01 April 2021
Design as a powerful asset in the fight for relevance
Design is one of the most powerful assets in a marketeer’s arsenal in the ongoing fight for relevance. It is a touchpoint that every single customer and potential customer interacts with in some way.
It can help us in multiple ways but we like to think of it as essential to:
- Being seen and standing out in a sea of sameness (improving mental and physical availability)
- Being memorable (through amplifying and creating brand distinctive assets)
- Being explicit (or even better implicit! J) about what we are (functionally) and why anyone should care (emotional)
And we don’t just mean dramatic wild re-designs… Even subtle changes to design with some careful fine tuning and craft can really move the brand dial on relevance.
So as a topic very close to our hearts, we wanted to share the four most common ‘relevance’ related questions we get asked to tackle in our design briefs.
1. Brief challenge: The market has moved on around us so we look boring, staid and old fashioned
Many of our briefs often follow on from research that a brand looks old-fashioned and boring in a category that has evoled and moved on around it. Think gluten-free ten years ago (that looked more like a pharmacy) versus where it is now. The shifts are not always apparent year-to-year but over two to four years, there is often a big change.
Case study: Webbox Naturals’ range of vet approved food and treats are made with 100% real natural ingredients, but its packaging didn’t reflect this best in class status. Its branding was getting lost on shelf and didn’t appeal to the more image conscious pet parent.
We undertook semiotics on the naturals pet market that showed the move from residual and dominant codes around the countryside and brown/beige, to more emergent codes of natural borrowed from the ‘human’ world where vibrancy, bold and brightness dominate.
Our new design says natural loudly and proudly, with a new natural iconic asset and vibrant colour palette that shouts to be bought on shelf. It also injects a bit of playfulness and fun into the category to reflect the treasured relationship between the pets and their owners.
Webbox Naturals - before and after
2. Brief challenge: We need to show our relevance and defend our higher price next to similar own label competitors
Brands increasingly need to elevate their design to really push out against their biggest competitor which, in many categories, is own label. And nowadays, own label products are brands in their own right, with their own equity, so this is not always an easy task.
Case study: Napolina is a household name. A comprehensive range spanning a number of ambient categories makes it THE Italian brand for many, but it was being squeezed by own label - seen by consumers as purely an ingredients brand. Our role was to elevate the brand and clearly show why it was worth paying more for against a new brand platform of ‘for the love of Italian food’.
Inspired by a cultural truth connected to Italians and their ability to effortlessly put together a handful of the finest ingredients with love and flare, our final creative direction reflected this with a clean elegant design that looks effortlessly premium.
Against its distinctive black backdrop, proud and confident photography heroes the quality of the ingredients. The Napolina crest and Italian flag provide clear markers of authenticity, and small developments to the brand mark aid legibility, build brand equity and reinforce its positioning.
Napolina tinned tomato range
3. Brief challenge: How do we convince new people to see the brand differently whilst retaining our existing users
The holy grail of marketing. Move the brand in a different direction to appeal to new potential buyers, while retaining consumers who have been using the brand for years against a particular need.
Case study: Symington’s asked us to reposition the Mug Shot brand from a ‘better for you’ low calorie snack heavily bought by the Slimming World community, to a deliciously satisfying mugful for every day snackers.
We knew Mug Shot had to quickly communicate enjoyment and that real emotional satisfaction of comfort and warmth through design, so we created a bold aroma device to capture that moment. It also unites the brand mark and food photography, which was switched to a top-down perspective to highlight the food and flavour credentials that consumers are looking for.
Finally we retained core health claims on pack, which was important to reassure existing buyers that the product was not changing, but made them more recessive to allow the photography to shine.
The full range of Mug Shot products
4. Brief challenge: Help, we’re misunderstood by consumers. We need to tell our product story better through design.
There is often a misconception about brands that is deeply rooted in historical brand perceptions which, despite efforts through communications, is hard to shift.
Case study: Crisp ‘n Dry is the UK’s number one cooking oil brand. Research showed it had a strong association with deep fat frying and subsequently was seen as low quality – certainly in comparison to other edible oils such as olive, coconut and sunflower oil.However, the product is actually 100% rapeseed oil (from the yellow flowers with which British fields are adorned) so it had a really strong product truth to shout about.
Our new visual brand identity, with the addition of a tractor ploughing the rapeseed fields and flowers circling the name, brought the 100% rapeseed, and more natural, message up front and centre. As the brands #1 distinctive asset, we retained the colour red but introduced pops of white and yellow, and more iconic product photography to really hero the amazing food it helps to create.
Crisp 'n Dry - before and after
So, driving relevance in packaging briefs can come in many forms, but it is possible to achieve without having to completely reinvent your brand or throw out your existing positioning. Often it just needs some fine tuning, a clear insight or focus area and, critically, a dose of creative flair and imagination.
Our five considerations for impactful design that drives brand relevance would therefore be:
- Standing out in a sea of sameness is critical. Disruption is a great word for this but meaningful disruption works better than disruption for disruption’s sake.
