Wine on the Mind

June 5th, 2017

The 37th annual London Wine Festival descended upon us two weeks ago, for three full days, allowing us to check on all the latest innovations, designs and wine trends that have emerged over the last year. With hundreds of varietals and merchants in attendance, the Cabinet team were lucky enough to check out the latest going ons. While a majority of stands at Olympia held up wine traditions, there were some interesting rumblings from brands trying to make wine more contemporary and accessible.

Here are some of the trends we observed:



Every category wants to get in with millennials and wine is no different. Some brands got it right, like Australian brand Alpha Box and Dice who make visually appealing and engaging designs while feeling authentic. Each wine in their range is named by an illustrator who tastes the wine and creates a design inspired by the flavours. The only unifying element within the range is that the focus of each varietal is a large monogram.


Other brands try a bit too hard. While their designs are contemporary and definitely defy category norms, you do have to wonder if the marketing team understand what appeals to millennials at all. Like this sign below. It’s important that a brand story comes from a place of authenticity – no one wants the brand equivalent of a brand; it’s comparative of a parent trying to act like their kids.


Packaging Innovations

Split and individual portions, along with cans and craft beer bottles were some of the alternative packaging formats that could be found dotted around the fair. This innovation is most likely targeting youthful demographics as they’re open to new methods of consumption. In a category that is dominated by purists, it will be interesting to see how these are adopted.



Illustration and Photography

Etch drawings or foiled flowery landscapes are a dime a dozen but brands like Xixarito and Nivarius brought a breath of fresh air to the fair. From blocky illustrations to surrealist, photographic portraiture and vector work, these brands really stood out from the rest.

IMG_9883 IMG_9886



Designs that comprised of only type also made an appearance. The scripted option feels new, but is heavily grounded in wine decoration. Slurp tries to deliver a youthful pack and utilizes this clever way to communicate multiple messages, but sometimes a pack can appear to work too hard.




Why clutter the design when a simple and iconic design can do the heavy lifting? Some things are better left unsaid.




April 19th, 2017

Memory is an incredible tool that connects people.  It’s something that adds meaning to an experience, their recollection brought about by varying channels and triggers.

The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses.  A rather abstract fact to consider when talking about branding and packaging, but with closer inspection and out of the box thinking – there is promise in the consideration of the value of memories and the emotions attached to them.

Spontaneous recall of long-forgotten events or experiences through sensory triggers create an emotional bond to the trigger.

One that I can especially relate too, is that of perfume and cologne.  There are very specific scents owned by brands that I can immediately identify; I can describe to you the precise moment in my life that the scent is linked to.  It is an amazing thing, the transportation of the mind that happens when your nose triggers a memory long gone.

Now, after considering your own triggers and what memories are brought to the fore, I am sure you will agree with me about its value and application promise.  The opportunity to incorporate this into packaging innovation to form brand associative memories is out of this world, and an area of the market that has yet to be explored.

New packaging development and design involve innovative processes of collaboration between clients and agencies, and the results can have a startling effect on product sales.  It is already understood that there is value in the ritual of interacting with the packaging of products, and this experience needs to fit into consumer’s lives in a way that adds value to their interactions. In a similar way, smell can be used to cement a brand’s place in our minds.


Designer Lives

Designer Lives

April 13th, 2017

Hear, hear!

We are all familiar with hearing from the great and the good of the design industry but we rarely hear from designers who shun the spotlight.

At Designer Lives we chat to our colleagues and friends to better understand what makes them tick and how design has effected their lives.

Each chat lasts around 15-20mins so is perfectly timed to fit around your kerning…

Go check it out,  and enjoy your long weekend!

 designer lives

The Future of…

The Future of…

April 12th, 2017

There are many elements to consider when thinking about where the future of pack design may go from here.  Our belief is that it is in the hands of those activist brands who refuse to rest on their laurels.

These brands take their challenges by the horns and face into the wind – let’s see how many cliché lines I can make apply here – but seriously… remaining relevant and ahead of the competition is no mean feat in such an overpopulated sensory overload of packaging.  It takes an activist attitude and commitment, to bring to life the nuances of what makes a brand what it is.  Being bold enough to make the daring choice to redefine the language of premium packaging is one step in the right direction.

