Alan Gilbody

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Design agency jargon buster.

So much jargon. How often have you sat there in front of 6 people from the agency as they regurgitate ‘word salad’ at you with supreme confidence? They use a smorgasbord of verbal dexterity to explain the simplest of tasks. Then everyone in the room looks at one another, hoping that subtitles will pop up in front of the Strategic Planner to translate the gobbledegook that they’ve just spouted.

Here we try to break down the jargon with our dictionary definitions of agency bull.

“Archetypes”

(Adjective)
Are you a hero, explorer, lover or creator? Whilst this may be relevant if you are writing the next Harry Potter novel, it has little relevance to your brand.

“Consultants”

(Noun)
About 10 years ago, design agencies became design consultancies almost overnight. In our opinion consultants belong in hospitals not design studios.

“Equity Analysis”

(Verb)
Stock market planning? Or reminding you of your logo and other important bits, again. 

“Ethnographics”

(Noun)
Research done by nosey ‘ologists’ who look in people’s bins for insights.

“Futurescaping”

(Verb)
The dark art of seeing into the future usually undertaken by visionary (see below) who tell us that in 2026, Harrow On The Hill will all be painted lime and the only people that live there will be called Sebastian. Even some of the dogs.

“International Agency Network”

(Noun)
This is often a small outpost in some far off glamorous location masquerading as a fully functioning design agency.“Yes, of course we have an office in Shanghai. No, we’d rather not share your project with them.”

“Retail Safari”

(Verb)
Paying for a member of the design team to scurry round Tesco’s taking photo’s whilst avoiding security guards. Shouldn’t they know what the competition looks like anyway?

“Semiotics”

(Verb)
Paying someone to tell you that red = danger and that blue = corporate. Genius.

Process”

(Verb)
Some agencies utilise fancy trademark processes in order to qualify why this “process” cost you so much. Ask them to see the trademarking documentation.

‘Visionary”

(Noun)
For those of us that played Dungeons & Dragons in the early 80s this sounds like something from page 267 in the Monster Manual. In fact, this is someone who can apparently see into the future.

“Visual Planning”

(Verb)
This is usually a combination of a A1 mood board and long words. Very long words.

Feel free to send us any that you’ve encountered that we can add to the list.

Please send all entries on a postcard to:

Slice Jargon Buster, Slice design Ltd, 12 Glenthorne Mews, Hammersmith, W6 0LJ

Design agency jargon buster. Read More »

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How to brief your design agency (to get the best results).

We’ve all heard the stories of agencies and designers being briefed on the back of a fag packet or post-it notes. Briefings take many shapes and forms. Some are very thorough, others are very top line and need a lot of digging around work out the objectives.

You can only do a great piece of work if you get a great brief. By a great brief, what I mean is a very detailed explanation of what your key aims are along with any mandatories.

Now, whether you are designing a flavour extension to a product, or repositioning an entire range of FMCG products, the core principles of briefing remain the same. In order to make sure that you are happy with the deliverables, you need to pull together a ‘bobby-dazzler’ of a brief!

So, how do you go about doing this?

Part 1: Gather the information.

1. Highlight the main business issue and define the objectives.

Design and branding is all about problem-solving. If we understand what the problem is upfront, it’s a lot easier to solve it. It may seem obvious, but highlight the problem rather than what you think should be the solution. The reason being, there may be an easier (and more cost effective) way to crack the problem.

2. Include the wider team.

Most projects require the input of members of the wider team, it could be that the printer needs to advise on number of colours and cutter guides changes. It could be regulatory that need to define distinct claims. It’s good to get these team members involved in the beginning stages so that the brief addresses all of their requirements front on rather than when you have received the first draft back. 

3. What is your degree of change?

This is a great way to define how far you want to change the look and feel of what you have already. If you think of ‘1’ as evolution and ’10’ as revolution. Try to think where along this line would be most comfortable seeing design solutions. That way we can manage expectations when we present back.

4. The budget.

Be realistic. If you have a budget in mind at the beginning of a project, always include this in the brief. That means that the deliverables can be tailored to suit the available budget.
What have you paid for a similar project previously? The agency proposal will detail the methodology and costings for a certain number of studio hours to complete the task. In the last 10 years also, budget and deliverables have tended to move into opposing directions. Yes, there is always somebody willing to do it for cheaper. But is cheaper always necessarily the best option? How many times have you gone for a cheaper option and regretted it?

