Alan Gilbody

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Yes, we’re blogging about Xmas in April

So you’ve still got 262 days until Xmas! Are you ready? Have you thought about the stuffing for the Turkey? What if nan drinks too much sherry again and Uncle Alfred sets his paper hat on fire getting too close to the Christmas pudding?  Try not to punch a hole through your computer screen. Those kind of Xmas anxieties should be put to the back of your mind.

However, for all you brand, marketing and trade managers reading this, Xmas really does come early. With just 281 days (and you’re welcome for that reminder again) until the big day – Xmas editions of your products will be hitting the selves sooner than you think.

So the time is now to think about Xmas! As a marketing whizz, you know the added sales value you can gain from creating gift packs, secondary seasonal packaging and travel retail editions of your best sellers. It’s an understatement to say this is the biggest time of year for FMCG products and it pays to plan in this instance. A lot of brands have dedicated roles for seasonal packaging and have teams allocating resources to these projects all year round. And it’s time your brand did the same!

How you can use the festive season to elevate your brand

One of the key ways that special editions drive sales, is by coercing new consumers to trial your product. We all know the feeling of heading out Xmas shopping and not quite knowing what to get that niece/nephew or the office cleaner as a gift in the festive season. One of the most popular gifts during the festive season often ends up being gift packs from FMCG brands. Whether it’s beauty, personal care, grooming or confectionary – this repackaging opportunity is a chance to reach a whole new customer base and capture consumers who are otherwise unaware of your brand.

So where can it go wrong?

The problem with festive promotions is that you will be competing in an incredibly saturated market. Shelf space will be scarce so, naturally, you will want to make your brand stand out as much as possible to catch the eye of festive or travelling shoppers.

Use eye-catching details with caution. Laminates and extra ‘look at me!’ materials along with conflicting colouring can dilute your brand equity. You still need to retain your brand identity, even with so much up for grabs in the festive season.

How you can do it right

It’s key that, as a brand, you employ consistent brand messaging across all touch points and use special editions, travel retail and seasonal packaging to your advantage. Like we did here, with our Christmas Cadbury work.

Feel free to drop us a line or pop in and meet us in person. We are located in the centre of Hammersmith, London. You can see some of our recent packaging design work here

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Can you dig it?

The Easter period usually signals the start of the gardening season. A chance to put right the ravages of winter, slip on the wellington boots and dig around for the trusty trowel that you can’t quite remember where you put at the end of last season.

Good to see the gardening fixture in Sainsbury’s stocking our work for both Westland Horticulture last season and Bayer Garden this season!

So go on, get on out there. Happy Gardening everyone!

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

Can you dig it? Read More »

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Digital prototyping – A sneak preview

Here is a little sneak preview of a new digital service that we are offering. Digital prototyping allows you to see the pack in full animated glory so that you can see how a consumer would engage with it.

This is especially important where the back of pack is an important communication tool for the consumer

The end result is a short animation that you can share with the wider team without the expense of multiple mock-ups.

If you would like more information on digital prototyping call Alan on 0044 (0)208222 6999

Feel free to drop us a line or pop in and meet us in person. We are located in the centre of Hammersmith, London.

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Trade show roundup: PUB16

This week, Slice got the chance to head down to the Pub16 show at the Kensington Olympia to rub shoulders with all the most exciting folks from the world of pubs, bars, restaurants and wholesalers. Needless to say, we didn’t think twice about checking out a room full of pubs, snacks, exciting new brands and alcohol.

We absolutely loved getting to chat with you all at the show, finding out where your business is heading beyond 2016 and your dastardly plans for pub domination! When we weren’t shooting the breeze and trying your delicious wares, we were in listening mode. We’re pretty good at multitasking you see, so we picked up on some notable insight, trends and themes from the show that could impact your strategy and marketing plans.

Alcohol must warn consumers of calorie content

You were probably dealing with the swarms of buyers at your stand when this news broke, but on Wednesday, Tennents Larger announced it was to become the first alcohol product in the UK to display calorie information on it’s packaging, following AB Inbev, Carlsberg and Heineken’s commitments to do the same by the end of 2016. From March, cans and bottles will be legally required to carry the information in order to educate drinkers on how to responsibly enjoy a tipple and remind them of the calorie intake.

So what does this mean for you? Well for a start, this has a direct impact on brands selling into the consumer. The redesign required to fit in those pesky – but important- bits of information, might mess around with the navigation of your packaging and branding. And while we’re at it, when was the last time you asked whether your branding is doing all it can to get the consumer to pick it up and drink it down? And for you wholesale folks, don’t get too comfy. I see you putting your feet up and getting that glazed over look in your eyes. But when will this extend to your retailers? Are you prepared to display the calorie content in your products and maintain your pack aesthetic?

Soft drinks go posh

Gone are the days of your sugar-laden soft drinks in the pub! ‘Premium’ was the trend in soft drinks that dominated the exhibition hall. The fizzy and delectable delights we spotted seemed to be positioned around catering to the health and wellness conscious consumer and showing how your soft drink is more natural and wholesome than the larger brands.. In terms of product trends it’s all about fresh ingredients, delicate blends and flavours from natural sources,- not a combination of e-numbers. Never before has the average Jo in the pub been so conscious of what they were consuming and concerned with what goes into making their drinks, so it’s wise to cater to the more informed and cautious consumer.

The challenge in branding for you purveyors of pop, lies in making your drinks stand out in a crowded mini fridge behind the bar. We noticed lots of gorgeous fine art botanical drawings or confectionary based stylings across the exhibition hall. But is that enough to draw the consumers eye away from the punchier branding or to tear them away from the classic choices from familiar brands?

