In Words with Charles Biondo: Describe Yourself

In celebration of more than 50 continuous years of business, we asked Charles Biondo, a series of questions in context of this achievement. This is the first in the series…..

Describe yourself in one word.


That one word tells us a lot, and yet truthfully, it says nothing. In response to this one-word brush off, I dug in with Charles, a normally private person and asked him to explain what he meant by “complex”.

“Look Around”
Take a tour of the Biondo Group offices and you will see fine artwork hung on the walls, ranging from primitive African and Pre-Colombian art to Peter Max’s latest work. Early African sculptures grace the office space too, displayed museum style. This is not the normal fare you’d find in most any creative services or design company. It is inspiring working close to this ancient art; you feel the energy and can’t help but feel motivated.

The firm has earned its fair share of competitions, but there are no awards, pictures of the company’s work or presentations of boastful accolades displayed. The simple space is clean, orderly and allows the team to focus on one thing: the project in front of them.

The collaborative workspace is intentional and flows with curving walls, and clean white space, accentuated with a splash of the corporate color – orange. The space is quiet, open and promotes conversation and thought.

There is not much self-congratulatory backslapping going on at this Company. The team skews senior and has the chops to handle any work a client challenge can present. They know their place, they’ve earned it. There is minimal staff turnover, another anomaly that sets the firm apart from its peers.

Complex also applies to Charles work style. As the firm’s executive creative director, Charles is our hi-level producer. As he shares ” I surround myself with the best talent I can find, stay out of their way, and let them do what they do”. Realizing that our ultimate job is to help our clients sell product, we make it a point to be well informed and focused on satisfying the consumer’s needs. Its not about pleasing ourselves or our client per se, it is about doing what is best for the product in terms of making the consumer shelf side connection.

“My role is to conduct the creative orchestra, to help them find the rhythm and beat for that project and then to get out of the way, and let the designers run with it”, he shares.

“Its about Style”
Style is everything to Charles and the Biondo Group design team. Style inspires us, it affects our work, our mannerisms, our dress (personal packaging) and our language. Style allows us to be true to ourselves and still serve our clients with unique, tailored solutions – we don’t apply a rubber stamp, ever. We do what is best for the project – always. Style for us means blending simplicity, aesthetics, smarts and information to develop the best solutions for our clients.

Anyone who works intensely has to decompress. Beyond the usual fare of TV news and movies, Charles likes to read to unwind. Political suspense, Spy novels, Action and Intrigue – this is his preferred reading material when its time to unwind. Thinking on it, it makes sense, for this material does provide an escape, if even for a little while.

Complex – looking at it objectively, it’s the right word to describe the conductor of the Biondo Group orchestra.

Stay Tuned….

Brand Identity, branding, consumer product marketing,containers, design, packaged goods marketing, packaging, packaging  design, point-of-sale, POS, artwork, production, strategy, supermarket shelf, The Biondo Group, HBA, food packaging, 

Experience trumps all

According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Americans spent 620 billion dollars in U.S. supermarkets in 2013, accounting for 5.6% of their total disposable income. There are 37,459 supermarkets operating in the U.S. and the average store now carries almost 44,000 products in roughly 46 500 square feet of space. The average customer visits a store just under twice a week, spending just over $30 per trip (FMI1). As the primary channel for sales for food at home, supermarkets play a central role in ensuring access to affordable and nutritious food.


Food Marketing Institute (2015), ‘Supermarket Facts’, available at (accessed 15 March 2015)

After 50 years owning his own Packaging Design business, Charles Biondo has seen a lot of changes in every facet of business.

For one, the consumer packaged goods field has become an astronomically big industry. Opening his own design practice after he graduated school in 1960, Charles began working with marketers for what were then, America’s nascent consumer brands.

The world was just ramping up its love affair with branded food and beverages,and brand identity and packaging design were all-important, they were the face of these products at the point of sale – the Supermarket.

At this time, the retail environment for purchasing food and other consumer goods was changing rapidly. The Supermarket, a uniquely American invention, was becoming all the rage.

Supermarkets had a characteristic that changed the consumer packaged goods landscape – they had adequate shelf space for multiple products of the same type. Direct competitors now shared shelf space and were merchandised shoulder to shoulder with one another.

Given that the competitive products delivered similar taste, performance or similar functions, what was going to distinguish one product from another?

Why would a consumer, all else being equal, select one product over another?

Two of the drivers that convert shopper intent to buyer action are, price and appeal. Price is what it is, dictated by factors outside our control. Appeal was a completely different story altogether.

Appeal is a consideration well within our ability to create.

The key in differentiating products, and in positioning them to be attractive and appealing to the right people (what we would later call the target demographic), is the art and alchemy of branding and packaging design. And so much of the standout successes our clients have had are due to Charles’s innate understanding of what is required to make a specific package design work.

The Biondo team gets it, and is responsible for working with many of the world’s iconic brands and spokescharacters, including Kool-Aid and Starkist’s ”Charles the Tuna”, Q-tips, Sun Chips, Skittles, Starburst and Weight Watchers.

