Opportunity lost?

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.

Design for business has gotten wide, very wide. No longer simply graphic and appearance driven, design affects and drives the interactions of every single brand and product touch point. Design is multi-sensory, multichannel and environmental, its: digital, print, product, visual, tactile, etc. It’s almost as if design has no boundaries, and so it is nearly impossible for a designer to be facile in all aspects of “design in business”.

So what happens when help is needed for a specific project or challenge that is outside the scope of “in-house” expertise – something as specific as “Packaging Design”? Generally, help is sought from the outside world of freelancers and single lane specialists. And this is often where things go awry. In many instances the selection of an outside design consultant falls to the Marketing or Product group to accomplish and not an in-house Creative Group or Designer. Unless the in-house group is directly involved in a project they usually have nothing to do with any part of it, including selection of a creative resource.

That’s a lost opportunity and a possible setup for disappointment for the Marketing group. What’s the lost opportunity you might ask? Well, not having the in-house designer/ creative team in on the selection and vetting process for a creative resource or design firm is an opportunity lost. It is almost certain that a designer can contribute to, and improve an SOW that an outside firm is responding to.

Think on it, who better to assess and critique the work of a designer, who better to prepare them for success, than a fellow designer?

An in-house designer will be interested in learning about process, team composition, deliverables, dates, milestones, methods of presentation and core expertise – all of which are important to get a true read of what working day to day with a design firm will be like.

So our advice is, if you have them, to involve your in-house designer(s) in the selection of a creative resource, they bring a lot to a project, as well as the relationship you will have with your outside design partners.

In Response…..

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.

One of the reasons why so many proposals read like boilerplate cut and paste jobs is that for the most part, they are. Writing a proposal is considered anything but creative, in fact they are seen as the adult version of homework. As such no one wants to dig in – and when proposals do get done, it is usually last minute – and reluctantly. This rarely benefits any of the parties involved.

Proposals at design firms are usually written by: an Agency Principal, a New Business liaison, Account Supervisor or Account Executive.

Agency principals tend to be bigger picture oriented people, busy working on a raft of things at once and so, generally don’t have the time and attention to focus on crafting a detailed project plan or proposal.

Account folk or Project Managers wind up boiler plating as much as is possible.These folks generally have to get their work approved and so using boilerplate makes the job that much easier. Not only is boiler plating considered “safe”, it’s a commonly acknowledged practice for getting it done. For the most part these people are busy with other work, so a Proposal is looked at as an odious task.

But at the Biondo Group a proposal presents a wonderful opportunity. The New Business team treats new client opportunities as precious nuggets to be handled with great care. As such, they put their all into crafting a plan that makes the most sense to both client and internal team

Because the Biondo New Business team is staffed with skilled listeners, who can write and deeply understand process, they find themselves helping the Account team with Organic growth, leading the preparation of detailed proposals.

Listening in proposal writing terms is not simply a nice to have skill, it’s a necessity when crafting a solid, actionable plan that a prospective client can say “yes” to.

So know when The Biondo Group is invited to respond to a RFP, we’ve dedicated our best, most experienced, expert listeners to manage the response. You will never get boilerplate thinking (or prose) from us – from the initial contact, to the detailed proposal we will prepare for you – we treat each opportunity importantly – and preciously.

Packaging Graphics Redesign: Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Spray


Spectrum® offers a premium line of natural and organic culinary oils, vinegars, condiments and supplements made with high quality ingredients sourced from all over the world.  The Biondo Group has worked extensively within the Spectrum Brand portfolio.


  • The brand wanted to improve its design architecture, unifying the categories
  • At POS, differentiating SKU’s within the line on shelf was difficult
  • The various oils needed to compete better within each of the individual oil categories:
    • Olive Oils (where we would be emphasizing premium)
    • Cooking Oils (where the job was one of presenting variety and differentiation)
    • Graphically communicate superior quality, premium value, variety, natural/organic ingredients


  • View change incrementally, so existing customers would not feel a disconnect, but would encourage new customers to consider the brand
  • Balance and reinforce the brands proposition of premium, natural/organic oils for all the consumers’ needs
  • Differentiate and tier the oils and vinegars for their individual categories:L basic Oils & Vinegars vs the more premium specialty Olive Oils and Vinegars


  • Contemporize the overall look and feel of the packaging graphics
  • Communicate a superior quality
  • Deliver visual consistency across the segments of the Oil line
  • Develop a visual language to communicate benefits

Our Solution featured:

  • Simplified and focused front panel design architecture
  • “Ingredient as hero” photography
  • Strong quality appearance and feel
  • Impactful, more legible typography
  • Implementation of a new, simpler Brand Identity

Spectrum Naturals:   http://www.spectrumorganics.com/

When is Packaging Design considered successful?

If 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:
1 – Differentiate a product from peers on shelf
2 – Appear in alignment with the brands persona
3 – Clearly differentiate both line segments and varieties of complex product lines
4 – Graphically support the brands color palate and persona
5 – Convey positioning
6 – Communicate attributes: usage, qualities,size, benefit, flavor and characteristics
7 – Call out features, benefits or changes
8 – Embrace simplicity
9 – Feature a communication hierarchy
10 – Call attention to itself on shelf
11 – Create an emotional connection

Clearly product packaging is an important marketing component that needs to be thought of in a manner that is both strategic and emotional, and that is part of the inherent challenge of packaging design. Less experienced packaging designers tend in many instances to favor the emotional influences, due to their not having as much comfort with the strategic side of things.

While art certainly has its place, it is not on shelf in a supermarket.

Incorporating strategic insights into packaging design is assuredly the work of experienced designers who’ve been involved in strategically guided projects multiple times and have the mental muscle to work past appearance.

Knowing this to be true, The Biondo Group has rarely had “junior designers” on staff. All of our staff designers are senior, very experienced and as such are committed to incorporating strategic insights into their design work.

Incorporating strategic insights into our clients packaging design work is what distinguishes the Biondo’s effective, hard-working, on target design work from a firm that is simply producing designed “packaging art”.

The Biondo Group’s clients have to hit the target out of the gate, there is no room for a miss, and so in this regard,  Experience Matters.

Can product packaging create relationships?

A debate has been brewing at the Biondo Group. The idea we’ve 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?Read More