Category Archives: packaging

Shaping Brisbane > Shaping Graduates

Recruiting new employees? Have you thought of building a Graduate Program?

Earlier this year we assisted Brisbane City Council in conceptualising their image for this year’s Graduate Program.

We built on their messaging and captured the essence of their responsibility to the graduates as well as the opportunities available to them.

This employee branding embodies the Brisbane City Council brand moto: ‘Dedicated to a better Brisbane’. We pushed their logo tagline and created imagery representing the Council as shaping the candidates to:

• create a better Brisbane
• get better opportunities
• gain better skills
• gaining a better career

Brisbane City Council has welcomed new technology and are opting to utilise QR codes throughout Council programs which drives target audiences to the website quicker and is accessible to Gen-Y.

The interchangeable bright and dynamic stand has been a success in attracting the right candidates who are ready and willing to be ‘Dedicated to a better Brisbane’.


Yours in finding a better you,

Keeping it Simple

M Savers New Brand

While browsing the web last week I cam across this simple, yet effective design for one of the UK’s largest food retailers Morrisons. It’s proof that sometimes less is more, and is super eye-catching.

These awesome packaging examples are for the retails entry level ‘value’ range and is part of their strategic overhaul of their own-brand offering. The line has been renamed ‘M Savers’ to reflect its consumer benefit and is positioned on the label in charcoal grey, while each product has it’s own hand-crafted product illustration in a range of bright colours.

What I love about this redesign is how simple and stunning it is. Maybe it’s the designer in me, but I for one would stop and take notice of these products. It’s successful for the fact that you get the feeling it is for a ‘own brand’ product, but without the somewhat utilitarian template design we see from other retailers. Only black ink and a single vibrant color are used to decorate the label of each product in the line, but there is nothing boring about the look of these bottles, cans, jars, jugs and bags that might suggest they are inexpensive buys. The new design has a certain charm to it, with it’s handcrafted, quirky and unique look.

The designers of these labels mentioned the fact that they’d like people to raise a little smile when they see these designs. I’m happy to report they made me smile, and ask if you did too?

Yours in simple branding,

For the Typography Lovers!



Who needs a Gas lift, reclining, Ergonomic, posturepedic, support chair when you have these AWESOME Typography Chairs! Spell your name, your initials, and you could even play a sneaky game of ABC Musical Chairs!

Furniture inspired by typography is another trend that the Dutch showed to the world late last year. ABChairs is a series of 26 typographic chairs that were presented during Dutch Design week, 2010. 
It’s an alphabet to sit on and a series of chairs to form words with. Designed by graphic designer Roeland Otten, he described himself as “working with a conceptual approach in different fields of art and design, from graphic design to new media and video, from product design to art in public space and events”.

Thanks to using of rotational moulding of LDPE plastic during their manufacture these chairs are quite lightweight, fragile and sustainable for outdoors use. At the moment these chairs can be bought only by request. Smaller size ABChairs for kids would also be available very soon. Keep a lookout online or email him on to find out more!



Yours in typography,
Angela Purdy
(on behalf of Amber)

Hottest 10 Australian album covers

Triple J recently counted down the Hottest 100 Australian Albums, as voted by the Aussie public. When I was compiling my shortlist in preparation to vote, I noticed that the albums I remembered best as a whole, were the ones that I could remember what the cover looked like. It made me wonder if the album cover art had anything to do with how people voted. Below are images of the top 10 albums. While they are pretty diverse, what they have in common is (1) an iconic image and (2) simple supplementary typography.

Counting down from 10…

10. Regurgitator – Unit (my personal favourite!)

A really iconic and minimalist cover that won the 1998 ARIA award for best cover art.

9. The Avalanches – Since I left you.

The concept album was described as a search for love from country to country, relating to the international nature of the records that influenced the album. The cover image tells a story, and is supported by the very simple album title.

8. Wolfmother (self titled)

This album takes a similar approach, with the main illustrative image used to tell the story, plus simple typography that forms the bands logo.

7. The Presets – Apocalypso

Surrealist image + typographical band logo.

6. Powderfinger – Internationalist

Included a series of beautiful illustrations by Michael Mucci and won the 1999 ARIA award for best cover art.

5. INXS – Kick

A surprisingly modern, dynamic and timeless design for an album released in 1987.

4. The Living End – (self titled)

The cover art is based on a photo of the inside of a World War I all-female bomb factory.

3. ACDC – Back in Black

It doesn’t get much more distinctive than this! A timeless rock n roll cover, for a timeless rock n roll album.

2. Silverchair – Frogstomp

A really memorable cover – simple and effective.

1. Powderfinger – Odyssey Number Five

The central image took a different angle and won the 2000 ARIA award for best cover art.

What’s your favourite album cover?

Yours in cover art,


5 Top Tips for Styling Dinner Parties

I recently joined a team of creative women for a huddle in the recent event for the Saviours of the Lost Arts 2011 program run by the Brisbane City Council.

