INTERVIEW WITH "PACKAGEDESIGNMAG.COM"20-04-2014
Kara Dunford, the deputy chief editor of the "Package Design magazine", have addressed a lot of detailed questions regarding the complex design project for "KVINT" brandies. And since the project included the development of a new bottle, trademark and label, there were a lot of questions regarding each of the project's aspects. Here is the full version of the interview:
Kara Dunford: What was the original design directive for the new KVINT brandy packaging?
Valerii Sumilov: The complex work on this project required a set of serious tasks to be solved. First of all, we had to find an individual place for the product on the highly competitive shelf. Second, the solution had to be so successful and complex, so that the bottle and label design concepts would be suitable for a broad product range, which consists of brandy that is aged from 3 to 10 years. Third, we had to create a design that would reflect the producer’s spirit, the feeling of a high-class product.
Kara Dunford: Were any specific guidelines or restrictions for mainstay design elements desired before embarking upon the package design? Such as the brand’s coat of arms?
Valerii Sumilov: Of course. In the beginning, on the brief development stage, there were constricting factors imposed on the future development of the project. They all referred to the bottle design. First of all, we had to create a bottle that would correspond to strict measurements such as height, width and girth. Second, there was an initial demand to make the bottle symmetrical along the vertical axis. Respectively, the left and right sides of the bottle had to be identical, like the front and the back sides. Third, we had strict measurement and form requirements not only for the bottle’s neck but also for its top. Fourth, the bottle’s personalization – it was made mandatory for the bottle to carry the factory’s coat of arms and its year of foundation.
Kara Dunford: Was it a difficult task to design the brandy packaging system to harmonize with the family of other KVINT products?
Valerii Sumilov: As mentioned earlier, the project turned out to be very ambitious, capacious and expensive. And here’s why. The “KVINT” factory is a very large wine and brandy making company with over a hundred years of history. The products are all made in large quantities. And there’s already a devoted group of buyers, who are following the brand for decades, spread all around the globe. Carrying out a successful redesign and development of a completely new product design that would correspond to the global trends – this is definitely a wide-scale and expensive project for the producer. This also involves the change of component materials, creation of new press molds, printing of new labels in large quantities. With such an immense level of responsibility the design should be approached carefully. We had to delicately grasp the essence of the task, listen to the client’s requests, understand the market, tendencies, and consumer expectations. That’s why we have devoted our attention to in-depth analysis of the competition. The project required a unique, individual bottle shape that would make the product stand out on the shelf, grab the buyer’s attention and make him want to take the bottle into his hands. The label design was also a very complex task. The ordinary and vintage brandy had to be separated, while maintaining the same product line design. Besides, the products had to be ranked by age of maturity through color markers.
It should be noted that it was the first time when an exclusive bottle was created for the company. Before that the factory was using existing bottle forms offered by bottle manufacturers. In this perspective there was no need to fit the design into the existing product line. The idea was exactly the opposite: creating a new, modern and presentable “image” for the factory, while keeping the basic recognition of the product.
Kara Dunford: Were multiple design concepts devised during the initial concept phase?
Valerii Sumilov: First of all, the agency strived to find a unique bottle shape, which would distinct the client's product from the rest of the competition in this niche. That's why we've created a large number of concepts and sketches. The search was taken to many directions and each of the concepts was discussed with the client. Below you'll see just a small portion from the bulk of concepts we've created.
Kara Dunford: How did the selection/narrowing down process work?
Valerii Sumilov: In order to come to the final approved design there were several artistic council meetings, which included the main representatives of the factory’s various divisions. As a result, we’ve eliminated a large number of design concepts, judging by technical, marketing requirements and visual appeal.
Kara Dunford: What design elements led to the selection of the “winning” design?
Valerii Sumilov: When it comes to the bottle design, the client has chosen a concept that really stands out from everything there’s on the shelves by competitors. The approved bottle form, modified to its perfect version, works very well on the shelf, providing a contrast to competitor products and attracting the buyer’s attention. Besides, this design matched the aesthetic visions of the artistic council, and to a greater degree than other concepts communicated the idea of a respectable and noble brandy production facility with more than a hundred years of history.