5. Define the timescales.

Everybody wants the project delivering the week before last. The most important part of any creative process is the initial concept generation and this is where most of the time should be invested. 
A project timeline is there to illustrate how long it will take to successfully complete the project. 

6. Briefing the design team.

It’s never a good idea to send over a lengthy Word document on its own, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Always take the time to talk the agency through the brief. This gives the agency an opportunity to flag up any key questions and iron out any key issues in advance of starting the project.

It also provides a great forum for discussion to explore ideas not in the brief or stop them in their path!

Part 2: The Creative response

7. Creating the proposal.

The proposal is a working document. It’s the agencies understanding of what you want to do and details the costings, timings and methodology involved in getting to the final piece of creative.

All design projects are organic and often deliverables change through the course of working. That may be adding some deliverables or removing some. In some cases it can mean adding entirely new stages such as a consumer testing et cetera. These will obviously effect the cost.

The cost is based on the deliverables. It might be that one of the design routes chosen to take through to artwork involves very complex bespoke photography or it may be that it’s very simplistic and minimalistic. Clearly each of these two very different routes can have very different costing structures as they involve different skill sets and different set of deliverables.

8. Feeding back on the proposal

The proposal is a working document and there to be input on. It takes time to pull together to detail the costing and methodology and skillset at each stage. It is a little late once this has been worked out to then explain to the agency that your budget is only 50% of what they have stated in the proposal if you knew the figure all along! (see budget section)

Most client jump to the back page look at the cost and respond to that. In my experience, projects rarely to follow the same path, with the same deliverables. Looking at an evolution, with 4 flavours that follow a master design is obviously a lot more straightforward than looking at an innovation project that may require a different tiering strategy in a product portfolio even though there are less SKU’s.

It’s healthy to challenge what is presented back. Ultimately it’s the role of the design agency to explain why they have taken a particular route.

You can see what a great brief produces here.

How to brief your design agency (to get the best results). Read More »

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2021 Confectionary Trends

From spicy flavours to unusual combinations, which of these confectionary packaging design trends below would grab your attention first.. 

1. Tropical flavours 

With Summer on it’s way and everyone dreaming of beach holidays that are unlikely to happen this year, it’s not surprising that consumers are opting for tropical flavours to put them in the holiday spirit. In particular flavours such as pineapple and coconut are favourites amongst consumers. These confectionary flavours may help make our staycations a bit more exotic this year!

2. Mix & Match 

In the mood for something sweet or savoury? How about both! If you can’t decide which flavour you feel like there, there is an emerging trend that brands are mixing and matching flavours combinations. This is a great way for brands to get consumers to try more of their range and offer intriguing new propositions. Pairing sweet fruity flavours with salty or spicy flavours will be sure to take you on a taste adventure!

3. Smaller pack sizes 

Brands are jumping on the permissible snacking trend and more companies are now developing smaller pack sizes into the market that contain 200 calories of less. These smaller pack sizes are great for a ‘healthier’ snack when consumers want to treat themselves and not feel guilty. The smaller sizes are also perfect for making informed choices and carrying on the go. 

4. Spice up confectionary

The hottest trend of them all! Confectionary brands are turning up the heat and introducing spicy snacks to their portfolio including flavours such as chilli, jalapeño and habanero to name a few. We can see this trend catching on for the surprising factor and curiosity as to what it will actually taste like. 

Between June 22nd – 25th, some of the biggest names in the confectionery sector will be at the Sweets and Snacks Expo. They are due to showcase exciting new products as well as discuss the latest upcoming trends. Look out for our blog post following the Expo for a round up of the event.

John Downs, president of the National Confectioners Association says “The Sweets & Snacks Expo is where the top candy and snack companies showcase their newest products. This year is even more important as we get back to business. While consumer purchasing habits may have shifted, manufacturers are exceeding expectations with new products, flavours and innovations.”

Let us know which of the above trends you would try out first. We certainly would want to try the spicy sweets! All trends in this post are curiosity of Confectionary Production. 

You can see some examples of our confectionary branding and packaging design on our Behance credentials page.

2021 Confectionary Trends Read More »

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Euro 2020 Football: How the brands have jumped on board in their TV advertising campaigns.

