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from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

Finding a New Creative Spark: Masking Tape, Mylar, and Wanda

By: Josh Halstead, Senior Designer, Corporate Communications, Landor

Innovative, transformational design requires more than just a good idea. It’s about iteration, collaboration, and having the freedom to explore. Josh Halstead explains why Landor San Francisco is creating “Wanda” to push creativity forward.

Recently, I gave a lecture on personal branding to a group of seniors at a local university. During the Q&A session, a woman in a mustard scarf raised her hand. “So, what have you learned since graduation?” she asked. “Two things,” I replied. “One: When you work at a studio, you’re accountable to a team. You won’t own your ideas anymore. This may shock you at first, but you’ll realize that the very idea of private ownership holds you back from creating your best work because perpendicular viewpoints transform linear ideas into crisp and authentic communication. Two: In an interview, your candidacy will be based on your ability to soak in information—everything from design philosophy and visual hierarchy to basic color theory—and apply it. Let’s say you get the job. Now that you’ve spent years tightly gathering this knowledge, your next design challenge is to slowly let it go by determining when it’s relevant to a given project and when it’s not.”

Walking home along Market Street later that night, I remembered seeing my diploma on the wall and thinking I had this “designer” thing hashed out. I’d read Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style and Mullër-Brockmann’s Grid Systems. My garage was filled with posters, hand-drawn logotypes, brand guidelines, packaging systems, and tattered sketchbooks. I’d studied hard to become a specialist.

In The Will to Improve, Tania Murray Li describes the “specialist’s” tendency to demote complex problems to technical problems: “After they draw their boxes, they’re only able to look at what’s inside of them.” In today’s hypercompetitive world, the bar for imagination and novelty has never been higher. As a designer at Landor, I constantly strive to think outside of Li’s so-called boxes—to push the boundaries of what’s expected and create new ideas and ways of viewing the world. It’s about erasing boundaries and confines to step outside perceptual norms.

Going beyond the office walls

Earlier this year Landor’s San Francisco design team made a promise: To find new ways of inspiring one another to think and act creatively. So we installed “Wanda,” a dynamic initiative that took over the public alley next door to our office. Made of nothing but technicolored masking tape, we created a full-scale installation to celebrate color and place, demonstrating that creativity can be found anywhere, and made of anything.

Perhaps the hardest part of imagining what Wanda would become was the enormous world of possibility it presented. As a result, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to focus creativity when there aren’t any boundaries. Here are three approaches to help designers push their creative growth in the absence of a blueprint.


Collaboration without participation is impossible. Achieving high levels of individual participation depends on switching motivations from extrinsic (e.g., competition, evaluation) to intrinsic (e.g., curiosity, self-expression). When each team member feels compelled to solve a creative challenge, invert thinking techniques, build on life experiences, and adapt new modes of problem solving, ideas can symphonize into novel concepts.

Auditing a meeting with the Wanda team is like stepping into a beehive. A designer vaults an idea into the air; it’s snagged by a strategist, twisted and spun back to the center of the table. Buzzing discussion and “what if” scenarios follow. Wanda is a tool that inspires original thinking in the way we work. In contrast to conventional gatherings where participants take turns presenting their work and receiving feedback, Wandites hang their ideas on the wall without explanation. Each participant slaps a Post-it sketch of their concept on boards of foam core. The remainder of the meeting is spent pushing each concept as far as it will go. Adopting this model has built a cross-departmental esprit de corps at Landor.


We learn through play. The former CEO of the Lego Foundation, Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, believes that “play allows us to test our capabilities.” Think back to the first time you strapped on Rollerblades and barreled down the sidewalk or notched in the last piece of a difficult jigsaw puzzle. These achievements enhance our ability to think critically, engage curiosity, and trust creativity. From birth to age six, our brains grow 90 percent because we’re forced to make sense of a tremendous amount of information. Our nerve cells form networks and channels that knit together the very fibers of who we are. As adults, the freedom and mental space that play allows is perhaps even more important than for kids. With innumerable expectations, responsibilities, and stressors comes a need for free thinking and experimentation.

As part of our new Wanda installation for San Francisco Design Week, we have begun experimenting with mylar, a shiny polyester film often used to make balloons. Our first idea was to cover the entire alleyway in a fluid blanket of mylar, but after covering about 100 feet, the wind kicked up, ripping the material from the ground. One of our strategists saw the unusual forms the wobbly strips made when whipping in the wind and suggested we build on this. Ten minutes later, we had an extension cord dangling from a window two stories up. We plugged it into an industrial fan and used it to inflate a 12-foot mylar balloon—think car wash air dancer meets C-3PO.


