Oct 11, 2021

Packaging with a twist

Leyton Hardwick, creative director at strategic innovation and design agency Drink Works and one of the masterminds behind the iconic Fanta spiral bottle, gives some insights into design processes and changing trends.
Elisabeth Skoda

When designing a bottle, how do you balance the different demands, such as shelf appeal, consumer experience, ease of use, ease of transportation and sustainability?

We have a proprietary approach to every project we work on – it’s an in-depth six-step process that places the consumer at the heart of the journey; their needs, the trends in the marketplace, as well as a thorough understanding of semiotics and different retail environments. The process is called FLUID+ and can be adjusted to our clients’ needs accordingly.

We always start with Find, which is a stage focused on developing a thorough understanding of the wider category and competitor set of our clients. As a second step we Link-In and immerse ourselves with the brand, the consumers, and the specific trade environments. Here we also connect with the production teams and consult on any challenges and constraints we might be facing.

Next comes our innovation-focused Unify & Inspire phases. This is about identifying and developing creative platforms and areas of opportunity that lead to the creative development in the Design phase, which includes both graphic and structural design solutions to ensure a holistic brand experience is created. We also stay involved after final hand-over in Plus to ensure print quality and production are not compromised.

Have priorities changed over the years, and if so, how?

Leyton Hardwick

The basics are still the same, but, with new sophisticated tools and an ever more informed consumer base, the focus on real consumer understanding and strategically guided innovations has never been greater.

When it comes to packaging in particular, the consumer has become more selective and, even though the industry has talked about sustainable solutions for a long time, the consumer is now prepared to make lifestyle adjustments and so changes are really happening.

It is an exciting time – with endless opportunities and new solutions like the Loop System, a new returnable supply chain solution which is at trial stage. It’s something we are watching and partnering with to gather a better understanding of its future potential.

What trends have you observed emerging in recent years in the drinks packaging industry, and do you have any predictions on potential future trends?

At Drink Works we are always focused on trends and many of our projects are focused on developing future strategies, NPD, and ideation.

Based on our core understanding of the wider drinks market, and the trends within this, we publish an annual Trend Report which is always focused on uncovering the real consumer needs and questioning existing perceptions. This years’ Trend Report was about the rise of ‘A Free From World’, where we explored the semiotics and new brands/formats that are emerging globally in this space.

Please tell me about the vision behind the Fanta spiral bottle. What challenges did you have to overcome to design this bottle?

The design was developed following a period of significant research into our target consumers; the younger market. A key insight was developed during our co-creation workshops – we needed to focus on bringing the orange flavour to life.

Our idea for a new bottle shape was inspired by seeing consumers in the workshop squeezing and twisting oranges, and then stacking them on top of each other. Our structural innovation and design team created what was initially thought of as impossible; the world’s first asymmetric bottle for a carbonated soft drink.

Carbonation usually means that asymmetric bottles will naturally bend out of shape, potentially rendering the design unviable. However, the focus for our design team was to overcome this challenge by creating opposing forces across its asymmetric form to create a technically optimised solution - packaging Innovation with a twist.

The new bottle also has an updated label position which has been moved further up the bottle aligning it with Coke and Sprite which created further efficiencies on the line. The new asymmetric Fanta bottle, which launched in 2017, won a Mobius award and a bronze Pentaward in 2018, proving its success as a structural innovation within the drinks industry.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!
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