Month: August 2015

How does packaging indicate brand value?

Compare two brands and how they use packaging to indicate value and price point. Chose one high-priced brand and one low-priced brand and compare/contrast the use of packaging.

The two brands I have chosen to compare are Aldi’s Expressi to Nestlé’s Nespresso. They both make coffee capsules that can be used in their machines to produce great coffee at home.


What colours, typefaces, graphics does the company use on the packaging? What does this say about the value of the product?
The Expressi packaging utilises black as the main colour, red to depict the K-fee System logo and a colour theme for each type of coffee. The colours are vibrant and stand out against the black background. The Expressi typeface is sans-serif, modern and quite elegant, yet the ‘x’ is playful. The coffee typeface appears to be Century Gothic (sans-serif and geometric) with increased kerning – it feels youthful and playful. The coffee capsules are a secondary graphic in this design, where the main graphic is a series of circles forming a firework-type design. The firework graphic seems to be a visual representation of the taste of the coffee – indicating a taste ‘explosion’. For example, Perugia is a medium roast coffee with pleasant and zesty acidity and refreshing tangerine notes, therefore the green firework graphic depicts zest.

Image credit: Aldi

This packaging positions Expressi as a playful, delicious, stylish, yet affordable type of coffee. I believe the design would blend into a supermarket quite well, though I’m not sure it would jump out at me – it looks quite similar to some Nescafé packaging (not Nespresso, though still owned by Nestlé).

The Nespresso packaging also uses black as the main colour and a single colour to identify each type of coffee. The colours are subtle and placed strategically at the end of the rectangular tube shaped box – so the colours are visible when stacked. The Nespresso typeface is sans-serif, modern and elegant, and the stylistic ‘n’ depicts a coffee bean. The other typeface is sans-serif, simple and easily legible – it is neat and contributes to the classy feel of the packaging. There are minimal graphics used in the packaging design other than the Nespresso logo – though the Pure Origin and Variations ranges display discrete and delicate graphics consistent with the flavour colour, to communicate these special flavours.
nespresso boxes
Image credit: Nespresso

This packaging positions Nespresso as simple, refined and exquisite. The shape of the box is unique and communicates a product that is not like others. Nothing about the design is particularly attention grabbing, suggesting that Nespresso is for coffee enthusiasts.

What materials are used in the packaging (ie card stock, foils, specialty papers, print treatments)? What do the materials tell you about the product value?
The Expressi box card stock is much like that of cereal boxes, a smooth surface, coated on one side. The design does not utilise foiling or any print treatments – most likely as a cost-saving measure. The shape of the box is fairly standard. These factors indicate that Expressi is practical and affordable.

The Nespresso box is a similar card stock, however it utilises a glossy, raised ink for the Nespresso logo and is perforated for easy opening (and positioning in the capsule stand). The shape of the box is unusual and iconic, indicating the Nespresso is a premium product.

In addition to the differences between the outer packaging, another significant difference is the coffee capsules themselves.

The Expressi capsules are ribbed and display the same branding as the box (logo, coffee type, coffee strength, K-fee System logo and firework design). The design is practical and another way to advertise the Expressi brand if the capsules are not stored in the box.

Aldi advises that any capsules with a K-fee System logo will fit into their coffee machines, irrespective of whether they are sold under the Expressi brand name.

Image credit: Aldi

Unfortunately, I was unable to confirm what materials the Expressi capsules are made from. Though I did tweet Aldi Australia who advised that the capsules are not recyclable, which would no doubt contribute to the low price point. This is another factor that sets them behind Nespresso.

The Nespresso capsules are sharply contoured to achieve a sleek look and as a result, the capsules make an important contribution to the visual identity of the brand. Nespresso also identifies “the shape of the Nespresso capsule has been specially designed to ensure that the pressurised water flows evenly through the ground coffee during extraction“. Nespresso produces a range of capsule dispensers/storage so consumers can choose to either display the boxes or the capsules themselves. Nespresso makes the packaging just as important as the product itself, because they know that if their customers are stylish, they’ll want their coffee to be stylish.

