Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

October 20, 2015

3 Min Read
When should packaging designers tap into the creativity of an outside artist?

Packaging design ideas don’t happen in a vacuum. Inspiration comes from all over. But how do you know when you need to go after it more aggressively? One way to up your game is to perhaps create “collectable magic” by working with an artist outside your arena.

Here’s why, courtesy of Michelle Greenwald, former vp at Disney and Pepsi, and marketing professor at Columbia Business School and at NYU’s Stern School of Business.


Michelle Greenwald

Greenwald is also author of the book “Catalyzing Innovation,” which specifically explores packaging design. In addition, she is the founder/CEO of Inventours, whose upcoming Immersive Innovation Program (Nov 2-6; Paris) will take c-suite execs to meet with a "who's who" of Parisian innovators, such as Charles Znaty, president of Pierre Hermé, about collaboration with artists on product and package design.

Why should packaging designers look to artists in various other domains for inspiration or collaboration?

Greenwald: Unique packaging tends to be for a limited time and encourages collectability. It tends to create an association of quality and creativity and attention to detail. They are more likely to be displayed and get noticed to stand out from the clutter.

The Nicolas Formichetti Pepsi package that kicked off Pepsi's consumer-generated design contest was fun, energized the brand, engaged consumers and created social media interest in a way that positively built on the brand's equity. Because the design was around the whole can and connected to the design of other cans, it encouraged people to spend more time with the package, and the brand.

How will companies know if collaboration with an outside artist is the right thing to do?

Greenwald: If the artist's work seems like a fit with the brand, if it enhances the quality perception rather than cheapening it, if it is more likely to get noticed on the shelf…then it’s the right thing to do.

What are the benefits of collaboration between a brand owner and an artist for each party? What are the benefits for consumers?

Greenwald: For an artist, through packaging collaborations, their work can reach a broader audience, it can make people happy, it can relate their work to everyday lives and they can earn money for it.

For the brand owner, it shows they are creative, can increase the likelihood of getting noticed, can increase the likelihood of being on display and shows they have a sense of whimsy, humor and taste (look at all the Google logo changes on their home page).

We’ve seen several successful examples of artists creating packaging designs for Coke, Kleenex, 7Up and others. What makes these designs work so well?

Greenwald: Their success could be for several reasons. For example, the series of Balsamic vinegar bottles from the Italian Balsamic vinegar brand Monari Federzoni made the brand more noticeable, more giftable, more "instagramable," more appealing to display, more fun for consumers to serve in their homes and more interesting in collecting all the artist versions, including Klimt, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali and others.


Monari Federzoni designed its Balsamic vinegar bottles in the style of various artists, such as Klimt (left) and Dali.

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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