Re-tooling the design firm and client relationship

(Originally written for the Biondo Group)

Unlike advertising agencies, design firms’ work on a per-project basis with clients. Projects are the bread and butter of design companies. Early on in the heyday of packaging design, it was common that a single design firm worked on a single brand over-time, and so that specific firm was responsible for that brand’s appearance. If a design firm worked on a brand, it could count on working on it for more than a single project if everything went well, and the brand flourished.

With fewer turns of management and leadership, there was

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Does package design need to adapt to e-tailing environments?

marketing, design, sales, new business, clients, content, business strategy, communications, product packaging, branding, brand identity, social media, networking, NYC

image: stephen berner

(originally written for the Biondo Group)

With an increasing number of packaged goods being sold through and adapted for online channels we ask ourselves on a pretty regular basis – has the nature of a package’s design and communication requirements changed?

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RFP’s & Spec: Hiring a Packaging Design Firm

dart-target-aim-arrow-39551The Biondo Group has a lot of design experience under its belt. We’ve got a good reputation, earned over time. We are regularly invited to take part in processes and “contests” to get new client work.

(this was written originally for the Biondo Group)

Clients have choices of design and marketing resources. As with a 50 page menu in a restaurant there is a downside to having too many choices.

If you’ve ever placed a help wanted ad in CL, you’ll know what we mean by “too much”.

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Gadgetry & Games

a_google_glass_wearerBrands leverage strategies to drive growth. To bring strategy to life brands look for tactics that will support them. It’s a rinse and repeat cycle. Strategy morphs, new things come in, older things go away.

Our consumer universe is fickle, flighty and bombarded with messages.  The “shiny new thing” rarely has measurable staying power. With that, implementing a new package design for a manufacturer is a pricey exercise, and it’s important to get it right.

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Rethinking Packaging Design Methodology

image/Pexels

image/Pexels

(originally written for the Biondo Group)

In this read we begin to take a look at the manner in which packaging design firms work.

Important considerations for a Client company looking for a packaging design firm are work style and process.

Design for business is a creative pursuit; it’s an iterative, process driven activity. One of the challenges every Design firm faces is in parsing its services into neat, clear, billable units. Design for business can be by its very “collaborative” nature – messy, with design and production activities, decisions, strategy, budget and thinking, all bleeding into one another.

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Staying Positive: being a creative firm in a contentious world

This NYPD Officer clearly believes in a strict no a*holes policy

This NYPD Officer clearly believes in a strict no a*holes policy – image: stephen berner

(originally written for the Biondo Group)

We’ve seen a few Companies as of late tout their “no a*holes” policies, addressing hiring practices and new client engagements. In what has turned out to be a pretty darn contentious season, we are sensitive to things like this, and so our attention was piqued.

Why publicize a “no a*holes” policy?

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Followers of Fashion

image: stephen berner(originally written for the Biondo Group)
When the United States Postal Service creates content that addresses packaging design, we can’t help but take notice and peruse it immediately. This was the case this week and what we found was this:
UNWRAPPING PRODUCT PACKAGING DESIGN: 3 BIG TRENDS IN 2016

Now mind you, we were pretty psyched to see that the USPS was shining its light on Packaging Design. But as we began reading we became a little disappointed – it was reading fluffy, simplistic and seemingly targeted at having to explain Packaging Design to someone coming out of the jungle after 100 years.

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3 Keys to Design Success: Orientation & Analysis

Electronics-in-meeting-iStock_000050413412_Medium1-686x350(originally written for the Biondo Group)

It’s a good idea to start a design program like you want to finish: informed and strong

Starting a packaging design program with a proper orientation and analysis phase of activity is a smart, but often glossed over and a wee bit dismissed step in the development of a successful design project.

Kicking-off a project is a critical moment and it’s important that all of the excitement and good vibes from an “approval” are leveraged to get events, actions and people all headed in the best direction possible – at the outset.

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Opportunity lost?

