/February 2017

Jan 27


To prove my point about effective communication in packaging, I often use other media as examples, as the basic rules are the same for any media.

The other day, my wife was driving down a road in our neighborhood and, as she knows what didactic material I need, she stopped her car and took the photo  below. What’s the learning? It’s that this picture shows what I call the 3 Bests!


A: best place: it’s the only ad so it stands out and has no disturbing elements around fighting to be seen.

B: best layout:

  1. the clown in the foreground,
  2. the brand (KNIE) behind, as big as possible.

C: best communication: there are only two main messages, i.e. the product (clown) and the brand (KNIE) and then, smaller, where and when it happens.

I wish most outdoor ads were designed as clear as this one!

LW/January 2017

Oct 31

Yes, it’s not good to smoke. I still indulge myself now and then in a good pipe and a single malt and what’s wrong with that…
But things are as they are and we have to comply with the rules.

As this site is about communication and not about giving moral advice, I dare to bring back to life some designs that were part of our graphical design environment… cigarette designs!

The other day, I fell on quite a unique book (special edition), printed some 13 years ago, sponsored by different industries and written by the excellent Christian Rommel and Hans-Georg Böcher from the German Verpackungs-Museum in Heidelberg. It’s called “Little Treasures” and retraces the era of cigarette pack design.

I doubt there is any category where the creativity was so great and that, essentially, thanks to the ‘big boys’ such as Philip Morris or Reynolds Tobacco who spent money on design.

I repeat, it’s not good to smoke, but as money was available for design during that period, the result was often stunning. Imagine all the Camel packs. Have you ever seen such interesting camels? Or imagine the Marlboro cowboy… the real Wild West ‘macho’! Lucky Strike also struck our minds and hearts with their nice girls!

Now and then the graphical quality reached heights of divine beauty… just admire the Chinese pack designs!

The selection of illustrations from the abovementioned book (copyright Rommel/Böcher) has been generously made available by the authors.

I repeat once more, smoking is not good for you, but the ‘golden’ area of cigarette smoking gave us some outstanding designs that will never be forgotten!

LW/October 2016

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