The Nespresso capsules are made from aluminium as it protects the coffee grounds from air and light. The capsules are also 100% recyclable and Nespresso has set up a capsule recycling program where the aim is to turn end-of-life capsules into new capsule material.

Nespresso insists that the Nespresso branded coffee machines should be used with Nespresso capsules to guarantee the in-cup quality that they are known for.

Image credit: Nespresso

It is clearly evident that there are multiple ways in which packaging can reflect brand value and price point. Expressi and Nespresso clearly have different target markets and aren’t directly in competition with each other, even though they have a similar type of product.

Visual identity system: Aesop

Choose one brand that you think has one of the best visual identity systems. Show images of their identity system and analyse the visual identity of the brand.

A company I think has a particularly eloquent visual identity system is Australian brand, Aesop. Aesop was created in Melbourne in 1987 and is the definition of alchemy. Aesop employs skilled chemical scientists that source plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients to formulate skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality, with a strong focus on safety and efficacy. Aesop is a modern beauty brand that exhibits philosophical sensitivity and cultural intelligence to promote health, vitality and a holistic lifestyle. The Aesop website displays the beauty brand’s approach to non-gimmicky or commercial sales and instead declares, “we explore and support the arts as an avenue through which to inspire, learn and communicate”.

The name, Aesop, is synonymous with the Ancient Greek fabulist – as the founder, Dennis Paphitis, is a former philosophy student. Paphitis claims, “the clarity of thinking [of Aesop] and quality of his communication was inspiring to me”. Aesop tells a unique story focusing on environmental design, superiorly created products and poetic writing. Paphitis articulates that Aesop is a brand with soul. Aesop reliably exhibits truisms from great works of history on everything they produce (bottles, bags, boxes, store walls, press releases).

Image credit: Pinterest

“We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.” – Henry Miller.

The Aesop logo itself is timeless – it has remained unchanged for the past 28 years and I believe it will continue to do so. The typeface used is contemporary and classic and oozes sophistication. The logo is both uniquely identifiable and easily recognisable. Aesop utilises primarily neutral colours throughout their branding – black, off-white, brown, beige and olive green, which reflects the mostly botanical origins of their products.


Aesop is unlike other beauty brands as it doesn’t position itself as either feminine or masculine. Aesop’s customers are intelligent, well-read and appreciate products in every detail (origin, effectiveness, packaging, store ambience).

Aesop is known for their “unselling” philosophy, so instead of focusing on advertising and pushing products that have made “best products” lists, their attention is on perfecting their products (which take years to formulate). Aesop knows that their customers have high skincare standards and understand that trust is hard to regain once lost. One particular vision Paphitis communicates which perfectly summarises both Aesop’s branding and marketing is, “It’s become politically incorrect to discuss good taste but actually this what Aesop does best. We aspire toward a certain quality, discretion and restraint in our work. These are qualities that are almost counter intuitive in a retail market desperate to cater to short attention spans and infinite choice“.

Minimalist packaging is created via brown pharmaceutical-style glass jars and aluminium tubes, for their light-blocking properties and to minimise the need for preservatives. The labels are two-tone (off-white and black) and use space, text and hierarchy to display the Aesop logo, product name, use and ingredients.

Image credit: Pinterest

As part of the visual identity, each Aesop store is unique and evokes a sensory experience. The stores reflect their surroundings by weaving the city’s essence into the store design and though each store is a different work of art, they are seamlessly connected through architectural design and sophistication. Paphitis believes that “there’s a direct correlation between interesting, captivating store spaces and customer traffic within a store“. Aesop endeavours for their worldwide products to connect locally.

Image credit: Pinterest

Overall, I think Aesop has positioned itself to reach it’s full potential and has a strong visual identity system. The logo, colours, textures, packaging, architectural design and philosophy all have a uniform approach to extraordinarily connect the brand to it’s target market.


