Brand Union's Glenn Tutssel reveals his drinks branding secrets

With just one day to go until the inaugural Impact Conference kicks off - the one-day branding event of the year for designers - Computer Arts took time out with four-time D&AD Yellow Pencil-winner and key Impact speaker Glenn Tutssel.

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As the London chairman for global brand and creative consultancy Brand Union, which he conceived with Martin Lambie-Nairn back in 1992, Tutssel will bring a wealth of branding experience to his speaker session at Impact Conference tomorrow, where he'll discuss how to work with your clients to achieve the most effective results.

Please give us a bit of background about you and your role at the Brand Union.

I created the Brand Union with Martin Lambie-Nairn, which became the holding company for Tutssels and Lambie-Nairn, which we sold to Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP.

I studied under Tom Eckersley at the London College of Printing (now LCC) and then joined Lock Pettersen working on identity projects for clients such as Esso, Union Carbide and The Economist. I then joined Michael Peters & Partners becoming the Creative Director. Projects at MP&P were for Shell, BP, The Royal Mail and Rank Xerox.

How can drinks branding respond to the fickle tastes of consumers?

How can drinks branding respond to the fickle tastes of consumers?

I then set up Tutssels, becoming part of the Brand Union. My work at the Brand Union has included identity projects for Credit Suisse, Fidelity and Old Mutual, but the focus of my work has been branding for the drinks industry for clients such as Diageo, William Grants, Bacardi and SAB Miller.

I also sit on the Royal Mail SAC (Stamp Advisory Committee) and am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

You'll be discussing drinks branding at Impact – what are the main challenges facing this market in 2014?

The challenges facing drinks branding is the discerning yet fickle nature of drinkers who will 'graze' when out clubbing, constantly changing their drink.

Legal restrictions are among the challenges when designing drinks packaging

Legal restrictions are among the challenges when designing drinks packaging

Has vodka had its day? Is dark rum the new white rum, and is cognac the new whisky (depending on which market you are dealing with)? Drinks will experience the same restrictions as cigarettes, making the challenges for beautiful packaging tougher.

How do you think branding agencies can best tackle these challenges?

You can't sell a product that doesn't live up to the expectation of the consumer. We believe at the Brand Union that the experience of the brand is the brand, and the world around a brand and its values will become of paramount importance. You can't sell a consumer a 'lifestyle' - they have to want to live it.

From your experience, how extensive is the demand for ultra-premium, collectable packaging in the alcohol sector?

The demand for ultra-premium is growing. The rich are getting richer, and the collectibility and gravitas of super-premium whisky such as Dewars Trophy and The Royal Brackla 35-year-old is growing, creating great brand recognition and loyalty in the super-premium sector. Brands like Glenfiddich 50 are looking towards the super-premium sector to build awareness.

A key theme running throughout Impact will be collaboration. How important is a collaborative approach to achieve world-class branding in this sector?

Collaboration between client and designer is the key to unlocking great creativity. Working in partnership is the way to achieve greatness and, by writing the creative brief together, the boundaries of success are limitless. Peroni was the perfect partnership between the Brand Union and SAB Miller because we worked as one team. Good teamwork doesn't mean less work, just more productive work.

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