Kara Dunford: Describe the typefaces utilized. Custom typefaces? Brand standard?
Valerii Sumilov: For the “KVINT” brand inscription we’ve used a standard font face, which was ultimately refined. I call this process “branding”. In other words, improving and changing a font type in order to give it a unique, individual look. The other fonts, which have been used in the main inscriptions, have been applied according to their relevance. These fonts had to look in a way, so that they would not attract too much attention, but at the same time carrying the bulk of information about the product for the consumer. Classic, straight font types with a strict typeface.
Kara Dunford: Explain the design choice to incorporate “Product of Moldova” on front of the pack.
Valerii Sumilov: The «Product of Moldova” inscription is a very important and significant element in the label’s design. In essence, this information is one of the product’s unique selling propositions. Moldovan brandies have long earned a reputation of quality products with a unique character. On the Russian, Ukrainian, Moldovan and CIS markets this is a very strong competitive advantage from the consumer’s perspective. That’s why this inscription was not only placed on the label, but was also strongly emphasized in its design.
Kara Dunford: Was the updated coat of arms created in-house by Shumi Love Design? Explain the need to update the coat of arms for this particular design.
Valerii Sumilov: The factory’s main coat of arms was designed at least 15 years ago. A renewed, simplified version was created a year ago as part of this very project. The reasons behind such a decision are simple: there’s a technological limit to creating voluminous objects on the bottle’s surface. In other words, there’s a minimal line girth value, which can be created in the press mold. That’s why the bottle production facility has recommended reworking the coat of arms, leaving its essence intact, but excluding all the small and thin details, which cannot be cast into glass.
Kara Dunford: What is the significance of the “XO” on the two part front label system?
Valerii Sumilov: As you can see the label has two positions and is comprised of two parts. The upper part, with a diamond shape, carries something more than just plain information. The markings “VS”, “VSOP” и “XO” – are a way of ranking all the products within the line according to their age (of maturation in oak barrels). Besides, the upper element has also served as an eye-stopper, attracting the customer’s attention in the first place. Its design has served as a basis for the entire brandy product range, as well as the main style-forming element for P.O.S. and advertising materials.
Kara Dunford: Was the illustration on label, used as a backdrop for “XO” inspired by the coat of arms? Created in-house?
Valerii Sumilov: Of course, the ornament in this label element echoes the lines of the coat of arms, which was cast onto the upper part of the bottle. This drawing, backdrop, was created from a single ornament taken from an open source. Refined and rework, this pattern was used for the backdrop.
Kara Dunford: Detail the color palette choices used on pack.
Valerii Sumilov: The color scheme was defined by the necessity of outlining several products from the same product range with a similar design. That’s why we’ve used colors ranging from chocolate-brown to deep black, depending on the product’s maturity.
Kara Dunford: Describe the packaging materials utilized from glass to labels to closure.
Valerii Sumilov: The bottle was produced in Moldova using locally-produced glass. The cap isn’t only shrinking. We’ve chosen a polilaminate material, which looks much better and richer. The paper for the label is by “Fedrigoni”, from their “Wine & spirit label collection SOMMELIER & GOURMET” catalogue, «Constellation Jade Raster».
Kara Dunford: Suppliers of materials utilized?
Valerii Sumilov: There were several companies involved in executing this project. The bottle was produced by “GCC” (www.gcc.md), the label was printed at “FP” printing house (http://www.finpap.md), the cap was produced by “FL” company (http://www.firstline.md/).
Kara Dunford: Does the package design system intend to address a particular audience of consumers? If so, explain.
Valerii Sumilov: Of course! Both the design and the product itself are aimed at a specific audience. First of all, it is very important to understand that a brandy consumer is a very conservative and highly loyal consumer. With respect to this, this brand is mainly targeted at a Moldovan brandy connoisseur Ввиду этого, в первую очередь, данный коньяк нацелен на ценителя и потребителя from CIS countries. It is mainly a man, in an age range between 35 and 55 years old. They know which brandy exactly they prefer and consciously choose one or another brand on the shelf. In this product category spontaneous purchases are virtually inexistent. Our task, when working on this complex design, was to increase the sales share of the client by renewing the product’s appearance. To make it even more presentable and status-oriented.
