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WEBINAR: 7 Steps for Delivering Sustainable Packaging Without Compromising Brand Equity

Posted on 4/23/14 by Colin Shanks in Industrial Design, Innovation, Packaging Design, Thought Leadership, Webinars

Sustainability Webinar

Kaleidoscope’s Industrial Design Director, Bryan Shova, recently led a workshop at the 2014 Sustainability in Packaging Conference in Orlando, Florida. There he discussed specific packaging considerations to help avoid compromising brand equity when designing sustainable packaging. We have adapted the workshop into a complimentary webinar that we are now offering to you.

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (CST)

There are many different opportunities to improve packaging sustainability: packaging material choice, material reduction, distribution efficiency, and distance of transportation. Any one or several of these improvements could increase the sustainability of the package and decrease its effects on our ecosystem. But they may not be the right choices for the brand.

The goal of a sustainable package is to create a win for the brand, a win for the consumer, and a win for the manufacturing stream. We will break down each opportunity area and provide case studies of how sustainability can be improved without compromising brand equity.

Please click the link below to register and be part of this special session!





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Featured Work: Fairlife Purely Nutritious Milk

Posted on 3/31/14 by Kaleidoscope in Industrial Design, Packaging Design

Fairlife header

Forcing a Second Look at Milk

Fair Oaks Farms is a large, closed-loop dairy farm in Fair Oaks, IN that focuses on sustainable practices and animal welfare to naturally produce milk of the highest quality. Dr. Mike McCloskey, the farm’s founder, is a veterinarian, farmer, scientist and inventor. His patented membrane filtration system, which separates milk into its five component parts of fat, water, protein, lactose and minerals, is the innovation behind the protein-rich foods marketed by fairlife.

A Start-Up in an Established Category

The initial challenge from the fairlife team centered on developing a fairlife masterbrand. The brand would be positioned as a health and wellness leader, an innovator at the forefront of the wellness movement. The only hurdle – the nutrition in the products comes from milk, a commoditized category that had not seen innovation in decades and had lost the attention of consumers.

Through rigorous research and dialog with consumers, the challenge was clear. In order to successfully market its products, the fairlife brand had to find a way to invigorate the perception of milk and shake things up.

Aligning to a Brand Promise

Much of our initial time with the Fairlife team was spent immersing in the complex story behind the brand. We collaborated with the fairlife team and its partners to identify compelling ways to bring the fairlife brand to life. Those ideas were tested and shaped into a brand promise: a commitment to produce highly nutritious, great tasting innovative dairy products that give consumers the vitality they need to live life to the fullest. The sustainable, innovative dairy farms behind the products provided a strong reason to believe.

Time to Shake-Up the Milk Category

The first product to market under the fairlife brand would compete directly with traditional milk. While the bottle shape and graphics would need to be very innovative to disrupt the gable-top cartons and plastic jugs, there was concern that the product was so far removed from the traditional perception of milk that consumers would not be able to understand what it was. The name Purely Nutritious Milk was selected to ground the product within the milk category in a way that conveyed both the product’s reason for being (nutrition) as well as the simplicity of the product (purely). The Real Milk seal would also be used to reinforce the fact that it is milk.

Building on our initial research learning, we audited the milk category and several other adjacent categories to understand form language and category cues. The fairlife team also collaborated with us through several workshops to further synthesize the information, which informed working prototypes that could be assessed with consumers and in the retail context. Whitespace opportunities for design were identified, and attributes were developed that would shape our design explorations moving forward: vitality, beauty, courage, playfulness and simplicity. It was believed that a new structure in the milk category could do what the carafe did in the orange juice category.

Fairlife Purely Nutritious Milk

Form and Function are Symbiotic

Our team cohesively explored structural packaging and package visuals, as well as overarching design principles for the fairlife brand. When it came to the structural package, we encouraged the fairlife team’s technical packaging partners and leaders from the plant to be involved early to assure that the essence of the brand was not compromised in order to meet requirements. An iconic bottle shape was created to disrupt the category, while building ownable equity for the brand. It is a modern interpretation of the traditional milk carton. The cap and structural ribbing details pay homage to the brand mark. Overall, it is a proud stance for the brand and easy to handle by consumers.

