Brand Fuel 24 Part 1 – Power of Design – Lars Wallentin

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This is the first of 3 posts on The Brand Fuel Express, the first 24-hour branding event on a high speed train!

It covers the brilliant presentation by Lars Wallentin, who has over 40 years of experience in communication and design with Nestle and a highly entertaining style. I'd wanted to see Lars in action for ages, so it was a real highlight to hook up with him.

Here are some of the key points I took out from his session, that had me nodding my head vigorously in agreement.

Simplify and amplify
Strip away all that is not essential from your brand's design. You can then amplify what you have left: the visual essence of your brand. I posted on this during my series of posts with design shop JKR last year, including the example of John West Salmon.

Lars used the Kellogg's Cornflakes pack as an example of how to simplify and amplify your visual essence, a design I have also admired.

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If you can't be seen, you can't be bought
Simple, but so true. Forget about how creative your design or communication is. Or how well branded it is. If the consumer doesn't see you, they can't buy you. In another JKR-linked post, I talked about how every shopping trip is a series of thirty "1 in a 1000" decisions. For each product a shopper buys, there are another 999 they don't.

Push the brand boundaries

This was my favourite bit of the presentation, and a subject close to my heart. Lars talked about the opportunity to push the brand design boundaries and be really creative with packaging to stand out. He gave the example of Toblerone's gift packs, where the brand name is replaced with a seasonal message. So, this year for Father's Day the packs will say "The Best Dad"

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And this isn't just being clever. It makes business sense. According to Kraft “Toblerone Milk was the best performing chocolate gift in the week
leading up to Father’s Day in 2007", so it really seems to work.

I questioned Lars as to whether there weren't too many brands doing this trick now, especially in the UK. His response is that there are still only a few brands that do it right. This involves coming up with a brand idea, not just playing with the pack. He contrasts tow approaches to the Euro 2008 football tournament.

Good – Mars: the brand has changed Mars to "Hopp" in Switzerland, which means something like "Go on the Swiss!' There is a brand idea here, about Mars being giving fans physical and emotional energy to support their national team.

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In contrast, he showed this pack of Toffee, another confectionary brand, where a football and Swiss flag had simply been slapped on the pack.

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All in all, a truly inspiring session. Do check Lars out if you get the chance.

Next post: brand storytelling.