The package is occasionally a “fast culture” medium

In yesterday’s post I suggested that the package is, and should be, a “slow culture” medium.

But on reflection I think there is at least one occasion, very brief and fleeting, when the package could be considered a “fast culture” medium  .  .  .  when introducing a new brand or creating a new category.

In this instance the package is often the vehicle that most clearly identifies the changed landscape for the new brand as well as all competitive products that follow.

Take Absolut Vodka and Vitamin Water as two examples. The unique packages created for the introduction of these brands, both structure and graphics, virtually defined the category for all other later entrants.

In the case of Absolut, silk-screen graphics, a frosted finish, and the use of a unique bottle shape became mandatory for all super premium vodkas that followed. With Vitamin Water, the use of color in a spare but vibrant way, the typographic label, and the informational approach to copy, have become a cliché in the enhanced water category.

But as you can see, both of these packages became “slow culture” media, shortly after their introduction. They exploded onto the scene, became icons, created and still define their categories, and have not changed much since.

So yes, at the birth of a brand, the package is a “fast culture” medium.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
This entry was posted in Beverages, Design Criticism, Design Practice, Packages Today, Wine, Beer, & Spirits and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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