Backbone Branding

Professional in Packaging Design.

About Backbone Branding

For 10 year, Backbone Branding has been creating the brand identity and visual communication for brands from all around the world. Through their experience, the overcome challenges and the results that their clients have noticed due to their work, the team believes that design is a very powerful tool if used the right way. Especially in a society where efficient visual communication is more than ever the key to success. The team believes in using creativity and imagination in order to achieve transformation. The Agency has been given the title of Agency of the year 2019 by the Pentawards.

  • Winner of Packaging Design Award.
  • Specialized in Packaging Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Packaging
Yan Natural Juice Packaging

Yan Natural Juice Packaging

Packaging Design


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Interview with Backbone Branding

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Ever since I can remember I was using my imagination for structural and design purposes. My memories as a kid consisted of drawing toys, and then building them from whichever materials I could find around me. Design thinking was a natural thing for me, and something that I did instinctively without any effort. I believe that whatever you’re passionate about as a child, should be developed and worked on, because this is what you will be most successful as an adult.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I founded Backbone Branding in 2009, back then in Armenia branding was quasi non- existent or very basic . We were the leaders in Packaging design and it is very satisfying that a decade later Armenia has many studios and agencies in this field that are competing on an international level. This shows that when you open the doors and prove that successful branding and packaging has such a major and fundamental role and a major part in advancing the sales of a brand many are ready to follow and enter this field. We are proudly the winners of more than 50 international awards and in 2019, we were selected as the Agency of the year by the Pentawards as well as coming #14 in the top 20 all-time winners list, which is such a proud achievement for an agency of 10 years who is competing with giants of the field.
What is "design" for you?
Design doesn’t only mean a composition or a structure that is created to please the eye. Design is way more than that. It is such an efficient and powerful tool when used correctly. In the field of branding and packaging, good design plays a crucial role in determining the success of a brand and its longevity.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
If you take a look at our portfolio, you’d notice that we don’t only focus on one style or type of design. Each product, each brand each project has its specific needs and challenges and it is our job to exactly pinpoint them in order to find the solution that is precisely fit for the specific work. Over the years we have and are still creating designs for a multitude type of works located all over the world, from branding of pubs, restaurants, cafes, to a wide variety of food and beverage products and other markets and you can see that the styles vary however they always stay true to our essence and our philosophy of work.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
Choosing one that is our favorite would be impossible. The thing is there is a different story behind each design. Each process has its own memories, difficulties, challenges and successes. So if I had to give you an answer, I would say all our designs are my favorites, because if our team and our client is not 100 percent convinced with the work and satisfied to the max with the outcome, the work wouldn’t be made public and put on the market.
When do you feel the most creative?
There is no specific time, or place. Creativity comes from inspiration, and we can be inspired whenever, wherever. Inspiration sometimes rises at such unexpected moments. It can be a situation, a sight, a specific event or people. And usually this type of organic non forceful creativity has the best result.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
In order for a design to be impactful, all its phases should be very well thought of meticulously taken care of. When we start a new project at Backbone we see it as a whole, an entity that should be strong altogether. It is true that each member of the team has a specific domain of expertise and contributes with their own knowledge and talent on a specific part, however, when the work is done all parts should complete each other smoothly and unite in order to have a strong result at the end.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
Designing is one of the most gratifying and satisfying things to do. The whole process is not easy and can be sometimes exhausting, but even in the difficulty there is some sort of joy. And finally when you see the outcome of your work in front of your eyes, then that is such an indescribable feeling.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
There is an unmatchable joy in seeing the designs that you have worked on realized and being seen by endless numbers of people. In our field of branding and packaging design, our works are not only seen but also used by consumers, we are well aware that our designs are entering their homes, being a part of their daily lives and that is such a big responsibility to have. One of our latest works was the rebranding of one of Armenia’s main dairy lines ‘’Ani Dairy’’. And after the work was made public, seeing our job everywhere around us was very satisfying, and hearing people come to us and tell us how much they loved the new design was the most rewarding thing ever.
What makes a design successful?
In order for a design to be successful, it should be useful and functional.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
There are a lot of aspects to consider, for a design to be called good. Of course, it should be successful from an aesthetic point of view, with a harmony within the composition, colors, patterns and all details. However, a good packaging design should also be able to communicate a message, create an emotional link with the consumer and speak to him directly. Also functionality is crucial and the design should be practical, because if a work is beautiful to look at but totally useless, then what good is it for ?
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
Designers should be aware that their work is seen by an endless number of people in a daily basis. They are directly or indirectly affecting people. Needless to say that visuals have such a primordial and powerful impact on people. And with this power comes huge responsibility. It is our duty as designers to send the right messages, to contribute in making the world a better, safer and more enjoyable place.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
We are heading towards more waste free, sustainable and eco friendly designs. Anything to save our planet, thinking about the future of the coming generations.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
Our latest exhibition was just 2 weeks ago in Hangzhou China. We were invited and selected to exhibit at one of the biggest F&B exhibitions by FBIB. The 3 day event was visited by more than 6000 people and worldwide brands such as Coca Cola, Nestle, Pesi Co, Mondelez etc. were exhibited. Unfortunately our team couldn’t be present because of the COVID19 situation at the moment, but we heard some great feedback and our world had a big success.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
We are very inspired and fascinated by Nature. We believe that the way Natural elements are designed is the most efficient, simple af functional form of design.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
We try to study and deeply understand the intelligence in the design of Nature, how the fact that every little detail or element has a purpose and nothing is left to chance. We believe that our interventions as designers should also be smart and minimal. And that is not a very easy thing to achieve. Less design and more Nature is what we stand by.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country? We live in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. A lot of our works are for international markets, and we truly believe that design is an international language. However, needless to say that designers are affected by what’s around them so of course in ways our culture influences us, however this influence is more in a deep and subtle way, rather than a superficial appearance.
How do you work with companies?