The Most Important Features of Milk

Aligning to a communication hierarchy for the Purely Nutritious Milk packaging posed quite a challenge. The product is not organic, but it is just as clean and more nutritious than most organic milk. The taste and mouthfeel are far superior to any traditional milk. And it is lactose free, hormone free, higher in protein and lower in sugar than any traditional milk. The long list of features are all important to consumers, but including all of this information on the front of a bottle would disregard the brand attribute of simplicity and almost guarantee that consumers would read none of it.

Through several rounds of consumer research and careful consideration of consumer needs and trends, it was decided that taste and nutrition – namely protein – were most important and would take center stage for the fairlife brand. Consumer behavior told us that they hunt for hormone-free and lactose-free claims on a package, so those could be lower priority. The back panel was used to tell the story about the farm, the people and the cow care. These reasons to believe were necessary for building consumer trust.

The final package conveys a delicious taste and is a stark contrast to traditional milk packaging.

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Somehow I Manage: Three Lessons About Fostering Creativity From the World’s Best Boss

Posted on 3/14/14 by Colin Shanks in Culture, Innovation, Thought Leadership

Somehow I Manage: Three lessons about fostering creativity from the world's best boss

If you’ve ever met me, you’ve likely discovered my obsession when it comes to NBC’s “The Office”. Since its debut in 2005, I’ve often found myself becoming the “That-reminds-me-of-that-one-time-in-The-Office-when…” guy, awkwardly quoting lines from the show that people don’t seem to pick up on. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve sat down and watched the seasons from beginning to end . My latest estimate is thirteen, which is equivalent to approximately 57,200 minutes. That’s right, I actually sat down and did the math (remember what I said about those obscure references?).

During its runtime, the show not only launched the careers of John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson and Mindy Kaling, but it also left behind much more in the (surprising) form of advice for the modern workplace. And though people may not catch on to my references, there are a number of aspects of the show that companies should be picking up on.

1. The best ideas can come from anywhere

When the new CEO Jo Bennett visited Scranton, she held a company-wide meeting to hear from all levels of the organization. After years of being isolated in the warehouse working as the foreman, Darryl Philbin was given a voice to share his plan for fixing logistics of the company’s shipping methods. Darryl’s initiative earned him a promotion and his own office upstairs.

Yes, the members of your top executive team are in their roles for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that an eager, young employee can’t come up with the next great idea. Innovation and creativity are ubiquitous. At Kaleidoscope for example, an ideation session meant to inform packaging graphics may include team members from strategy, industrial design, mock-up and even our model shop. The points of view are different. The industrial design team may uncover an opportunity to adjust the structure in a way that improves the holistic presentation of the package and creates manufacturing efficiency. Through cross-discipline collaboration and discussion, you’re able to learn what makes an idea good and a good idea better.

2.  It’s okay to fail as long as it’s quick and you learn from your mistakes

The one thing that remained constant when it came to the enigma that is Michael Scott was his search for love. Whether it was his off-and-on relationship with Jan, his short-lived relationship with Pam’s mom, Helene, or the Benihana’s waitress, he always failed. And he failed a lot. With each failure, he recognized his shortcomings, honed in on the attributes he most desired in a partner and adjusted his search.  Eventually he met Holly, and the rest was history.

Chances are you’re not going to land on that million-dollar idea the first time you try either, so don’t be afraid to let team members try out different ideas. With an agile approach to innovation, much like at Kaleidoscope, sharpened ideas and concepts can quickly take shape through the use of rapid prototyping and open collaboration. Prototype and test ideas early, make edits, and try them again. By encouraging and garnering feedback from stakeholders for validation throughout the creation process, potential problem areas can arise much sooner and be quickly addressed without sacrificing significant time, energy or resources.

3. Workplace autonomy

The Scranton branch continued year after year to be the most profitable branch of the company, yet it was ran by a man that once put his face into wet cement in order to create his own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Corporate routinely asked Michael to explain the reason behind his success, but unsurprisingly, he never came close to making any sense. However, it might have been his passion for the work, his humility and his engaging work environment that had something to do with the performance of his employees.

Human beings are naturally autonomous creatures in that we all want control over our own lives. Yet, at a very young age, life quickly becomes structured and routine. In the past, organizational structures had taken a page from the Bill Lumbergh Book of Management, relying heavily on micro-management and strict bureaucratic guidelines. However, studies have shown that the key to developing passionate and empowered employees is by granting them autonomy.

