Unilever plans inspiring design book ahead of roster review

Unilever is assembling a book of ‘inspiring design’, ahead of an expected roster review at the end of the year, according to sources close to the manufacturer.

‘Unilever is writing a book about design that will be distributed around its portfolio of brand managers,’ claims an unnamed source involved with the project.

‘The book will feature inspiring work by groups that it hopes will inform the future direction of its branding and packaging design,’ the source continues.

The book is expected to be ready in the next six months or so, and is understood to presage a roster review at the fmcg manufacturer.

Design Week contacted a number of UK groups that regularly work with Unilever which had not heard about the book and were not involved in its production or, to their knowledge, were being featured in its pages.

‘The book seems to contain work by groups which have not necessarily worked with Unilever before, but whose work the company admires,’ says the source, adding, ‘Unilever really is changing the way that it works with design’.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the London office of one of Unilever’s packaging groups reports that, ‘I have heard that design is on its radar and I know that it is revisiting its roster later this year, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it is producing a book addressing its future design direction.’

An external design consultant is understood to be helping Unilever to shape its future design strategy, as well as overseeing the book’s production.

Unilever would not confirm reports of the book, and said that any potential roster review would be local.

The group operates what it claims is an informal roster of about 12 design consultancies, including Coley Porter Bell, Wolff Olins, Blue Marlin, Seymour Powell and Rose Design.

The manufacturer’s chief marketing officer, Simon Clift, oversees a collection of international brand managers who in turn are responsible for procuring design (DW 10 June 2008). Seymour Powell founder Richard Seymour is the design director for Unilever’s Dove brand and now also consults on its Lynx, Vaseline and Knorr brands.

The Unilever approach:

  • Unilever’s 24 biggest-selling brands are headed by vice-presidents, responsible for design procurement, including Silvia Lagnado for savoury food products
  • Senior vice-presidents report to president of categories Vindi Banga

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