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

Sep 14

Brand vs. Company

Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Uncategorized

Brand vs. Company in the food and drink world

I’ve had the great advantage and pleasure to work for almost 40 years for Nestlé. During that time, I have regularly been asked to explain the difference between a brand and a company or, in other words, between a product brand and a corporation.

As any marketeer well knows, brands in general can be classified in categories and companies use different terminologies such as

– sub brand
– product brand
– range brand
– corporate brand
– strategic brand
– descriptive brand
– endorsing brand, etc.
They appear on the front as logotypes and can be of various sizes or strength.

Any marketeer also knows the difference between the two brand approaches:

a) Nestlé or Unilever, for instance, often use a corporate and a product brand, ex. Mousline from Maggi (dual branding);
b) Mars never use a corporate brand (single branding).

The reason why I write this article is that I found, the other day, a very interesting example: Tetley tea from TATA GOBAL BEVERAGES with Tetley as a logotype on the front and TATA both as a corporate logotype and the product division “TATA GLOBAL BEVERAGES” on the back. This makes me believe that the management at TATA, as well as (to a certain extent) Nestlé and Unilever have not yet found the best balance between a product brand and the company behind it (see later).

I’d like to explain that a product brand which in the consumer’s eye is a creation to express a certain positioning stands, in this case, for taste, but it can also stand for other product experiences such as crunchy, salty, sweet, i.e. real values and perceived values like young (Coca-Cola) fashionable (Innocent) or extreme (Red Bull).

However, a corporate identity, showing the company behind a brand as for instance Nestlé with their nest symbol and TATA with their “T” symbol stand for values such as trust, quality, local, global, i.e. values which can be both real or perceived and different to the above product values.

In the years to come, I hope we will no doubt see a stronger and explanatory information of the company on the back panel (avoiding complicated dual or triple branding on the front), as consumers want to know who is behind a certain brand and which values this company has. No doubt Nestlé will increase their nest and explain what “nutrition, health and wellness” mean and Unilever their “U” also explaining to the consumers what their company believes in.


Jul 28

YES, it’s possible

Posted by Packaging Sense in Design | Uncategorized

We all know that one of several reasons why consumers often have an aversion to packages is that so many of them are difficult to open, or reclose.

That’s a pity, as many packages are in fact very good from a practical (handling), as well as from an aesthetical and informative point of view.

Why is it so? Well, we forget very quickly something that works, while something that does not work is negative and stays longer in our brain.

When teaching as I do, with actual examples, I always carry with me the French cheese cubes Apéricubes to prove to my audience that if you really want an opening device to function EVERY TIME, it’s possible! I don’t know how many millions or billions cubes are wrapped each day, but I’m sure they ALL function!

I believe that if top management decides that their products/packs should be easy to open, it’s possible!

The reason why it is still so bad (and yes, it is!), especially with some lids, bottle caps, sliced cheese or ham sachets, etc. is that the responsibility in the company falls between two chairs: marketing (who does not have easy opening high on their priority list) and production (who wants it to be as less costly as possible).

With this article, I just hope some companies will wake up and give what the consumers want… easy openings!

LW/July 2016

Oct 26

It’s local!

Posted by Packaging Sense in Trends | Uncategorized

… and it’s in your big supermarket! One of the most visible trends in today’s fast moving consumer goods markets is no doubt the arrival of small local producers in the big supermarket chains.

How refreshing! … to now have the choice between buying from and supporting a local business or getting ‘factory-made’ products which sometimes come from the other side of the world.

I saw many examples of such locally produced products during my last holiday in Ireland and when I was in Zurich last week, I discovered new local Swiss products in Globus’ department store.

When I go to my local supermarket, I’m now even told where my apples, my salad, my strawberries or my eggs come from! These local products are of course often a bit more expensive than the big brands, but I believe that most consumers, at least in Switzerland, have been well informed how important it is to support local producers.

Some years ago, local products were often quite badly designed, as it was most likely done by the owner. I am happy to see that today’s local products have package illustrations that

–          are designed

–          are very emotional

–          have quite a good hierarchy

–          are often transparent

–          are using attractive materials.

I’m sure that the readers will find equally good examples in their local supermarkets. Buy them! Go local! It’s good for yourself, the environment and the producer or farmer!

Sep 28

Use all the space and overlap!

Posted by Packaging Sense in Design | Uncategorized

No doubt we see today a lot of great designs in advertising, point-of-sale or packaging, designs that are simple, interesting and communicate well as for instance McDonald.

However, I also see more and more average, even mediocre designs that do not do the job for which they stand for, i.e. selling a product.

