The Dieline Package Design Conference, Chicago – Day 2

Published:  June 29, 2011
Lee Barnsley
The Dieline Package Design Conference, Chicago – Day 2

Read Lee’s blog from Day 1 and Day 3.

Conferences of this type never fail to amaze me. You could be chatting to a freelance designer from South America one minute, and then next minute you just happen to meet the global packaging Design Manager for Nestlé, Switzerland. It’s great to see people from all over the world coming together and sharing their views, passion and knowledge. Sadly the packaging design community is very rarely recognised, and is often seen as the poor counterpart to the advertising world, especially in Australia. So this event and future events can only be a good thing in my eyes. Day two started with a unique experience… a breakfast networking session. It seemed to take people a while to get into it, but once the coffee started flowing and people started to wake up, the conversation came all too easily on subjects range from sustainability to procurement. Then it was off to the main hall for the first speaker session of the day.

Designing for icons
First speaker of the day was Moira Cullen. senior director of global design at Hershey’s. Moira is currently in charge of one of the world’s most famous chocolate brands, but she also boasts an impressive CV that includes revitalising iconic brands such as Hallmark and Coca-Cola.

Moira talked about how we as designers can design better for clients by thinking about brands principles and culture to influence peoples decisions. If you look at some of the worlds top brand logos today… Apple, Levi’s, Coca-Cola, they all share the same design principles. Their confidence and awareness comes from their simplicity. There’s no beveled boxes, no six colour gradients, no textured effects. It’s a simple logo that works because they have a clear and defined brand strategy.

But make no mistake, simple isn’t always easy to achieve. It has taken years for these brands to establish themselves, but they share a common goal… to become a category of one. So what does it mean to be a category of one? Well, when you write an item down on a shopping list, do you write down the product or the brand? Nobody writes ‘two litres of fizzy cola flavoured drink’ on their list, they write ‘two litres of coke’.

Designing holistically – harmonising graphics and structure
Up next were Peter Clarke and Wendy Church of Product Ventures, Connecticut. Product Ventures specialise in shaping some of the world’s best known brands, literally. They have been designing packaging and structures for brands such as Heinz and Proctor & Gamble for over 16 years. At the conference they showed an internal case study and project that they had initiated and paid for themselves to the cost of $200,000.

Absinthe by Product Ventures

They had taken the once banned drink Absinthe and looked at how it could be re-introduced to today’s world in an exciting and engaging format. Showcasing six concepts including the Victorian themed and funnily named Tarts and Dandies, the fantasy themed Sarabitha, and the Art Deco inspired Paradox. There really was some stunning work on show here, all the more impressive when you think that was all done under their own steam and won’t see its way onto shelves anytime soon.

Freeing the siren
Next up was Michael Peck, the man responsible for the refresh of the Starbucks logo. Even though Australians didn’t look upon this huge global brand with much favour, and it eventually closed it stores here, the brand continues to grow regardless. Now one of the top two brands on Facebook, Starbucks have ventured into the world of ice-cream, tea and beyond. So it was time for the logo to lose it’s ‘coffee’ wording and become a brand mark that would stand for something much more than coffee.

Starbucks logo concepts

Michael showed some impressive development work and initial ideas work that explored how to crop the siren and what shape holding device she should appear in.

Starbucks logo concept variations

Starbucks logo evolution

Obviously this was going to make a few people at Starbucks HQ nervous, but when you see it now being implemented it’s really does take on a life of it’s own, especially as I wandered around Chicago and saw the numerous Starbucks on every corner.

Starbucks loyalty cards

Challenging the future of food with design
There were a handful of other speakers in the afternoon on day two, but I felt that there was none more impressive than Jonathan Ford from Pearlfisher.

Jonathan Ford from Pearlfisher

In the grand scheme of packaging design Pearlfisher are the rock ‘n roll superstars. They’ve won awards all over the world, worked with some of the world’s top brands and continue to create designs that engage consumers and fly off the shelves.

Not bad for a company that started out proactively looking for work, and found a little chocolate company called Green & Blacks, who they thought needed a refresh. Even today they initiate their own studies on the future of consumer shopping trends and every six months present those findings back to clients in the form of an office open fun day.

One of the biggest things I took out of this session was that natural doesn’t have to be cute. There seems to be a big trend at the moment that when you talk about food being ‘natural’, that it has to look cute or from nature. Packaging can be fun and engaging.

We were also treated to some really great examples of how food brands around the world, that are turning trends on their head. Joe and the Juice shows that coffee and juice shops can be cool…

Pop Bakery does things a little differently, and The Icecreamists were taking ice-cream to a whole new level…

All images copyright by the respective companies.

One Response

  1. Very interesting account and I enjoyed it very much. Wasn’t able to attend – so this gave me a nice insight to the conference. Thanks for writing it.

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