Mush-Mush and the Mushables follows the forest adventures of Mush-Mush, his best friends Lilit and Chep and the rest of the Mushable community as they explore, grow and discover just how fun outdoor life can be.

The animated series for 4 – 7 year olds, created by Elfriede de Rooster and directed by Joeri Christiaen, is fast-paced and engaging. We immediately fell for the gung-ho, quirky and determined characters who somehow manage to get themselves into all sorts of tricky and funny situations.

We worked closely with producers and IP owners La Cabane Productions, and their licensing agent The Copyrights Group to interpret the unique Mushable world for brand extension opportunities and consumer products. We first worked with the team to scope out the brand positioning and licensing opportunities that lay ahead and then jumped into a creative exploration phase to work out how the CG show could translate into unique and ownable assets.

Colour palettes reflect the forest world and pull-out quotes reinforce some of the familiar phrases from the show. A full suite of poses, line arts, scenes, placements and patterns mean they have an extensive toolkit to play with. We created a striking packaging system to be used across all formats and provided a number of product visuals to inspire partners and show how everything works together.

The final style guide delivers everything needed to extend the natural playground of Mushworld into new areas and we can’t wait to see what adventures unfold for these lovable fungi.

www.mushmushfun.com

Just add water

May 5, 2021

Introducing our new visual identity for Tweakit, a sustainable and refillable body care brand that believes performance and planet can go hand in hand. Tweakit is embracing the power of small and encouraging all of us to make simple, tiny, positive tweaks to our everyday. All of these small steps can have a massive impact on our bodies, minds, pockets and our precious planet. We’ve created the visual identity, packaging and tone of voice for Tweakit, and we’ve put WE at the core of the identity, as it is our collective action that will have the biggest impact.

Tweakit is seeking to shake things up, reduce the millions of tons of single use plastic waste every year, reduce the carbon cost of transporting water and generally declutter bathrooms across the UK. Our packaging design for Tweakit refill powders are fun and simple. Just add water, shake and voila, high-performance shampoo, conditioner and body wash that leaves you with a clean conscience.

Happy Birthday Boots

September 10, 2019

As they celebrate their 150 years, we are celebrating our anniversary working in partnership with the amazing Boots. For the last 15 years, we’ve been keeping many of their established and well-loved brands fresh, as well as bringing new brands to market in the UK and around the world.

We’ve been fortunate to have worked across most areas in-store; from Food, Gifting, Skincare, Cosmetics, Haircare, Electrical and Baby, to Vitamins, Healthcare and Maternity – delivering both brands for Boots and their partners.

Amongst all of this variety is the consistency of Boots’ core customers. Becoming intimately familiar with their needs, aspirations, buying triggers and desires has helped us to deliver success across a breadth of projects for a decade and a half. We’re very proud of the relationships we have built with the team over the years, and the deep understanding we have of their customers.

By far, the largest number of our projects with Boots involves the design of trend-led, seasonal gifts and beauty must-haves. We have created gifts for all Walgreens Boots Alliance markets, for own-brand ranges and their partner brands – delivering initial concepts for products and packaging, through to the supply of artwork for production and everything in between. At last count, we’ve designed over 800 mood boards and created over 300 design guides for packaging and gifting ranges across the portfolio. That’s worth celebrating!

Logic not miracles

June 6, 2019

German skincare brand QMS Medicosmetics has, over the past 30 years, built a fiercely loyal and global customer following thanks to their clinical expertise and innovative products. Firmly established in the European Spa market and with a successful presence in Liberty London, new owners Blue Gem saw that by repositioning and repackaging, there was opportunity to expand the consumer brand and open up new retail and online channels, in both existing and new regions.

A culmination of qualitative interviews with internal and external stakeholder groups, store visits, a product and packaging audit, and an extensive market review helped us to define the priority consumers and the strategic brand pillars for the business, and it was clear that QMS needed to work much harder as a brand. It needed greater presence on shelf, clearer product hierarchy, and as a premium offering, it needed a look and feel that aligned with its product positioning and price point.

We devised naming and descriptor principles in order to help customers to better navigate the range and provide greater confidence for self-selection. As our research showed considerable equity in the QMS blue and confidence in the brand’s scientific heritage, we created a look and feel that reflected the clean, clinical core of the products while retaining a recognisable legacy. Extending the colour palette to include tonal variations of blue provided points of intrigue and differentiation across the identity and social media, POS and packaging.

Our aim was to balance cutting edge clinical expertise with the elegance and luxury of classic beauty, bringing to life the brand promise of Logic not miracles so that QMS can continue to expand its following and global reach for years to come.

The food to go market is moving at a faster pace than ever before. Wellness is at the core of everyone’s thinking whether that is about dietary requirements or weight management. Provenance of the food we are choosing and its impact on the environment is increasingly important and of course we are all becoming much more adventurous, desiring world inspired flavours.