For us the client plays an essential and primordial part. We understand very well that building a professional relationship with our client, whether it is a company or an individual is crucial for a successful outcome. Therefore we need to understand the main needs of our clients, what’s their goal for the brand and how they see its future. The base of our work is creating a healthy communication structure with the clients, because only then we would have an outcome that satisfies all parties.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
With experience, it becomes easier to identify talent and creativity. For example, at Backbone Branding, we always believe that is our duty to scout new talents, and take them under our wing, to help them evolve and reach their true potential with time. One of our responsibilities as an established agency is to help create a strong and powerful generation of designers. And this is what Backbone is doing in Armenia.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
This is how a new project starts at Backbone Branding. First we truly communicate with the client on a deep level, in order to understand how they see thor brand, and other goals for it. We really focus on their story, their past until the point where they got to us. Because in order to create a successful outcome we need to learn about the essence of a brand. After the design and strategy department starts a thorough research about the subject, they create a presentation to the client involving numerous options for them to choose from, in order for us to better understand the path we will be adopting. After this chosen option is further developed and elaborated and other presentations follow to always keep the client involved and see their opinion and keep them always updated along the way as the project moves from one step to the next.
Can you describe a day in your life?
Work, work, work but also a bit of fun. If you visit us on a working day, you would notice that our agency is super busy but also there is an atmosphere of calm and focus. We believe that in order to be maximum productive and efficient, there should be a friendly work environment, where everyone would be comfortable in order for us all to reach our maximum potential. A day in my life usually is attending many meetings with different clients, have daily briefing sessions with the different departments in our agency from creative, to strategy to marketing etc But also taking a break from time to time, gather around for some time out and then get back to our work we love to do more than anything.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Patience. Passion. And devotion. The field of design is not the easiest job. You have to truly love what you do, because you will be spending countless hours, literally the biggest chunk of your life doing this. So in order to enjoy your life, you have to love your work, embrace its challenges, and those sleepless hours. Because once you see the reward and you witness your own work, getting realised and in front of your eyes, the reward is priceless.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
The positives are the satisfaction of creating something, seeing the fruit of your imagination getting realised in front of you and being seen and consumed by endless numbers of people. Design has such an influential power, and I believe that it truly can play a key role in progressing societies, and this is such a blessing. However, this aspect has also a big responsibility, and with big responsibilities come great challenges, struggles, sleepless nights and a lot of heavy work.
What is your "golden rule" in design?
In design, you should always keep up with what’s going in the world and around you. This is such a competitive field, and a lot of talents rise continuously. For us at Backbone, in order to stay on top of our game, and stay true to our Agency of the year 2019 title by Pentawards, we are always making sure to stay up to date and evolve our work and make ourselves better with each day.
What skills are most important for a designer?
Patience is key. A good designer knows how to never give up when faced with challenges. Also of course a good eye for details. Being meticulous is essential. And also to be always well aware and research daily about what is going on in our field in order to develop themselves and stay up to date. Needless to talk about the technical parts, and knowledge of the latest softwares and tools and the importance of always working on their skills.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
Our agency is filled with books, of course there are the ones from all over the world in which we published. But also design books, calligraphy, pop Art or even History and everything in between that could help us evolve and feed our inspiration. Of course, software are super crucial these days, but also we never underestimate the effect of a pencil between your hands. A lot of our projects have parts of them handmade and illustrated by our talented team of illustrators. Because our world is always based on meticulous attention to details and this result is best done by hand.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
Yes, the biggest part of our day is based on design, but I have learnt throughout the years to organise my day, and not be consumed. As a creative director and founder, I have many responsibilities and I need to schedule my time ahead and make sure to stick to it in order to attend to all my duties.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
It depends on the project's size, the scope of work, and the required services. At Backbone we work efficiently, effectively and without wasting our time and that of the client. Usually, a project can take from one month up to several months.
What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
Where I draw my inspiration, because we create continuously new projects that are so different from one another.
Who are some of your clients?
We have clients from around the world. At the moment we are working on the rebranding of one of the biggest and oldest coffee chains in Saudi Arabia. Also a lot of our clients are some of the biggest, leading names in the local (Armenian) market, and who import worldwide. Examples we could give are SIS Natural, Ani Product, Agroyans …
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
The first step when a concept is born is always magical and special. Getting inspired and having different ideas pop out continuously in your mind and be developed is such a blessing and an exciting process.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
We have many interesting projects which we are working on right now or that we will be starting in the near future. Also we are super excited at the fact that many of our most recent works are going to hit the market by the end of this year. Also this year has been such a blessing with the many international awards (such as the Dieline, Marking Awards, A’ Design Awards… ) that we have received. Also we have many awards and major announcements coming very soon and we can’t wait to discover them and share them with the public on our social media platforms. On a personal level, I am honored to be a judge on professional competitions (Pentawards, D&AD, Marking Awards), and I am always looking forward to seeing firsthand what talents in the field of design are offering us each year.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
Our work in Backbone Branding is strongly based on a teamwork process. Each department has a key role, and the project is only complete with the contribution of each of these sides.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
We do have many exciting works right now, however they are confidential, and we can’t reveal them before they are on the market. However, stay always tuned to our social media platforms because we are revealing them one by one.
How can people contact you?
We are very active on all our social media platforms, (facebook, instagram, linkedin, behance.. ) and we answer almost immediately. Also are reached by email at pr@backbonebranding.com where new clients can write to us about their project and scope of work and our team will be happy to assist, and schedule a zoom meeting if needed in order to better understand their project needs. They can also simply call us at +374 91 366 008
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
Thank you for taking the time to read. And stay tuned because many wonderful announcements are coming soon. Also to anyone who is seeing this, always believe in yours potential and the power of hard work, I am saying this from experience, because being selected as the Agency of the Year 2019, and as one of the top 20 all-time winners (by the Pentawards) would have been impossible if I didn’t believe in myself and in my team.

