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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 […]

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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”.

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


Feb 20

Can Sampling be better?

Posted by Wallentin in Advertising

A pack can be primary or secondary, but it can even be an advent calendar!

Before Christmas, I saw a lot of them, mostly containing chocolate and other sweets.

Now and then, in life, you fall on something exceptional and that’s what I did at the beginning of last December. My attention got caught by a fascinating calendar and I could’nt resist buying it. What did I find inside if not a collection of Sephora’s products for half the price, as it was December the 3rd. The more windows I opened together with my daughter, the more I was impressed by this type of sampling.

I will, of course, never know if this calendar was a success for Sephora, but one thing is sure, I can see the potential of ‘sampling advent calendars’ that offer a bit more than just molded chocolate pieces!


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

Oct 25

Looking into Google, one of many definitions of brand management read like this:

“The process of maintaining, improving and upholding a brand so that the name is associated with positive results. Brand management involves a number of important aspects such as cost, customer satisfaction, in-store presentation and competition. Brand management is built on a marketing foundation, but focuses directly on the brand and how that brand can remain favourable to customers. Proper brand management can result in higher sales of not only one product, but on other products associated with that brand. For example, if a customer loves a special biscuit brand and trusts it, he or she is more likely to try other products offered by the same brand, such as cookies.”

I’ve been told that the title “Brand Manager” first appeared at Procter & Gamble around 1990, i.e. not so long ago.

Reading the above text, it does not say “stick as many logotypes as you can, i.e. on all sides of a pack, in an advertisement or on POS material…” Well, I am of course exaggerating, but the reader knows what I am after and that is

a)     to use common sense and

b)     to activate sales through great communication.

I know why we often see so many logotypes when, in principle, one would be enough: because the guidelines of the company say so!

If you read some of the articles here on, you must have noted that I like the products of “Bonne Maman” and especially their IDENTITY. However, in my opinion, the brand manager got it wrong this time: 4 times “Bonne Maman” is three too many, especially as you can use the tartan pattern in a very effective way!

The messages the consumer wants to read are, in order of importance,

  1. crème brûlée
  2. pour ces moments de gourmandise and
  3. (maybe rather on the back of the pack) “C’est toi que j’aime tant”.

On this ad, these texts have been disturbed by the “Bonne Maman” logotypes!

Marketing is to communicate with the consumers in such a way that they learn first about the products and then about the brand, or am I wrong?

LW/October 2016

Oct 25

Is it your aim to sell?

Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Uncategorized

Being a consultant is great. You learn to know new people every day and you have the chance to analyse how brand managers and designers ‘operate’ together. What strikes me most is their apparent lack of interest in making  the pack, the ad or the POS really SELLING the product!

I think that many brand managers are too company-centered and believe that just a big brand will do the job.

Many designers’ main interest is to design a ‘nice pack’ according to their own perception. So what I teach mostly these days is the copywriting part of efficient communication.

The other day, when looking for inspiration, I fell on a website called WordStream where I borrowed some ideas. Here are four examples:

  1. Give the consumer a reason why she should buy your product;
  2. Use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm;
  3. Don’t be afraid to be more creative and, above all, surprise!
  4. Use numbers when possible, as they are instantly understood.

I’ll give here some examples in order to change information into communication:

  1. from “NEW” to “finally available”
  2. from “free” to FREEE!!
  3. from 38g to 10 pieces
  4. from “reduction” to “save now”
  5. from “offer” to “buy now”
  6. from “guarantee to

LW/October 2016

Oct 25

I often stay in hotels and take my breakfast with a cup of tea. If there is one thing I don’t like is when my plate is taken away before I’ve finished eating, another annoyance at breakfast is trying to choose my sachet of tea. It is almost impossible to read the flavour amongst the varieties offered!

Once again, I think both the brand manager at the tea company and the designer are to be blamed for not understanding COMMUNICATION. You don’t drink logotypes, you drink a tea variety! So why do so many companies put their brand on top or so big that the variety becomes difficult to find?

The Bewley’s packs are certainly great designs, but what I need in the early morning is to be able to choose the variety!

The third annoyance is that many companies do not tell us what the sachet contains, but invent names like “love”, “relax” or “tea journey”. They also often print white texts on a yellow background (even at Lipton)! And what about sticking too much to  guidelines as in the case of Lipton green tea? Do I need to be told three times that it is green tea?

I know that Unilever is promoting the sub-brand “yellow tea label”, but it would be good to know the type of tea.


I hope that some designers will read these lines and even some marketing people at tea companies so I can easily find my Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea in the future!

PS: there is obviously also some good communication, as for instance on the Ronnefeldt tea sachet!

LW/October 2016

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