Futureproofing Boots’ food to go range required being mindful of established brands as well as new, dynamic entrants to the market. Ensuring Boots’ food proposition is distinct with a clear positioning that is effectively communicated across customer-led packaging, was crucial to the programme’s success. We carried out an extensive competitor review as part of our approach.

Early on it was identified that a significant commercial gain could be achieved by bringing Boot’s range together holistically under the single strategic umbrella of personalised nutrition. The range is further broken down into three ranges; core range (healthy and balanced), Shapers (calorie controlled) and Free From (great tasting without gluten, sugar or dairy). The challenge of the project was to create a cohesive family out of a breadth of products from drinks, salads and sushi to sandwiches, wraps, crisps, snacks and cakes across the three ranges.

Our study of the market confirmed a significant trend in bold, colourful illustrations on food packaging. Moving the Boots’ range from photography to illustration was a natural progression for the brand as they have firmly established themselves in the food category and no longer need to rely on photography to bring their food products to life. Colour has a huge influence on how consumers perceive products and brands, and illustrations and patterns can present a much desired simplicity and honesty for the customer. Our eye-catching, patterned illustrations and use of colour to depict the essence of each protein type (meat, fish, poultry and veg) allows easy navigation of the range, while the clear, bold calorie pop ensures that customers can make a nutritional choice that suits them. The culmination of these elements gives Boots the opportunity to own a design language with maximum impact on shelf and their the customers the confidence to make informed decisions, effortlessly.

BBC Earth is the production powerhouse behind ground-breaking productions such as Planet Earth II, Dynasties and Blue Planet II. They have a wealth of incredible programming but very few visual assets to use in print or on products. Our brief was to create a new consumer product style guide along with the assets and applications that will be so valuable for extending the BBC Earth brand.

We first worked with the team to scope out the licensing and collaborative opportunities that lay ahead and then dove into an extensive creative exploration phase to work out how natural history live action programming could translate into unique and ownable graphic assets.

By developing a ‘habitat’ driven library of designs through themes such as jungle, desert and ocean, we have brought to life the unique locations that BBC Earth visits – the landscapes, geology, animals and vegetation all feature in icons, painted textures, photography, colour palettes, patterns and typographic lock-ups.

We can’t wait to see the products on shelves so we can stock up on reusable cups, bottles and children’s wear to show our love for planet earth.

Discover how defining your brand architecture can help you connect with customers,
get your employees on the same page, and ultimately boost efficiency and profitability.

What are the challenges facing fast-growing brands? 
When your company is growing swiftly – especially by acquiring other businesses – your brand can often get very complicated, very quickly. With a hotchpotch of visual identities and names under one roof, and new divisions and internal politics to consider, you can soon find yourself with a brand portfolio that’s tricky to navigate and understand. With clarity and consistency so crucial to engaging with your customers, it’s time to consider your brand architecture strategy.

So what is brand architecture? 
Simply put, it’s the way your company’s offerings are organised in relation to your overarching ‘parent brand’. With a well-considered brand architecture, you’ll make better sense of your portfolio and help your teams understand how everything fits together. And most importantly, you’ll improve the way you define and communicate your business to the world.

Set up as a ‘house of brands’?  
Many large portfolio brands grow through acquisition, and often in relatively haphazard fashion. With a myriad of individual products and services, all with very little acknowledgement of the parent brand, this approach is known as a ‘house of brands’. For some businesses keeping this separation is deliberate and part of their longer term growth strategy. For other businesses, particularly those seeking to build a consumer reputation, a ‘house of brands’ approach does not maximise their value. With few common traits, and no coherent brand DNA across the business, it’s almost impossible to deliver an overarching sense of purpose and transparency that today’s customers are increasingly demanding.

Ready to move to a ‘branded house’?
Increasing numbers of large portfolio consumer businesses are switching to a ‘branded house’ approach that clearly aligns all their products and services to their masterbrand. Sometimes this is done in an overt way where the parent brand is incorporated into the product and service names (e.g Pearson). Sometimes this link is more subtle such as Unilever or Procter and Gamble which ensure their parent name is present on packaging and communications therefore providing an endorsement. By taking ownership of their portfolio and truly standing up to be counted, these businesses are now able to communicate their masterbrand’s purpose to the world. And with today’s ever-more demanding customers, this is essential to building their trust, admiration and loyalty.

Where do you start? 
First up, plenty of research. You need to understand where you want to maximise your brand value. This helps determine how closely aligned each business area is to your core brand – and this in turn ensures that you focus your efforts in the right places, building equity into the most important brands in your portfolio, and maximising the equity of your parent brand. Yet while some offerings will benefit from much closer alignment to the parent brand, others might require a little more independence and ‘breathing space’, whilst still feeling connected. It’s rarely a case of one size fits all – instead, it’s all about striking a careful balance.