The aim, to acquire new ideas for styling dinner parties and events. We have such a hoot throwing around ideas for our future events and even getting hands on with props supplied by the event hosts.

Here is a simple list to run through to start planning your next dinner party.

1. Greeting – What will greet your attendees at their entrance? a refreshing drink, canopes, tour of the new house, amazing viewing deck!…

2. Table setting – Have you picked a theme for the party? Choose 3-5 descriptive words e.g. French, simply elegant, pretty in pink. Now apply this theme to your table setting which could consist of a pretty runner or table cloth, candles, flowers, cute little fish in a huge glass vase…

3. Centre Piece – What is the main attraction? a special cake, a dessert bar, an arty area for everyone to contribute to the piece!? Get creative and inspire…

4. Lighting – Is it a day time event, dinner or supper time when all the kids have gone to sleep? Inside or outside… do you have the sun for natural lighting or do you need help with candles, coloured lighting or even spotlights around the pool?

5. Food decorations – cookbooks or recipes displayed? carved fruit, ice sculpture or garnishing. Buffet or served on elegant plates. Remember it needs to suit your party ‘theme’ so it all ties together.

Images courtesy of Explore their site for some great ideas.

So what’s your next event? Happy planning!

Yours in Party Planning,
Amber van Sloten

Consumer reviews set to create valuable campaign content

Yes, I am one of those people who still like to read the newspaper. And it was through reading the newspaper that I learnt about this new website called We Like This.

We Like This is a website that allows you to review products and services and write your opinions about them. Through writing your review, you are given the opportunity to tell lots of people about your favourite products, good experiences, and not so good experiences.

Also, you will be reading the opinion of others so that you too can make informed choices about the products you are considering buying.

The products and services are listed by categories e.g Automotive, Clothing and Apparel, Computing, Food and Drink, etc. If the product or service you wish to review is not listed, you’re given the opportunity to suggest the new product and write a review for it. A new product page is then created by the We Like This team.

Your reviews may also be used across press, online and TV. This way, reviews influence even more people. A positive review of a product is very powerful in influencing others and customers’ review can make or break a brand.

When an advertiser’s products or services have been reviewed positively, they are offered the opportunity to licence these reviews into a We Like This formatted advertising campaign which might run across press, magazines, TV and the internet.

A certain criteria must be met before an advertiser is permitted to use the We Like This brand or any reviews in an advertising campaign. The product must have a total rating above 3.5 hearts to be deemed positive and must have received a minimum of 15 reviews.

Consumer opinions about products and services are more powerful than advertising in helping other people make decisions. I may even get to read all the good reviews by real people in the newspaper!

I like this. Do you?

Yours in advertising,

Johnny Cupcakes: a lesson in brand equity

Johnny Cupcakes is an inspiring fashion brand story. John Earl (aka Johnny) has managed to build amazing brand equity through a simple product offering. How so? Well, in essence by simply injecting his personality into every touchpoint of the brand and leveraging that through viral marketing techniques.

One of Johnny’s latest campaigns was his suitcase tour around the USA last year. On the tour he had a Cupcake Canon built that fired cupcakes at the faces of people at Kamp Grizzly. Check out some of the footage here.

Johnny also organises random events like his movie nights and recently a gigantic game of dodgeball at an indoor soccer field. What a fun and unique way to get to know your target audience while using social media to do the promotion and to capture the events. These events then become brand promotions online that continue to record comments and engage with the audience.

What I think Johnny does really well is to create an experience built around his brand. If you look at his stores they are so different. The Johnny Cupcakes stores have been designed to reflect the brand and Johnny’s personality as a prankster. Instead of traditional rolling racks, T-stands and four-way fixtures that are common in clothing stores, the Johnny Cupcakes shop looks like a bakery. Each of his five stores are different and feature things like a four-foot-tall dough mixer from the 1940s in the window and bakers’ racks and cases with stainless-steel trim.  T-shirts are folded and placed in traditional baked goods display cases.

To create the perfect atmosphere (and a bit of aroma marketing!), employees use vanilla-scented air fresheners throughout the store so it smells like a bakery. Plus, free cupcakes are handed out whenever a new T-shirt is released or a new collection is launched.

If you want to experience more of the Johnny Cupcake brand check out his website.

Yours in building brand equity,


Why do clothes cost what they do?

Image courtesy of Louis Vuitton Purse Blog by Amanda Hull

Because of my retail background, I was drawn to this story by Jade Warne, featured in the Shop til you drop magazine, which I have temporarily stolen from my daughter, who has never forgiven me for leaving the retail industry.

Why do clothes cost what they do? How do you know if the price is right? What makes a Prada heel worth $1400 and a Peep Toe Shoe worth $250? How can a pair of black skinnies cost $4000 from Balmain, $380 from Bassike and $50 from Bonds? When prices are limitless, is there a point where real costs end and the dream kicks in?