The role of a manager isn’t in place to make sure people are filling in their TPS reports. A manager should create an environment that fosters creativity and innovation by empowering people to work the best way they can in order to achieve the best. And when people feel they have power over how they perform their job, they will naturally gain a sense of passion and an eagerness for improvement.

Long story short, listen to your team, empower them, and provide support and encouragement. What has worked to foster creativity within your organization?


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A New Craftsmen Revolution

Posted on 3/4/14 by Eric Schultz in Innovation, Thought Leadership


During the Middle Ages, male and female craftsmen made many of the items we use today like clothing, furniture, jewelry, tools, wine, beer, cheese, and of course, weapons by hand. These expert craftsmen then sold their goods at local markets.

This C2C ­or craftsman-to-consumer model was how business was done. There were no overseas logistics in place, no mass production in factories, nor was there a global need for a specific product from one manufacturer. There were no bottom lines to worry about or stockholders breathing down their necks. Buying and selling was very much localized and provided a specific good for a specific need in a specific area. You knew your blacksmith by name and he stood behind his work.

Technology Spurs Change

Industry and machine manufacturing first started to dominate the handcrafted economy in England around the 18th century. Technology evolved to include use of new energy sources like the steam engine. And iron and steel became more prevalent. The Spinning Jenny and other inventions increased production. Also, transportation developed and the ability to communicate across cities and countries in Europe became easier. By the 20th century, the Industrial Revolution spread to countries like China and India and spurred economic, political and social change.

But as I look around today, I notice a new revolution starting – one that is very reminiscent of our former craftsmen. Websites like Etsy, Kickstarter or Indiegogo provide a platform and the opportunity to once again showcase one’s crafts.

What is a Craftsman?

When I asked Damon San Filippo of San Filippo Leather about getting started on Etsy, he said, “One day, I got fired up about not being able to find a good leather belt, so I went to a leather warehouse, bought the best saddle leather I could get and made my own. I still have the belt 15 years later.”  He went on to say, “Esty has given me the platform to now sell my fine leather products to people all over the world. I make things people cannot find in a store.” What really struck me was what he said next. “I love what I make and that love goes into every product.” Early Americana lives on in this fine gentleman whose ancestors were once Italian metalworkers. He is dedicated to his trade and puts his heart and soul into everything. That is the definition of a great craftsman.

“I began Blacksmithing at the age of 13. When I started, I did not know what I was doing; I was simply a bored teenager pounding on some metal.” Today, at the ripe old age of 17, Liam Hoffman of Hoffman Blacksmithing specializes in bladed objects such as knives and axes. Liam states, “My parents were very helpful in letting me pursue this passion.” And a passion it is! Liam is one of the youngest professional blacksmiths in the country. He has hired two more employees since starting five years ago and is 100% self-taught. He also likes to forge a variety of products from fancy bracelets to $500 knives.

Lots of One-of-a-Kinds to Choose From

Although there is still a need for mass-produced items, more and more consumers are turning to online forums for custom, high-quality products – the digital version of the Medieval marketplace. According to a 2012 Mintel report, 40% of US households earning over $150,000 prefer to buy handmade home décor items over mass-produced ones. These sites make it possible for those consumers to choose goods from a global network of tinkers, makers and craftsmen, people like you and me with passion and desire to share their handmade products with the world.

Damon put it perfectly when he said, “Where we spend our money is becoming our last true choice.” We have more choices now than ever before and more are coming online every day. Mintel also reported that 76% of UK shoppers say it’s easier to find unique or unusual products online, and the clamor for individual, aesthetic and artistic products is creating new retail and employment opportunities for designers and distributors.

Well-known brands like Nike and Vans have been evolving their offerings in response, while new companies like Laudi Vidni are finding a groove. The landscape is changing. We are at the cusp of this new craftsman revolution and I am excited to see how it affects the greater retail world.

Long live the craftsmen!

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Private Label Gets Personal

Posted on 2/21/14 by Alexandra Goff in Brand Strategy, Packaging Design, Private Label Trends

Private Label Gets Personal

It’s All About Her (or Him)

We know that as consumers’ tastes, preferences and personal needs evolve, so must the brands and private labels that cater to them. In the grocery and beauty industry, it is clear that this involves getting to know your shopper’s personal health and dietary needs, and now more than ever, this also means understanding the key ingredients that should be explicitly excluded from the products they purchase. The shift towards a “me” culture has impacted the extent to which consumers expect their favorite brands to address their each and every need. For manufacturers and retailers alike, this means getting inside your target customers’ minds and offering products that will cater to them personally. As a private label brand or manufacturer, keep a pulse on your consumer and how her environment is shaping purchase patterns­—are your offering her what she wants this shopping trip and how will she know it when you do?

