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The Makprogres Saga

Packaging design. A lot of pacakging design. Client: Makprogres
 

We have been working with Makprogres for over 10 years. It all started with a Royal TM project – packaging design for an instant drinks product family. Not only was it a great success, but that project introduced us to Gligor Tsvetanov – co-owner and manager of Makroprogres.

 

THE BEGINNING

We met Gligor in the sunny streets of Blagoevgrad and left the meeting with a few boxes of samples and the best task we had ever received: “We want bright colours!”. Nothing more. We had absolute freedom and were trusted with designing the right packaging appearance, to build a look for the original Vincinni brand (the company is located in Vinica – a small town in Macedonia which inspired the name of a whole range of products). Vincinni was a brand with a history: nice name, typography that needed just a little push to become proper; however it also had a ridiculously inept packaging design – a bunch of obstacles to overcome.

 

FIRST PROJECTS

The first projects are the foundation of the whole range; that's the brand’s groundwork. Unfortunately, one cannot always start with the best choice of packaging. Other factors such as storage availability, marketing and manufacturing concerns also come into play.

A good chess player thinks 5-6 moves ahead. A good designer should anticipate that except for Swiss rolls, the brand will also be used on mini rolls, cakes, strudels, chocolate bars, cake bars, cookies, wafers, you name it. Should anticipate that brand appearance needs to be consistent, regardless of the packaging type: box, polypropylene foil, paper labels. Should be able to provide offset printing, flexo printing, screen printing or rotogravure and be able to print in small towns and big cities, in Bulgaria, Turkey or North Macedonia. Should make sure that the design stays relevant on the market over the next 5 years at the very least. That it is successful and adaptable to various markets: Balkan Peninsula, Central and Western Europe, the Middle East... Meanwhile, we were also working on another Makprogres brand – Tortina, as well as the design of a whole brand new set of products.

A task of such magnitude is not something graphic designers deal with often. It takes a lot: late nights and no days off, effective and earnest communication, partnership and mutual trust. This is a flat-out designer holy war. Despite its gruelling nature, such work acts as a great incentive – it urges you to give your very best and rewards your effort with its mind-blowing outcomes: after less than a year of working together, Makprogres began to steeply increase their manufacturing productivity and enter new markets. In an interview with Macedonian media, Gligor shared what he owes his success to: “good product, good commercial practices and good, world-class design”.

Every designer is happy when their work is appreciated, and receiving positive feedback is a real pleasure. But there is an even more definitive measure of success – facts: some of Makprogres' competitors made vain attempts to copy their products and design; the officers at the Bulgaria-Macedonia border had never heard of a company called “Makprogres”, and yet they instantly recognized “Vincinni” – the first brand we created for Gligor; for over ten years now Makprogres have been using our services, and statistics show that clients typically change agencies every 3-4 years. These are the facts.

 

VINCINNI FINEST

A saga is like a road. And when you share a long road with somebody, sooner or later you have to go through obstacles. Overcoming those obstacles and finding clever solutions is what counts. In any relationship, achieving a favourable outcome on different stages of development is a two-way street. And as a rule of thumb – the benefits go both ways, too.

Once Vincinni and Tortina had become established brands, the next steps were to develop a set of higher-class products and expand the company's portfolio, to build a proper public image for Makprogres. The creation of the new Vincinni Finest brand didn't have any hidden pitfalls. The more interesting task though was that of creating Makprogres’ new corporate identity

 

MAKPROGRES

Simply put – people identified the manufacturer Makprogres with its most successful brand – Vincinni. That meant that the company wouldn't be able to benefit from its good reputation as a manufacturer of quality products for another type of products. It could not branch out into new directions. It could not profit from its advertisement's cumulative effect.

The campaign dedicated to solving that problem called for an intervention by a marketing consultant. A key role in the campaign was played by PR activities, which were based on a brand new overall design corresponding with Makprogres' progress, print materials design and media advertisement. The campaign's success was a strong boost to Makprogres’ opportunities for development and predetermined the next campaign and our next task: the long-planned revamp of the Soncheva Dolina brand, which Makprogres employs in another of their ventures – packaging and distribution of pulses and spices.

 

SONCHEVA DOLINA

A couple of words about the word brand: Both Vincinni and Soncheva Dolina (meaning Sunny Valley) are highly felicitous brands. Anyone who has visited the expansive valley where Vinica is situated would immediately understand the brand’s origin – the air is penetrated by the rays of the setting sun. Parenthetically: we have always been impressed by the spirit of shared patriotism in Makprogres’ management. They always find strength in their roots, the place where they grew up. And, in turn, they reciprocate. They give a living to their fellow citizens, build new buildings and swimming pools, create an environment.

During our in-depth discussions with Igor Atanasov – Makprogres’ marketing consultant, we highlighted Soncheva Dolina’s unique features and the message it was intended to send. Soncheva Dolina's final brand-strategy consists of 37 pages of perfectly-reasoned argumentation. Such a professional attitude always guarantees an excellent outcome. The graphic mark’s creation went on in parallel with packaging revamp. This brand’s product has a long and successful history, they were well-known on the local market and therefore the new design had to be recognizable to loyal customers. It had to be modern and eye-catching. It had to be of high-quality and resource-efficient at the same time. To be informative. To be successful.

Redesigning packaging is a time-consuming process. It is not a rare phenomenon for both old and new packaging to coexist on store shelves. The older ones are more familiar, which is important for such projects – they are bought by loyal customers. And as for the new ones ... well... the new ones sold 4 times better than the old ones.

 

BROWNIE, KEKSINNI, ALMI AND ALL THE REST

Makprogres were quick to appreciate the power of a good brand and they have shown flexibility in utilizing and developing their strong network of brands. This facilitates the introduction of a new trade mark, underpinned by a well-known umbrella brand, and the repositioning of both individual products and whole product categories into a different price category. This is just how Chocolá, the cheerful Almi cow, Brownie, Keksinni appeared “out of nowhere”. Tortina, once an ordinary cake bar, became the more prestigious (and more expensive) Tortina Plus; Vicinni reached its maturity with the Vincinni Original quality sign.

You make rapid progress as long as every step you take is in the right direction. Regardless of whether the original idea came from a well-written assignment, or a clever graphic design solution, we took all those steps together.

 

ARMONIA CRACKERS

Along with the expansion of their range of sweet treats, Makprogres decided to venture into a market, entirely new to them. The new Armonia brand's development and its packaging design could be best summarized with the words “outrunning your own shadow”. Creating the brand's graphics, packaging look, including them in the product catalogue, the first samples – a juggle verging on the impossible. Receiving sub-brand alterations at midnight, photos of yet more samples at 1:00 AM, and final corrections to the product catalogue – at 3:00 AM. Having the feeling that you are a team, working side-by-side, though you are hundreds of miles apart; making a fine, successful design – all of this is more inspiring and rewarding even than the first reviews from the Cologne Fair: “Everyone went crazy about them”.

. . .

All that's been written here and all the projects shown on Makprogres's website are but a small fraction of everything they have created. The saga shall continue.

 

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