Assia Benmedjdoub, editor of fashion business journal Ragtrader says “It’s easy to assume that if you can buy a pair of Jeans for $20, that must be the true cost of all Jeans.” “The fact is, the number on the tag is linked to different choices fashion labels make throughout the production process.”

Cheap thrills are likely to be constructed from cost-efficient fabrics that are manufactured off-shore on a machine-driven assembly line. Conversely, high-end splurges use durable soft-to-touch fabrics that are made into garments tweaked by a patternmaker, with final stitching often completed by hand. Manufacturing is limited to between 10 – 100 pieces of a style and sold across only a handful of retail outlets.

Benmedjdoub also says “Small production runs are the only option for labels with small collections, and that adds to the price. Exclusivity comes at a premium.”

“One of the greatest myths surrounding the fashion industry is that designers make mean margins on a $700 dress, but the reality is really much more humbling,” explains Benmedjdoub.

At the top end of the market, very different factors came into play. Louis Vuitton CEO Philip Corne says prices charged by the luxury house reflect just two things: craftsmanship and customer service.

Corne also says “As the world’s leading luxury brand, we have total ownership and control of the manufacturing process, ensuring excellence at every step. In addition, we employ an exclusive distribution strategy, where products can only be purchased from trained staff within Louis Vuitton stores.”

There’s a certain wow factor that has an undeniable effect on what people pay for luxury fashion. Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn says “The best brands utilise superior materials, offer exclusivity of design and display expertise in construction. There is also the appeal of owning a label with celebrity status – and that undoubtedly elevates the value of a product on the street.”

Meanwhile, the Kmarts and Targets of the world are knocking pennies off prices faster than you can say “expect more, pay less” with immense volumes and streamlined, offshore production. “It’s smart cost-cutting, like removing stuffing from shoes and presenting T-shirts on tables instead of hangers, that allows us to lower prices,” reveals Andre Reich, Kmart’s general manager of apparel. “Recently, by removing the non-essential swing tags from clothes, we’ve been able to pass on reductions to customers of up to 50cents per garment.”

Giorgio Armani once said customers don’t care about the brainstorming behind a brand, that they “only focus on the garment hanging on the rail”. But the fact is, when we pick-up our purchase-to-be, we’re all thinking about the commitment we’ll be making at the till. At every price point, brands make choices that deliver shoppers exactly what they pay for. Whether you’re after a one-season stand, or a lifelong love affair, there’s a fashion fantasy to suit you-and your wallet.

How much are you prepared to pay for that designer luxury item?

Yours in Designer Fashion,

Eat your way to the music

Eclectic alternative rock heroes, the Flaming Lips, have always been known for their creative approach. Last year frontman, Wayne Coyne, took his obsession with fake blood to a new level, and created a one off poster made from his own blood. Earlier this year, the Flaming Lips released the track ‘Two Blobs Fucking‘ as 12 separate youtube clips that need to be played simultaneously on iPhones.

The band have continued to think progressively and embrace technology as they plan to release their new four song EP on a USB stick… inside a gummy brain… inside a gummy skull. You have to eat your way to the music! In Coyne’s words:

“It’s a life-sized human skull completely made out of edible gummy bear stuff. It also has a gummy brain inside of it and, inside of that, there’s a USB flash drive that has three new songs on it. It’s pretty outrageous.” (

They found a gummy-innovation-expert who turned out to be a big fan and took an enthusiastic interest in the project, which will be released in April.

Yours in creativity,

Coles gets a makeover

If you’re like me then you absolutely dread Sunday afternoons when it’s time to do the weekly grocery shop. I don’t know what it is but my partner and I just loathe going to our local grocery store – be it Woolies or Coles. We hate it so much that we even tried buying our groceries online, but the forward planning that was required didn’t really suit us (thinking about what we might want to cook on a Thursday was way too far down the track). I’ve even whined to Darrell that grocery stores should adopt some of the shifty techniques used by retailers to entice you into their shops and linger as you’ll eventually purchase much more that what you came for: delicious aromas, soft music and lighting, warm temperatures. Yet my local Coles and Woolies make the temperature so unbearably cold and the music so incredibly crap – Shania Twain was blasting last time we were in – that I’m convinced they’re doing it deliberately to get you out of there as quickly as they can.

But recently I noticed something was different in my local Coles in Sunnybank. They’d started to adopt some rustic, market-style elements – wooden barrels, wicker baskets and thick timber displays on caster wheels – giving the “fresh food” section a slightly more appealing feel. Now I’m not saying it’s like going to an actual market and it doesn’t make the thought of grocery shopping much more appealing but it’s a step in the right direction. Somehow the food appears fresher and I did want to spend a little more time perusing the aisles.

You can check out what I mean at their Your New Coles microsite.

Has your local Coles gotten a makeover too?

Now if they could just turn the air con down a touch and put Shania CD back in the closet where she belongs I’d be stoked!

Yours in shopping,