“Free from” Claims Are Becoming More Important

As a result of this cultural shift, we are seeing a difference in the way private label brands are addressing niche market needs. We have seen that brands now showcase key claims and “free from” statements in a more impactful way to help the shopper make purchase decisions as quickly as possible. Reaching the hyper aware and health conscious consumer is not only a space for national brands anymore—private label and national brand equivalents are reaching out to the same base and doing it well. Key players in the drug, mass, and grocery channels are recognizing that today’s consumer not only expects low prices for equivalent items from her private label or NBE, but she now expects them to deliver a unique product that meets all of her personal health needs and caters to trending “free-froms”. For example, a brand that knows how to play up the fact that its product is organic, free from parabens, or gluten free, will speak to this health conscious consumer more effectively than those that do not deliver these callouts on package.

These benefits are no longer set aside as a luxury that is offered to national brands shoppers, but they are now also being implemented by a handful of forward-thinking private label retailers. Target recently introduced its private brand Simply Balanced, which is a product line targeted to its most health conscious consumers. Target guests are now offered a line of private label organics, naturals and simply well-balanced food choices that will support its own health plan and lifestyle. 2014 Private Label Store Brands Retailer of the Year, ALDI, has launched a similar concept with its Simply Nature brand, again showing the private label shopper that her favorite brands and retailers are taking a proactive approach to meeting her evolving needs.

Create a Dialog in Store, at Shelf and on Pack

As a retailer or manufacturer, once you have determined how to approach introducing these elements into your store offering, you will need to show your shopper that you stand for her health needs by leveraging your key assets wisely. Whether it is point-of-purchase merchandising, in-store marketing, signage or simply the packaging, find out what is going to communicate these key points most effectively. Be creative with your approach to get credit with your shopper and encourage conversion to your brands.

At the end of the day, the first step is identifying and tapping into any niche and unmet market needs that exist within your target consumer base. Once you have introduced the right products at the right time under the right brand strategy, marketing and packaging will help products make it off the shelf and into her basket. Getting these elements right will show the shopper that your brand is dedicated to her personal health and well being, creating deeper emotional connections and lasting brand loyalty.

If there are other great examples of private brands responding to niche needs, leave a comment. I’d love to hear about them.

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Sundance Inspiration

Posted on 1/22/14 by Gary Chiappetta in Culture


Sundance is a 10-day event that celebrates global cultural experiences, told through film, that are sometimes tragic and humorous and most always provocative. The films range from dramatic narratives to suspenseful world premiers and eye opening documentaries that make you mad, cry, laugh and wonder. But more importantly, Sundance is about risk taking and storytelling from artists and film makers that move us emotionally. And this year’s event made the point of risk taking and “failure” the breaking point between good and great, and celebrated this point with a daylong series of panels called “Free Fail”. The panel was not run by big corporations or film companies, but instead by artists that inspire entire cultures of people through their works. Over 8000 works were submitted with only about 65 making the cut for this year’s festival.

I Think This is The Closest To How the Footage LookedSome of my favorite films were the short programs, most of which had average run times of about 15 minutes. The shorts program is interesting because its only real limitation is its run time; forcing the artists to tell their story quickly, drawing you in immediately and blowing your mind before the film ends abruptly. One of my favorites was a film called “I Think This Is The Closest To How The Footage Looked” by Directors Yuval Hameiri and Michal Vaknin from Israel. This particular film was described as “A man with poor means recreates a lost memory of the last day of his mom. Objects came to life in a desperate struggle to produce a single moment that is gone.” The tragic story was about the filmmaker’s own personal experience where his father had filmed the last day of his wife’s life. At the time, the filmmaker, as a young teenager, rewound the film to see it without returning the film to its original position. After the mother dies, the father picks up the camera to film her empty room and overwrites all but a small clip without realizing. Anxiety, fear and depression set in. The artist uses inanimate objects to represent each character in the story in an awkward and somewhat crude manner to depict what the tape may have depicted if not destroyed.

I found the shorts program to be the most creative, imaginative and cutting-edge because these film-makers needed to be unconventional in their approach and take incredible risks in the eyes of their peers, the industry, and audiences. They took risks and broke the rules by following their own creative vision resulting in great works of art that were imaginative, innovative, provocative, and unconventional. And most of all, successful.