I have found that there are mainly 5 areas where the designer (or whoever puts text and picture on a screen, paper or a wall) fails. Here they are, most likely in order of weakness:


Designers don’t use the space given to them in an appropriate way in order to highlight/increase/amplify the message which should be the most important to trigger sales. I see too many outdoor ads where you literally have to look for the brand, i.e. the advertiser, or they are too crowded with information. Always keep in mind that outdoor advertising is mainly for branding, as the purchasing situation is seldom immediate.

As each media has its role to play, I find that the product illustration/information in packaging and point-of-sale could still be largely increased, as you are here very close to the purchasing act and it is the product (and not the brand) that will be bought.


… which is in one way related to the first point: I believe that instead of ‘filling a surface’, one could let the various elements overlap a great deal more. Besides, this would give an added 3D communication and reduce the number of elements, as you ‘group’ by overlapping. When you overlap or ‘bleed over’, you also increase optically the elements in question, be it a logotype or an illustration, as the viewer will automatically fill in the missing part.


… still too much text, unless it is an advertisement in a weekly press when the viewer takes the time to read it, but of course only if an interesting headline invites to do this!


The ad/pack, etc. is often created in an office in front of a screen, not considering how and where it will be used. For an outdoor ad, a brand must be seen from a distance of 30-50 meters, while on packaging, it is the product or USP that must stand out.


Creativity is quite low, mainly due to the lack of art which would make an ad, a pack or a website unique. Most print communication consists of a typographic logotype + a photo of the product + too long text lines. Instead, it could be an artistically hand drawn logotype, possibly incorporating the icon, an illustration that could be a mixture of a photo and a drawing, plus a text with a serif typography rather than a non-serif font.

X  X  X

These are just 5 things to think about when creating good communication!

Sep 23

Twenty years ago, in the UK (of course!), a brave brand manager at Kraft Foods (as it was called at that time) accepted a proposal from the Design Bridge Packaging Agency to temporarily change TOBLERONE to “TO.MY.LOVE” for St. Valentine’s day! The rest is history. The whole production was sold out in about a week!

Kraft learned something and has since produced all kinds of alternatives to the original TOBLERONE logotype. Many other brands have followed and Mars has become both Refuel and Hopp (in Switzerland at the last European Football Cup).

NIVEA use their typical white typeface on the blue background to announce both Christmas, birthdays or special promotions with words like MERCI or LOVE.

Thus the question, why do they do this and does it strengthen or weaken their brand identity? It obviously strengthens it, as they do not change the visual identity, i.e. typeface (font), colours, style or basic layout.

Furthermore, it does not cost anything more than a small change to the artwork, the printing plate, the cylinder, etc.

The effect is the following:

–          as the consumer recognises the brand, it obviously strengthens it (by repetition), but, most of all

–          the consumer reacts as something has changed. Our brain registers the brand and understands that something has been changed without changing the basics. It signals that it is contemporary, up-to-date. And, of course, there is some fun in doing this so it makes you smile, a reaction that proves you have noticed the brand!

I often get the comment that only well known brands can do this to which I answer “yes, but…” Obviously, it does not make sense to do this with a new brand. However, the sooner one does something, the faster the brand will be noticed.

In my packaging collection, I have some outstanding examples such as Pringles’ “Pringoooals” or Branston Pickle with their famous slogan “Bring out” (the Branston). Marmite does it as well. If someone still has doubts about the success of such changes, ask Coca-Cola when they altered their logotype into names like “Lars”, “Valentine”, etc.

Being an avid jazz fan, I particularly like Evian’s latest version of its brand “swing” (play young), in this case referring to a golf player at the Evian tournament which is mainly sponsored by the water brand.

Aug 25

Yes, it’s possible!

Posted by Packaging Sense in Design | Uncategorized

… but only with a clear briefing, conceptual thinking, stepwise designing, an open-minded client and last, but not least, the right hierarchy of information… It took only 3 months from briefing to printing!

No guidelines to follow, no corporate branding (which, by the way, I find wrong), no rigid hierarchy to obtain decisions during the progress of the study.

Why do I say this? Because I find the result just great! A front panel concentrating on a creative, i.e. unique illustration with lots of appetite appeal, although the product samples were not yet up to standard. This can happen, as package design work is often paralleled with the finalisation of a product. A descriptive product brand name (logotype) and a key message to the consumer: 100% fruit.

The back panel is divided into two clearly different messages. A lower part containing all legal information (which most consumers will not even look at) and a top part underlining the fruitiness of the product in just a few well chosen words and pictures.

X  X  X

Many readers would now say that this and that could be better and they are right! But this brings me back to what I learnt from Mr Peter Brabeck, one of my mentors at Nestlé. He used to say “don’t look for the last 20%, it will cost you too much in time and money”!

