The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Design Intelligence …
December 10, 2007, 7:26 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve written tons of posts about how important I regard packaging design interms of enhancing and building a brand ‘persona’ in the eyes of the consumer.

Loads of companies do it really well and far too many do it fucking terribly … and yet in a World where people are becoming increasingly cynical as regards the ‘promises’ they are told via marketing communication, packaging can act as a very powerful and tangible ‘truth point’ which can help build some real trust with customers.

Apple are one of the best at this.

They appreciate the importance of ‘ceremony of purchase’ … so even when you are buying the cheapest of cheap iPOD’s … you still get a packaging component that makes it feel special, valuable, important. 

It’s these little touches that helps people ‘feel’ they’ve made the right choice … it’s something high-end fashion brands do exceptionally well and yet the practice can [and should] be incorporated into brands / products that are much more accessible to the general public.

[It’s off the point, but I do want to bring your attention to this post I wrote about ‘TRANSFORMER Packaging’]

Anyway just recently I came across a bottled water that I thought showed some real design ingenuity.


Can you see what I was excited about?

OK, you’re probably not as sad as me … however what I liked was that they’d designed the top of the bottle to look like condensation was running down the sides – giving the impression it was cold and inviting when in reality it was warmer than a urine sample given in a Doctors office on a summers day with the air conditioning turned off.

Hmmmmn, that’s probably not the best analogy is it.

Anyway, while some people will bang on about the fact that this could lead to a disappointing consumer experience – the fact is, you can tell a designer not only understood the human psyche, but found a way to incorporate it into their overall solution which is far better than about 80% of ad campaigns currently running around the World.

I honestly believe that at present, the best consumer planning is coming more from packaging and R&D companies than ad agencies.

This is sad for a number of reasons … but the main one is that yet again it demonstrates how adland is losing touch with society which inturn, undermines our ability to demonstrate our worth to industry.

I cannot tell you how much it pisses me off when I meet some guy with the job title ‘ad planner’ who then can only talk interms of observation without any ability to explain WHY people are acting a particular way or WHAT a brand could do to exploit/maximise the opportunity.

Planning is about intelligence, imagination, bravery, collaboration, ingenuity, creativity … if it was just about fucking observation, adland could save itself a truckload of money and just hire people with Handicams to walk around the streets all day.

If you are one of those ‘advertising planners’ who fails to realise the job requires real human interaction, then

[1] please go and see what Charles is doing

[2] if you’re not inspired by it, resign immediately … or …

[3] go and throw yourself under the next speeding car


OK, so I know that in the case of the bottle above, that little design touch won’t make it into a highly desirable or successful brand [especially as it is an International Hotel’s ‘own label’] however interms of demonstrating the influence design can have in people’s decision making habits, it’s pretty good.

I believe planning thrives when there is breadth and depth of opinion … that means getting out from your desk and going into the big, bad World … because at the end of the day, planning should be as much an outdoor pursuit as an indoor one. 

Go and meet with packaging designers [and no, ‘advertising art directors’ don’t count!] … go and find out how they think … because one day, the knowledge you pick up could be the difference between being employed or just another candidate.

[I’m lucky, my wife does this sort of this so I am continually subjected to her banging on about how important design is, ha!]

Finally, for those people who are tempted to write in and say that having a bottle that appears ‘chilled’ is potentially minimising it’s appeal in Asia [because depending on things like culture, environment and weather, people actively choose their water to be drunk hot, warm or cold] I say to them …

 [1] the bottle is an International Hotel’s own label so it’s a high proportion of the people consuming will come from countries where ‘cold’ is the de facto for consumption.

… and …

[2] you’re an anal [and clever] little sod!

27 Comments so far
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good post. fucking good post.

you might have an unnatural attraction to the “impact” font, but you are a planner who “gets” design rather the hundreds of fuckers who think their job is just to create some meaningless positioning statement before fucking off to be smug with their equally one dimensional friends.

jilly and jemma are going to love you for this post, you smooth writing bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

i’m not phased by that particular design, but i’m on your side as far as the importance of design goes. and when i say good design, i don’t mean using every gimmick under the book, but being smart and lean about it.

Comment by lauren

My guess is that you spotted this bottle at that WWP party and in that environment, it struck you as brilliantly amazing. Great post.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Hi Lauren – don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the bottle above is attractive – I was just trying to point out how design/packaging can play a huge part in motivating sales and planners/creatives should consider this when working on solutions for their clients business problems.

Interms of the bottle I used for my example – the label and shape do very little for me – I applaud the fact someone appreciated how a look of ‘condensation’ could [in certain circumstances] motivate an individual to choose that brand of water over a competitor even though in the overall category, there is little to differente between them.

And Fred you’re kinda right, kinda wrong – I didn’t spot it at the WPP party, but it was at event I found so boring that it stuck out as interesing – it was the Effectiveness Awards I judged recently, ha!

Comment by Robert

Good post. My question is this.

What if the hotel/water producer simply chose a preset bottle design; and the condensation idea is that of the packaging company?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Then I would say the hotel lucked in and the packaging company should stand up and be reckoned with.

Comment by Rob

Agree entirely but will also bang on about the potential for customer disappointment. If you’ve bothered to have the nous to create a design that suggests coldness, you have to lay down the law about it being served icy cold because the whole point of the design is that it has created expectations that have to be met. In a hotel environment they have no excuse for not doing so.

Comment by John

You fall into the ‘Number 2’ option then John 🙂

Comment by Rob

And you are a (insert Nottingham greeting here)!

Comment by John

A gun salute?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

He means “nice person” Mum. 🙂

Comment by Rob

No he doesn’t Mrs C.

Morning everybody.

Comment by The Kaiser

Don’t lie to your mum.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

your hair will fall out if you do. No, wait, err…..

Comment by The Kaiser

Sorry I’m late to this and I apologise for putting a boringly sensible comment here, but I like this post. I must admit I’m not sure if as much thought went into the bottle design as you imply but the lesson is a good one and maybe should form the basis for the next advertising planning assignment.

Comment by Pete

Pete has humbled me.

Comment by The Kaiser

Is that a first? 😉

Comment by Pete

No. You do it to me all the time.

Comment by The Kaiser

Bad example (good idea), good post. I think it’s like people – most of how we communicate is body language. I always find it easy to brief in design jobs talking the impression we’re looking to create. It’s a lot more helpful than ‘the client hates orange’.

Comment by NP

Apart from the nice idea of giving the impression of “condensation”, the bottle has minimal asthetic appeal but I know you weren’t trying to say otherwise Robert.

I was going to write I love working with guys who appreciate and encourage design to be much more than just eye candy but after what you’ve all done recently, I just love you for being wonderful, kind men.

Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

i’d blush but you wouldnt be the first hot woman to call me that jem. george on the other hand is doing a great impression of a big fucking beetroot 🙂 see you all thursday.

Comment by andy@cynic

ah, Andy. Good to have you back.

Comment by The Kaiser

hello sweetheart, how are you? is the shed still standing? love the charles stab bollocks, it cracked a smile on my black soul and i fucking needed it. back properly next week so we should cause our special brand of shit then 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

next week it is then luvvie.

Comment by The Kaiser

Great post Rob, I totally agree re some of the best thinking coming from packaging and R&D at the moment. Sad, but true.

Andy and Marcus, you are terrifying me.

Comment by Angus

we will get ourselves a room

Comment by The Kaiser

lovely to have you back andy.. and same to you jem – long time no see! hope all y’all are doin’ OK.

Comment by lauren

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