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Kaleidoscope Spotlight: Chuck Judy, Model Shop Manager

Posted on 1/9/14 by Colin Shanks in Employee Spotlight, Studio

Chuck Judy

What did you do before you came to Kaleidoscope?
I joined Kaleidoscope in December of 1998. I move to Chicago right after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a degree in photography and sculpture. I started freelancing as an assistant for commercial photographers and filmmakers and eventually worked in Holography for a time making those tiny 3D images you see on your credit cards. We also processed miles of 3d holographic film capturing atoms smashing in the particle collider at Fermilab. They were in a race to find the twelfth quark, I think? I moved into architectural model making from there, where we were making incredibly beautiful skyscrapers models for many of the buildings that line our skyline today. That work led me back to photography as an assistant architectural photographer where we shot newly finished buildings as well as the scale models for architects and developers. When that work slowed I went back into fabrication, managing a shop that specialized in ad hero, tradeshow, museum and exhibit props.

Why did you choose to come to Kaleidoscope?
I knew of them before I applied for the job. The “Comp Shop”(pre Kaleidoscope days) was an early competitor of the prop house I worked for, and they were doing the same hero models I enjoyed making. I had a solid understanding of the hero model process and had a great network of industry freelancers for support. The transition was easy.

What have you been working on lately?
We’ve been making prototypes for package innovations. Appearance and semi-functional models which are made from all processes onboard, 3d Objet print, SLA, CNC machining and plastic thermoformed models

What has surprised you most about working here?
The dedication and support you get from everyone that works here. You’re never alone, from the top on down; everyone pitches in and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

3D printing is all the rage…where do you see it heading in the future?
The real rage is in the sales of small printers like the MakerBot and such. Basic 3D part printing that is affordable. It builds small objects quickly that you can hold in your hand. Helping us visualize our ideas for design, engineering and education.

On a larger scale 3d printing is changing the way we manufacture. Parts are made in plastic and metal, on demand, one at a time. Taking away the upfront cost of patterns, molds or shelved inventory. You can build complex shapes in one part operation, which typically would require several parts or process ops through conventional means. There’s also large savings in materials and part weight cost as compared to conventional metal casting processes. Some things like artificial implants, dental, prosthetics, aerospace parts are currently made that way. Large companies are investing, Rolls-Royce, Nasa, Ford, GE. Nike even produces some shoe soles with 3d printing.

3d printing also changes the geographic manufacturing base, as we know it. Print centers can be placed anywhere you need them. You order a replacement part online. “A-guy”, with a printer in any village of the world can print your part. All he needs is a machine, network and electricity. Oh, and the machine he has was assembled from parts made on a 3d printer.

Pizza CompWhat is the most unique model you’ve ever made for a client?
12 foot slice of stuffed crust pizza that stood on edge and was mounted to a trailer and towed to different marketing events. It also came with some creamy looking basketball size cheese balls that you shoot into its crust to win a prize. I love it when ideas get completely wacky.

What is different about the way you work compared to other model shops?
At times we may operate like one for some clients, but we are not a stand-alone job shop. Our shop is an extension of our design team and part of the Kaleidoscope creative process. Called the Innovation Lab a collection of several departments that encompass design, print services, color proofing, and structural prototyping. We collectively work on ideas and develop concepts together.

What are you looking forward to in the coming years?
My team is focusing on training this year. More cad drafting, machine and process training. I’m looking forward to expanding the shop team, technology, design integration and internal capabilities.

What are you proud of?
My team and the work we produce. Everyone works hard to find solutions, meet the deliverable and make beautiful products.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a model maker at Kaleidoscope?
Be yourself and focus on what you like to do. Learn everything you can about model making and your specialty niche if you have one. Learn about the design process, manufacturing and how things are made. Show us your best work and emphasize craftsmanship and the project build process.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Looking forward to lots more fun with the family and many miles of bicycle riding

Thanks for reading. The Kaleidoscope team is hiring for our office in Chicago.. You can see all of our current open jobs by clicking here, and please let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Actionable Consumer Research For Winning at Shelf

Posted on 11/25/13 by Demetrius Romanos in Packaging Design, Thought Leadership, Uncategorized


Do you remember those 3D things from the 90s that were often the go-to page in the newspaper’s comic section on Sundays?  They made fun of them on a Seinfeld episode way back.  Elaine’s boss saw one and no matter what he did he couldn’t see the image in the picture.  It frustrated the hell out of him.  Well, store aisles are kind of like that too. Just a sea of colors that confuse people and make their heads hurt.  Who’s to blame for that?  Us designers, I suppose.  But only if we don’t do our homework and design the right thing.

