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The Emotional Branding of Senso Creative | #CompanySpotlight

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Specialised in print, video and digital media production and strategies, Senso Creative is an agency dedicated to developing creative and unique marketing communications for its clients.

Coming all the way from Serbia, the team at Senso believes in emotional branding and in connecting people through the power of creativity. Their incredibly colourful style is hard to miss and even fills this page below with beautiful splashes of colour throughout.

For this Company Spotlight, we had a chat with Aleksandar Babić, creative director / owner at Senso Creative, to learn more about this intriguing company and its history.

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How was your company born and where are you based?

Since age 8, when I got my first PC, I was fascinated with Adobe graphic design software and digital print prepress. I had an excellent opportunity to learn from professionals since my father was running his marketing agency. Already in high school, I started working on my first graphic design projects. During faculty and master studies, I worked as a freelance graphic designer, web designer and photographer, broadening my knowledge in different creative fields. With more complex projects and more prominent clients, I started to organise creative teams and produce advertising campaigns, which resulted in starting Senso Creative agency in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia. Senso Creative is a full-service creative agency capable of producing various forms of marketing communications. Our specialisation is a packaging design for FMCG products.

What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?

When I have realised that it is necessary to specialise in one specific field of graphic design, it seems to be the turning point in the Senso agency. The biggest challenge was establishing a new workflow and creating a more extensive network of partners and project team members to realise packaging design projects successfully. Packaging of FMCG varies in different forms and techniques and can be printed on different materials, such as paper, plastic, glass, metal, plastic film. Some of them require specific prepress techniques, which makes producing premium packaging a challenging task. Besides the creative part, it is necessary to have advanced knowledge of complex printing jobs, like flexography. The packaging design process involves several phases that need careful design and organisation to get the project finished. I find the project successful when there is no visual difference between 3d project prototype design presented to the client and the finished packed product on the retailer’s shelf. Getting the necessary know-how to organise such a project enabled company growth and work on more significant projects.

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Which was the first huge success that you can remember?

The first huge success was a project in 2018 that included packaging design for kid’s chocolate and print management. Within the overwhelming competition of chocolate products, we successfully designed new packaging that would stand out and help the client reach a new big market and double the production. The print was vast and complex nine colour job that was done in Ankara, Turkey. Since the print cost was very high, our team travelled to Turkey to check every print run and make sure it matches ideally desired colour and design.

With brand new packaging, the client got the product listed in one of the biggest retailers in East Europe.

What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?

In last few years we started more concentrating towards foreign markets. Since we have mastered packaging design workflow and printing, we seek more sophisticated projects where we can fulfil our potential and keep growing by outreaching the local market.  Cooperation with major printing houses in the region enables us to create packaging design and offer clients complete print management, leading to significant cost and quality optimisation. We have considerable potential for developing such services for the European market, while overseas, we create full prepress and consult clients for printing.

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Can you explain your team’s creative process?

Since most complicated, I will present our typical packaging design workflow organised in several phases. The first phase includes a detailed briefing session with the client. It is crucial to understand client’s needs, desires and marketing goals perfectly. In packaging design projects, we also help clients choose the right design direction by conveying various research. 

After collecting vital information and defining all elements and design direction, we proceed to the creative phase, starting with brainstorming. In this segment, we research and analyse competition products and similar designs to understand which concept will make the product stand up among the competition. 

After creating two different concepts, we proceed with creative design and production. Our team carefully design every element of the packaging until all fonts, colours, brand’s logo, images, and other visual elements are in synergy. The next phase includes presenting the client 3d design model, mockup that shows precisely how will finished and packaged product look. 

Following a few phases of design correction and a brainstorming session with the client, when a design is approved, we start creating a print prepress file. This includes all necessary technical data, like die cuts, layouts, printing type and capacity, declaration texts. Besides the complex job of preparing design and colours for different printing techniques, our team makes sure that texts and other elements are according to the product labelling and packaging laws in respective markets.

The final phase includes print management - communication with the printer and print proofing job. Our team is always near the printing machine when we run the first job.

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How does your team remain inspired and motivated?

Since the creative process can be complex and mind consuming, I find that time management is crucial to have an efficient and inspired team. Burnout in the creative field is very counterproductive in the long term. That is why we created a specific workflow, so clients can understand the process and allow us to plan better. Our creative work sessions are sometimes equal to having fun, but still guided and organised to make us create more efficiently. 

How has COVID-19 affected your company?

The beginning of covid crisis, with quarantines and lock downs, increased FMCG products' sales, especially food. With more profit and less packaging left, many clients started investing in new designs, so 2020 was even more busy than before. This year this trend seems to slow down, probably as a start of a late response to the crisis. 

The organisation of our work was not much troubled since we have small creative teams dedicated to different tasks, which can easily work from home, or any other location.

Which agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

Absolutely:

What is one tip that you would give to other agencies looking to grow?

Focus on a specific segment of a field and create efficient organisation and workflows. Building an internal system, even in the creative field, allows organisation to scale and grow. Creative processes can be complex and time-consuming, so proper planning, guiding and organising have significant value. A good system, organised and tailored to specific agency services, allows educating new personnel and creating bigger teams.

How do you go about finding new clients/business? (Pitching, work with retainers, etc.)

In local markets, clients usually reach us by referral. The recommendation usually comes from printing houses or clients. We develop digital communications for the international market, where we are searching for potential clients or partners.

What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

The advanced and rapid development of technology will help designers to work on more sophisticated devices, allowing them to unleash their creativity from any place and different devices. Major graphic software companies are developing advanced mobile applications, enabling creative to work on demanding tasks, even on tablets. 

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Do you have any websites, books or resources that you would recommend?

Besides Behance, Pinterest and of course Creativepool, I would recommend the following resources for better understanding flexography, one of the most used printing techniques in packaging:

Also, The Packaging Design book is a great collection of inspiring and effective solutions.

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