Make Your Business Stand Out!


From creating iconic products Destileria Limtuaco's owner talks about how packaging is important to making your products fly off the shelf! 


Olivia Limpe-Aw knows a thing or two about packaging. For generations, her family has led the country’s oldest distillery, Destileria Limtuaco. Even after centuries in operation, it continues to keep things fresh: The company’s ever-expanding product line includes the popular Manille Liqueur, launched just two years ago, that’s recognized both locally and abroad not only for its tart taste, but distinct look.



What part does packaging and aesthetics play in building a brand?

When people buy a product, they look at the packaging first and they look at the brand name: Does it catch your attention? Will the packaging entice you to pay money for this product? To buy the product, first they must be attracted to it.


Packaging-wise, what was your vision for Manille Liqueur?

The first thing is you have to have your brand name: you have to know the kind of product you want. We knew that this was calamansi liqueur, like a limoncello. We chose a brand name and decided to go with ‘manille’ which is ‘manila’ in French. To go with that, we decided to give it a French country look, but we incorporated Filipino elements in the design, because this is a Filipino product. We wanted to export Manille Liqueur, and one thing you should know is that if you want to export a product, it has to be well-known in the country of origin. If you’re selling a brand, you have to build that own brand in your country first before you go elsewhere.


Who comes up with the packaging and label design for your products?

All our packaging is done in-house and I’m very much involved in its creative direction. If you’re the brand owner, you can opt to have it done outside or in-house if you have your own artist, but either way, the important thing is that the brand owner must have a concept. You have to really know the look and feel you want for the product before you can even have it designed. Know what you want, then set out to make a plan how to do it.


How would an entrepreneur come up with a concept if they’re not artistically inclined or they don't trust their own taste?

You don’t have to be artistic to have a concept. If you can’t think of the art side of it, you must at least have an idea for your product. You can farm this out and get a third party to do the design for your packaging, but you must be able to communicate and convey to them what you want to achieve, what the idea behind this brand is. Your artist is not a magician or a mind reader. Without proper direction, you will not be happy with the outcome and your artist will also be frustrated. Even if you do outsource the packaging, you’ll still be asked, “What is your concept for the product and the brand? What is the style you have in mind? What do you want to highlight?” You can't just say, "Oh, just make something for me." It doesn’t work that way. You, as the brand owner, must give specific instructions and directions to the people who will design your packaging.



What’s the difference in design approach between generic and branded products?

There are different products for different markets: Those who aren't as budget conscious will want a product that they can associate with, a product whose look reflects their desires and suits their liking. Branded products are packaged to fit the lifestyle and wants of a specific market.


Your customers have their own expectations also: If you have a high-end market, they go for branded, but they have expectations in terms of quality, looks, and price. You have to know which markets you’re targeting, then you package your product according to what your market will like. Even if you think one style is the best, you have to have their tastes in mind. When we design something, we must make sure it appeals to our intended market.


What does your company’s own brand message come in, if packaging principles largely depend on what the market likes?

By setting the direction, there's already that part of you in the packaging, because it's based something that you like. When you give the designer instructions or a brief, the fact that you were attracted to that particular design or style, means it’s already a part of you. You’ve kind of ‘pre-selected’ the look of your product for your market, since you chose it. There’s value judgment there. Then, when you’ve finalized your packaging, you can test the design on your market before launch. You can do an informal FGD to test if they like it. You may like your packaging, but does your market like it? If not, you have to go back to the drawing board.


In general, what tips can you give entrepreneurs on coming up with a look for their product?

First, you have to have a concept. It’s like when you're drawing, you make an outline--that’s your concept, and then you just fill it in. The next thing is knowing who your market is. Once you know that, then you’ll know what your price point should be. And when you know that, you’ll know what kind of packaging materials to use, what design elements and style you want for your packaging. Packaging is really market-driven, so knowing your market is key.


You also have to get good people to help you. When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s an all-around job, you do everything yourself. What if you don't know what to do, or you don't have any artistic inclinations? Then you’ve got to get help. It really depends what stage your business is in and what amount of experience you have. You can try it yourself, but it might take longer. For me, self-study and making mistakes, they're your best teachers.


We're a very old company, so we already have hundreds of years of experience. We already have a formula for our packaging, but ours won’t always work with other kinds of products or companies. If your business is new, it’s not that easy. Don't be afraid to ask for help, otherwise you’ll make mistake after mistake. At least if you have help, your chances of doing it right are higher than trial-and-error.


Artwork requires some skill. If you don't have the skill for it, do your research first: Nowadays, it’s so easy to Google things on the internet, if you like a certain look or style. But don't copy--just decide on the style that you want and try to choose the imagery that best reflects the product that you want and the concept behind the brand.