Originality, exuberance, and sensuousness now rule the luxury segment.
Alexandra Rollandeau
based in Landor Paris

In October, Monaco hosted the 27th Luxe Pack exhibition. We from Landor headed to the airport at 5 am, just to be sure we wouldn’t miss a thing. Obviously, the Luxe Pack is all about luxury, but even at Luxe Pack not everything is luxurious. Instead of the very chic helicopter we all hoped for, we reached Monaco thanks to a free shuttle bus.

However, after an enjoyable sunny walk through Nice and Monaco, we strolled in front of the Grimaldi Forum and could, at last, start our journey in the land of luxury packaging. This gigantic mall-like building held packaging, fragrances, spirits, bags, ribbons, and papers of all kinds from 400 exhibitors.

I blinked

When you entered this design treasure trove, what struck you first was the profusion of colors and textures. Lots of packaging had vivid colors, even that of brands traditionally thought of as more discreet. For the renewal of its emblematic Vétiver fragrance, Carven offered an astounding shade of neon green; Chloé livened up its candles with red and orange; and Fendi, not known for being subtle but not also not for being innovative, showcased a gleaming redAcquarossa. All of these examples were lacquered, as if the bottle had been dipped into its own colored varnish.

Carven -Vetiver -web

Did this come from the ongoing color block trend that we’ve witnessed in, or have breakthroughs in technology made it easier for brands to deliver high-quality results? In either case, Hermès, Tiffany, and Veuve Clicquot were among the very first to bet on garish colors as signatures. While before this was owned by brands with lower standards, these brands recklessly entered the very private club of color-daring luxury brands. 

Another change was the overwhelming presence of gradients in cosmetics. Gradients are difficult to obtain, especially on glass and metal. That is why before only a few, well established brands such as Stella McCartney and Lancôme brought them to the shelves. But today, gradients have drifted down to niche products, mainly because innovations in technologies are reinventing the cues for modern luxury, encouraging brands to get rid of the usual minimalist black, white, and gold and take on new horizons.

I touched

The numerous examples of highly textured packaging tended to prove that minimalism is over, and that originality, exuberance, and sensuousness now rule the segment. Lots of packaging also played with unexpected textures, as pioneered by Burberry London a few years ago. We found a Moët bottle with its own armor and chainmail, and even hairy/grassy bottles from Selective Line. These textures really made you actually want to seize the product, touch it, and play with it. That was the whole point: To differentiate from the competition of course, but also to be remembered by offering a unique experience.

Les -Parisiens -web

Another big trend in this exhibition was the introduction of natural materials in package design. Some of this stemmed form ecological concerns—every paper manufacturer would first present its range of recycled material. Italian firm Favini makes paper out of food wastes such as olives, cherries, and lavender. Cosmetics brands opted for wood—from carved mascara bottles, to Armand Basi’s Wild Forest fragrance that shows perfume through a tiny glass window, to Guerlain’s Les Parisiens series. Wood’s natural origins make it more emotionally resonant than metal or glass, again showing that brands are betting on more emotional messaging.

I wondered

This year’s packaging also revealed a growing trend for cut and reveal in luxury. Catwalks were all about provocative cuts and see-through materials this year, starting with Valentino. The cut and reveal trend combines unexpected textures, lures the consumers’ attention, and leaves them full of curiosity and desire to actually interact with the packaging. Where sensuousness is all about touching and feeling, cut and reveal relies on sight to ignite desire and leave memories. 

Champagne brands mastered the cut out: Moët brought its leopard pattern to life by playing with negative space, while Perrier-Jouët uncovered only a small part of its product with its Belle Époque pack. Fragrances followed suit, and Atelier Flou’s bottles, inspired by Arabic patterns, were designed to mask more than protect, showing the product as a treasure.

Beyond cut outs that are part of the design itself, brands now also print on the inside of the packaging (Black Bowler Hat Gin or Tigre Blanc for spirits or the limited edition of Yves Saint Laurent’s L'homme libre for fragrances).

Fragrance brands even customized the spray canister like Balenciaga did for Rosabotanica, or highlighted it and placed it at the center of the design. Lancôme imagined a purple rose for its fragrance Trésor Midnight Rose. Details are, more than ever, the object of special attention, and every piece of the packaging—even the most technical parts—now give life to inspiring interpretations.

Rosabotanica -web

Package design today needs to be purposeful. Agile thinking is required to achieve elegance without slipping into opulence. Cartier’s new design for its mythical fragrance La Panthère is the perfect example.

 Cartier -Panthere -web

Cartier offers a suspended sculpture of its iconic panther head, solely engraving the brands’ name on the bottleneck. No printing whatsoever. No tags, either. Only the essential, yes, but sublimed. This packaging is a proof that traditional cues are over; that brands now have to think of packaging design as an art, as an expression.


All images copyright of their respective authors. Permission being requested.


Category: Naming & verbal branding

Bright ideas

December 15, 2014
From the printing press to the paper clip, Landorians in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region share ideas they find inspiring, reminding us that sometimes the smallest ideas can have the biggest impact.
Landor staff

Join our conversation! Tell us your favorite breakthrough moments by tweeting @landor_dot_com.