Extended Interview with Backbone Branding

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
I have graduated with a degree in product design from the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts. Before that I already had an interest in visual arts and especially photography which I had developed throughout the years.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
There is something magical and special in creating. In building a concept from scratch and seeing it getting realized in front of your bare eyes. It is wonderful what one’s imagination can produce. Also I believe in the influence and the power of design. I believe good design can make life easier, better and even change our reality by improving it. I became a designer because it was my passion even since I remember. Since I was a child, I used to draw toys and then create them with materials I found laying around me. It’s all I ever wanted to do.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
It was my own choice. And the only thing I ever imagined myself doing.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
Everything related to branding, packaging design and product design. I believe and it was proven to me throughout the results I had within the years that good branding and design are key elements in determining the success or failure of brands. As for designing, I am fascinated by the functionality and the intelligence of design in Nature, I make sure that my designs are always respectful of Nature, and efficient and practical. Less Design more Nature.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
Perseverance. Patience and always hard work, learning new things and keeping up with the latest trends and happening not only in design but also in the world.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
Of course talent is key. But also a great designer is one that never stops working on themselves, seeking ways to better their skills and learn something new at every opportunity.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
Really good design should be able to create an emotional link. In branding and Packaging design, one of the main reasons that a consumer chooses your product, is because you succeeded in grabbing their attention and you were able to create an impact and send him a message that spoke to him on a deeper level.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Over the years, results, numbers and statistics with brands that we have worked with have shown us that good branding is a key, major and crucial element in the success of a brand. For example I can state one of our newest projects which was the rebranding of a very well known dairy product line in Armenia (Ani Dairy). Lately, the brand has been struggling and has seen its sales numbers decrease noticeably. After we have created a rebranding, by changing the whole image of the brand, and even the name and logo, the sales have skyrocketed and the brand is once again a leading position in the field.
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
The secret ingredient for success, is to design not only to seek a beautiful result, but to also believe that your work should have a transformative impact, an effect that would change things to the better. This is the high purpose for design and understanding this is key.
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
Always work hard, and improve yourself, and never stop learning. There is not one single thing that I did. It’s an ongoing process to always work on bettering myself.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
Nothing far from the visual arts field. I have always had an interest in photography which I had developed throughout the years. So, I would say a photographer.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Design is a tool to make life better, less complicated and more pleasant. Design is also a companion for you in your daily life. If it’s done in a good way it would improve your reality.
What helped you to become a great designer?
My passion for this field and my willingness to always evolve and persevere.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
This is such a competitive field, so challenges are there and there are many. And even after the Pentawards have selected us as the agency of the year in 2019, and we came at #14 in the list of top 20 all-time winners by the Pentawards, I can confirm that the challenges have not disappeared, as a matter of fact that have even become greater. Because once you reach such important achievements, you have to even work harder to stay on top of the game and keep your reputation intact and up to these international and high end standards.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
Although I can’t exactly reveal our coming projects, I can say that one of them would be a campaign that involves sustainability and finding waves to help save the planet and find solutions for its longevity.
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
As an Armenian designer, my goal is to show that Aremenia can excel in design and the potential of talents we have here. As a matter of fact, last year in London, for the Pentawards, it was such a proud achievement to have not only our agency’s but our country's name stated as we received the title of Agency of the year, especially among such international and leading names in the field of design.
What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
To always come up with great design solutions for challenges and problems they are facing.
How does design help create a better society?
Design is such an efficient and effective way of communication. The message it sends is instantaneous and straightforward, and it has a crucial role especially during those times, where visuals are more important than ever. So if you are creating a good and positive design you will be sending a powerful message that will reach people in their daily lives and transform them.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
