Social Media

Developing a product & packaging? There’s no such thing as a ‘free launch’!

Posted in Branding, Design, Marketing, Opinion, Social Media, Top 10 Tips, Training, cost-optimisation on August 10th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments
There's no such thing as a free launch

There's no such thing as a free launch

The trouble with television programmes like High Street Dreams and Dragons Den, is that they only provide a
‘snapshot/soundbite’ of branding and the product development process, making it all appear oh-so-easy to the average ‘personon the street’. In reality, it’s a complicated process and there are a number of steps involved that should be considered before even thinking about approaching a branding or design agency and spending ‘hard-earned’ cash.
At Design Cognition we routinely get approached by all manner of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have very limited experience of branding and New Product Development (NPD). So we thought that we ought to provide some ‘pointers’ for those of you new to this arena, to get you to ‘stop and think’ and focus on what it is you are actually trying to achieve! It’s not in your interests or ours to develop products that have a high probability of failure.

So here are some fundamental questions to ask yourself, before you even think about branding & packaging:

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Leveraging Captain Morgan’s brand & packaging assets through NEW media

Posted in Branding, Business News, Drinks Packaging, Marketing, Product News, Social Media, Tweets on June 18th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments
Captain Morgan wielding his packaging assets

Captain Morgan wielding his packaging assets

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to listen to Paul Walsh CEO of Diageo, the world’s leading spirits, beer and wine company, deliver a ‘marketing’ talk at Nottingham Business School (Nottingham Trent University). It was entitled “Marketing & Communication in 2010 – Responding to the New Stakeholder Condition” and was such a powerful &  interesting insight, I thought I’d provide you with an overview and share some of my thoughts with you.

Diageo is the proud owner of some of the biggest ‘power brands’ on the planet, such as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Baileys, J&B, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Bushmills & Tanqueray. Both Guinness and Johnnie Walker have been around for over 200 years and Bushmills almost 400 years. Some feat! and a tremendous bank of heritage on which to pull (or push – or whatever you like really!).

Walsh is a fine orator, who is passionate about his brands and company. He talked about the basis of all iconic brands being ‘great products’ driven by FACE (Flair, Agility, Consumer insight and then Executed flawlessly). But he also acknowledged that the global marketplace is constantly evolving which affects the way we live and interact with our favoured brands.  At the same time, broadband is proving to be the biggest technological development since the introduction of television. As the world ‘goes on-line’ a whole new media stream has opened up to feed a young and dynamic market who have ‘bags of energy’ and want to ‘party’.  Walsh highlighted this momentous change by showing the video Shift Happens – some mind-blowing & thought provoking figures (I’m sure you will agree).

So the ‘rules of engagement’ have changed, and indeed are constantly evolving. Advertising spend in traditional media such as magazines, newspapers and TV has ‘nose-dived’ and has been diverted into new media, where Diageo, and other companies for that matter, have “up-weighted their spend in the digital space” and enjoyed much bigger ‘bangs for their buck’, realising huge cost savings.

It is clear that Diageo have become masters of leveraging the new technology. Key to their success, according to Walsh, can be attributed to a 5-point plan:

1. Having a good product

2. Being clear about the target

3. Identifying the single most compelling benefit

4. Effectively dramatising that benefit

5. Saying and constantly repeating it through the most effective channels

Affiliated to this is the ability for brands to attract and become “participants in a conversation NOT simply involved in a top-down message”. Metaphorically, he likened this to a change from a game of ten-pin-bowling, with a one-ball strike to a game of pinball, banging, bouncing, to-ing and fro-ing through a maze of buffers and pins. In this new media world, Walsh alluded to 3 types of people:

Passive participants – Those who are completely passive and soak up all of the information ‘thrown at them’ via static websites

Engaged participants – people who are engaged and share information via social media platforms

Active participants – those who voraciously add content on-line and are hugely influential

These 3 groups of people seem to inhabit this digital world in approximate ratios of 90 : 9 : 1 (respectively). It is the small group of active participants have been key to Diageo’s new media brand success. By influencing these people in this sector they have turn their brands from on-shelf icons to (almost) living and breathing entities.

