Gadgetry & Games

Brands 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.

There is no grace period for a tactic or strategy to prove itself in the packaging design world.  Design solutions work or they don’t – and that determination happens NOW.

Research is a go-to tool used to vet packaging design. Consumer research is an old tool in the marketing arsenal, but still useful in getting the information needed to influence packaging design work.

Packaging Design is the Biondo Group’s specialty. Packaging Design is one of the marketing arts driven by change, but also constrained by brand and graphic equities.

Therein lies the tension of packaging design, and why it is an art. The look of the package must be current, and “fit” the category appearance wise; and it must also stand out amongst its peers.

So our work should fit in, while standing out!

There isn’t a lot of gimmickry, gadgetry or games involved in designing packaging. Much of the toolset has existed for decades, albeit updated to incorporate digital technologies.

Biondo Group clients rely on us for one reason, to solve packaging design and on-shelf branding challenges. We leave the quick turn gimmicks, gadgets and games to others, our work must have legs and last.

Biondo clients can’t afford for us to adopt a “campaign” mindset.  The work we produce has to have staying power. Given the challenges and costs associated with printing and filling the pipeline with new packaging, it’s important we get it right.

Staying Positive: being a creative firm in a contentious world

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?

We can only guess at what is driving this salty talk. Could it be a desire to differentiate themselves and their “philosophies” from their peer set and to be viewed as edgy and sharp?

It feels negative. It makes us uncomfortable. What does one look like?
Who of us is in a position to judge or identify someone as being one?
And if you don’t get the job or a call-back…well… have you been judged to be one?

As marketers we are all for differentiation and positioning, its what drives our work. We like sassy and salty – but we also like smart, and empathic – and we really like nice. We demonstrate through our work and process that we value our clients and relationships.

The marketing professionals that come through our door (or Inbox, as is more likely the case) are also met with respect and empathy. We’ve all been there: waiting for the opportunity to present our case.

In the 50 years we’ve been in business, we haven’t needed one of these policies.

The Biondo Group is positively charged and we’ve found that like attracts like, and so the clients and talent we’ve attracted share much of what interests and drives us forward – a passion for the work: great design and strategic marketing.

So when you work with the Biondo Group you will team up with some talented, passionate, strategic designers: good people, who work hard, stay positive and are in touch with consumer trends.

The Biondo Group team ascribes to what Frank Burns (from the “back-in-the-day” TV show MASH) said:
“It’s nice to be nice to the nice”.

Rethinking Packaging Design Methodology

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.Read More

3 Keys to Design Success: Orientation & Analysis

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.

  • Do the prep work, get out in the field, dig in….

Before a kick-off meeting, if it’s a consumer good/supermarket product, its smart to not only have store audits, but also to send the design team out into the “channels of distribution” to get a first hand view of what’s happening at POS. This can be tough to schedule for a variety of reasons, but it’s a smart thing to do. It’s just too easy to be jaded, take the easy way out and rely on store audit images themselves to develop a POV.

By not getting out in the market, the nuance and context that helps a designer achieve a deeper understanding of a design challenge is given short shrift. There is also something to be said for standing in front of a shelf, in a store and talking to your fellow teammate about what is in front of you.

Yes, we surreptitiously capture store audits and do a hard edit before sharing them with our client during our orientation meeting: but really the Audits are for our benefit, the Client has spent far more time in front of the shelf, studying this category than we do. While we are in store, we purchase leading competitive products to study them more closely in our studio, thereby avoiding further stares from shoppers and supermarket staff.

  • Meet as a team to conduct an Analysis.

Once back in the studio, the team meets to review and conduct an analysis of what we saw in the field, the images that were captured and the competitive products. At this time we also review the proposal and client brief, making the internal orientation meeting a working meeting, necessitating we provide lunch – thereby insuring timely attendance.

After this internal working meeting we are ready to meet with our client and get their POV as well as “their side of the story” in terms of what the design team saw and came away with opinion-wise.

We can hold this meeting at either client or Biondo offices. But we encourage the meeting be held at the Biondo offices due to the fact we can have more of our team present and meet the client. It’s important to have faces that go along with the names and this is the opportunity to make that connection.

  • Craft a solid, meaningful agenda for the client Orientation meeting.

The agenda for this meeting includes client debriefing: state of category, business and marketing strategy, competitive analysis, concerns, caveats, mandatories and other information. From the Biondo side, we share our analysis, POV and observations. The meeting is catered (the food thing again) and as a team we break bread and get to know each other. Getting the people at the table to recognize themselves as a unified team is part of the goal.

After this meeting both Client and the internal Biondo design team have clear expectations regarding process and timing and know what to expect. This activity prepares the entire team for the next Phase of development, the Creative Exploration.