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Power your Packaging

How do you differentiate products that are essentially the same?

Lee Buffham-Wade

Having worked in the industry for 15 years, most recently for Finlandia Vodka, Lee has played a vital role in designing the packaging for drinks brands across the globe. Ahead of his appearance as part of the Drinks Forum at Packaging Innovations 2019, Lee offers us his insights into the importance of design in the competitive beverage industry.

How do you differentiate products that are essentially the same? The drinks categories are full of products that, by and large, contain the same ingredients and are produced by similar methods. Design adds value, transforming a liquid commodity into a product with appeal and desirability.

Bottles, labels, logos and overall design aesthetic can vary infinitely, giving product clarity, provenance and an overall perceived value. Even water can be packaged with perceived value.

Design difference is very evident in the gin category. The popularity of the spirit has led to an explosion of diverse flavours and equally exciting packaging design. This small batch attitude shift can have a substantial impact on the global design scene. Similarly, smaller producers of ‘craft’ beers have had a massive impact on the international behemoths, with most rethinking how they connect with their consumers, usually through the design of their packaging.

Finlandia is a brand with design inherent in its DNA. Originally designed in 1970, ice has been a recurring theme in every evolution of its packaging. The challenge for any big brand is relevance, connecting with people to captivate their hearts and minds. Finlandia comes with its own design principles and the key was to make the product desirable to modern vodka consumers.

Finlandia’s strengths lie in its provenance and purity, the packaging tells this story with a label that describes the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ and a bottle that puts the purity of flowing ice at its heart.

Design is a process all the way to the final packaging, where the client’s needs are understood, and requirements of the packaging are fulfilled. 

Lee Buffham-Wade is one of five speakers taking to the Keynote Stage throughout the two-day, free-to-attend seminar programme, which returns to Birmingham’s NEC on 27 & 28 February 2019. 

19 February 2019