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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”.

May 18

More about Creativity

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

A dictionary will tell you that creativity is the ability to make new things or to think up new ideas. Also, we should never forget that what leads to creativity is knowledge. In other words, the more you know, the more creative you can be. I know it sounds pretentious, but I believe that I’m more creative today than when I was younger. I have collected far more knowledge thanks to being curious!

Where do we need more creativity in pack design or, rather, in which area are we missing it?

Going back to my friend Robert Monaghan who said that package design is like a decathlon, here are the 10 areas in which we need to have maximum knowledge:

1.     materials

2.     graphic design

3.     photography and product illustration

4.     printing/die cutting/molding, i.e. all technical areas of pack production

5.     typography and readability

6.     ergonomics and functionality, i.e. opening, reclosing, etc.

7.     marketing in general and segmentation in particular, i.e. sociology

8.     copy writing

9.     retailing basics, i.e. the hot spots on the shelves and product classification

10. secondary packaging, as for instance shippers, shelf-ready displays, etc.

It goes without saying that you do not have to be an expert in all these fields, but you must have the basic knowledge and know to which specialists to go for further information. In order to stand out on the shelf, your pack must obviously look different and yet, still obey to the category norms to be quickly understood.

Take the special edition of the Lion Bar Easter egg… how do you design such a cardboard pack to be erected by machine and not by hand in order to keep costs down?

Another example, this time from the highly creative bag-in-box sector, is how to imitate wood in order to stimulate the traditional wooden box for wine bottles.

Should you have a paper label, a plastic label or print directly on the glass? The result is very different.

How far can you form a standing pouch to give a unique shape in order to appeal to children?

Of course all your competitors can learn this and it is therefore very important that you master the ability to learn faster, as it is often the only sustainable competitive advantage you can have.

Here is a list of what attitude and behaviour you need to become more creative:

1.     Ask more and better questions. By asking a good question, you almost have the answer.

2.     Trust the unexpected.

3.     Learn the guidelines and company policy; follow their meaning, but not more.

4.     Question the briefing. Know how to forget it and leave the door open for a surprise. If you don’t surprise, you do nothing.

5.     Create a more relaxed environment where laughing and smiling are main ingredients. Be serious in what you do, but not in your attitude and behaviour. Fun uses the same ingredients as creativity.

6.     Limitation encourages creativity, so do not see it as a disadvantage.

7.     Creativity is the destination, but courage is the journey.

8.     Provocation is an essential part of creativity… use it with moderation.

9.     If you are not passionate about your task, you have no chance.

10. As a creative person, you are committed to risk.

11. Creativity, according to Toscani, implies an absence of security, a willingness to do the opposite of what established value systems suggest.

12. You must have a certain ability to communicate your imagination.

13. Creative people are doers. They recognise a good idea right away. They add their own personality in the relentless execution of the idea.

14. Creativity is the ability to generate something unique, functional, beautiful and it must generate value for the society.

15. You have more time to be crazy and creative if everything is very organised (Mathias Ruegg).

16. Your organisation’s most valuable assets are people’s intuition (Tim Brown).

17. Once the mind gets curious, no law can stop it (Larry King).

18. Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing (Salvador Dali).

19. To be creative requires divergent thinking, thus generating many unique ideas and then you need convergent thinking to combine these ideas into the best result.

20. Reasonable men adapt themselves to the world; unreasonable men adapt the world to themselves. That’s why all progress depends on unreasonable men (G.B. Shaw).


LW/May 2017

May 09

Numbers that count

Posted by Wallentin in Uncategorized

One way of developing a new brand is to choose a number, be it a year, just a figure or a number with a special signification.

As I live in Europe, I have selected some local brands, but I suppose there are similar ones in Asia, as well as in the Americas.

I’d like to start with what I believe is the most well known one, the Kronenbourg 1664. This is the preferred beer brand in France and 1664, first used as a number alone since 1988, obviously dates back to the year Kronenbourg was founded as a brewery. In fact, Kronenbourg 1664 was created in 1952 in honour of the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II, therefore its ‘royal dressing’.

There are many stories about this brand as, for instance, the breakfast in Bruxelles shared by François Mitterand, Jacques Chirac, Helmut Kohl and Tony Blair when François Mitterand asked his neighbours which was, for them, the turning point in history, whereupon Jacques Chirac was quick to answer 1664, Kronenbourg! Eric Cantona was one of the many VIPs who promoted this brand.

6ème SENS

Also a French brand from the Gérard Bertrand winery in the South of France, more precisely the Pays d’Oc. Under this brand, you’ll find white wines like  Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache and reds like Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, as well as rosé wines.

A great, unique storytelling design that is, as any good design: unforgettable. Not to forget either the yearly Jazz Festival at L’Hospitalet, where Norah Jones will be the star artist this year. Didn’t somebody once say that great wines and jazz go hand in hand?


… which stands for the tax roll number of the Scansano region and which has become one of Italy’s much appreciated wines from the Tuscany region, even if still in the shadow of Chianti, Montalcino or Montepulciano. Morellino is the local name for the popular sangiovese grape.

Le 1921

Another French brand from Ortolan, promoting the Franche-Comté region was one of the first brands in the new popular trend to ‘buy local’. It celebrates the memory of its origin year 1921 and their slogan reads “L’amour du fromage depuis 1921”.

No 1 to No 6

The brand John & John is German and designed in Hamburg by Peter Schmidt. It highlights the six numbers which makes the design more unique and has a greater impact than the John & John brand. It follows my advice that an icon (in this case No 4) is stronger than a brand logotype. As the crisps market is a typical impulse buy category, the DESIGN will always play a big role.
LW/May 2017

May 05

One of many things I learned from Peter Brabeck (ex CEO and Chairman at Nestlé) was to put as much effort into keeping your existing customers and having them hopefully consume more of your products as looking out for new consumers.

There are many ways of achieving increased consumption, as, for instance, constant improvements of a product (taste profile or crunchiness) in order to keep it top of mind or make big investments in advertising.

Another way is to build in more convenience into your pack and, as a possibility, concentrate on easy openings. I have two examples to show you:

Bonne Maman Petits beurre

If the pack is more convenient, i.e. easy to open and reclose (without looking as overpacking) and if the product size is smaller, making us feel less ‘guilty’, you will nibble more often… and consume more! At least that’s what happens to me!


If management really wants to have a pack that is easy to open, it can be done. I believe that among the millions of cubes that are produced daily, there is not one that opens badly. I have used this product during many years as an example in my teaching and can confirm: easy opening can’t be done better! So eat more cubes! That’s what I intend to do!

X  X  X

I hope these two cases have convinced the reader that to concentrate on improving convenience is worth the investment!

LW/April 2017

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

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 (, 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 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


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