Enric Batlle, CEO and Creative Director Batllegroup

July 27, 2021


"Our designs help to create branding through packaging, they are designs with a soul"

Batllegroup is an independent branding agency, with offices in Barcelona, ​​Madrid and Guangzhou. From the LAB, which works in a transversal and collaborative way with teams and clients, they articulate the project strategy. Its CEO and creative director, Enric Batlle, explains to us how they conceive design and what some of their most representative packaging projects have been.

When was Batllegroup created and what are its differential values?
Battlegroup was born in the effervescent Barcelona of the early nineties after years working with different designers who came from the American culture. There packaging was a reality, on the other hand in our country it did not become a design specialty and there were very few professionals specialized in this field. So Batllegroup was born with the vocation of bringing to our country all the knowledge acquired to become pioneers and leaders in Branding and Packaging. We were born from the need to communicate that we are an agency with a very personal design touch and we have evolved to be a multidisciplinary team where the areas surrounding the design of brands and packaging are also relevant. We work to value design accompanied by powerful strategies and concepts to help brands achieve their results and grow.

They are based in Barcelona, ​​Madrid and Guangzhou. Why did you decide to establish yourself in the Asian market and not in another European country?
We have been working with international brands and clients for many years, mainly in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. We really wanted to explore the Asian market, which is undoubtedly, both for our clients and for us, an opportunity for the future. It is the most challenging market of all, both because of its rapid growth and, above all, because of its cultural diversity, which is reflected in the way it communicates. In addition, as they are expanding, they begin to have the sensitivity of the importance of good design as a key element for brands. It is a great experience that we learn from day to day.

They approach the projects from the LAB. What does it consist of?
The LAB is our spearhead both for external clients and for the agency's medium and long-term objectives. It is from where we articulate the project strategy, in addition to leading the research and innovation areas. We like to emphasize that the LAB works in a transversal and collaborative way with the rest of the teams and with the clients to find the way in which the brands and their packaging can gain relevance. We work analyzing the context, investigating trends and, above all, deeply understanding the brand for which we work. It is key to be clear about your goals to translate them into powerful concepts and an iconic design that helps you connect with people.

What do you prioritize when designing the packaging of a product?
When we start a project, and once the strategy is defined, the most important thing is to know how to transfer it to a powerful concept, the Big Idea, since this will be the axis that will support the design. The concept must be clear and differential, to make our design distinctive. We seek to communicate in a meaningful and relevant way to connect with consumers. This is what will make us different from the competition. And that is why our designs, taken care of down to the last detail, help to create branding through packaging. We like to say that our designs have a soul. Otherwise, they would be a mere aesthetic or functional element.

Are they applying sustainability and ecodesign criteria?
Sustainability is one of our strategic pillars. Internally, we continuously try to improve our processes, optimizing the use of resources, and creating a corporate culture that encourages the team to generate a positive impact on the environment. Externally, hand in hand with brands, we help them through branding and packaging to transfer the transformation in which they are immersed, as well as their sustainability initiatives through product innovations. A good example of this is Café Saula and its new range in compostable packaging. The objective was to connect with the target from the quality of its blends, adding the new strategic pillar of sustainability and preserving its premium brand positioning. To reflect this, from Batllegroup we created a new design based on the three great assets of its branding: iconic typesetting, the color yellow and the aluminum container. We invite you to see the result
on the linear.