How do you design the right thing? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?  Well I’ve got one word for you kid, research. As designers, we’re usually hired to make something look better, work better, appeal more, communicate better, etc.  Why?  To sell more of the things we’re designing. So design is essentially a driver of a business transaction if you really think about it.

What design does is link the emotional part of a transaction to the financial part, and as designers, we become a critical part in that consumer’s decision-making process through the brand dialogues we facilitate.

We’re dot connectors; understanding the people that we’re selling to help us connect the dots between the person, the product and the brand dialogue we’re creating.


In retail contexts, what are we trying to communicate to the consumer? Each retail scenario forces a person to explore, identify and deselect from a broad range of product choices quickly. So how do you stand out? In our world, that’s usually through packaging, and it needs to be the right packaging, with the right information to appeal to the emotional state of that purchase decision and the purpose that purchase will fulfill. The driver that pulls someone to your package and the connection it forms that builds a relationship for repeat use.

Years ago, I was working at a design firm and as most designers I had done what I thought was research, but was in hindsight just a handful of designers looking at things and trying to pull out some insights. As our projects became bigger and more complex, research became more and more important. So we hired a bona fide researcher. And I recall having an exchange with him about a project and him stopping me mid-sentence only to ask me one of the most profound questions of my young career.

“What do you want to learn?”  It was that simple. What do I want to learn? Well, everything I suppose. Everything I can learn to make a better experience for the end user.

We can play therapist and stand at every aisle and ask people, but even if we could that wouldn’t give us the answers we’re looking for. However, asking people during the design process is absolutely critical. Of course, budgets aren’t limitless and not everything can be solved by research alone, so now what?

Before we conduct research, we need to break down three reasons to even do research in the first place:

1. To understand the user.
2. The usage occasions
3. The motivation.

Even before that, we need to ask two hard questions:
1. Who am I?
2. Why are we doing this?

Does your product fill a functional or emotional need? Does it fill both? Are you a lifestyle brand? Are you a commodity product in a mature and over-crowded category? How do you stand out and how do you connect?

All this means that we have a lot of people to learn from, which is awesome. So let’s start there.

Have you ever heard of the expression, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”?  Shopping is a journey, for both the person buying the product and the product itself.  But they don’t spend the entire journey together. As designers, we have to consider the entire journey, which means each part has things we need to learn about and design against. Let’s look at the journey for a minute and break down what happens…


This is the user journey: online/circular >> store >> aisle >> shelf >> use, etc.

Parts of the journey can be defined as moments of truth.  We primarily focus and design for the FMOT and the SMOT, which are the First Moment of Truth (the first time you see something at shelf) and the Second Moment of Truth (the first time you engage with a product).

At the beginning, we would do some sort of audit or competitive landscape assessment to determine all the players in the space, how they talk about themselves, and how they differentiate. Then we’ll do what they’re not doing, or God forbid, we’ll try to out–yell them all at retail to make sure we stand out.

However, I want to work backwards and start at the end of the user experience to understand what worked right, what didn’t, where it lived, how often it was used, how he/she felt about it, etc.

I wonder if the product lived up to expectations? When it was all done, did they go buy another? Why is it in the trash and not the recycling? Did we not use the right material? Was there not a refill opportunity or a secondary use? Did we not verbally communicate that it was in fact recyclable? Where did this go wrong? All great questions and things to learn, and we can do that by spending time in context. It’s always really eye opening to ask people to explain how they use things and why they do things a certain way. You can do that in interviews or you can ask users to keep a diary over a course of time where they verbally and visually document what they did with your product. You learn a lot about how it fits into their lives and their daily habits and ceremonies.

So what about while it was being used?  Did the consumer like how it felt? Was it too heavy? Was it easy for them to know where their hand goes and how to use it? Where do they keep it when not using it and why? Does it live alongside other products? Are those our brands too? This type of SMOT research can be done with contextual inquiry. It’s about asking the right questions, but also being able to observe how and what people do to uncover those unarticulated needs. Those become the really valuable nuggets to design from.