A classic example of this success is Captain Morgan, which has rocketed over recent years and now holds a prestigious No2 position for premium rum brands. The driver behind this has been the building and grooming of the ‘Captain’ icon as a ‘living legend’. This hasn’t happened by accident. A carefully orchestrated campaign has evolved through the ‘Captain’s Cup’, video and photo ‘collateral’ and word-of-mouth – driven by social media. The Captain has a certain physical stance or  ‘pose’ and when an interpretation of that ‘pose’ was ’struck by a famous US NFL football star on the pitch during the Super-bowl, it took on a completely new iconic dimension. There followed a series of copycat ‘poses’ by a number of esteemed brand advocates, including David Letterman on his prime-time  TV show. Media-savvy Diageo capitalised on this by offering a $10,000 prize to famous people striking the pose in public places & at high-profile events, all building on the character of ‘The Captain’ and acting s a ‘viral’ growth driver for the ‘living legend’. It has proved a very cost-effective way of marketing.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that this type of ‘non-sponsorship’ could be classed as a more passive form of  ‘ambush marketing, which is actually very topical at the moment. In the South African World Cup this week (14th June), 2 Dutch women were arrested for ambush advertising and 36 women ejected from one of the stadiums when they were spotted wearing short orange dresses made by the Dutch brewery Bavaria, in conflict with  Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser who are the official beer of the event. It led to quite a fuss and ITV media pundit Robbie Earle was sacked from his role when it was claimed by FIFA that he had sold tickets meant for family and friends on to the Dutch beer company.

Getting back to Diageo, another fine example of leveraging the new technology, has been the Smirnoff ‘be there’ media campaign built on a ‘viral’ marketing platform. Here young (25-30 yr old) party-goers were encouraged, via social networking sites like Twitter & Facebook, to provide ideas on their perfect party events – a party that they would remember for all time – to have ‘been there’. Diageo then picked the best ideas, provided funding to hold the event and a short video was shot at each which were then posted on YouTube. Here’s an example of a Smirnoff ‘Be There‘ TV advert. These have also proved a phenomenal success for Diageo at moderate expense – a terrific Return on Investment (ROI).

So, all in all, Diageo have shown great foresight in their on-line endeavours; an area that has worked well and is sure to be developed by them further across all of their brands. If companies want to stay ‘ahead of the game’ in an increasingly fragmented market, they need to embrace and adopt new ways of working and promoting themselves (and their brands), using creativity, flair and imagination. In this respect they could learn much from Diageo.

It also goes without saying, that in these recessionary times, where marketing budgets are being slashed, left, right and centre in huge cost-cutting exercises, the time and effort invested will also reap huge benefits in cost and greater ROI…..and will also work wonders for a brands’ ’street cred’ ;-)   Why not get in touch and see how we could help you Contact Design Cognition OR, if you’re a more hands on person why not have a look at our forthcoming Branding and Shelf Impact training course.

Chris Penfold

Healthcare compliance taken to a new level with aid of Facebook

Posted in Healthcare & Pharma, Marketing, Social Media, Technology on June 16th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments
New Healthseeker game on Facebook

New Healthseeker game on Facebook

A new game called HealthSeeker has been launched  to more than 400 million active users of Facebook, with the goal of helping adults with specific lifestyle and nutritional challenges. The benefits of the game are actually available to anyone, but HealthSeeker specifically helps people with diabetes make more informed lifestyle decisions in an innovative way that complements their daily use of social media. Leading experts have reiterated how important a source of support, information and inspiration social networking tools like this can be for someone living with a chronic condition like diabetes. Many diabetics struggle with the lifestyle changes that are needed to help manage their condition, such as adding more fibre, fruit and vegetables to their diets, or increasing their daily activity. HealthSeeker can help them stay motivated by presenting simple, everyday steps to help them achieve their lifestyle goals.