- Use semiotics to help understand what the design codes are within your category (and outside of your category) and how they are evolving so you are prepared to be relevant in the future.
- Find your core product or brand truth, then really focus on bringing this to the fore. Less is more when it comes to claims.
- Treat your distinctive brand assets like precious gems – understand them, then nurture and amplify them further. Don’t let anyone take them away!
- In the pursuit of the new (new consumers to target, new trends to follow), don’t forget about your brand buyers and what is important to them.
If you’re currently facing a brand challenge, then please get in touch at email@example.com. We’d love to help you win your fight for relevance.
People Love a bit of DWB!
The world of functional drinks, or ‘drinks with benefits’ (DWB) is a category that has seen huge development.
Meet Executive Creative Director, Steve Conchie
Steve shares the best things about his job, as well as the genius behind “who's nicked my friggin' grapes".
Meet Client Service Director – Simon Ellis
Who knew Simon is a musicals fan? But when he’s not belting out a classic, he loves nothing more than the feeling of absolutely nailing a client brief.
On pack messaging: Brand Purpose versus Distinctive Assets
Louise Kennedy on the strategies that brands implement when bringing together brand purpose and distinctive assets.
Transform Magazine: Iconicity as the route to impact
Managing Partner, Richard Taylor on the importance of iconicity in the route to impact.
The supplements brands gym-bound Brits will be turning to
Richard Taylor speaks to The Grocer about how brands need to cut through in the sports nutrition and supplements world.
Ever wondered what it's like working at Brandon?
We speak to two of our latest recruits to find out...
FAB News: What do you stand for?
FAB News: Louise Kennedy on how winning the fight for relevance starts with positioning.
Interview with a strategist – Tessa Hill
Tessa loves being involved in a project from a very early stage.
All I want for Christmas... is a good limited edition strategy
Strategist Tessa Hill comments on the learnings from five of our favourite Christmas limited editions.
What role does innovation play in driving brand relevance?
Strategy Director Louise Kennedy with some top tips on how to use innovation to drive brand relevance.
Immunity in 2020
Strategist Tessa Hill uncovers the design codes shaping the immunity category in 2020.
Interview with a designer - Abi Taylor
Hear from our Co-Founder on her love of design and how Brandon came to be.
Reawakening a love for brand books
Senior Designer Jay Bates on why brand guidelines shouldn't be left at the bottom of a drawer.
Five Minutes with Louise Kennedy
Louise Kennedy talks to Transform about how brands can stay relevant and how packaging can improve brand performance.
FAB News: ‘Relevance - The Holy Grail of Marketing'
FAB News: Strategy Director Louise Kennedy on what relevance actually means.
Recession-ready tip #2 – Rethink innovation
How rethinking innovation can be a tool to get your brand ready for a recession.
Interview with a designer - Joe Bembridge
Read what inspires Brandon’s first full-time designer.
How hero your distinctive brand assets
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy considers the importance of distinctive assets.
Can casual dining brands survive on supermarket shelves?
Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about how hospitality brands can make an impact through supermarket retail.
Don’t underestimate the influence of packaging in the home
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy discusses actionable ways for brands to build an emotional connection with consumers at home.
Interview with a Designer - Jay Bates
Brandon’s self-confessed brand architecture nerd, Jay, on what inspires him every day.
Marketing Week's ‘All change: The complex route ahead for automotive branding’
As car manufacturers face pressure to move to cleaner energy and shift their strategy, Richard Taylor, discusses what that means for brand.
Hero design for the new hero channel
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy challenges what the hero design is and will become.
Hitting their peak: How brands plan to retain new customers post-lockdown
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about shopping on autopilot and making new habits in the crisis.
Interview with a Designer - Grace Buckley
Grace can often be found in the supermarket rearranging the shelves to show off her work in its best light!
Reflections from the Darkside
Strategist Louise Kennedy’s view on agency life from the perspective of a ‘newbie’.
Will Harrods' bet on a new beauty brand pay off?
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about Harrods' new beauty brand.
Desert Island Ads
We asked our Creative Director for his top 10 ads that shaped and inspired his thinking over the decades
D&AD Top 5 tips to move beyond mediocrity to design greatness
Inspiration from Rosie Arnold at the D&AD Talks 2019
The Joys of Brand Planning
Our Top 5 Brand Planning Tips - identifying new, exciting opportunities for growth.
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles: What lessons can we learn from Coca-Cola's Life U-Turn?
The Brand Packaging Health-Check
The Brand Packaging Health-Check: 5 Killer Tips to see if a refresh is due or long overdue
The Art of FMCG Brand Architecture
Three principles we apply to ensure a successful brand architecture
Refreshing Established Food and Drink Brands
Here we discuss six routes for a brand to acquire new relevant meaning.
The Grocer - Pasta & Sauces report
The Grocer features Managing Partner Richard's thoughts on the pasta and sauces category.
In a bid for simplification and efficiency, the giants are emulating the discounters.
The Logo. On its last legs? Or fit as a fiddle?
Of late there has been a school of thought which argues that the static logo is terminally ill.