Tuesday, April 28, 2009

design with meaning

The topic for this month's Final Friday (an informal company get together on the last Friday of each month) was "design with meaning". This philosophy is at the centre of all our work, and as a way of exploring it we each brought in an example of a company or brand that we personally felt embodied design with/without meaning and shared it with everyone else. Here's a run down of who chose what and why (as a generally positive bunch, most or our examples are "with meaning" apart from the last two shown below)...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

party spirit

We have been working on the branding and packaging for Swedish family-owned brewery Spendrups' latest launch into the RTD (ready-to-drink) market, JINX. It is the first RTD made with real fruit juice to be launched in Scandinavia, offering a more natural and honest fruit-flavoured alcoholic drink.

Our Account Director Julia says, "In Sweden RTDs are drunk by men and women alike, and achieving the balance of natural fruit and party cues as well as creating a design with appeal to both sexes were the key challenges."

The label demonstrates a "perfect blend of fashion, fruit and party, whilst offering the widely recognized and assuring cues of spirits brands".

We also enlisted everyone's help in coming up with a suitable name, with the ultimate winner, JINX, alluding to the mystery and surprise of a night out partying with friends!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

value vs. good value

Shrinking consumer bank balances are driving a new value aesthetic across every retailer

As Tesco, Boots and other high street FMCG retailers in the UK & Ireland try to take on Lidl and Aldi, ultra-value product lines are appearing at even lower prices than the standard house brand versions. Standardised packaging, un-inventive primary colours and pound store prices are luring consumers hungry for cheaper options and exploring new territory in the value market.

beans means value which would you choose?

But even in these tough times, do consumers really just want the cheapest products they can find? And if this is the case, are they buying own-brand simply because it's the cheapest option? Where does design come in? Surely consumers can still see and touch - they are not solely motivated by their wallets as a means to decide what branded - or non-branded - products to buy. Brands spent the last decade educating consumers in the visual codes of premium, organic, authentic and health; surely consumers haven't forgotten...?

During the good times, the bigger brands encountered very little threat. Pack updates were often gratuitous rather than incisive. During recessionary times, brands are put under the spotlight. Those that ignore the issues facing their consumer base risk alienating them. If people feel that the big brands are indifferent to their situation and don't do anything to stand out and be different, they will inevitably consider cheaper alternatives.

And why not? If brands can't be bothered to define what makes them different and be able to say it - clearly and succinctly - then value brands become fair play. And those brands that can't be bothered and then focus on price to hide their shortcomings risk losing their consumer base for good.

In recessionary times, showing concern about price and acting responsibly is a value in itself. But lazy discounting is not enough. Brands also need to polish their foundations, be confident about their proposition and be single-minded about communicating it! The new recession brief is to find a meaningful link between price and the main benefit of your brand - be it functional or emotional.

EasiSingles gave consumers a meaningful link, and with it enough reason to buy this brand over own-label equivalents or its big-brand competitors who appear to have given up the ghost! EasiSingles is an Irish brand of individually wrapped slices of cheese perfect for melting over toasties and burgers, and part of a relatively static category.

With a pricepoint slightly higher than own-brand value, we helped take EasiSingles from being a rather nondescript functional player with a lack-lustre message to one which embraced its single-minded, good-value benefit: meltability of the highest order.

Our 'meltable' pack design helped take EasiSingles from a declining brand losing 12% of sales year on year to a positive sales uplift of over 30%. And this was achieved initially without advertising. In tough times, without the luxury of big advertising budgets, packaging and branding have to work even harder. More bang for your buck, or more melt for your cheese in the case of EasiSingles.

Good brand design means you can demonstrate good value, rather than just cheapest value, and in the process establish long-lasting emotional loyalties to new and existing consumers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

legally branded

In February we created an identity for the new Government legal regulator LSB, having picked up the brief last October. We created an authoritative marque, respectful of legal traditions whilst giving LSB a modern and distinctive edge.

Designer Catherine Barnett, who also designed the identity of the UK communications regulator Ofcom, explained, "Regulation plays an important part in our lives, meaning these organisations need an approachable and public face. Brand identity is vital to how regulators communicate successfully with consumers, businesses and stakeholders."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

all change!

We welcomed Amy Smith at the start of April as our new Account Manager. She'll be working closely with Julia. As Amy S joins, trusty Amy M is leaving us - thankfully only temporarily though, as she's off on maternity leave. Good luck Amy and see you at Christmas! Whilst Amy M is away, Anna Chipperfield (who was studio manager at JKR) will be stepping in to hold the fort. So, some new faces, some with the same name as the 'old' faces. This could get confusing...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

pure soya

The Pure brand has made an interesting strategic change to capitalize upon the benefits and growing popularity of soya. The dairy free spread has always had a soya variant in its range. But new packaging presents the brand as a soya brand and aims to leverage the soya proposition in spreads and cheese slices. Whatever next?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

irish biscuits

Our new packaging design for Jacob's creams in Ireland has just hit the shelves. People had forgotten just how special creams biscuits are. So we ensured the biscuits were given iconic status to make consumers stop, look and remember just how much they fancied a cream biscuit with a nice cuppa...