Death_to_stock_kinckerbocker_photography_4-copy-1080x675(originally written for the Biondo Group)

Many Biondo Group clients have in-house design departments, or, at the very least a hands-on designer. These creative professionals often have a wide range of responsibilities: from web design and maintenance, developing collateral and trade materials, packaging design to branding. It’s tough to be a master of more than one or two of these areas of specialty, and its not too long until even a seasoned designer bumps against the limits of their experience and ability.

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In Response…..

DeathtoStock_Desk7-1080x675(originally written for the Biondo Group)

At the Biondo Group we submit quite a few RFP responses to active and prospective clients.

Proposals can be mind numbing to write, we’ve all been there. After a few hours hammering away, writing and rereading the same document, it gets tough to stay sharp and focused. Thinking through the many steps and phases of a project can get fatiguing.

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Tiger Traps & Packaging Redesign

Packaging Redesign programs are sensitive endeavors on a good day, but on a bad day they can be fraught with tension, as well as “tiger traps” for both the Client as well as Designer. Getting it wrong can be a costly, embarrassing and wholly avoidable mistake.

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When is Packaging Design considered successful?

Unknown-1If product packaging doesn’t create relationships well then, what does it do, past identifying a product as being a specific type/style/flavor/form of a product from a specific brand or manufacturer?

For consumer product packaging graphics to be considered successful, they among other things must:

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Can product packaging create relationships?

Unknown-1080x675A debate has been brewing at the Biondo Group (a co. I freelance with). The idea that’s been churning is the notion that a package’s design can create a relationship with the consumer.

We read of designers stating that their work “creates relationships with consumers” and we stand back and wonder – does it really? Does packaging design create relationships? In that brief moment when the consumer is at the shelf in a supermarket environment – does a packages design connect in a manner that allows a relationship to be created?

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Brenna’s Dyna by Nick @ popsgaragefab.com

image: stephen berner

Jacked –  that’s the word that came to mind when i got my first snootful of Brenna’s Dyna – put together by Nick @ PopsGarageFab.com. I looked at this relatively stock Dyna, resplendent in it’s denim black paint and thought – “damn, that’s a lot of suspension, that’s one jacked machine”.

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The Blue Girl – a custom Harley-Davidson™ FXRT by Pop’s Garage & Fabrication

image: stephen berner

image: stephen berner

Looking at the machine presented here, you cannot help but be impressed, and feel more than a little excited.

The Blue Girl, a 1985 FXRT. is one striking machine.

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America, the beer?

bud.america-1080x675<originally written for the Biondo Group>

Budweiser has filed for and has gotten permission to use the phrase “America” as the primary naming element on the front panel of their beer cans for the summer months.

As brand marketers we can’t help but both wince and applaud InBev

But honestly, there seems to be something a little “off” about this marketing move. It is one thing to be proud of where you are from, and we Americans certainly have a right to be proud. It is another thing to wrap your brand and products so tightly in the flag that they become inextricably tied together.

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Packaging Designers: Prepared for Success

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<originally  written and published for the Biondo Group>

One of the jobs of an Account Manager or Client Manager at The Biondo Group is insuring that the creative folk, the designers, have all of the information that they need to succeed when they head out “on a project”.

Heading out on a design exploration is akin to an adventure, it’s a challenge.

If a designer is not informed regarding the nuances of a challenge, there is no way they can satisfy it. If a packaging designer doesn’t have a clear understanding of what is happening on shelf, in the real world – their work will reflect it. For a packaging designer, being informed and understanding the context of a product on shelf is mission critical.

So how do we inform our design team when a challenge is at hand?

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Better Milk, less waste through packaging design

old-metal-cans-on-milk-1080x675<originally  written and published for the Biondo Group>

As I was pouring some Half & Half into my morning coffee, I realized that it has been a real long time since I had to give a container of the spoilable stuff the “sniff” test before pouring it into my cup of morning Joe.

After giving it some thought I realized that it had been awhile since I had seen milk or any of its kissing cousins, such as my most favored Half & Half go bad and spoil before I had consumed the entire container. I wondered … I don’t suspect the formula of the product has changed much. Milk is still milk, isn’t it?

