Tuesday, August 25, 2009

stockholm calling

Sweden is well known for its great design and sense of aesthetic. We’re lucky to be regular visitors, working with Spendrups, Löfbergs Lila and Brämhults to name but three. When we’re Stockholm bound, we always try and make time to have a nose about to see what’s new, what catches our eye and what inspires us. Here are some of our favourite finds, showcasing the Swedish love of colour, type, illustration and above all, simplicity, alongside some of our own work (click for larger images)…

1 & 11 Saltå Kvarn; an organic food brand with a wonderful colour palette and naïve illustration style; 2 Renée Voltaire, another organic brand, with great quirky typography. The brand has just launched a range of feminine care products (3); 4 more simple and eye-catching illustration on these ricecakes from Friggs; 5 we designed these cute little coffees for Löfbergs Lila this year.
6 this tray sums up Swedish design for us, found in the Design Torget shop (a mecca for all things Scandinavian) at Arlanda airport; 7 ‘tea-chic’ by Friggs with more crazy but beautiful type; 8 more of our work for Löfbergs Lila; these emotional espresso packs were produced in 2006; 9 meet Pee (or‘Kiss’ in Swedish), part of a pair of brilliant toys to help young kids with toilet training; 10 we spotted these simple, bright and engaging own-label packs in ICA; 12 we designed Sweden’s no.1 water brand, Loka; and Gravendal (13), a cider with street-cred for brewers Spendrups

Saturday, August 22, 2009

hello and welcome

Our new girl in the office this month is Anna Brolin, who has joined us from Design Bridge as International Client Director. Back from her summer holidays in Sweden, Anna will now be taking responsibility for developing our presence in Scandinavia, where our current clients include Löfbergs Lila, Kobbs Tea, Spendrups and Brämhults.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the genuine article

Are consumers losing trust in the authenticity of packaging claims?

Desire for authenticity has been one of the key drivers behind design aesthetics for the last few years. Authenticity in a world of superficial branding promised a richer, more meaningful and responsible choice of product. Packaging designs, in particular, have emphasised such aspects as heritage, ethics and provenance or any combination of these in an attempt to promote the authentic stories behind their brands - sadly, in a rather predictable way.

But claims of organic and heritage originals have now lost some of their previous appeal as consumers have grown more savvy about the truth and value behind them. Put simply, they don't always reflect the point of a brand anyway! Brands that have trodden this path look bland at best and contrived at worst - just so that they can fit with a consumer trend - and in so doing raise huge questions of credibility.

Our recently launched redesign of Brecon Carreg bottled water wanted to find a refreshing, relevant way of communicating the brand's Welsh provenance of outdoor refreshment. The pack shape and design are focussed on the unique geography of the Brecon landscape whilst bright, impactful graphics move away from the dull greens and blues among illustrated mountains so characteristic of bottled waters.

Standard, authentic pack shapes, colours and stories are beginning to lighten up and reflect a desire, particularly among younger consumers, for fun and escapism. Consider Jinx. An exciting new brand just launching into the Swedish alcopop market, Jinx does something very different from the rest of the category: it contains raw organic fruit juices. But instead of drawing inspiration from the organic market or emphasising its natural juice credentials, our designs picked up on the pleasures of its taste and sociability. Worthy organic, natural hues gave way to pure energy and enjoyment - a perfect fit with the core audience and a direct reflection of their clubbing habitat. It's a brand confident enough in its authenticity to focus on raw pleasure.

For younger markets, authenticity and honesty are the norm, but synthetic and GM foods aren't necessarily seen as scary or dangerous either. If brands tell the right story in a modern way and offer both fun and escapism, they don't need to see authenticity as the Holy Grail - although it might be a genuine claim. The question we should be asking is not just how to make brand experiences more authentic, but how to make them more interesting and enjoyable.