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READ MY PACK

READ MY PACK

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 […]

Popular Posts

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”.

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

Jun 20

Choose the Best Material

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

I’m reading in the newspaper that in a basically stagnant market, Lindt shows great sales figures… This is, without doubt, due to

  1. great chocolate recipes
  2. TV advertising that highlights the taste and the tradition which results in high quality
  3. good distribution, etc.

I have obviously no information where Lindt makes the best sales, but one thing I’m convinced of are the two seasonal shapes: the Christmas bear and the Easter rabbit, not to forget the way they are exposed on POS!

During a recent visit to Ireland where one finds the English packs, I could see, with my own eyes, the difference between two similar products, i.e. rabbits from Lindt and Maltesers from Mars with the very English pun MaltEasters…

i.e. Lindt’s rabbits and Mars’ MaltEasters.

Yes, the products are not identical and Mars’ products, I believe, less expensive, but the conclusion I draw is the following:

  • – why hide the shape in a flowpack when the product can be highlighted with just a thin aluminium film;
  • – gold is no doubt the best material to express quality and gift feeling;
  • – the addition of the red ribbon with the golden bell hightens considerably the impression of a handmade product;
  • – the reflexion of light that makes the aluminium glitter is also a plus;
  • – as Lindt seems not to be bound to any brand guidelines for these products, they can amplify the POS with the shape and not, what is usual, the logotype.

Why do I write this? Because I have a feeling that, when we design packs in front of a computer, we easily forget the impact the right material has on SALES!

 

LW/June 2017

Jun 16

I have already written an article on the subject, but as the trend to buy local is stronger than ever, I thought it would be worth mentioning a few more examples. This week, our local Lidl will promote 15-20 products with the local language, Swiss-German, and give them personal names, such as

  • Ueli’s Delikatessen
  • Gabriel im Engelbergertal
  • Rudolf’s Original or
  • Frieda’s Traum

During our holidays in Ireland, I found O’Donnells crisps “of Tipperary” and Irish Hereford Premium Beef Steak Mince produced in “County Cork”.

My Swedish friend Bosse Wallteg informed me about Mjölk “från Wermlands Mejeri”, i.e. milk from County Värmland. In France, you’ll find, since some time, Patrimoine Gourmand that promotes regional specialities such as Sardines “de Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie au Pays de la Loire”. We all know that the South of France is a real garden. Thus the Fraises “de Carpentras” and “Savourez le Vaucluse”.

However, what strikes me with these local products is that only half the job is done, as the local issue appears only on the front (no doubt as a sales message) and is not followed up on the back.

I believe that selling is about strengthenig the bond between the consumer/buyer/user and the brand/company that makes a product. This bond can only be strong if you give reasons for choosing the product in question.

Food products, which I mainly deal with, are about taste, quality, convenience, etc. The back panel text can and should amplify this. Furthermore, thanks to digital printing technology, the text can be changed, i.e. updated and improved endlessly.

I see that very few brands profit from this, the reason being probably that it gives more work to the brand manager and the designer! I find this a pity, as there is so much to be said to amplify the advantage of being local… freshness, for instance, ecology, etc.

To promote this thinking, I have started work on my 4th book which will have the title “Read my pack”, maybe something for you to look forward to…

 

LW/May 2017

Jun 13

Common Sense

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

Most brand managers in Europe believe that full nutritional information in a table form is a must… wrong! Nor is it necessary in the US, depending on the size of the pack. Sun-Maid raisins is a good example. Also, it becomes a bit absurd when, on water bottles, one finds a lot of zeros (no calories, for instance).

It is therefore refreshing to see one of the latest Coca-Cola designs I found in the UK which says “fat, saturates, protein, salt – negligible amount”. Wow, common sense! What is important to the consumer on a coke is information about calories, i.e. energy and sugar content that everybody understands and this should be clearly marked.

Is this the beginning of common sense? I hope so! More detailed information can anyhow be given, for instance, through the QR code!

I am not against complete information when it has a sense, as for instance on the S.Pellegrino and Aqua Panna labels.

But I’m totally against filling panels with so much text that you can’t read it, especially if you have a certain age… See the 2 sides on Aquafresh!

 

 

LW/May 2017

Jun 09

The Ritual

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

It took me a long time… in fact almost 30 years of my career as design adviser, to discover the fantastic power of one of the strongest media, “the ritual”. The ritual creates a strong bond between the brand and the consumer, be it with the product itself or through packaging.

Some of the best examples I know of (there are certainly many more) are:

  • – how to drink a Corona
  • – how to pour a Schneider Weisse
  • – how to enjoy an Oreo cookie
  • – how to open and read a Baci
  • – how to open Apéricubes
  • – how to open a Babybel

If you manage to develop a pack in such a way that it is outstanding, unique and original through easy handling or even fun handling, it will give you a memorable advantage!

I can see the surprised faces in my public when I teach and unfold, in front of them, an Apéricube and eat it or when I put the slice of lime into the Corona bottle and drink this great beer, not to forget when I lick an Oreo biscuit and dip it into milk!

As for the Schneider Weisse, for those who have never heard of this beer, here is how you drink it: Rinse a beer glass in cold water. Hold it at a slight angle and pour. To get the full taste, you leave a swallow of beer in the bottle. Roll the bottle between your hands and pour the rest.

So next time you develop a pack for a new product, THINK RITUAL!

 

LW/May 2017

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