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Distinguishing Brand from Product

<originally  written and published for the Biondo Group>

It might seem silly, but since so much of The Biondo Group’s work is comprised of working on both Brands and Products, we thought we’d take a look at the latest definitions:

A brand is:
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.

Adcracker defines a brand as “the sum of all feelings, thoughts and recognitions — positive and negative — that people in the target audience have about a company, product or service.”

Virtual Business defines a brand as the personification of the organization, its products and services.

The European Brands Association proposes that a “brand is a constant point of reference: a contract, a signpost, a relationship.

A product is:
– An article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale
– A substance produced during a manufacturing process; “waste products”
– Both tangible (car) and intangible (insurance)
– Artifact, commodity, manufactured article; goods, wares, merchandise, produce
– A commercially manufactured article, viewed in aggregate. “too much product is flooding the market”
– A product is any good, service, or idea that can be offered to a market to satisfy a want or need.*
** Source: Boundless. “Defining Product.” Boundless Marketing. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015.

As Design Marketers, we see these two components (brand & product) of CPG marketing as the ying and yang of a “goods” persona, neither of them worth much without the other, but when offered together in a strong coherent, relevant package, can have exponential value, greater than the sum of their parts.

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Have Packaging Designers been left out of the digital marketing revolution?

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<originally  written and published for the Biondo Group>

Spend any substantive amount of time in ad agency’s, web dev firms or media companies and you will recognize the close knit relationship they have with “digital”. Mobile, social campaigns, apps, SEO and talk of programmatic media buying, even Slack are all the latest in terms of marketing innovation, collaboration and opportunity.

Visit any of those types of marketing services companies and you will find a frenetic energy level, young faces and high turnover, maybe a Foosball table or a Kegerator. The nature of the marketing discipline dictates the nature of the agency’s culture. To paint with a broad brush, Digital skews young.

You don’t hear much talk in terms of digital packaging innovation, beyond maybe an elaborately shaped 3D can. To the Packaging Designer, It seems that Digital (still the shiny new thing) has captured our client’s attention, almost completely.

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What does the future hold: packaging structures and materials?

crystal-ball

<originally  written and published for the Biondo Group>

MIT Technology Review: New Foam Batteries Promise Fast Charging, Higher Capacity

http://tinyurl.com/q2ebop3

While reading this article in MIT Technology Review, we had to stop and wonder what product packaging new think technologies are in the pipeline, coming to market. Foam batteries; functional hover boards, what’s next?

It appears that Green initiatives drive many of the innovations in packaging substrates these days.

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When Amenity Packaging Design #Fails

3515029682_e97520b0da_o-1080x675<originally  written and published for the Biondo Group>

At the Biondo Group, we are of the opinion that Packaging Design is one of the most important marketing channels that a brand marketer can leverage: benefitting themselves, as well as consumers/ users. As packaging and packaging systems designers, this is to be expected, as that’s what we do, optimize the point-of-sale channel for our clients.

Through LinkedIn, we came across this mini-rant. We rarely see a piece of content directly addressing our niche, Packaging Design, and furthermore noticed that there were in excess of 109 comments, and the post had barely been up a full morning.

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The Nature of Being Strategic in Context of Packaging Design

It’s a part of the landscape these days, all the time we see the word Strategic appear in packaging design articles, white papers, RFP’s and SOW’s. The word has snuck into the conversations we are having with our business peers, clients and prospects. It seems that everyone wants some “Strategic”.

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The Retail Environment & Packaging Design

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<originally  written and published for the Biondo Group>

Although packaging design is critically important in terms of connecting with the consumer, the retail environment itself, is one of the, if not the most, important factor in how a product “sells through” at POS.

Supermarkets are a critical part of our nutritional ecosystem, they are the gatekeepers of our food supply. Think on this: the top 30 supermarket grocery chains in the world control nearly thirty-three per cent of all global food sales. In the USA there are more than 37,000 supermarkets with annual revenues in excess of $2 million dollars.

It has been reported (by the FMI) that the average large supermarket contains approximately 42,214 food and beverage products, that number increasing year by year.

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