Together with Depot WPF branding agency’s team we continue to publish exclusive interviews with directors of companies that form GLBA — Global Local Branding Alliance. You’ve already got acquainted with companies from China, South Africa, Turkey, Brazil, USA and now Germany.
Together with Depot WPF branding agency’s team we continue to publish exclusive interviews with directors of companies that form GLBA — Global Local Branding Alliance. Within the cycle seven professionals from seven countries would tell about national market specifics and consumer preferences, about what works and what doesn’t in local branding and about the features a designer willing to work abroad should possess.
You’ve already got acquainted with companies from China, South Africa, Turkey, Brazil, USA and now Germany. The founder Berndt+Partner branding agency Thomas Reiner told What The Pack what is the "German way of working", what agencies should do to warn their clients about possible mistakes and how to make a package that that flawlessly all like. (By the way, Thomas noted that the true German packaging design is reflected in three titles: Nivea, Milka, Beck's Beer).
Berndt+Partner was founded in 1992. That time was characterized by great heterogeneity: a big amount of small structures and a great number of different designers and agencies. Each advertising agency actually took part in packaging. It had a slight feeling of the Wild West. At the same time this paved the way for newcomers and those from a different background.
The massive growth of the global market and global brands led to the consolidaCon and establishment of global packaging agencies. The market has been assorted. Today global agencies specialize in global brands. Small agencies seek success with a regional focus. For small local brands, even on the foreign market, it makes no sense to apply to the largest branding agencies. Usually the structure, hierarchy and decision-making processes of a small local brands and a global agencies don´t fit together. So it makes sense to have a local agency which has the capabilities to activate global partners keeping the same pragmatic way of working.
In the future there will be a new market situation between producers/brand owners and agencies. Only those agencies, who are able to give strategic advices and consultancy will survive in long-term, because the typical jobs in final artwork will maybe done by the packaging industry or by the brand owner himself.
I wanted to break and enlarge the limited and unidimensional work in packaging design, by creating Berndt+Partner. I was attracted by the cooperation of different disciplines and considered it as fundamentally necessary. The interaction of graphics, product design, technology and marketing – I wanted to depict them as a whole. And so we did – with great success until today.
Nothing has changed concerning my basic conviction. On the contrary! I believe that the development confirmed me. Nevertheless, we are far away from being done. We do a critical review on all of our work, because it is our goal to deliver the best quality to our client. If there is something we can do better in the next job, we always try to implement it as soon as possible. Maybe this is a "German way of working" always trying to optimize things.
Branding in Germany
Not every German is neat and punctual, but in every stereotype there is something true. A design process in our agency is very structured which gives the opportunity to fix milestone-meetings with our customer and be as productive in every meeting as possible. For this reason we try to avoid this as we have a build a sophisticated time planning system for us where all the billable hours will be preplanned and tracked.
There are fields and disciplines which somehow have a typical national touch or distinguish themselves. In worldwide comparison photography in Germany is high up on my list. This is particularly noticeable in the food industry — products have a high appetite appeal. You see them and you want to taste them. In challenging markets like in Germany where the product quality is a must have and all players in the market have similar taste, a high quality photograph can be the winning element.
Concerning the design I would say that changes are less clear. I should say that Germam design is less developed than, for example, in e.g. Great Britain. We operate on a European level.
Design is not actually a question of nationality but of specific needs. The national rooting of people is quite different in Europe and even in the individual European countries. If I have to define the poles of our work I would say: issues with international requirements on the one hand, issues with regional requirements on the other hand. Another words, different countries have different cultures and for that reason we have different requirements. For example the taste and mouth feeling for food products in Europe are completely different than in China. The same situation is in packaging design where we have different meanings for colors, typos and icons.
The basis of all solutions
Added value is the most important today. Therefore, the focus has to be on usage of a product and a consumers’ attitude to it before you start working. For this you need to understand and know the target group well. f I don’t have this knowledge and understanding right at the beginning or also if the answers are not of the necessary value, I have to do market research before I begin. There is no other way to provide the required added value.
As far as I am concerned there are two typical mistakes. One relating to the customer, the other one concerning the brand.
The example of the first mistake: The customer is not listened to consistently enough to find the added value. Of course, market research is often conducted. But quantity is not quality. Research is often headed in the wrong direction. Things are inquired that the consumer has either not even registered yet or which he does not consider relevant for himself. Additionally, the whole market research takes place beforehand. Afterwards nothing else happens.
Sadly, the way clients generate these consumer Insights is sometimes the wrong one. I cannot always look back, while I am rushing forward, as I would in a rowing boat. I have to look ahead, make offers, know where I want to steer the product and the brand.
That is why for us the consumer is the most important aspect of all decisions to be made in the design process. Therefore, it makes sense to understand the consumer and undertake focus groups or an usage- and attitude-analysis. After that in every milestone we try to get an opinion from the consumers.
Uninteresting consumers don’t exist: we have experience in all relevant markets and can confidently say that every single target group is interesting in its own way and in every new project you learn something new, which is a great experience.
The second mistake: when clients don’t have the courage to emphasize, accentuate and sharpen the brands’ independence. People desire simple, puristic ideas that they can understand well quickly. For this, the brand (and their packaging) are often not concise enough.
There is no “socialistic” and uniform recipe. With 200,000 FMCG products and over 80 million inhabitants, a universal look which is preferred by everyone cannot exist. Customizing is trumps!
We have a holistic approach which does not get stuck at the beginning but indeed gets implemented. This concerns the balanced cooperation of graphic design, product design and engineering. We work interactively, in dialogue, and interdisciplinary. This way we can move all design elements. We are extremely competent when it comes to the implementaCon.
We are architects
75% of our projects include structural design. This shows how seriously we take this element. It is no coincidence that Berndt+Partner employs so many product designers and engineers: we want and need creative diversity for industrial design, as well. A symphony cannot be composed with only three notes. To escape the monotony on the shelves one must use all design elements.
We believe in the power of permanent workers in our agencies. Only those people can internalize the philosophy and the spirit of our agency. Nevertheless, it makes sense to hire freelancers for some special skills or to bring in some fresh and new ideas.
I want to name three qualities I deeply value in a team and that I find to make the difference. First: If you love your job and your work and exercise them passionately. Second: If you are alert, curious, and energeCc. And third: If you are dedicated to your work and devote your talents to it. It is easy to build one’s own house with dedicaCon but am I willing and able to do the same for the house of someone else?
There is something you’ll have to remind yourself. Be careful not to overestimate your own share, while underestimating the team at the same time. Stay alert and curious. Work towards self-fulfilment.
How did Socrates say? The more I know, the more I know what I don't know. The world is so dynamic that even aíer 25 years in the business there are luckily still things I do not know, that I can discover and explore.
We are architects. Our job is to design and realize the right thing for brand and consumer.