So the game really takes ‘healthcare compliance’, and social media for that matter, to a completely new level.  Chris Penfold

Read the full article at Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News

High street dreams? a packaging reality!

Posted in Branding, Business News, Design, Food Packaging, Marketing, Product News, Retailers, Social Media on May 11th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Mr Singh's new branding logo

Mr Singh's new branding logo

A  new mini series High Street Dreams (8 programmes) kicked off on BBC1 last night that is a ‘reality TV show’ about product branding, packaging & design development – and very entertaining it was too. Over the series Jo Malone and Nick Leslau will help a number of individuals as they try to launch new products. Last night’s ‘guinea pigs’ included:

Mr Singh’s Chilli sauce ( and Asian Singh family of 7 from East London who have developed a unique “dynamite” chilli sauce over a number of years and now want to “take on the world”. Having already developed their own packaging they were ‘knocking out’ 1000 bottles a day in their garden shed. However, after undertaken some market research on local doorsteps they redefined their key brand messages and with the help Pearlfisher, undertook a complete brand overhaul. Anyhow, it must have been successful because the conclusion was a trial in 3 London Asda stores and their website now lists a number of other independent stockists.

New Muddy Boots brand logo

New Muddy Boots brand logo

Meanwhile, Roland & Miranda Ballard, the couple behind the gourmet ‘Aberdeen Angus’ burger range Muddy Boots Foods, worked with Blue Marlin. Together they revamped their vacuum packed burger range, which when showed to shoppers in it’s existing packaging, was described as “looking like dog food”. Anyhow, after development of  bespoke ‘windowed’ carton to show-off a tantalising view of the top-quality prime cuts, they managed to secure a trial in a few Waitrose stores (although Waitrose weren’t totally convinced of the merits of the small window). So top marks to all concerned! A good insight for those of you not involved in teh industry, on how a brand and packaging can be redeveloped & invigorated. You can find out more about Muddy Boots foods at ( Both companies also have Twitter accounts (@mrsinghssauce & @muddybootsfoods ) and they both have Facebook accounts.

Next week the High Street Dreams team will help two sets of partners market children’s products. If you want to watch last night’s programme again you can download it on i-player here: 10th May programme

Cheers Chris Penfold

The future of packaging design & design processes

Posted in Design, Events, Exhibitions, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Social Media, Technology on April 12th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments

Packaging design and development is on the ‘crest of a wave’ which will soon coming crashing down all around us. If you’d like to avoid a drowning or secure a liferaft, a couple of safety flares and a GPS to help you navigate your way through the impending turbulence, have a look at this short video to give you a flavour of what’s to come.

It’s a short video summary of the presentation I gave at the recent easyFairs Packaging Innovations event at the NEC in the UK, entitled ‘Web 2.0 & Web Squared – implications 4 packaging design now & future’

In it I talk about the growing effect, implications and opportunities of the internet on the packaging design process and on ways of working. I also highlight the convergence of Web & technology and the effect on consumer and patient interaction and personalisation, with some great examples of emerging and leading-edge packaging design.

Once you’ve had a look at the video, if you’d like more information or access to a ‘more complete’ version of the presentation – drop us a line to

You can find the video here: ‘Summary video – Web 2.0 & Web Squared – implications 4 packaging


Chris Penfold

DAY 1 – Packaging Top 10 Tip No1 – Planning it out

Posted in Design, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Social Media, Top 10 Tips, Uncategorized on March 4th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Packaging Top 10 Tips

Packaging Top 10 Tips

In order to help you develop your packaging more productively, we have generated a series of  FREE short 1-2 minute videos detailing our Tip Ten Tips for getting it right. We will be posting 1 x video per day on this blog site over a 10 day period – so keep a look out for them – they could save you a £££$$$ fortune in the long run!