Pork Scratchings are king but unlikely snacks are on the up

Remember those health conscious consumers I just mentioned? Those chaps who read the backs of the bottle, debate the healthiness of their choices and those who are looking for wholeness in their treats? Yeah well turns out they still really want a packet of pork scratchings at the pub. A contradiction of attitudes for sure, but stay with me on this one. We spoke to several snack vendors on site who said that out of their entire portfolio, pork scratchings are time and time again the biggest seller. Queues were enormous at these stands. But how you can you brand the humble pork scratching into the 21st century? Making consumers feel good about that special occasional treat of a pork scratching, can be all down to your tone of voice, packaging aesthetic and plain transparency. We all know what’s bad for us but making that indulgence worth it is down to a good story, credible provenance and a promise of good quality.

Crisp products were positioned largely around their British heritage, focusing on the quality and origins of wholesome ingredients. Meat snacks once again appealed to that health conscious consumer indulging in a treat and displayed notes about the protein content boldly on the pack. A surprising new entrant to the snack range, was the humble broad bean. Not only were these little guys delicious when dried and flavoured with sweet chilli, cheese or salt and vinegar but they are completely VAT free as they count as a vegetable in the HMRC’s eyes. Win, win, win!
What might be a challenge, is making these magic beans appeal to the traditional crisp or nut consumer. Rustic and nostalgic packaging were prominent, and colourful packaging that emphasised the bold snack flavours, was also a popular eye-catching strategy.

We’re heading into a busy trade show and conference season so you’d be wise to keep an eye out for us and our insights following the shows.

  • Casual Dining show on 24th Feb
  • Professional and organic beauty show on the 29th Feb
  • Northern Restaurant and Bar show 16th March
  • Natural & Organic products show 18th April

Are you considering a redesign or have you perhaps found your products falling out of favour with consumers, retailers and wholesalers? Regardless of the challenge you’re facing, SLICE has you covered; an integrated agency, which strives to remain flexible, hassle-free and time and cost efficient. We know branding and we know the complication that comes with big agencies. Look out for us at the shows above or get in touch direct! Let’s chat over a premium soft drink sometime.

Feel free to drop us a line or pop in and meet us in person. We are located in the centre of Hammersmith, London.

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Is your brand ready to launch on the international stage?

I’ll bet that by opening this blog post, you already have a hugely successful brand in your home market. Congrats to you! We really should celebrate that some time. Maybe your product is considered the standard for quality, credibility and trust in your category. This is a great achievement but, has it started to feel a bit like your brand could go further? It’s undeniable that you’re already a success but, thinking long term, if you stay solely in your home market, your ability to grow is severely limited. Unless of course, you expand into international markets. But where do you start? And how can you turn a brand tailored to your domestic market into one that can succeed as an international player?

Where do you start?

Well, we can speak from experience about this conundrum.  At SLICE we were tasked by Foster Clark, of Maltese origins and established in 1889, to create brand values and qualities that could successfully translate into international markets.  But we like a challenge.

SLICE were challenged with developing a unique brand positioning for Foster Clark, across their HUGE  portfolio of products, that would bring it forward into the 21st century. Our brief was to create a design that would stand out in a busy market, unite the portfolio and showcase a range of products which have been cupboard classics in homes for over 100 years. Safe to say, we learned a thing or two about making a home grown brand internationally viable. Check out the final result here.

So what issues should you consider before extending your brand beyond your national doorstep?

If your brand or product is entering the EU market for the first time, legislation will inflict confines upon your labelling and packaging design. Try not to nod off here. Legislation isn’t so rock’n roll, but it matters to your brand. Certain font sizes, extent of claims and imagery, like showing a banana on-pack when in fact there is less than 2% banana in the product, are not tolerated in the EU, which means you need different packaging for different markets.

Furthermore, depending on whether your product will be sold through wholesalers versus retailers, certain nutritional or ingredients claims need to be more or less visible.

When it comes to the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region, which Foster Clark’s were simultaneously expanding into, cultural symbolism and colour is imperative to consider.  Bright and vibrant colours in Africa typically denote fresh, dynamic and positive connotations, whereas in the Middle East, the same colours signify cheap and artificial. Tricky business.

With Foster Clark, the challenge involved ensuring that the number of languages demanded on pack, did not obstruct or diminish the expression of the creative imagery and design. Six languages, as well as a dual facing pack, meant having the same communication on the front and back sides of the pack, but in two different main languages. For us at SLICE that meant we needed the new design and brand architecture to communicate quality and heritage, while conforming to the many practical and legal demands.

These practical aspects are often forgotten in the creative process, however are paramount in order to ensure a successful introduction and launch of your brand into a new market. They can make or break your brand.

The final Foster Clark pack design was rolled out across over 150 SKU’s and Foster Clark have successfully relaunched their Drinks range with fantastic feedback from distributors and consumers across the Middle East and Africa. See what you think of it here.

Are you considering a market expansion, that extends beyond your immediate market comfort zone? Does the EU need explaining? The MENA made clearer? Africa analysed? 

With more than a decade’s experience in providing brands with not only outstanding creative work, but also the legal and practical expertise needed to succeed, SLICE are proud to have provided several brands with the solution needed to grow their brand and presence on the international stage. No jargon, no fancy processes. Just great design, rooted in decades of knowledge and expertise.

Get in touch if international branding is a priority for you.

Is your brand ready to launch on the international stage? Read More »

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