Exercise: Packaging

The task is to design packaging for a range of biscuits. They are three varieties:

  • Rasin
  • Ginger
  • Choc Chip

It is required that an extinct animal be used for each and that said animal should interact with the biscuit on the packaging. Colours should also be used so as to associate a colour with each flavour.

The first stage is research for which I used a couple of supermarkets.

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Scottish All Butter Coffee and Walnut Shortbread Rounds

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Oh, these aren’t biscuits. It’s a Ford Model T. I didn’t notice Lord Buckingham was stood on the roof when I took it!

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Use of an ‘extinct’ animal – the Pink Panther – and super character to appeal to youngsters.

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The cow was the only other animal in the biscuit aisle.

Even Aisle Man couldn’t find any more.

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These little monkeys are actually animal shaped I think

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As are these.

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The most famous party biscuit in the UK I think.

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An Enid Blyton biscuit.

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Ceareal bars is where it’s at now… many more fruity varieties… lots of colour co-ordinated ranges of flavours.

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These are crisps o course but with a sort of buiscity feel to them.

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Purple used to sell Blueberries.

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Unspecified fruit using purple.

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Ginger cake using red.

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Chocolate cake using purple.

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Chocolate pudding using purple.

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Bron being used for the chocolate version of coffee.

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Orange and Vanilla… using orange

Lemon using Yellow

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Rasins using brand colours from Peppa Pig in preference to anything else.

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Chocolate using Purple.

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Chocolcate spread using purple (it was purple but the lighting’s poor)

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The Raisin version of these bakes has an extra purple stripe to tell it apart.

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These personified raisins are actually purple (more purple-looking on the wrapper than the box inside but this is less obvious in real life).

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These brand raisins using red and yellow… plus showing the grapes (which are green or white! depending on your view).

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Purple used to show blackcurrant

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The strawberry version in red.

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Yogurt Raisins – purple with creamy white.

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Chocolate Raisins – Puple with brown and yellows.

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Purple for a blackcurrant again.

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The real deal. These are for cooking – flame raisins with a green flash on the label. Maybe to indicate the grape colour again.

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Brown, purple and green used to distinguish a range of coffee types. ‘Chococino’ and ‘Mocha’ seem to be similar drinks to me… Cappacino here is green… it’s the ‘Skinny/Light’ version. Maybe Lime Green helps say that.

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Back to purple for these raisins in the fruity-snacking area.

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Ginger tea based on a golden colour.

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The whole range of coffees… interesting that colour is used within a range to distinguish its constituent products even if some of those colours are a bit un-connected with the individual item. It’s more important here to be a range.

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All of these chocolate drinks in the same range identify with a different colour on top of the brown base.

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Then there’s Tea Pigs… this range is so big that ‘Ginger’ with its highly obvious colour conections is BLUE. And a deckchair.

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Orange os not always citrus or ginger… here it is cheese.

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…it’s cheese here too.

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Here it is ‘Toasty’ bread… for the cheese perhaps.

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Ranges of rice using purple, turquoise, yellow and blue to distinguish products. Uncle Ben’s using orange as a brand device to stand out.

Analysis of the Research

Being more of a qualitative analysis…

Products identify themselves as belonging to a brand. Sometimes the brand is overriding – like Sunmaid Raisins which are (as far as I know) a one product brand. Their use of colour and design is about the single item standing out on the shelf rather than being about belonging to a range. Another example is Marmite.

In the biscuit aisle there are few brands but many varieties. I’m guessing that there are good profit margins to be had so there is broad deployment to catch the confectionary pound. Most types of biscuit are mimicked by the supermarket’s own ‘value’ range – where the packaging is deliberately less exciting. I’ve heard that the value brand exists in order to increase the appeal of the mid and high priced ranges… encouraging shoppers to trade up. This is certainly the experience – the blander ‘value’ packaging stands out for lacking colour – if you fill your shopping trolley with it there’s a strangely beige effect.

I would have to say that the biscuit aisle looks like a war zone. The biscuit aisle is arranges so that types of biscuit are grouped together often splitting the range from one brand along the aisle.

Colour… is used in several very definite ways…

  • To resemble the product’s key features… strawberry foods use red, banana foods use yellow. Foods containing Oranges or Lemons use orange and yellow respectively.
  • To mimic another brand. In biscuits this means rich tea are blue like the McVities ones (I remember when there were no other kinds of Rich Tea except McVities (no partof United Biscuits along with Jacobs, Crawfords, go ahead…)).
  • To belong to a brand or range. The strongest example is the Value range which only differentiate the type of biscuit on a small portion of the pack. Cereal bars are very strongly grouped in ranges.
  • To stand out from the surrounding packs. Fox’s ginger biscuits are a bright green… which if you’re surrounded by other ginger biscuits all coloured predominantly orange is a bold move. Uncle Ben’s brand colour is shockingly bold for the aisle it is on.

