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Archive for January 2012

Making a good impression

Welcome to Shelf Life, which in this edition offers observations on the many faces of authenticity, the metaphorical power of format, materials and type, and the sorrows and pleasures of being a man standing in front of a shelf made just for him. Put your pound coin in the trolley and follow me…

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Nice paint job

It must be nice to have an aisle all to yourself in store, and to be able to dictate the optimum shelf layout to allow consumers to find the right product. The new Dulux range design seizes this opportunity with great panache, offering a calm wall of exquisitely-coded packaging. The core colour range balances the…

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Form follows function?

Don Simon juices compared with another juice brand

Packaging format, heavily guided by form, influences our impression of what’s inside at a deep, if unconscious level. Packaging graphic design, whilst still a subtle communicator, is relatively more up-front in its storytelling. Long-life juice is very much the poor relation of chilled juice in the UK market, and so brands try very hard to…

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Cut myself just looking…

Get them into a focus group and men are a pretty pragmatic bunch, who think all marketing should be like the Ronseal ad’s now famous strapline: “Does what it says on the tin”. Well it’s a bit different in razorland, with few brands bold enough to break away from the arms race and just offer…

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The icing on the cake?

cupcakes mixes section on shelf and cupcakes display stand

Ticking lots of relevant boxes as a nostalgic treat, a fun thing to do with your kids, or simply demonstrating yummy mummy good taste, not many food products are hotter than cupcakes right now. Over at the home-baking aisle you wouldn’t know it however, with no-one capitalising on the extra awareness (and rich imagery) that being…

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Is beige the new black?

Brand wines vs Tesco wines in the wine section

Consumers are increasingly seeking the ‘authentic’ in many markets, driven by a combination of factors such as marketing skepticism and the widespread availability of what used to be called ‘niche’ brands. All-conquering social media channels and the radical transparency that goes with them only accelerates this trend, to the point where being a big, mass-market…

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So good they opened it twice

The extra expense and packaging waste of this utterly redundant foil ‘lid‘ is completely unjustifiable in a rational world. Thankfully we don’t live in one of those, so instead it adds charm, ritual, value and personality. Takeout: One of the best examples of ‘unreasonable care’ for a product. Drink one and notice how the sensation…

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Packaging goodness

Juice multipack of cartons on shelf

Wood is a natural material that is made from trees. Fruit is a natural product that grows on trees. Aluminium is a natural material that is extracted from bauxite ore at very high temperatures. Skip the last bit and Capri-Sun is just giving you nature in a convenient form. Ribena is all about the Vitamin…

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Typeface soup

I’ve always thought that the characteristics of soup (a mixture of lots of different vegetables, herbs, colours and textures) lend themselves perfectly to a mélange of typefaces. The impression of a placed paper label seals the deal, and gives oodles of standout. Exactly the same idea as New Covent Garden, but even in this rather…

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Illegibility, repetition and nonsense. All good

Japan’s Asahi beer bottles

There can hardly be a country whose beer isn’t available in British supermarkets, so choosing is a bit like asking: “where do I want to go this evening?” When more than one beer from that country is available, you get to choose what ‘type’ of Brazilian/Spanish/Czech/etc beer drinker you want to be like, and packaging…

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