Comparable? MAC Studio Fix Fluid vs Estée Lauder Double Wear

I used to be a MAC Studio Fix Fluid advocate for 2 years before I considered using anything else. I loved the coverage and it was the first non-drugstore foundation I liked enough to repurchase. I don’t have problem skin, though still like a medium coverage, matte-finish foundation so I thought it was perfect. However, after using it for so long I started to notice I wasn’t happy with the staying power anymore. I would say I have normal skin, though can get a slightly oily t-zone throughout the day and found that Studio Fix would rub off around my mouth and t-zone (hello, patchy). I would use a water-based primer and set it with powder but it didn’t make enough of a difference to keep me happy (I also found that over-powdering easily made it look cakey).


Estée Lauder Double Wear caught my eye as it was a favourite mentioned frequently on MakeupSocial. People raved about the staying power and matte-finish which are two things I want in a foundation. So I made my way to my nearest David Jones counter with my Studio Fix so I could get the best colour match. Unfortunately, I went quite late in the day and the counter was unmanned, so I matched myself and bought it without asking for a sample (I don’t recommend doing this though as it’s good to test a foundation in natural light before you spend AUD $50!). I’ve done a direct comparison of the foundation features listed on the MAC and Estée Lauder websites below.

Image credit: foundation images taken from MAC and Estée Lauder

With Double Wear almost doubling the wear time of Studio Fix (the name really does say it all), I’m surprised I didn’t jump on it sooner! I must admit I didn’t know Studio Fix only had a wear time of 8 hours, but I would say that is accurate. Perhaps I might find MAC Pro Longwear better, I’m not sure (that only has sheer to medium coverage). I’m also someone who doesn’t have a special occasion foundation, as the foundation I have is the one I’m using every time. Which is one of the main reasons I’m so interested in staying power.

I’m an NC20 in Studio Fix and found 2C1 Pure Beige in Double Wear to be the best match. It may not be what other sites or people say, but I always found the Studio Fix shades not quite right for me. To help decode the Studio Fix and Double Wear undertones, check out my chart below.

  • C = Cool
  • N = Neutral
  • W = Warm


MAC considers yellow tones to be cool and pink tones to be warm, whereas Estée Lauder is the opposite and considers yellow tones to be warm and pink tones to be cool.

Now here’s a picture comparing the two shades I use (in natural light). Note: I always think it’s best to go in store and look at foundation shades in real life, rather than buy straight from the internet after choosing from an online colour matrix.


I don’t find 2C1 too pink but I do find NC20 a little too orange. I fake tan so that’s probably why NC20 is the closest match to me, as I remember NW20 not being right. When I looked at other Double Wear shades such as 2N1 it looked too pale and 2W1 looked too orange. However, just because I go for 2C1 as an NC20 doesn’t mean you will, so I really recommend getting matched in store so you are happy – especially when you are forking out $50 for a foundation! I am happy to use these shades interchangeably – as you can see from the pictures below, they both work for me (these photos were taken on different days in different lighting).


In terms of ease of blending and finish I find them comparable. Though I don’t agree that Double Wear has a semi-matte finish – I find it matte. I find they are both foundations that should be applied reasonably quickly – they are thick and dry reasonably fast! I apply with either a synthetic kabuki or my fingers, which helps keep the foundation warm and blendable. Double Wear really does last from wake to sleep and I think Studio Fix would be better for a night out (when you don’t need it to last all day as well as night). I do find that since Double Wear doesn’t budge, it can clog my pores and give me a few pimples if I don’t take it off properly before bed (has only happened once or twice, I swear!). So make sure you really focus on your skincare routine and remove it all before bed.

In terms of smell I find Double Wear much more favourable. Studio Fix smells like paint and although it doesn’t smell once it’s dried, it does bother me – I am reminded each time I use it that I really am painting my face!

Both foundations come in glass bottles, which may be a worry for some (I haven’t dropped one just yet) and although neither foundation comes with a pump, this doesn’t bother me. I bought the pump for Studio Fix and didn’t like it – I prefer to get a controlled pour of foundation rather than be restricted by pumps. The MAC foundation pump does fit the Double Wear bottle.

Overall, I prefer the staying power of Double Wear so that’s why I prefer it. Are they actually comparable? Not entirely – in every aspect other than staying power I would say they are. After using Studio Fix I’ve decided a longer wearing foundation is more important to me. Do you use a foundation you think is comparable to Double Wear? I am interested to know what else is out there!