Makeover Challenge

Euro-Latin Flair

Posted: September 21, 2009 by
Ron Romanik

Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been called "The Paris of South America." A busy port city on the Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires is a vibrant city of culture and commerce that exudes a blend of styles influenced most strongly by a compelling combination of Latin traditions and European modernism.

Three partners founded the Tridimage design firm 12 years ago in Buenos Aires because they saw the need for a different sort of combination—structural package design and graphic package design. Partners Adriana Cortese, Virginia Gines, and Hernán Braberman are trained as industrial and graphic designers and have a passion for every aspect of design. When they started in 1995, they foresaw trends toward proprietary shapes and ergonomic function that would be key elements of building strong brands that connect with consumers.

The three partners are Adriana Cortese, principal and chief creative officer; Virginia Gines, principal and design director; and Hernán Braberman, principal and design director. Cortese explains that they saw an opportunity the way the market was changing to create a design firm that could integrate structure and graphics seamlessly. "It was very natural for us to combine both ways of looking at packaging," Cortese recalls. Today they have an almost equal split of structural and graphic designers, and have expanded their clientele to major overseas markets including the U.S. and Europe.

Building 3D brands

The Tridimage team certainly showed how they can seamlessly combine structure and graphics in the 2007 Makeover Challenge redesign project, as Package Design Magazine readers voted their packages the best overall redesign. Tridimage unified the Citrus Magic projects thematically in several ways while bringing a refreshingly clean brand message to the packaging. "It was important for the brand to design in 360 degrees," says Braberman. (For more, see the July/August 2007 issue.)

The bulk of Tridimage's work is branding and packaging design for food, beverage, wine, cosmetic, household, and spirits clients. The firm tries to examine the possibilities of every brand with fresh eyes and create designs that are both visually stimulating, structurally relevant, and functionally sound.

"Packaging should seduce and communicate in three dimensions," Braberman sums up Tridimage's philosophy. In the last five years, Tridimage has seen its international business expand, and now 40% of its business is from overseas. In 2005, Tridimage was the first design firm to win the prestigious Argentine Export Award for its outstanding achievements in the export of design services. Their designs run the gamut from the vibrancy of festive South American colors to the minimalist and monochromatic trends of European design.

Braberman explains that a successful package must be a combination of structural form and function and graphic branding working together in support of a common message to the consumer. This assures an interdisciplinary vision can be incorporated into the overall product communication. He believes that developing innovative package shapes requires extensive analysis of consumer usage behavior, ergonomic needs, and product delivery requirements. At Tridimage each project is unique. "We always try to start from scratch, involving both graphic and structural teams," says Braberman.

Close client collaboration

Clients respect the depth of consumer knowledge that Tridimage has gleaned in several product categories. The partners believe research is a valuable tool when used smartly. Poor research happens when interviewers let the consumer design a package, becoming a hirsute art director. Good research is a process ásometimes completely open-endedáthat explores many options and measures immediate consumer response.

They think of their clients as creative partners and respect their clients' knowledge of their own brands. No matter what the project, Tridimage wants to bring a new perspective to the brand, even if that means diving into its roots. Cortese explains that though Tridimage works very closely with their clients, they can treat them like companions and challenge them at the same time. "Sometimes we have to move the brand just a little; sometimes we have to move the brand sideways," says Cortese.

Tridimage also relishes the opportunity to stretch conventional design parameters for clients willing to take risks. Tridimage has recently had the opportunity to create a completely new brand image from scratch. For the Dragonfly energy drink brand launch, Tridimage was charged with creating the complete graphic and structure identity. The Dragonfly brand-owner was open to novelty, trying to focus on young consumers who express themselves through brands and packaging. Tridimage integrated structure and graphics into a wholly organic form that conveys a simple message inward and outward. "It's like a statement of the personality of the person holding it," Braberman explains.

Cortese believes it is of utmost importance to think about how a consumer will interact with the product in different environments. She likes designing packages that produce a tactile experience that can create a relationship with the user, a kind of "natural design" that connects. "We always think about people, that's the most important aspect," emphasizes Cortese. "We design for people."

Design for export

Argentina produces many consumer goods packages specifically for export, so designing for overseas markets has always been a top priority for Tridimage. No wonder they have deeply refined their global marketing intelligence as well as remote collaboration tools to vanish geographical distances. In their 12 years as a design firm, their overseas work has grown steadily, and now includes challenging relationships with companies based in U.S., Mexico, Central America, Spain, Germany, Hungary, and Romania.