Is creativity born of Dionysian intervention or Edisonian perspiration? It’s tempting to observe Carmina Burana’s “O Fortuna” or Michelangelo’s David and define creativity as “genius” or an “instance” rather than a deliberate process. In the film Amadeus, composer Antonio Salieri deifies Mozart’s prowess: “Astounding! He had simply written down music already finished in his head!” What Salieri failed to consider, however, was that his rival was an earnest disciple, assiduously studying the music of previous masters before making his own.

At a certain point, it’s important to just start making. When you’ve established the core concept, it’s still hypothetical. You need to test it in order to make it real. With Wanda, we empirically assessed our hunches through rapid prototyping. Cue scissors snipping, roles of technicolor tape unraveling, and power tools humming to life. By creating a quick, to-scale model of our hypothesis, we gave ourselves the liberty to fail. And when one idea didn’t work, we reconsidered, reimagined, and prototyped yet again. From wrapping trees in mylar to designing experiences with popsicle sticks, our quick proofs stirred meaningful conversations and propelled us toward compelling solutions.

Entering the great unknown

Mysterious as it may seem, creative growth is actually not a mystery at all. It requires endurance and persistence, shifts in mindset and openness to new ideas. If we apply the same paradigm-busting deliberation to our working process—not just to the end result—we open the reservoirs of our consciousness and allow new ideas to form. So embrace ambiguity, explore relentlessly, and whisk theories into practice. Abandon fear, push aside judgment, and drive yourself forward one step at a time.

Now get going.


(2017, May 29). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from
Antonio Salieri (Character). (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from
de Sousa, F. C., Pellissier, R., & Monteiro, I. P. (2012). Creativity, Innovation and Collaborative Organizations. International Journal Of Organizational Innovation, 5(1), 26-64.
Kanani, R. (2014, February 08). The Transformative Power Of Play And Its Link To Creativity. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from
Li, T. (2007). The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.
Tharp, T., & Reiter, M. (2006). The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life: a Practical Guide. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Josh Halstead, Senior Designer, Corporate Communications, Landor
Josh Halstead is a designer at Landor in San Francisco where he’s responsible for translating business strategy into creative, bespoke solutions that push at the boundaries of design, technology and branding. Drawing on experience across a broad range of B-to-B and B-to-C industries (from juggernauts to startups), he’s identified recurring patterns that have shaped his problem-solving methodology around a systems-thinking approach that helps clients form coherent and consistent customer relationships. Rigorously informed by comprehensive immersion and human-centered insight, he’s created dynamic experiences that unify and amplify across platforms for clients in technology, financial services, consumer electronics, professional services, energy, and nonprofit spaces. Josh holds a BFA in graphic design from Art Center College of Design and is currently pursuing his MBA at Presidio Graduate School.

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

These Cannabis Strains Have Unique Illustrations from the Artists who Tried Them

What better way to design for a product’s packaging than to use it first? That was exactly the idea One Twenty Three West had with 1964 Supply Co. cannabis products. Wanting to give consumers a feel for the experience before they even bought it, the agency instructed illustrators to use a selected strain and design the label from there. We spoke with One Twenty Three West to learn more about how they selected the esteemed illustrators, worked with them (even in locations where cannabis isn’t legal), and more.

Watch this video to learn more about the illustrations of 1964 Supply Co.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

One Twenty Three West: The client was a new cannabis grower and supplier looking to rise above the ‘stoner’ brands that dominate the market. We developed a name that reflected the history of cannabis (THC was first isolated in 1964) and a positioning that appeals to millennials (a supplier of experiences).

The numeric logo is largely inspired by a traditional seal of quality. The logo and branding elements were intentionally kept bold, simple and black and white, to complement—not conflict with—the illustrations.

Almost all of the pieces were custom die-lines, created to allow best access to see the product, while balancing legal restrictions (tamper proof sealing, for instance), with details like making the packaging smell-proof, resealable, etc.

We peppered textural elements throughout the series of packaging—soft-touch finishes on the paper, blind emboss logos, perforations on flaps—all part of creating an unexpected experience.

In total, we produced over a 100 different pieces (boxes, jars, stickers, baggies, tubes, etc).




What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with 1964 Supply Co. packaging and how did you accomplish it?

