Strategies & Insights

Front Panel: Mentoring the next generation of designers on global branding and design

Posted: January 7, 2015 by
Linda Casey

Insight on Global
Clemson University professor helps students develop an international perspective to package design. To help the next generation of package designers understand how packaging graphics must consider more than language differences but factor in geographic, regulatory and cultural concerns from country to country, Nona Woolbright, Ph.D., associate professor, department of graphic communications, at Clemson University, started a study abroad program that introduces American students to European packaging. Package Design spoke to Woolbright about the program to help marketers and package designers interested in moving beyond the United States ask the right questions to avoid design and branding pitfalls.  

PD: What inspired the project topic?
Woolbright: Our graphic communications students were wanting a study abroad experience that was specific to their major. While on a 2012 exploratory trip to the U.K. to determine if a study abroad opportunity could be developed, I found I was fascinated by the differences in the look and design of the packaging in that country. Upon returning to the States, I came up with the idea of introducing the students to these differences directly and then building the course around that concept.

PD: What were the top three findings from the project?
Woolbright: First, because Clemson’s graphics program is technically orientated from the science of printing and the management of the manufacturing process, this course allows the students to go deeper into other concerns equally as valuable to packaging. They go through the full process of designing a product package with all the steps included from researching the competition, to determining brand colors, to the considerations involved in shelf shape and even shipping costs when deciding the substrate to use for the physical package. And to do this while considering the ramifications from different global markets as well.
Next, the students experience the diversity of the many cultures that all come together within the lively city of London and how that kind of variable should play a key element in all aspect of their package design. They learned first-hand what might work well and even more importantly, what might actual fail in their own design process.
Finally, the students return to the U.S. with an experience that I believe makes them think in a new way. They realize there are so many options outside their comfort zone and now that they have spent a month living in the heart of one of the largest cities in the EU. They hopefully see they can make the leap from “being from the Southern U.S.” to becoming a global citizen.

PD: What potential pitfalls are there when designing packages that need to be marketed in multiple countries?
Woolbright: Poor color choice is a prime example because psychology of color is different across the globe. You will find red in the U.S. denotes everything from danger to love to passion while in China it symbolizes good luck, happiness and joy. Likewise product naming can be tricky. A perfectly acceptable name in English might have a translation completely inappropriate or even offensive in another country. A notable example was Schweppes Tonic Water, which when translated to Italian means “toilet water”. You must also consider how package design/structure fits the consumer’s lifestyle as well as their pantry shelf.  Food storage requirements—from shape and size—can vary across the globe. The students quickly become aware of the fact that not everyone has a large American-style kitchen.

PD: What’s the next research project you’re working on?
Woolbright: Perhaps offering a version of the course in Japan or adding an expanded section to the class where the student would follow a live consumer package from actual design to production and through the distribution chain so they see the full life cycle from concept to the store shelf. Our students have a strong foundation is the technical side of graphics and packaging as a manufacturing process, but they are equally grounded in the business, management and much of the supply chain of the products they create. As our graduates are hired across the board from print production management to advertising and marking agencies, we want to be sure we have these sorts of non-traditional opportunity available as well.  

Beauty and Italy 
Cosmopack Symposium celebrates Italy’s influence on the beauty industry.

A new event from BolognaFiere Group, Cosmopack Symposium, aims to strengthen ties between American beauty brands and Italian packaging suppliers. Core to the event, which was held at a luxury hotel in the SoHo district of New York, were networking opportunities that enabled attendees to learn about the most recent technological advances directly from representatives of Italian suppliers to the health and beauty market.
BolognaFiere Group reports more than 240 meetings have been organized with the 50 most active buyers, such as those from well-known brands as Estée Lauder and L’Oréal, in global markets, especially America.
“The Symposium has been a great success,” said Duccio Campagnoli, president of BolognaFiere, “and it confirms us that it is worth proceeding in the project to build a new Cosmoprof event in the United States, promoting the meeting of the technological capabilities of the Made in Italy and Made in Europe with the most important American manufacturers. After this success, we are ready to prepare the event that next year will double our presence in the U.S.”
The Symposium in New York opened with the presentation of a study commissioned by Cosmopack and completed by Euromonitor International entitled “Opportunities for growth in the North-American market.” The market investigation took a look at what was needed for suppliers to be successful in the U.S. market, focusing on the peculiarities of the American market by addressing the issues on the interaction between companies and buyers, with the analysis of the winning tools and the steps to enter this market.
Other sessions included a presentation, entitled, “Are you ready to do business in the U.S.?” and a discussion of the history of quality and innovation in northern Italy. During the Excellence Made in Italy session, Lee Rizzuto, Conair vice president and board member of NABE (partner of Bologna Fiere SpA in the organization of Cosmoprof North America), noted that “Americans look to Italy for luxury goods” and remarked that not every American wants a Ferrari in their garage but you’d be hard pressed to find an American who didn’t want that Ferrari-like style and quality as part of their salon experience.
The final general session was a robust panel of innovators in the beauty industry and represented a good number of CEOs and founders of beauty brands. Panelists included Robb Akridge, vice president and general manager of Clarisonic; Elana Drell-Szyfer, CEO of Laura Geller Beauty; Anastasia Soare, founder and CEO of Anastasia Beverly Hills; Jane Iredale, president and founder of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics; and Kian Feyzgiu, CEO of Gotha Cosmetics.
Akridge stressed the importance of cross-pollination for innovation, noting that the Clarisonic facial cleaning brush was inspired by the technology used for sonic toothbrushes. He also noted that packaging is extremely important for startups, which don’t yet have the budget for ads in the major beauty publications. 
Iredale conceded that packaging had hindered her beauty brand’s initial growth. “Nobody was buying our product in the beginning of our company, 20 years ago, because of the packaging,” she said. “It was terrible.” The company was still able to grow to more than 400,000 SKUs because of her strong belief in the product and the transparency of product formulations communication.
Drell-Szyfer noted that the best supplier-partners are those that consider the client’s brand strategy. “I know that many suppliers come to us talking about their innovation,” she said, “but I think that’s a little bit of the tail wagging the dog. To become valuable to companies like us, you need to get involved in the brand strategy.”
Soare emphasizes the importance of delivering on promises to your customers. “My customers, from 13 to 90, all want the best,” Soare said. “My customer, she trusted me. It’s difficult to deliver my promise if you (the suppliers) don’t deliver.”
The Cosmopack Symposium is expected
to return to New York, late next year. The
next Cosmopack will be held in Bologna, I
taly, March 19 to 22, 2015.  Attendee registration for the Italian event is open now at 