We have had the privilege of working with these kinds of clients, the results always exciting. Partnering with open-minded and ambitious clients is a rewarding process, with emphasis laid here on “partnering”.  Working to build valued and reciprocal relationships is one of the core building blocks on the road to successful project outputs.  The competitive market of pack design and CPGs requires bold statements to be made, and a strong partnership between client and agency helps to instil confidence in efforts to take the road less travelled and differentiate from the competition.

It is said that the future is what we make of it, and although clichés can go down like smelly cheese – there is validity in their sentiment. Will retailers take on the challenge of redefining what premium means to their consumers?

Caffeinated Hysteria

Caffeinated Hysteria

April 10th, 2017

We visited the London Coffee Festival today in the glorious sunshine and here are top ten observations.

  1. Yes, we’ve heard it a million times but quality ‘craft’ coffee is most definitely mainstream. How else could you explain the early morning midweek cues to get it…and no there wasn’t a beard, sleeve or fixie in there…they must be late risers. It was all normal looking, everyday people who you could spot from a mile off in Shoreditch.
  1. Why is nobody queuing to get into a wine…or tea festival. What is it about coffee that captures our imagination in a way that other very similar products don’t?
  1. People are still trying to crack the ‘instant’ coffee market. There are some really interesting products in this area, but I think they may be missing the whole point about what gives rise to our second point.
  1. The big brands find it very hard to sit side by side with their smaller more challenging competitors. When you sit down to think about why this might be it can hurt your brain, but at the end of the day it’s about the big brands inability to do anything that doesn’t appear to be perfect. The imperfections of the smaller brands are the things that make us warm to them. They are basically more human and for that when they sit next to something less than ‘human’ it feels uncomfortable.
  1. VIP areas suck. At least if you are going to have one, name it something different and don’t make the guy who guards it appear as if standing outside a night club.
  1. For coffee lovers’, accessories are as important as coffee; this is an opportunity that I am not sure the bigger coffee brands have leveraged as fully as they could. The secret here is that the products are credible and that they make getting truly great coffee a better experience, not necessarily more convenient.
  1. Be a geek. This may be part of why point 4 exists. When you just work for a business you may not be hired for your passion and interest in it. When you own or work in a business where you see the impact of decisions you can make or are involved with, it’s hard not to become an obsessive geek.
  1. Snacking has changed beyond recognition…yes this is meant to be about coffee but coffee and snacking go hand in hand. Snacking brands have a lot to learn from what’s happening in coffee and the ones that seem to be resonating the very best have many of the same attributes as the best coffee companies.
  1. There were two types of business on show. Those who clearly valued the power of design and those that don’t.
  1. Finally, as we’ve been banging on about it for long enough, craftsmanship and communities are at the heart of the strong brands of which the ever-growing coffee scene is.
Inclusive & Expressive

Inclusive & Expressive

April 7th, 2017

As part two of our Language without Words piece, we thought it would be nice to draw your attention to the way in which emoji language is spreading and adapting to become a far more inclusive language.

In a world where globalisation is evident, it is increasingly important, like in the world of brands, for people to feel as if they are fairly represented and included in the movement.  The generic emoji faces and cultural representations need to shift.  This need was recognised by two friends living in Dubai, Yasmine Rasool, and Eriko Varkey.  They noted that beyond a stereotypical emoji of a man in a turban, there was no real representation of the Arab nation.  These women set out to right this misstep and created an app of over 200 emojis that reflect culturally nuanced images that relate more closely with their day-to-day lives.  HALLA WALLA, which is Arabic slang for “Hi there!” is the name of the app that this pair has developed in the hopes of moving the emoji language in a truly global step forward.

We sometimes forget, in the sheltered bubble that so many live within, the significance of small gestures that may not make sense to our own culture.  In many ways, emojis have helped to standardise the understanding of this global language, and with developments like HALLA WALLA, we will further be enlightened about the small nuances of various cultures.  Like a brand strategy that is developed with an understanding of its core purpose and target audience, having a broader understanding of global cultures will help us to gain valuable insight for interpersonal and corporate relationships.