One Twenty Three West: For the packaging, we wanted each illustrator to experience the product and create the art for it while under that influence. One of the hardest things with an idea like this is getting the product to all of our illustrators—Joe Wilson for instance is in the UK, where the product is very much illegal.

What instructions did you give to illustrators to ensure you got a design that was eye-catching and indicative of the product?

One Twenty Three West: We sent a sample of a different cannabis strain to each illustrator, asked them to use the product and then interpret the strain in their unique style. The idea being that a customer could look at the range of strains and see which one is right for them, through the artwork.

We had each answer a series of questions about themselves, their experience with cannabis, with the strain we sent them and about the art they created. We also had them video the creation of their art. This became web and social media content used at launch.

How did you choose which illustrators you hired and how did you mesh everyone’s unique style under the same brand?

One Twenty Three West: The budgets were reasonable, but not huge. We were able to work with respected illustrators around the world, have them self tape their process and answer supplied questions. The objective was a brand that was beautiful, appealed those who appreciate the arts and new experiences, and to give people a visceral understanding of the effects of each strain, through the packaging alone.







What was the most challenging part of this project?

One Twenty Three West: A big part of the design challenge for this project was simply that standardized, government regulated packaging hadn’t really been done before—we were entering a new market without a lot of clear rules or regulations.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

One Twenty Three West: Our favourite part was working with the illustrators, and the final illustrations that resulted. This was more of a fine art project than a design one—illustrators had free reign to be as creative and interesting as they could be. Most of them had never had this much freedom, and they all over-delivered.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

One Twenty Three West: Don’t be afraid to fail. This was a very ambitious project, with a lot of illustrators all over the world. We had tight timelines, small budgets and a lot of unknowns. But we believed in the creative idea, and keep going despite the obstacles.

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

The Dieline’s Best of the Week

We’re committed to bringing you the best packaging design content around. Check out our picks for the top packaging projects and articles from last week.

16 Tequila Designs For National Tequila Day


Don’t F*ck the Ocean: About the Clever Sex Toy Packaging that can Help Save our Seas


This Chicken Restaurant Branding and Packaging is Super Dynamic


A Vibrant Cosmetic Line with Ukrainian Influence


Why Special Inks Are So Important for Packaging


Brand Spotlight: LOLA Pads and Tampons Take a Fresh Approach to Feminine Hygiene


Check Out This Regional Chinese Beer


This Syrup Packaging is Flashy and Classy


Gold Bar Whiskey Takes Luxury To a Whole Other Level


Check Out the Sexy New Look of Carlsberg Black Gold

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

Rustic Happiness Milk Concept is Bound to Bring You Joy

It’s the simple things in life that can truly make a difference. Designed by Malygina Marina, Rustic Happiness is a milk concept that has a charming look and steers away from typical milk clichés.

“Rustic happiness—it’s boundless expanses, amazing meetings and joyful discoveries.”

“The task was to stay in the milk category, but to concentrate people’s attention on emotions. To communicate with the consumer was made with the help of a sense of joy and happiness.

One of the most important part of the packaging is the endless Russian nature, which color differentiate SKU in the product line. However, after a longer contact with the packaging it becomes clear that the main heroine is the cow and its rustic happiness.”


Designed by: Malygina Marina

Country: Russia

City: Moscow


from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

These Drugstore Hair Care Products Look High-End

Basil Element is a totally refreshing line of hair care that you could find at a drugstore. Designed by Blürbstudio, it’s got an all-natural look while still being cost-effective on the production side.










“Our task was to create a minimalistic packaging concept for a high-tech line of white cosmetics (shampoo, mask, conditioner, milk). The overall look had to stand out from the competition and at the same time had to be cost efficient (which meant no extra bells and whistles). As with all drugstore products, the packaging had to reach certain production and safety standards, but we didn’t want it to look bland, so we turned the paper inside out (so that the matte finish would be facing the outside of the box), which gave the packaging a surprisingly nice texture. Due to our local regulations, the product range has to be sold separately, but we wanted to imply that intertwining shampoo, milk, conditioner and mask throughout the week helps maximising all the benefits that come from using basil based haircare products.”


Designed by: Blürbstudio

Client: Elfa Pharm

Photographer: Matt Wojnar

Country: Poland

City: Krakow

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

These Natural Wines Have a Unique Shape for Their Labels

Mucho has teamed up with Pepe Raventós in order to design these unique wine labels.

