“It has been developing for five years, and although it entered the world of communication as brand creators, we began to do more specialized work in packaging development, up to the creation of product formulas. This year, we are formalizing it as a unit that lives within the agency, but that has specialized and specific talent for everything that has to do with design”, explains Arnedo.
Expansion (E): Where does the need to formalize it come from? Did it need a push or was it getting too big?
Coral Arnedo (CA): A communication designer is not the same as a packaging designer or a brand designer, so we wanted to have a specific area with a group of specialized designers.
The differential that Gray Design has is that from the creation of a product you are thinking about how it will live in a campaign, while in other design studios, the client asks you for a bottle and that’s it.
We extend the funnel of creation. We develop the design from a more complete thought, the colorimetry, the form because we know that later it will live in an art and we are the first to suffer when a product does not have the potential to be the star of a spectacular.
That is why the area was created, due to a need for specialization and to separate it, because in some way it was close to the teams that have more to do with communication. We wanted to put the house in order, and just as there is a strategy or production department, we have one for packaging design.
E: What specific services are you offering with this department?
AC: Everything that has to do with the conception of a product. We have clients who have a product innovation area, as well as many ‘experiments’ or formulas that have not come out, from there we give it a name, we put color on it and we give it life until it is launched internally to the communication team, to then be embodied in an advertisement or in a campaign.
E: Strategically, what advantages does it give you to formalize the area?
AC: In our group, WPP, there is Landor, which is a large design and brand development company, clearly they have deeper, finer strategic thinking, literally that is their expertise. In our case, we also carry out projects and we are very transparent in this sense. The advantage is that we are between a boutique specialized in design and a communication agency, we work more from visualization and creation from a middle point.
We are not here to take business away from anyone or to take credit away from designer boutiques, but rather we are like a buster or accelerator of a project, we cut times by being aware of the steps that the same client often has to risk eliminating.
E: Who make up the team of this division?
AC: In charge of this unit is Mirna Peña, who has been with me as grouper for five years. She began to take the lead in all the projects that have to do with design, and with her are other strategists related to the development of brands, art and profiles specialized in packaging, labels. It is a team made up of more or less 10 people.
E: Is this new division exclusive to Mexico or is it going to have it at another agency headquarters?
AC: It is only in Mexico, we started to develop it like this with the intention of being able to support the network with this service. Suddenly Argentina sometimes has more experience in content and we also rely on that. We believe that it is like a ‘leg’ that will help the network, through us.
E: What is the business expectation of this division?
AC: That at least 30% of the turnover comes from Gray Design.
E: Who are some of your clients?
AC: The person we have worked with the most is Grupo Fifco, a Costa Rican company, for which we have developed around 10 products for the United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. We also worked for General Mills in the creation of packaging for Coca-Cola, and right now the Herdez eight-vegetable packaging is in effect.
E: How does packaging impact consumer purchasing decisions?
AC: Is awesome. Even with Fifco, the packaging managed to convert sales from 60 to 70%. Same case with Herdez, the packaging that came from the 80s became a much fresher and more attractive in the eyes of the consumer who cares about the environment. Today, the packaging plays a relevant role for the buyer and in the end it is the letter of introduction of any brand.
E: How is the new division in line with packaging trends and legal issues?
AC: We are sticking to the new regulations as they come out, for example with General Mills we had to make all the change of the seals and in the end it produces not only for Mexico, but it is regional and we create the packaging, according to the regulations of each country where the product is marketed. It is also part of having flexibility in terms of times, which is why I believe that clients find in us that agile part to resolve and hence the importance of having a special area to attend to those requests.