I did have to do a double take when I saw the date, but at long last the Euro 2020 football tournament is upon us. As is normal with these sporting occasions, a raft of associated advertising campaigns have been launched to compete for your attention and declare their relevance for your weekly shop.

In the United States of America, the adverts in the Super Bowl are a bit of an institution. They are looked forward to in the same way as the John Lewis Christmas advert is here in the UK. The examples below capture a little of the same spirit and showcase some fab creativity. So, we had to share for a little light-hearted end of the week shenanigans!

Just as England has kicked off the campaign successfully, so have some big players in the brand arena. Here are some of the ones that have caught our creative eye, no doubt I’ll be adding to these for the duration of the tournament.

Deliveroo: We’re England ’til we dine advert.

Clever wordplay from professional ‘bloke down the pub’ Carl Pilkington and the Deliveroo guys linking classic dishes in a football chant style.

TikTok: Where fans play advert.

The big sponsor of the Euro 2020 football tournament. Great integration of TikTok videos into memorable football moments. Also, interesting use of the New Order classic, Blue Monday, to conjure up the Three Lions spirit.

Sports Direct: Just a Game advert.

Great linking back to that famous Bill Shankly football adage that football is “not a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that”. Also, after over a year of isolation I also love the use of the phrase ‘it’s a ticket to friendship’.

Irn Bro: Sofa advert.

Definitely one of the cheekiest adverts in the Euro 2020 football tournament. Playing up to the fact that Scotland never usually make it to a final – the Irn-Bru guys poke fun at tournament virgins, Scotland.

You can see some examples of our branding and packaging design work here. There are some more expanded examples on our Behance credentials page.

Euro 2020 Football: How the brands have jumped on board in their TV advertising campaigns. Read More »

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What is a brand positioning and why do I need one?

The brand positioning is the story that you tell your consumers. That story needs to have a point of difference, something to differentiate you from your competitor. A product truth, something that you can credibly say about your product. Also a tone of voice, the personality you want to project to the consumer.

Depending on your agency of choice, there may be a variety of ‘trademarked’ tools (ask them for the trademark documentation 😉) and processes in order to get you to brand Valhalla. These usually consist of levels of varying degrees of complexity and bamboozlement with phrases such as ‘retail safaris’ and ‘brand equity analysis audits’. We think it doesn’t need to be that complicated.

What is a brand?

A brand is what your customers perceive about you and how you make them feel. Brand positioning is about developing a unique perception about your brand in the mind of the consumer.

In order to discover the opportunity, it is important to consider:
1) What your product does well (credibility)
2) How you can be different and unique from the competition (differentiation)
3) Research and analyse consumer trends to understand what your consumer needs (relevance)

Be credible.

We begin by identifying the credibility of your brand. This is about specifying what your brand can do well. Do you have centuries of heritage linked to your brand or product, or a bespoke process of creating your products? What makes your product the best in its category? Is there something hidden away in the production process or recipe that can be extracted and highlighted to create credibility?

Be Relevant.

Secondly, we look at the relevance of your brand to your target consumer or identify new ones. This ensures that consumers will understand the benefit and what specific ‘needs’ it answers for them. This stage is all about looking in detail at the consumer. Identifying the target audience and exploring trends to create insights in order to discover consumer needs and behaviour. Here we utilise insights and trends from established research houses.

Differentiate.

We can then explore how well your competitors meet these needs and discover any gaps in how well the various need states are met so as to ensure differentiation. This is important, when we carry out a competitive mapping exercise to help identify any gaps in the market and ensure that you can hold a unique position to your competition.

All of this comes together to identify the unique opportunities for the brand. Using all this information we craft ownable and unique brand propositions, which build the ‘foundations’ of the brand. These detail the brand essence, core belief, product truth and tone of voice.

This is an important basis to not only guide the design, but also everything regarding the brand moving forward.

You can see some examples of this here. There are some more expanded examples on our Behance credentials page.

What is a brand positioning and why do I need one? Read More »

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When should I change my branding and packaging design?

Most brand owners have been there and asked them self this question. It’s really easy to get complacent and refuse the need for a change to your branding and packaging design because you’re either doing really, or there is no budget. But when is the right time – when you are on the upwards slope or when you are sliding down?

“But we only changed it a year ago.”