“Pepe Raventós is the 22nd generation of the family, and is currently in charge of the vineyard. He pursues with enthusiasm the same objectives his grandfather and father did, but goes a step further. With minimal intervention, he produces a series of personal wines in the garage of his house in order to make the best of each of the parcels of the estate. His goal is to create sincere wines in the wake of an unrepeatable terroir* and a demanding viticulture respectful with nature.”



“The first example of this are the wines signed by Pepe Raventós and his team – Bastard Negre, Xarel·lo and Ancestral. Two natural wines, and a sparkling wine of xarel·lo that has been elaborated following the ancestral method. All of them are natural wines from vines of about 50 years old, unfiltered and without any type of additives (including sulphites). The parcels in which the grape has been raised are located at different heights and geographical positions: Xarel·lo comes from the Noguera Alta, the highest terroir of the estate; Ancestral grows in Mas del Serral, located next to Pepe’s house; Bastard Negre grows in the Terrasses del Serral, on the west side of the estate.”

“The different levels of the terroir are represented in the bottle through a label formed by three papers of different organic shapes, texture and color. Labeled by hand one on top of the other, a volume is generated that alludes to the different heights.”

*Terroir: the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography and climate.


Designed By: Mucho

Client: Raventós

Printer: Vidal & Armadans

Location: Barcelona

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

Sprite Launches Its Newest Edition of Their Summer Lyric Cans

Sprite has launched its newest edition of their playful Summer edition cans. 

Lil YachtyVince StaplesDRAMVic MensaKamaiyah and Kap G are all teaming with Sprite for the soda’s summer ad campaign that will cover its cans and bottles with the up-and-coming rappers’ lyrics.”

Summer Sprite Cold Lyrics Series

“The ‘Summer Sprite Cold Lyrics Series’ is the third installment in as many years of similar programs for the beverage. But where the past years’ cold-inspired (or at least cold-referencing) rap lyrics were more backward facing towards hip-hop’s past, this version is the first initiative solely based in the genre’s present.

After launching the campaign in 2015 with classic lyrics from The Notorious B.I.G.NasRakim and others, last year Sprite mixed old and new with 2PacMissy Elliottand J. Cole. Now Bobby Oliver, director, Sprite & Citrus Brands, Coca-Cola North America, calls the latest roster of acts the ‘next generation of hot hip-hop artists’ who represent a ‘fresh perspective’ in the culture.”








Via: Billboard

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

This Tequila With Mexican Origins is Nothing But Elegance

Mexican agency Anagrama designed this beautiful elegant packaging for Casa Pujol tequila.

“Tequila Casa Pujol 87 is a white 100% blue agave tequila created in 2013 and distilled in the Jalisco highlands. Tequila Casa Pujol 87 has a ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ classification; a geographical indication for food products whose quality and characteristics are the result of the geographical location in which they are produced.”

“The purity and flavor of Tequila are central features standing out from this product. We developed a simple brand that manages to highlight these attributes elegantly. The typographical arrangement has the objective of extolling the most remarkable product information: Its origin and quality. 

The color palette considers very neutral tones harmonizing with the simplicity of the product’s presentation. We introduced a gold & blue ribbon that wraps the packaging adding a touch of elegance and distinction. We were also in charge of the creative direction for the glass bottle physical design. The guiding concept in the bottle’s design process was achieving consistency between the brand values and materials employed.”

“The icon takes inspiration from the Santiago Apóstol temple, located in Jalisco. The architecture and design of this building is representative of Mexico’s history and culture.”








Designed By: Anagrama

Location: Mexico

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News

Get Healthy With GoSimple

Co-motion Studio designed this simple and straightforward packaging for GoSimple.

“GoSimple is a health and nutrition startup that makes your health decisions simple by creating the finest products with transparent ingredients, clear labeling, and proven results. To differentiate themselves from their competition, GoSimple partnered with Co-motion Studio to create a clean brand that incorporated clear and concise packaging for their Essential product line.”

“From supporting a healthy brain to boosting energy, Essential is a daily supplement for all around mind and body support. Easy grab-and-go single serving packets create a convenient health solution with scientifically researched ingredients. 

With the saturation of health products in today’s market, GoSimple wanted to strip away the clutter and simplify their content for consumers searching for a solution. For this reason, the Essential label design is color-coded for Women and Men and highlights the key functions that are supported by each formula.”





Agency: Co-motion Studio
Client: GoSimple
Designers: Stacey McClure & Jon McClure
Photographer: Chris Whonsetler 
Location: Indiana, USA

from Blog – The Dieline | Packaging & Branding Design & Innovation News