It depends on the requirements of the project, and the scope of work needed. Each case is unique. Usually it takes a few to several months.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
We first start by a deep and meticulous research about the theme. Our team is super attentive to learn about the subject in question and see any news relating to it. Of course before this, we would be communicating with the clients on a deep level, in order to understand their vision for the project and his goals and aspirations. Because first and foremost we believe that our work relations should be based on good partnerships with our clients.
What is your life motto as a designer?
Imagination for Transformation. To always use creativity to chase news ideas, go after new challenges, face them and overcome them to create efficient solutions and transform our daily reality.
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
Both influence each other, after all design is always evolving and changing with the times and what’s new. However, design has also a strong hand in changing realities and our day to day lives. So I can say that trends and design complete and complement each other.
What is the role of technology when you design?
Nowadays technology is important, and key, and simplifies the task of a designer thanks to all the new softwares and innovations happening. Therefore, it is always crucial to be updated and use it when the need arises.
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
Design is a bunch of things that complete each other. First and foremost it’s about having a composition that is harmonious to the eye. The right colors are essential in expressing your concept, your message. Of course in Packaging design choosing the right material is crucial, and it is not an easy task. We at Backbone Branding, do many tests and trials on different materials in order to find the one that is suitable for the work in question. After all these elements complete each other, and if one of them is not the right choice for the project, then the project wouldn’t be successful. This is why a thorough study and in depth experiments are key.
What do you wish people to ask about your design?
Our designs are always based on a strong concept and long hours of study and research, we love it when people are interested and ask questions, when they find the message of our work, or want to further understand the story behind it.
When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
It is always a great and fulfilling feeling to see a great, successful design. As a designer myself, I immediately think about the process behind the work, the techniques used and the try to decipher how it was done and thought about. The critical thinking designer in me awakes, and I start asking questions to myself about how I would have approached the work if I was doing it myself, and all the common and different ways I would have found a solution to the challenge.
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
I believe in teamwork and I believe that good design is done by a group, where each person has a thing to add and plays their role in completing the project. At Backbone Branding, during the course of the years I understood the importance of my team and the value they bring to the work. Therefore, I do believe in co-design if a project asks for it, the only crucial point is to find the right person to be designing with.
Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
We are influenced by everything that is around us even when we do not notice it. It’s not only people, but also sounds, situations, places or even happenings. Anything and everything can play a role in affecting our subconscious in a certain way, and I believe that our designs are a way for this influence to be expressed and let out.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
By practicing, learning, always reading and keeping an open mind to anything. I believe that a good designer is one who is constantly evolving and absorbing what’s around them.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
I wouldn’t say I am personally famous. All the awards, recognition and distinctions we have received, we received because of our works, because of what we have produced and continue on producing. And all of this happened not due to the efforts of an individual, but the hard work and talent of a team. At Backbone we always emphasize on the value of teamwork, because we know that everyone of us has a key and essential role to play. Pentawards gave us the title of Agency of the Year 2019 and I am very well aware that we have achieved this success thanks to the fact that I have such a talented team, which therefore makes a strong Agency.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
Motivation is key in all the work we do. And as a founder and creative director, I believe that my role is not only to motivate myself, but also to get my team always feel their best and ready to face any design challenges and work difficulties they come across. What fuels my drive is the ambition to always find the new idea, chasing the concept that will surpass everything previously achieved and bring something new to the table in terms of design, innovation and creativity.
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
As a child, I used to spend hours drawing, creating illustrations of toys and planning their structural form, and then try to create them with any material I could find around me. As long as I remember design has been my true passion and calling.

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