¿Would Botanical Origin be the best example in this regard?
Undoubtedly! Botanical Origin was a great challenge for both the client (Reckitt) and us. In a very mature category, we had to launch a new range of detergents with sustainability and its composition with 97% botanical ingredients as the main value. It had to convey naturalness and respect for people and the environment while highlighting its power as a cleaner. And we get it! We created both a brand and volume design that breathed respect, naturalness and efficiency and that we have no doubt that it is connecting with the new generations, more aware and concerned about the type of products they consume.
Is it easier to design a brand from scratch than to redesign a classic like ColaCao?
Each project is unique. When it comes to redesigning a packaging, you have to understand very well the DNA of the brand, its current moment and its future strategy in order to know how to translate it into design objectives. It is very important to preserve your DNA and respect the brand assets on pack, that is, those distinctive elements that help a brand to be recognized, to see which ones to keep and which ones to evolve for its revitalization. Instead, you work differently to create a totally new design. It is very important to understand the objectives of the brand well and build the new design from what is relevant to the consumer and distinctive for the brand and its product, with a bold concept and unique storytelling.
Among the latest awards they have received, those obtained for the limited edition Made of Spain 2019 of Licor 43 stand out, in which they took the tiles of the Austrias neighborhood in Madrid as their starting point. How did the idea come about?
This is one of the projects that we are most proud of and that does not stop giving us joy. Made of Spain is a series of limited editions with which Licor 43 wants to celebrate the uniqueness of Spanish art and culture. To focus the proposal, we did a very complete investigation on the iconic elements of the craftsmanship characteristic of Spain. We searched every corner of our country with the intention of escaping from the usual clichés and finding a popular element that had the potential to become a concept with an interesting and unique storytelling. We didn't have it that far! The final design is inspired by the beautiful gold and blue tiles of the centuries-old taverns in Madrid's Austrias neighborhood. With meticulous and careful work, we mix lines and motifs, resulting in a very contemporary design.

Are there any other projects that you would like to comment on?
The redesign of the brand and the packaging of a love brand like ColaCao, because redesigning a brand with the history of ColaCao is an exciting challenge and, moreover, not easy, as I mentioned in a previous question. The objective of the brand was to reinforce its leadership and evolve its branding to continue connecting with the new generations, who ask for more proximity and transparency. So one of the brand's requirements was to offer more information about the product and its recipe. We take advantage of the great storytelling that ColaCao has to explain the history of its little lumps, which goes from the harvest to the selection of cocoa, with an illustration that wraps the packaging giving a 360 ° effect. We seek to convey a simple and honest naturalness, without being overly promising, through the cocoa tree, which transports us to the place and origin of the ingredient.

Where is packaging design currently heading? Sustainability is, more than a trend, a premise, but do you also agree on a predominance of minimalism, in parallel with sensory, experiential packaging that interacts with the consumer?
Totally. This question is an answer in itself. At Batllegroup we are very attentive to packaging trends and market contexts that make packaging evolve. Innovation is at the center of our agency and that is why we conceive packaging from an omnichannel perspective, taking into account consumer trends. For example, this pandemic has brought us new ways of shopping, such as the strengthening of local commerce or the explosion of online shopping - we have an article on this subject on our blog that we invite you to read. These changes in consumption force us to propose new ways of selling and communicating products with packaging.

With the rise of e-commerce, is it increasingly necessary to design thinking about the screens (that is, how the product will look not only on the shelf, but also on the mobile, the tablet, etc.)?
At Batllegrup we have been designing holistically for years. We create a solid strategy where packaging plays a different role depending on where it is marketed or used. There are many ways to work. Sometimes, we have to move a packaging design from physical to digital, so we have to adapt the contents so that they connect with the public in the channel that will be marketed. It is complemented with contextual images or audiovisuals that help to better understand the benefits or use of the product. Other times, the product is 100% conceptualized thinking about where it is going to be sold, a fact that determines its format, volume, materials, visuals and messages to be communicated.

Is the design sector in Spain in good health? Have you been affected by the pandemic and the emergence of increasingly accessible technologies that allow the customer to "design" their product?
I am happy to state emphatically that the design sector in Spain is in good health. In fact, it is the young designers who are creating trends. I see it every day with the students of the Master's Degree in Branding and Packaging at BAU, Barcelona University Design Center, of which I have been the promoter and coordinator for more than 10 years. Although it is clear that the pandemic has affected, for better and for worse. Who does not?! For example, working remotely. On the one hand, sometimes it is a challenge when leading teams, although, on the other, thanks to online tools we can be more flexible and allow us to collaborate with professionals from all over the world, co-create in another way with our clients or bring the designs closer to the user to obtain their feedback in a much more agile way.

What goals are set for this 2021?
It is a year where assertiveness and empathy will play an important role. Where we will be very aware of where the future of packaging is going and we will continually rethink the role of design and specialized agencies like ours. We will continue to move forward to focus the growth of Batllegroup by placing value on design, sustainability and digitization. And we cannot do all this without working hand in hand with brands, consumers and the new generations hoping to contribute, through design, to transform the world in which we live.

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