So here’s the first of our Top 10 Tip videos:

DAY 1 – Tip No1: Packaging ideas & issues to consider early on in the process, bringing your ideas to life and undertaking market research. Click on the link below to go to the video.

Happy Packaging. Cheers Chris

Today’s Video:

Packaging Tip No1 – Planning it out – by Chris Penfold – Design Cognition

Look out tomorrow for Tip No 2 – keeping it simple & fit for purpose…..

Support for Packaging – at last!

Posted in Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Social Media on February 15th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 2 Comments

Packaging seems to have spent far to long now being demonised in the press, it’s nice to see an article in a main stream newspaper that actually defends packaging and it’s use to protect and prolong the shelf life of food.

Very interesting and thought provoking article by the New York Times.  Interestingly some of the comments below the article appear to have been submitted by individuals who haven’t read the article very carefully.

Season’s greetings from the Design Cognition team

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Social Media, Tweets on December 17th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 17 Comments

As 2009 draws to a close, we’d like to express our thanks and best wishes to all of our customers, suppliers and associates. Have a fantastic Christmas break and a happy & prosperous New Year and we look forward to doing further business with you all in 2010.

The Design Cognition team have put together the attached video production as a bit of light hearted seasonal frivolity.

We hope that you like it. :-)

A promise for the New Year

Posted in Business News, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Opinion, Social Media, Tweets on December 16th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Sometimes it’s good to stand back and reflect on what we are all trying to achieve and the way in which we will achieve it. The following is relevant to you, whatever your colour, creed or religion.

As we begin the Holiday Season in preparation for the New Year, I would like to share with you “The Optimist’s Creed” I received from one of my LinkedIn connections, Al Bagocius. The link is @

It made me stop and think and I hope it will do the same for you. I considered it a gift, and I hope you will, too!

All the best to you and your families for a wonderful Holiday Season & a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Kind regards

Healthcare Atwitter Over Social Networking

Posted in Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Marketing, Opinion, Social Media, Technology on June 25th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 7 Comments

Social media is seen as banal, boring and irrelevant by a number of people, many of them old and ’set in their ways’. But it is changing the way people interact, gain information & purchase products. The latter is being driven by the retail sector, looking for innovative new marketing techniques and ways to differentiate their products on shelf. The Healthcare and Pharmaceutical industries, with their ‘pedestrian’ approach and generally longer leadtimes lag behind as usual. Although not packaging related, I find the following article thought-provoking and an insight into opportunities for the healthcare sector (generaly) to embrace new technologies and methods of interaction with it’s ‘customers’ and provide some benefits, added value and an improved user experience which should also pave the way for huge opportunities in Pharmaceutical packaging and medical devices – particularyly in the areas of non-compliance (patients forgetting to take their medications). Here’s hoping…..and I hope you find it as thought-provoking!

Special thanks go out to Dan Dunlop – ‘Healthcare Marketer’ who first brought my attention to this article via LinkedIn (see link at end of this article).


Healthcare Atwitter Over Social Networking
By Elizabeth S. Roop May 18, 2009
Radiology Today
Vol. 10 No. 10 P. 12

Some forward-looking healthcare organizations are working to include sites such as Facebook and Twitter into their marketing plans.

From YouTube and Facebook to Twitter, the University of Maryland Medical System has established a presence within the social networking world that helps the nine-hospital system connect to hundreds of potential new patients each day.

As many as 700 people per day watch the system’s 117 YouTube videos, which range from a four-minute promotional spot to interviews with medical experts, patient success stories, surgical Webcasts, and overviews of programs and services. Several of those videos also populate the system’s Facebook page, along with news, audio podcasts, commentary, and patient questions posted on the wall to which the system responds as appropriate.

The social networking system Twitter helps the medical system promote its latest educational offerings and other noteworthy activities in short messages called Tweets to its more than 540 followers and refer them to one of the other social networking sites for more detailed information.

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