All this said… the biscuit aisle is a MESS in Tesco. I don’t mean it’s untidy… I mean that it’s 30 metres long, five shelves high, making ‘choice’ your enemy. I don’t know how anyone makes a decision. The patterns of arrangement of biscuit varieties aren’t clear and they’re displayed in the packing boxes (like crisps) so the actual packs are mostly hidden from farther down the aisle.

In contrast M&S (a smaller store so probably with just as much space devoted to biscuits proportionately) allows its own brand to dominate so you won’t generally find more than one variety. It’s not about choice it’s about being an authority – “these are our ginger biscuits and they are very good”.

This means that the ‘audience’ for biscuits is store-dependent. Tesco is carnage, a war zone; M&S is like politics – say less but mean more!

This is not new – it’s almost common knowledge that stores attract ‘types’ of customers and when you analyse the shelves the ways that they make themselves attractive shows.

The display boxes in Tesco give it another kind of feel – it feels like you’re accessing the biscuits ‘straight from the warehouse’ as if there’s some kind of discount inherent in the under-dressed display. The discount will be the time saved by shelf stackers who don’t have to move individual packs from box to shelf… that won’t affect the retail cost though!

Another affect of this is that the customers’ view of the biscuits is more restricted – the ends of the packs are overshadowed by the boxes; the cut-outs at the front are not the full width of a pack (stopping it falling out) which means you don’t always see the inch of pack at each end.

Pack types

I am personally fascinated by the types of packaging products use – not just food, all products. Much of it tells a tale of where in the world the goods were produced. Cheap labour allows hand-tied restraints to hold toys in place whereas machine packing in the west relies more on bubble packs. They’re still packed by a person but at a higher rate with the help of a specially set-up hermetic sealing machine.

Biscuit packs show wide variety. In M&S there were abundant ‘bag’ types – redolent of the personal customer service that you might find in an old-fashioned high street store. These were heat sealed of course but they brought that ‘establishment’ feel with them. They also work in another way though – the bargain bag… large quantity just ‘thrown in’ generously.

Biscuits for many years here have been glued down flat at the ends creating a cylinder that stands on end – a tower of a pack of biscuits. Taking over from that, particularly brands like Maryland Cookies, are the more loosly sealed packs that taper at each end to a flat heat seal – probably cheaper to pack, an advantage for the less fragile biscuit but also one that enlarges the pack and changes its feel… lose fit like baggy trousers.

Transparent packs were available in a range of situations. Some shoed the magnificence of the biscuit – high quality brands with class and prestige and decorative Belgian chocolate placed on top by an artisan. Percy Pigs also got a window to be displayed in (look kids!) and “Scottish All Butter Coffee and Walnut Shortbread Rounds” got a transparent panel so that their practical and wholesome nature could be unashamedly displayed.

Also, gingerbread men. Arranged in rows – they could all see out.

Choosing Colours

From the supermarket research the following colours seem to dominate these flavours:

  • ♦♦♦♦♦ Purple for Raisin
  • ♦♦♦♦♦ Brown for Chocolate
  • ♦♦♦♦♦ Orange for Ginger

I’m going to go with these colours for the main colours

Choosing Animals

My top candidate for extinct animals that would be dynamic, exciting and recognisable are…

  • The famous dinosaurs: T-Rex, Diplodocus, Pterodactyl, Pteranodon, Velociraptor, Stegosaurus, Triceretops
  • The Dodo
  • Wooly Mammoth
  • Sabre-toothed big cats (Tiger, Lion…)
  • Bison
  • Loch Ness Monster (?)

I’ve chosen…

  • The Dodo – raisin
  • Wooly Mammoth – chocolate chip
  • Sabre-toothed big cats (Tiger, Lion…) – ginger (Tiger)

Developing the Characters

I’ve been reading about the Dodo… was it purple at all… ever… anywhere on its body? Apparently not, but it also has been underrated as a animal that was doomed to extinction because it was a tad rubbish – apparently it was fast and agile and had big kneecaps.

Big Kneecaps.

This makes me think of knee-pads that footballers and other sportsmen wear for protection and I wonder if I can transform these animals into something that children might relate to differently… sporty animals… animals with skills.

I already doodled about having them as circus animals – the Mammoth is the strong man, the Dodo is the clown (helps with the colour there!) and the tiger is… er… escaped! Yikes.

However, what if I made them into kitted-out animals. So the Dod gets kneepads, the mammoth gets leathers and protective head gear and the tiger gets go-faster stripes or something?!

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