And that’s just it, so much of what delivers a concept that works, that allows it to rise above the field of contenders, the ability to tease the optimal solution out of a design exploration, is art, and as such, its unique, it’s not replicable, it is not scalable. Since the doors opened 40 years ago, the person producing this art, the maestro of our team, is the ECD (Executive Creative Director).

The Biondo Group’s ECD is Charles Biondo. In every field of specialty, there are some people who just get it, and Charles is one of those special people who does. Charles’s a packaging design subject matter expert; a design alchemist. Charles knows how to inspire his team, he knows how to drive the process forward and importantly, he knows intuitively when something is right. The Biondo Group doesn’t need a focus group to inform us when we’ve got a winner, Charles unfailingly knows.

Biondo is one of the Founding Fathers of the Packaging Design field. After taking stock of the industry, he’s feeling a little rowdy and has got his sights set on a growing trend that packaging design firms are embracing, but we’ll get to that ……

Structure – it’s just not about being organized.  

Listerinevintage ListerineCurrent Listerine

When someone says structure, what comes to mind?

For many, the word structure conjures imagery of XLS tables and MS Word docs. This sort of structure provides the framework for the tasks, jobs and interactions we have during our day, helping hold it all together, giving us rules of engagement, reference points, and markers that allows us to lead modern lives.

In a packaging design context, the word Structure, although different than the above application and description, does indeed hold it all together. Structure in this context is the container that holds a product, or “good”, for use or for sale.

In other words, a Structure is a container; dispenser, can, pouch, bag or bottle that holds a product.

In a consumer product context, the container structure must satisfy some basic requirements and functions. It has to safely hold the product, in a way that allows it to be transported and dispensed. It has to meet some basic, yet very important engineering requirements.

Engineering you might ask? Imagine, if a bottle container wasn’t up to specific engineering and technical material standards. If not up to a predefined “spec”, it could lead to leaking or stacked palettes of product collapsing in warehouses, or during shipment, in a word, disaster.

So from one perspective a container structure has to work and be safe. The structure has to be able to hold the product through manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, use and storage, and that doesn’t happen by accident. Not only has the structure got to be “sound” it also has to look great, and in context of the products surrounding it.

For a consumer packaged good, the supermarket is a tough crowded hyper-competitive place. Our clients are always on the lookout for new ways of differentiating and enhancing shelf side communications. One of the best ways of differentiating your product at POS is through the use of a proprietary or unusual container structure.

Log Cabin syrup, Mrs. Butterworth syrup, Krazy Glue, Listerine, Scope, Quaker State, are just a few of the brands that have leveraged the power of tactile differentiation by using unique container structures. Pick one of these brands up and you KNOW what you’ve got in your hands, even if your eyes are closed.

Yes, the packaging costs are higher in the near term due to mold costs and the necessary modification of production machinery, but eventually, they too are amortized and when the dust settles, the brand is left with a distinguished packaging presentation that stands proudly at shelf and easily differentiates itself from the competitive array.

Structure, it is not just for organizing your day!

The Biondo Group

The Biondo Group takes on a great cause, Alzheimer’s.

The 32nd annual Rita Hayworth Gala, chaired by Daryl Simon, was held on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York.

Founder of the Biondo Group, Charles Biondo one of the participating sponsors, was thrilled to report that the event was a great success, raising over $2.2 million for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s is one of those insidious diseases that robs both the victim and the family emotionally, stealing the joy of aging together. We can’t think of one single person who has not been affected by Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Amongst the Biondo team as well as our client teams, nearly everyone has a story to tell in terms of Alzheimer’s, none of them happy.

Needless to say, we are glad to support this event, not only does Alzheimer’s strike close to home, but it is a non-partisan cause all of us can rally around, clear on our collective purpose.

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Romanzi
Charles Biondo and Maureen Putnam (Hain Celestial)

One of the Biondo Group’s Account Directors, Louise Calo, has been deeply affected by Alzheimer’s, and in response to our supporting this event wrote the following, that was included in the Gala playbill.

Each day we watch them slip further away
For in their minds they’ve become a child at play

We stand there in helpless anguish and despair
Because we know their minds are beyond repair

We hope and we pray for a miracle each  day
That research and prayer will find a way

To end this terrible debilitating disease
And put their minds and our at ease

Be kind, be generous, be grateful each day

Biondo Group: we howl, we prowl (and for a darn good cause!)

This Fall, the Biondo Group held an event that’s near and dear to our hearts: the 2015 Howl & Prowl. Most of our team are animal lovers and are aware of the homeless animal problem. We decided to do something to help our furry and owner-dependent friends.

The Howl & Prowl present the community with an opportunity to get to know and snuggle with our 4-legged friends that are looking for their “forever homes”. In addition to meeting and greeting the animals, there are events such as a Pumpkin carving contests for children.

If you’d like to know more about the Howl & Prowl (or even host your own), please let us know.

2015 Howl & Prowl
2015 Howl & Prowl
2015 Howl & Prowl
2015 Howl & Prowl
2015 Howl & Prowl