In the wine category, Cortese explains that inventive imagery must challenge convention when creating "new world" wine brands. The trend is to communicate in original ways for the U.S. and U.K. markets looking for new wine experiences. "People in those markets want to buy stories," Braberman explains.

The trends to no-label-look transparent labels and bold graphics certainly exploit the character of the wine in order to get an emotional response áand even surprise the consumer. In order to capture the spirit of the wine, Cortese says the firm has no qualms performing thorough "research" into each wine variety's true spirit. "In the wine category, there are a lot of times we have to trust in our instincts, " admits Braberman.

Cunnington Exclusive Goes For Category Differentiation

The brief from Argentina's Prodea company asked Tridimage to create a unique and sophisticated brand image from the ground up for this new upscale entry in the Argentine cola soft drink market. The client asked the design firm to differentiate the new beverage from the major players in the cola category, and to do so in four weeks from brief to delivery of structural and graphic design files.

The restrained design solution uses just two colors—silver and black—in order to create shelf impact. The Cunnington logo is a large billboard that communicates a powerful image while the rest of the copy subtly contrasts the boldness of the logo. This is definitely not a "me-too" approach, and the bold packages stand out on a crowded shelf against color-heavy competitors.

Tridimage also designed the new 1.5-liter PET bottle structure in order to communicate the dynamic personality of the brand. Tridimage believes that the larger bottles make a strong statement in terms of both color and proprietary shapes, as curvy indentations improve grip-ability and also show up the dynamic personality of the brand.

Dragonfly Energy Drink Presents an Organic Form

Tridimage was excited to tackle a complete design strategy for this cleverly named new brand from Embotelladora Lib élula in Mexico. Energy drinks were an emerging market in Mexico when Tridimage defined the brand message from the curvy, shrink-wrapped PET bottle shape through to the brand 's distinctive personality and graphics.

The brief asked to create a brand and packaging design to appeal the target market ástyle-conscious 18-to 30-year-oldsáand to express attributes related to energy, speed, and nightlife. An energy drink becomes a self-identity piece for young consumers because they consume it in public. Therefore, its packaging has to be a personal style statement for its consumers.

For the structural 3D bottle design, Tridimage looked for inspiration in the dragonfly anatomy and created an ergonomic shape that is comfortable to hold—even on a crowded dance floor. A dragonfly pictogram creates a strong and easily recognized brand icon, and the package has a dynamic shelf presence, a distinctive logo, and black, red, and silver colors.

Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface Gets Proprietary Bottle for U.S.

Tridimage designed the Clorox Hard Surface™ spray bottle to communicate a whole new way to sanitize with a structural package that conveys the brand 's equities—but from a new, softer, friendlier side. The challenge was to express through structure that the product was gentle enough to use around kids and food yet powerful enough to kill 99.9% of bacteria.

Ergonomics, decorative values, and a subtle shift from the classic category aesthetics were taken into account, as well as filling line constraints. The firm often talks to technical people or visits the filling line machines early in the design process. "The best way is to know right from the start the possibilities and limitations," says Braberman. He believes firmly that without collaboration, the optimum solution will likely not happen —or is even possible.

Tridimage felt the success of the bottle is its distinctive presentation that is not too aggressive for the consumer. The soft curves and pale blue hue convey gentleness and create an elegant package that 's attractive enough to leave out in the bathroom or kitchen.

Patagonian Life Conveys Sweet Serenity in Dulce de Leche Jar

Dulce de Leche is a fundamental part of Argentina's culinary identity. Dulce de leche roughly means "milk jam" and is made from just milk and sugar (plus a little bicarbonate of soda and sometimes glucose, which helps to stop it from crystallizing). In Argentina, it is impossible not to notice the native love affair with the soft, sticky toffee that appears at every meal and is the default flavor for ice creams and puddings.

Tridimage was commissioned to create the brand identity and packaging design for this new premium brand conceived for international consumers, tourists, and locals. They helped the Argentine company understand what international consumers wanted and how markets are developing internationally and assisted them designing this export brand targeted to global consumers.

Patagonian Life Dulce de Leche entered the international delicatessen market with a richly stylized premium package of fine detailed photography that visually expresses the essence of Argentina 's Patagonian region. Attention to strong branding creates a shelf statement of culinary excellence. Every detail of this multiple award-winning package projects a warm tailored image, and supports the brand promise of an out-of-the-ordinary, indulgent experience.