Working backwards, was it easy for the product to be found in the store? Was it in the aisle she expected? Were they a repeat shopper of our product? Did they just stumble upon it or was it planned? How/why did they pick ours over the competitors’?

Is the package communicating how it should be used? (maybe we saw a disconnect in home) Did it clearly communicate its benefits? Was it beautiful? Was it clearly identifiable and easy to shop? Welcome to FMOT.


At FMOT you are dealing with a number of factors that are very dependent on the category and the motivation for shopping that category in the first place. These are the critical moments in a brand engagement that connect with a person, and depending on the reason for the trip down the aisle where your product lives, is how you need to curate the FMOT for a user.

If you are shopping for detergent, however, you are likely shopping the brand first, which could be identified by either color or form language at a distance, or benefits and attributes like scent and ingredients when closer.

For example, if you are a workout fiend and you are shopping for supplements, you are likely looking for ingredients and benefits first.

There is a hierarchy of brand that needs to be clear to your users at FMOT and there are several types of research methodologies you can use depending on what you want to learn. Shop-alongs in context can work really well to understand in a one-on-one situation what someone’s motivation is for buying what they are buying. In other cases, you can do virtual research with full scale virtual shopping that uses eye tracking and heat mapping to show you what things catch a user’s eyes as they walk down a specific aisle of a specific store and a specific category. You can use this to evaluate existing products as well as incorporate in-progress designs to evaluate as part of the iterative design process, allowing you to gain knowledge and modify designs accordingly.

Well, what about before they even gets to the store? The first thing that occurs in the “consumer to product” engagement experience (shopping in layman’s terms) have key motivators driving it: Want and Need. Both of which are situations fueled by emotion.

Think about how different the situation of buying your child a present, versus buying an OTC medication, a furnace filter, a bottle of wine or pet food.

Upfront behavioral research in this context is critical in order to understand the emotional state of the individual we’re communicating with, to ensure we are addressing the motivations of that transaction through design.

So now that we have worked backwards, we see all the tools we actually have to be able to design an amazing experience that addresses every need from beginning to end and back again. So as designers we have 5 key things to ask:

1. What’s the motivation?
2. What’s the problem?
3. What should we learn?
4. How do we learn it?
5. How do we use the learnings?

That would be the difference between some firms that just design some pretty object but in what context?

Designing with research as your fuel is key. Everything that has a user has a series of moments that hook them to become consumers. How they find out about the thing.  Where to locate it. Where within the store (b&m or online) is it. Then once they find the aisle, they go through a process of identification in order to find the thing they are looking for. Then they buy it, transport it, get it home, open it, use it and store it.  Every single step of that process is an experience that we as designers can curate, and each step is also an opportunity for us to study that experience to optimize it for consumers and the products we are connecting them to.

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Demetrius Romanos Speaking at FMCG Confex

Posted on 11/19/13 by Colin Shanks in Thought Leadership


On Thursday, November 21st, 2014, Vice President of Design & Innovation, Demetrius Romanos will be traveling to Delhi, India where he will be speaking at the FMCG Confex – Innopack Conference in two sessions! One session will focus on determining means to differentiate your product through packaging in order to gain competitive advantage and drive impulse purchases, while in the second, Demetrius will discuss innovations in packaging design and aesthetics and how they enhance consumer convenience and product appeal.

Be sure to check back after the event for a full recap of his trip!

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Kaleidoscope Welcomes Janet Deaton, Vice President, Strategy & Insights

Posted on 11/4/13 by Colin Shanks in New Hires, Press, Press Releases

We are happy to announce that Janet Deaton has joined the company as Vice President, Strategy & Insights where she will lead the evolution of the firm’s strategic consulting capabilities, refine creative and client service processes, and support business development efforts.

Janet brings with her over 20 years of experience in the branding and design industry, including time at LPK, Landor, Fisher Design and most recently Interbrand, where she led strategic development initiatives for key clients and brands including P&G, ConAgra, Dole, Wilson Sporting Goods and others.

“Janet’s arrival to Kaleidoscope comes during a time of great momentum. We’ve recently restructured our teams to better leverage the synergy of our multi-dimensional offering, and our 35,000 square foot Chicago studio is undergoing a complete transformation to better support how we work,” states Kaleidoscope CEO Gary Chiappetta. “Janet will be an integral part of our future.”

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