LW/July 2015

Aug 25

Be close to your target!

Posted by Packaging Sense in Design | Uncategorized

The other day, I fell on two goblets standing side by side in the rather new product category of chilled ready-to-drink coffee beverages. As I love to analyse communication, this is what I found:

One design speaks the language of the young consumer who drinks on the go, while the other design most likely follows the company guidelines which, in my opinion, are complicated and have the wrong hierarchy. Furthermore, the design is loaded with information on the front that belongs rather on the side or the back of the goblet.

Let us play the consumer, for a moment, who buys a caffè latte:

  1. What am I looking for? Well, a caffè latte macchiato… where do I find it? fastest on the Emmi pack.
  2. What brand will I choose? If I’m a fervent Nescafé consumer, I’ll take Nescafé. Now, coming to the brand name, Nescafé has chosen Shakissimo (written with rather small letters) which has little or no ‘taste’ while Emmi chose Caffè Latte which has taste! So here I am sure Emmi is a clear winner.
  3. Do I care about GDA for this type of product? I doubt! So let’s not print it in front, or not at all, as no legislation stipulates its mention at this moment in time. The light blue consumer promotion “win 1 iPhone 6…” is no doubt more interesting as a message in terms of positioning, even if I do not participate in the promotion. It signals that the brand is contemporary.
  4. What sells more today? Information such as “shake me” which is already in the product brand or communication as for instance “it’s the HMMM to your OHHH”, i.e. the language of young people? The reader knows the answer.
  5. Which gives you the strongest shelf impact? … a solid black sharp bull’s eye or a trial to communicate a coffee splash? The reader can certainly find it out!
  6. Is the back panel communication of interest? Yes, on the Emmi goblet, as the light blue colour catches the eye. As the Nescafé cup is a bit smaller, it may not be fair to compare, but why is the barcode smaller on the larger size? Of course to give space for the Rainforest Alliance logotype!

X  X  X

So what did we learn from this comparison? Mainly three things:

  1. Increase shelf impact as much as you can.
  2. Speak the language of the target audience.
  3. Make the denomination of the product as clear as possible – in this case the consumer is looking for “Caffè latte”. I often repeat: “Consumers drink products, not logotypes”!

X  X  X

PS: Comparing the two corrugated display trays, the Emmi product is even more convincing! You can read about POS material elsewhere on

LW/August 2015

Dec 03

The HaHaHa Pentaward

Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Uncategorized

One day, I was sitting with my old friends Brigitte and Jean Jacques Evrard, chatting about humour, one of our favourite topics. I mentioned that humour seems to have no place in today’s business world. Digitalisation has made us so efficient that there is no time to lay back, think and smile. So Jean Jacques said: “Why don’t we give a special award for the most funny pack and you are the chief jury?” Said and done!

Here we are, a year later, with Springetts’ great creation “Just Laid”. For those who were not in Tokyo and don’t know the reasons why this design was chosen among several other funny packs, here they are in a nutshell:

  1. a great, very balanced calligraphic logotype;
  2. a funny word with two meanings;
  3. a well-chosen colour scheme;
  4. a simple layout with little text;
  5. a great technical solution: press behind to open;
  6. it’s not vulgar;
  7. This solution may not have been 100% according to briefing. An agency should always do better than a briefing;
  8. Yes, it is a concept only, but Pentawards are there to promote any creative pack design.

Today’s business world seems to me to have become less creative due to best practice, guidelines and the “middle management syndrome” (i.e. take no risks). It is therefore refreshing that a contest like the Pentawards can promote highly creative solutions such as “Just Laid”!


Dec 03

Is it a new trend?

Posted by Packaging Sense in Design | Uncategorized

There are two brands I’ve followed closely during the last 2-3 years, as both seem to have understood how to connect with a younger generation. They are Michel et Augustin in France, and soon all over Europe and Emmi in Switzerland, starting to export as well.

Yes, their packages and POS material are busy and do not follow my basic idea which is to simplify in order to amplify, but who said there are no exceptions to the rule…?

Yes, some of the texts on the “trublions du goût” packages and POS material are almost illegible, but so what, if it amplifies the style they have chosen as part of their visual and verbal identity? If Michel et Augustin are very interesting thanks to their texts (“4 petits carrés à la queue leu leu!”), I have a tendency to prefer Emmi, as many of their texts are more action-oriented, i.e. they have a real call-to-action which no doubt has a stronger effect on sales.

The following illustrations show some examples of how these two brands connect with young mind consumers. How else could I have noticed how Emmi and Michel et Augustin constantly increase their presence in my local supermarket?


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