This inclusive and expressive movement, although seeming to counter the current political trends is a reflection of a far greater need for humanity to connect.  Let’s embrace the opportunity, and engage with these culturally aware initiatives.

Royal Redesign

Royal Redesign

March 29th, 2017

We couldn’t go without bringing some attention to the release of the new one pound coin – take a look at that beauty!

The Star of the Show

The Star of the Show

March 28th, 2017

Consumers: What they look for and how they shop?

Products need to appear to understand them, and fulfil their needs in a new and unique way

FMCG is an interesting category to work in – it is one of those areas in which strategies are crucial in approaching the way in which you position your products.  The consumers are the star of the show, and need to be made to feel as such.  It is a complicated process of balancing brand, functionality and purpose, and all of this needs to relate back to your consumer in a meaningful and purposeful way.  The list of things to consider is ever-growing which is why we are constantly kept on our toes.

When relaunching, redesigning, or bringing a new-to-world brand to the market, there is a checklist of considerations to keep front of mind.  You need to remember that brands don’t operate within silos.  Your brand is standing on the shelf next to direct as well as indirect competitors.  How does you brand look on shelf? Does it stand out? Does it blend into the category?  Do you have visual iconography that is unique to your brand?  Do the consumers know what you stand for?  Is it clear what the function of your product is?  How do you differentiate yourself?

These are but a few of the crucial aspects of branding that you need to map out while positioning your product.  And something that is becoming increasingly important is the way in which consumers interact with your product. Visual identity and structural packaging play a large role in the user experience of your product.  Repurchase is largely dependent on the experience the consumer has of your product.  Innovative drives to improve this experience with a consumer-centric value proposition is how many brands are differentiating themselves.  Taking these bold steps is what helps brands to stay in the game and solidify their position as formidable competitors in the market.

Playing Catch up

Playing Catch up

March 20th, 2017

It’s a doggy dog world.  There is always going to be someone biting at your heels hoping to trip you up, so for industry leaders to maintain their advantage, they don’t only need to look ahead to where they are going but also behind them to those riding their coat-tails.  Consumer Packaged Goods is an industry in which marketeers need to be the ultimate multi-taskers. Your brand can never be complacent in its positioning, you need to keep eyes ahead and awareness behind.  At no point do you ever want to feel as if you are playing catch up to your competitors, because if you are, you’re in the wrong game.

The aim here is to differentiate.  You need to hop, skip and jump right over your competitors by embodying an authentic message and value proposition.

The area in which this challenge is the most evident, is that of premium offerings.  How do you make your brand look premium in its own way without looking like all the rest?  There are design cues and colour waves that have been associated with premium over the years, and brands often fall victim to the sea of premium packaging that all looks the same.  Now is the time to be brave, brands need to disrupt the market in a way that makes them memorable to consumers.

Innovate or Die

Innovate or Die

March 13th, 2017

Foundation forum 23/02

Being specialists in innovation ourselves, this was an interesting topic brought into discussion by the Foundation at one of their regular forums.  We heard from:

Julian Birkinshaw – a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, and director of the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the London Business school

Mark Evans –  a longstanding and successful marketer with a position as Marketing Director of Direct Line Group.

Scott Cain – the lead on business and project development at the Future Cities Catapult.

the foundation forum

Each have their own unique vision of what it takes to innovate, and why it has remained so important to engage with innovative practice.  Their discussion was engaging and enlightening, the likes of which I have come to expect from these kinds of evenings.  The Foundation forums are a collective of like-minded individuals who like to hear about and discuss challenges that cross industries.

As with people’s differing perspectives, there are also different lenses through which to approach challenges.  Innovation is an area in business you will very rarely see the same thing twice.  Each team’s approach and solutions are tailor made to the intrinsic model of company operations, and these speakers brought attention to the various ways in which leaders operate to encourage and foster innovative growth.

There is a sentiment of “Innovate or Die” in today’s market place, and I was pleased to see that attendance was outstanding for this event proving that, no matter what level of experience or know-how, there are plenty of individuals out there who value and truly believe in the evolutionary power of innovative thinking._Cur7h7Y


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