Kara Dunford: Challenges, and/or constraints along the way while designing the packaging?
Valerii Sumilov: As mentioned earlier, there was a range of requirements and limitations, which has influenced significantly the process of developing the design. In many cases it was associated with the technical requirements of the client’s bottling equipment. From the other side – the technical requirements of the cap, bottle and label producers. All these entities were constantly consulted with and the design was introduced with small changes.
At our end, we’ve also carried out a strict author control of the label and bottle execution process. We’ve kept track so that the technical corrections wouldn’t go into conflict with the design itself and the project’s initial idea.
For example, the glassblowing factory had to rework the bottle’s press mold three times namely because we weren’t satisfied by the changes they’ve made without letting us known in the first place. Of course, this has reflected on the final launch date of the product.
Kara Dunford: Detail the process of creating such a unique bottle shape.
Valerii Sumilov: The process of creating a unique bottle is a wide scale and lengthy process. I’ll note the basic, initial parameters, which have to be taken into account, when taking on such a development.
A) Brief. It’s imperative to study the brief and the client’s task in detail. We have a special form for that. If I think that the presented information is insufficient or it’s not detailed enough, I address my questions to the person who’s designated responsible from the client’s part. Thus, we start by briefing the client in order to understand the precise marketing tasks and carry on in the right direction.
Technical parameters and limitations. It’s important to know the bottle manufacturer in advance and get a list of requirements not only in terms of technical sketches but also the design.
Assessing the competitive environment. It’s crucial to understand who’s field you’re going to play and with whom. Sales markets, product shelves. It’s important to study the existing competition in order to avoid copying or duplicating any existing products.
Empathy. We have to think like a consumer. To have the buyer’s portrait in full focus, to understand him, to know what he lives for. What he’s expecting from the product.
The second phase is the process of development itself. It also includes several stages.
B) Sketches. We develop a large number of sketches drawn by hand on paper. In different styles and directions. We’re searching for a form that would be taken as the basis for further refinement.Refinement. The chosen sketch is transferred into a drawing and further detailed refinement of all the bottle’s aspects is carried out. We’re correcting the top from, neck length, different kinds of bottle shoulders, different parameters of length and width of the bottle are tested.Decor. The selected and refined drawing of the coat of arms and factory logo are refined and personalized.3D modeling. A 3D model is created according to the approved blueprint, renders and project visualization are made.Creating a model. I’ll tell you more about this stage a little bit later.
After this laborious process we carry on to the next, final phase – working with the bottle production facility. This phase, just as the previous ones, also has its own stages.
C) Coordination of the technical blueprint. Author supervision of the 3D model development.Negotiation and approval of the bottle’s test samples.
Kara Dunford: Describe the process of creating a full-sized cast model of the bottle.
Valerii Sumilov: At the final stage of the second phase we’ve created a full-scale mold of the bottle. I prefer creating molds using a special type of sculpturing plaster. The specialist, according to the blueprint, creates the shape, in which he, ultimately, creates a set number of bottle models.
Kara Dunford: How does KVINT stand out from competitors on shelf?
Valerii Sumilov: The products by «KVINT» stand out from the rest of the competitors on the shelf. And stand out in a positive way. This bottle and label design has initiated a further renewal of the factory’s entire product range. Right now we’re talking about high quality products with a modern, relevant and competitive look.
Kara Dunford: Any special effects, finishes, graphics that make the packaging unique?
Valerii Sumilov: New technique combinations have been applied, which has created a fresh and new effect. To be more precise, I can tell you about the label’s upper section, which has acted as the style forming element for the entire product line. The ornament, used as the backdrop, was executed through two layers of golden foil stamping: matte and gloss. This combination has introduced a feeling of chic and luxury to the design.