Anastasia Soare, founder and CEO of Anastasia Beverly Hills, speaks at the Cosmopack Symposium. Her blue-ocean products are resonating with modern consumers, especially those on social media. Her brand has more than 2.7 million Instagram followers.

Conversation Starters
Empower consumers to become your brand ambassadors, by using special effects in your designs.
By Viktorija Gnatoka, global packaging analyst, Mintel

Special effects encompass a variety of techniques that can be used to enhance and differentiate packaging. Beyond shelf appeal, they can engage consumers with a brand on a much more personal level as conversation pieces in the home.
Holograms are one of the most commonly used special effects on product packaging. In most cases, they produce a rainbow-like hologram that is embossed into a film with a reflective layer laminated to the back (usually aluminum). When exposed to light at different angles, this foil decoration reflects multiple colors, and it can be used to create 3-D effects.
Taittinger, the official champagne of the FIFA World Cup, used holographic images of soccer balls on its beautiful limited-edition packaging. To celebrate one of the world’s biggest sport events, a Taittinger souvenir bottle is packaged in an elegant white and gold gift box with circular holograms that reflect the overall shape of a soccer ball the bubbles of sparkling champagne.
Personal and home-care brands have also used 3-D effects to great avail. Henkel launched a powder detergent in India in a beautiful box that features holographic images on all sides of the package. This particular washing powder has a new nano fiber lock technology that has been designed to not only clean but also remove stains. The carton’s back panel illustrates how the technology works and emphasizes its efficacy, with holographic images that show how the new nano fiber lock works on fabric.
The use of holographic inks is used to create realistic shelf appeal and is viewable by the consumers under the normal light in store. While it stands out on shelf among other packages, it usually is quite intuitive, doesn’t overshadow other on-pack messaging or graphics, and does not require any guessing or action.
But some special effects are not as obvious at first glance. Thermochromic, hydrachromic and phosphorescent inks’ effects are not that obvious at first glance. These types of inks require atmospheric, electronic or physical triggers are needed to initiative the change in the label or other package part to achieve the desired effect.
Most Package Design readers are familiar with the Coors Light 2-stage cold, activation labels, which indicates if the beer inside the bottles is cold or super cold. Another example from a beer producer using thermochromic inks on the label is Estrella de Navidad Cerveza from Spain where the white star placed on the top of the label but right in the middle of the bottle, turns blue when the beer reaches temperatures between 4- and 6-deg Celsius.
Crystalizing is a coating process that refracts light and creates sparkling or diamond effects, or creates the illusion of textures but without actually raising the surface. Bubbling is a coating process that creates a raised dimple-like surface appearance. This process adds functionality in the form of tactility rather than simply as a visual effect. Used often in pharmaceutical products, as well as beauty care, it helps to expand reach to the consumers who might not have had it available before.  However, more food and drink products are introducing braille on the pack. For example, the latest wine edition from South African winery Bon Cap embossed braille on the front label.
Beyond the functional value, embossing is also used for purely aesthetic shelf appeal. For example, this beautiful bottle of Chinese liquor features a number of special effects to achieve the beauty of the packaging. The white carton box has an embossed logo and the right side of the packaging differs from the overall white box. The right side is representative of the ceramic design and even has a feel of ceramic inviting consumers to touch the pack. The bottle inside has the same design and even though the bottle is made from colored glass, it does successfully imitate a ceramic bottle’s image and appeal.
Interactive packaging often includes a combination of several special effects techniques to truly engage consumers. Successful examples come from well-known brands such as Heineken (Ignite beer bottle with wireless sensors activating LEDs when pressure is applied on label) and Bombay Sapphire (uses a battery and pressure to switch to active electroluminescent printed circuits). However, this trend continues to be used by smaller and local alcohol beverage brands to engage consumers in game play to elevate their brands.
The packaging of Plastis 51, a French liquor from Marseille, is a good example of this. The bottle features a label with metallized effect and a code on the bottom of the bottle. By scanning the code, consumers get a link to download the 51 app. Upon opening the app, consumers can choose the flavor of the drink they bought and a glass appears with a recipe on how to make a cocktail with this liquor. Once the glass is full, consumers are invited to point the screen of the phone to the label and play a game to collect ice cubes in their cocktail glass. Such interactive packaging is sure to be a conversation starting in a social setting.