Category: Innovation & new concepts
Animal print has long been a wardrobe and textile staple for those with a wild side.
Paige Strohmaier
Senior Designer,
based in Landor Cincinnati

Animal print has long been a wardrobe and textile staple for those with a wild side. Now there’s a new interpretation on this sometimes-dated looking pattern. Imagine zooming way out on those old animal prints of the past and going from micro to macro to include the entire animal in full.

Playful prints with tiny animals and punches of color bring a fresh perspective with a fun, playful feel. Everything from tops to shoes to cocktail glasses can be found sporting this lively motif. And for a further twist, look for prints of animals wearing some of our classic human textile patterns: a giraffe in stripes, a zebra in polka dots. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “animal print.”


1. Xhilaration: Women’s Printed Ankle Socks    

2. Lenox: Scalamandre by Lenox Zebras Set of 2 Double Old Fashioned Glasses    

3. Disaster Designs: Comely Chirps Scarf   

4. Nathalie Lete: Mushroom Forest Wallpaper   

5. Maeve: Woodland Walk Buttondown

6. Scalamandre: Zebra Umbrella, Red

7. Stubbs & Wooton: Poodle Gray Embroidered Woven Dress Slippers


All images copyright of their respective authors. Permission being requested.


Category: Packaging design
What differentiates corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a business model from a promotional one-off?
Allen Adamson
Chairman, North America,
based in Landor New York

Recently, I was made aware of the incredibly creative and heartwarming initiative undertaken by Ikea called  Home for HopeOriginating in Singapore and now going global, its dual objective is to raise awareness of the plight of shelter animals and to promote their adoptions. While I love the effort and can definitely see the connection between a pet making a house a home, it raises an important question: Does Ikea believe Home for Hope will prompt consumers to make Ikea their home furnishings brand of choice? Asked another way, does the company think it will fundamentally change how consumers think about its brand? It’s a legitimate question, and raises a couple more: What differentiates corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a business model from a promotional one-off? And, what are the key factors for success when using CSR as a promotional tactic?

Going back to academic basics, there are some brands for which CSR is a business model. A company’s bottom line is based as much on creating good quality products as it is doing good things for the world. Consumers immediately associate this with the brand and its products and make a conscious choice to patronize this brand as a result. Toms Shoes is a great example of a brand whose CSR is embedded in its brand promise, as its business model is based on donating one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair a customer purchases. Patagonia is yet another example, most recently in the news for its continuing efforts to manufacture athletic clothing and gear using sustainable materials—in this case a wetsuit for surfers made out of naturally derived rubber, not petroleum-based neoprene. Going back a few years, but still as relevant as ever, is the Newman’s Own brand of food products. When Paul Newman launched his brand in 1982, he established that the brand’s purpose would be to make stuff that tastes good while the profits would be used to better society. This clearly differentiated the brand in the minds of consumers.

A CSR promotion, on the other hand, is a short-term proposition. From a tactical standpoint, the best CSR promotions are those that are linked in some meaningful way to the brand’s core product or promise. One example is the program launched by Coca-Cola that makes clean, accessible water available to rural communities around the world. This makes sense because Coca-Cola and water are both thirst-quenchers. Hanes, America’s number one sock brand, came up with a fantastic promotion. Through its Hanes for Good campaign, it donated over 2.7 million socks to those served by the Salvation Army. Hanes discovered that clean, warm socks were among the most requested items in homeless shelters and the brand was able to fill this need. So, for Ikea, Home for Hope makes sense: It’s connected to the Ikea promise of providing the makings for a happy home—including pets.

Back to my questions, however. If your brand’s business is not built on a CSR model, what are the key factors for success when taking on a CSR promotion?

1. Keep it simple. Make sure consumers can quickly see the connection between the initiative and the idea on which your brand is based. You want to reinforce what you stand for.

2. Keep it genuine. As we all know, everyone sees everything and everyone shares what they see. Make sure you deliver on the promotion in a way that meets expectations. Build trust.

3. Keep your core brand promise. A high-quality promotion can change perceptions about your brand for the short term. If the quality of the brand experience, in products or services is not equally high, the perception will be short term.


Post first published on Forbes.com

Category: Brand purpose & sustainability

“Friending” a brand

December 03, 2014
Loyalty persists even in today’s brand-laden world.
Nick Foley
President, Southeast Asia, Pacific & Japan,
based in Landor Singapore

Is loyalty too high an expectation in today’s fast moving world? Perhaps a friendship analogy articulates the point. All of us can have more friends than ever, thanks to the sheer array of available social media platforms. With a snap of the iPhone and a quick upload to Facebook, it’s super easy to share what you’re up to and see what your friends are doing.

Esther Vargas

Image courtesy of flickr user Esther Vargas.

Likewise, e-commerce and the proliferation of mobile devices means consumers can access more brands than ever before. But, it all comes back to what you define a true friend to be. There are attributes that you’re unconsciously drawn to, values you align with, beliefs you find engaging and, overall, some type of core persona that engages you. Brands are no different and our mind considers several factors to self-select brands that we have the greatest affinity with.  

In the next five years we are likely to see the range of products and services grow rapidly. For brand custodians the challenge is whether your brand is simply on the radar of consumers “grazing” on brands or whether it is connecting meaningfully with its target, thereby deepening the relationship and resulting in a loyal following.  

Category: Brand strategy & positioning
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