Great. But is it working? Has it enticed new consumers and enthused your existing ones? Sure your research group told you that Brian in Leeds and Wendy in North London were ‘uber excited’ but has that excitement played out in consumer world after launch? Or were Wendy and Brian just excited about getting free nibbles at consumer research group. The truth is that you should always be evaluating the brand and packaging on how well it meets consumer needs.

“But surely will cost a lot?”

You might be pleasantly surprised. Ultimately though, It’s an investment. Probably your most important investment as everything you do, create and say will be underpinned by it. The cost is based on what needs doing. It may not need a complete overhaul, just a re-evaluation of the pack architecture or simply more appetising food photography.

“But mine is the best product out there.” 

Sure you have the best tasting cake / pizza / dog biscuits out there. But here is the simple truth, so does everyone who launches a new product. That’s WHY they are launching a new product and that’s exactly why YOU need to stand out in the minds, memories and shopping baskets of the people buying it. Don’t just rely on you being the ‘best’ as all of your competition are, in their minds also the best.

“But it’s always been like this”

Life is change. Everything changes. Brands evolve and consumers evolve. So do their tastes and opinions. The best brands change to become more relevant, to answer new consumer needs or existing needs better. So should you.

“But we have never sold more than we do now. People love us.” 

Great. Hopefully that will continue but great brands remain fresh and constantly innovate. The reason consumers love you is because you met their needs. Consumer needs evolve and change. What is your plan to stay on top of this ever changing market place?

The truth is, its much easier to plan your next ‘big thing’ when you on the upwards trajectory when consumers are on our side, rather than a downwards one when they have moves onto the next big thing.

You can see some examples of our confectionary branding and packaging here. There are some more expanded examples on our Behance credentials page.

When should I change my branding and packaging design? Read More »

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Placements – Starting out as a designer in a branding and packaging design agency.

(A fair few) years ago I was leaving college and pulling my portfolio together with the exciting prospect of getting my foot on the career ladder. Whilst times have changed, the core principles of how to approach an agency for placements haven’t.


Here are my five key points to look at when you approach an agency for design placements (well actually in general for any role):


1. Be enthusiastic.

The whole interview process can seem a little scary but what really appeals to an employer is an enthusiasm in the role, and the industry in general. Be interested in the agency, the brands that they work on and most of all life!


2. Be different.


Just like a brand, you need to communicate your point of difference. How could you stand out from the crowd? When I’m advising people on approaching agencies for placements I always refer back to a fantastic story I once heard about Lionel Richie (Bear with me on this).

Lionel Richie was one part of a very successful band – The Commodores. Each member of the band wrote an equal number of tracks for their albums and it was always a big debate regarding which songs made the final album. Lionel Richie‘s ethos was always if everyone else is doing a dance record, I’m going to do a ballad if everyone else is doing a ballad, I’m going to do a disco record. That way, by approaching his creative work a little differently to the rest of the band, he always managed to get his ideas onto the final record, simply because he offered something different.

It’s a great way to think about it – as long as you’ve got the core skill sets the key thing is how do you stand out from others that may also have similar attributes?


3. Don’t be a prima-donna.

Its all very well being convinced that your idea is the best thing since Steve Jobs decided to do away with buttons, but remember, be open to others opinions – nothing positive ever came from lying on the floor in a ‘star shape’ refusing to change the hue of green as it questioned your creative integrity!


4. Roll your sleeves up.

Agency life and placements are incredibly exciting. Every day and every project is different. The most successful designers and placements I’ve worked with roll their sleeves up and have a go everything. Whether that’s a learning a new skill or helping someone else shine.

5. Don’t give up

This role may not be suitable for you but the next one might. Keep going, the right people end up in the right role for the agency, and also for them.

You can see some examples of our confectionary branding and packaging here. There are some more expanded examples on our Behance credentials page. If you’re interesting in placements with Slice, contact us here. Slice are ranked on Design Rush’s Top Food and Beverage Branding Agencies list.

Placements – Starting out as a designer in a branding and packaging design agency. Read More »

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Zaz wins ‘Best Package Design’ award

We are very proud to announce that our packaging design for Zaz Chocopops has won an award!

Design Rush have selected our design for new Zaz Chocopops for the award next month. Read more about our branding and packaging design for Zaz below.

We are thrilled that our packaging design for Zaz has been awarded ‘Best Package Design’ and kindly described as ‘Making A Bold Statement On Premium, Guilt-Free Snacks.’

Design Rush Award 2021

Judges’ Verdict: Zaz Chocopops Package Design Is A Standout In Branding And Food Packaging

“New players face double the challenges in making their products stand out on the market. They’re are often up against well-known brands and childhood nostalgic favourites that have been around for decades.  

Their bold design managed to integrate the branding in a surprisingly elegant manner despite displaying vibrant colours and large images front and center.

It’s no surprise that our judges crowned this design as a winner in the packaging design category!”

About Zaz Packaging Design

We were briefed to create the branding and and packaging design for the new range of Chocopops. The design needed to reflect the premium quality of the product. ZAZ’s mission to enable consumers to feel on top of their snacking routine without compromising on taste.

Based on a positioning of ‘King of ingredients,’ the regal design utilises a striking sash and gold foiling for bold impact on shelf. It was important to communicate that the snack was 100% natural and contained organic ingredients.

We opted for a vibrant colour palette and large product cameo that exudes appetite appeal.

Guilt free snacking has never been this divine, any time of the day!

Read more about our packaging design for Zaz here.

Zaz wins ‘Best Package Design’ award Read More »

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Slice Design awarded spot on ‘Top 25 Branding Agencies’ list

Slice Design has some exciting news..

Slice Design has recently been awarded a spot on Design Rush’s ‘Top 25 Branding Agencies’ list.

The article also details the top 5 ways that branding agencies create a successful brand identity and gives advice on:

– Creating brand strategy
– Designing a logo
– Naming the products and services
– Branding the website
– Rolling out the identity on other platforms

Read the full article here..

A big thanks to Design Rush for including us in this list.

About Slice Design

Based in London UK, Slice Design are a top international creative branding and packaging design agency that have helped consumer brands grow and get noticed since 2004. We like to think of ourselves as a challenger to the large agency. As the name suggests we cut through jargon with our flexible, no nonsense approach and down to earth attitude.

No fancy trademarked processes and no hidden extras. The benefit to yourselves is all the experience but with the flexibility that large packaging design agencies cannot deliver.

From our studio in Hammersmith, London, we work for clients around the world: global and local, big household names and small startups, challengers and leaders. Whether a big brand re-design, NPD launch or simple packaging updates. We’re proud to remain flexible, refreshingly honest and wholly independent.

You can see some of our recent packaging design work here

Feel free to drop us a line or pop in and meet us in person. We are located in the centre of Hammersmith, London. For specific project requirements click on either of the two green buttons at the bottom of the page and we will get back to you double quick to hear more about your projects!

A big thanks from Team Slice Design.

Take a look at further lists we have been aware a placed on below:

The Best Branding Agencies, Best Graphic Design Companies, Best Product Packaging Design Companies, Best Food & Beverage Branding Agencies

Slice Design awarded spot on ‘Top 25 Branding Agencies’ list Read More »

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Agency of the year results

We have some good agency news to start the year…

Slice Design are pleased to announce that we have been awarded the Bronze title of UK Agency of the Year by Ad World Masters.

About Slice Design

Based in London UK, Slice Design are a top international creative branding and packaging design agency that have helped consumer brands grow and get noticed since 2004. We like to think of ourselves as a challenger to the large agency. As the name suggests we cut through jargon with our flexible, no nonsense approach and down to earth attitude.

No fancy trademarked processes and no hidden extras. The benefit to yourselves is all the experience but with the flexibility that large packaging design agencies cannot deliver.

From our studio in Hammersmith, London, we work for clients around the world: global and local, big household names and small startups, challengers and leaders. Whether a big brand re-design, NPD launch or simple packaging updates. We’re proud to remain flexible, refreshingly honest and wholly independent.

You can see some of our recent packaging design work here

Feel free to drop us a line or pop in and meet us in person. We are located in the centre of Hammersmith, London. For specific project requirements click on either of the two green buttons at the bottom of the page we will get back to you double quick to hear more about you projects!

Choosing a packaging design agency can be tricky. What are they good at? How much will it cost? How do they differ from other agencies. Complex trademarked processes and jargon doesn’t help you either. We prefer the transparent approach, that’s why we put together our Jargon Buster so that you can find out what your current agency is going on about. Time for a change in design agency?

A huge congratulations to Team Slice and the other winners. Here’s to another great year!

Check out the full winners list here..

Agency of the year results Read More »

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