What other tools will you require?
Once you’ve got to grips with the alignment of your products and services, you’re ready to develop your architecture framework. Essentially, this acts as a filter to help you accurately place each offering within a category. When your framework is in place, it’s time to develop clear guidance for each category, defining the visual identity, naming and tone of voice principles for each one. And then, finally, it’s time to implement that guidance across your portfolio.

Is it as complex as it sounds?
That often depends on the size of your portfolio, and the number of stakeholders involved. The process requires extensive internal engagement; you’ll need to bring everyone along with you, and get them enthusiastic about the benefits of alignment. And you’ll need all your powers of persuasion to defend the independence of certain individual brands, while working through the risks, and developing the implementation plans. But despite often being a huge and complex task, a well-considered brand architecture programme will deliver all kinds of positive outcomes.

What are the major benefits?
First and foremost, your masterbrand will be stronger. A branded house approach helps increase brand awareness and consideration, and delivers a halo effect for your entire portfolio. Over time, the health of your masterbrand will ultimately drive the success of your business as a whole.

Your internal culture will benefit too, as your teams align behind a common vision, instilling pride and motivation. And by understanding the whole business rather than simply their particular area, cross-selling becomes second nature for your teams, and they will spot opportunities to integrate their skills and work together more effectively and fruitfully.

Will it save you money?
Yes it will. An effective brand architecture strategy will deliver considerable cost savings and efficiencies to your business, in all kinds of ways. From decommissioning websites and unique urls, to reducing legal trademarking and IP requirements, or cutting design and marketing costs, your company will soon reap the financial rewards.

Who can help you?
We can. At Together, we’re experts in helping brands understand the bigger picture. Pearson and THIS Institute are just two of the clients we’ve recently helped with brand architecture strategies. Get in touch to find out more and discuss how our carefully considered approach to brand architecture could help transform your business.

In search of the evergreen

October 4, 2018

Evergreen brands inhabit a special place in our hearts and minds. They are often wrapped in nostalgia and memories. They are loved; and expectations of those brands are high. Evergreen brands have permission to grow and sometimes even to change, but for owners and managers of these brands, understanding the parameters customers are willing to accept, and ensuring they keep a foothold in tradition, is crucial.

Sometimes old, sometimes new
There’s a perception that evergreen brands are older, wiser and long-established. A brand you knew as a child, perhaps a brand that even your parents or grandparents knew. Some evergreen brands certainly develop over a longer period – take Peter Rabbit or Penguin books. The fact that they are still around is testament to their strength and ongoing emotional pull. Both brands have adopted modern interpretations of key characters and attributes, have been translated to digital media, introduced to new audiences and have extended into a breadth of product areas, but they remain true to the essence of their original concept.

Other brands just seem to have the formula down and are evergreen almost from the minute they are launched. Think of The Gruffalo with it’s authenticity, honesty, a sense of longevity and purpose.

Unfortunately, the fact that a brand, new or old, has the qualities required for resilience and longevity doesn’t guarantee that they will maintain relevance and capture the long-term interest of consumers.

A changing landscape
As we’ve all experienced, brands are increasingly multidisciplinary and nimble. Brand strength used to mean a cookie cutter approach and a belief that repetition built brand awareness. Now we judge the success of a brand, not by its ability to hammer home its brand mark or name, but in its ability to be recognised without its logo. Developing a design world around a brand enables engagement with audiences on a number of levels.

So there’s the quandary, never have brands been more judged, never has the need for careful control been greater, but conversely, insatiable markets and customers have never wanted more.

It’s all about balance
So how do you infuse the personality of your brand, or the story of your business into everything you do? How do you distil, then articulate that personality in the most important tool in your kit bag of brand management – your brand style guide?

At Together, we’ve produced many guides in many formats and believe the best style guides are a balancing act of rules vs inspiration, personality vs mechanics; balancing the communication of the brand story with the technical delivery of hundreds of assets. Here are our hard won top ten tips for success:

1. Identify ‘the’ thing… take time to understand what part of the brand story galvanizes your customers and then amplify that in the design and the copy. Wherever you can – all the way through.
2. Get under the skin of brand’s audience… understand their changing needs and aspirations, track macro trends that affect their behaviour over time and have an eye on the motivations of next generation consumers. Use insights and research; both qual and quant and question throughout.
3. Know your user… who will implement the style guide? How much do they know already? What’s their role, their level of interest, their technical know-how and design knowledge? You never want to talk down but you also don’t want to leave people guessing.
4. Unify your team… licensed brands are usually managed by a very broad stakeholder group. From brand owners to agents, production companies and broadcasters to manufacturers and retailers – everyone will have different priorities, and often slightly varied interpretations of the brand. Get everyone to sign up to a common vision before you start.
5. Ensure it’s not all talk… draw up a long-list of likely end uses for the document itself. How big does the guide need to be? How many assets is just enough? A load of lovely positioning mood boards is useless for a team who need access to usable design files.
6. Reinvent the format… we personally love exploring how the structure of a guide can communicate the brand as much as its content. What are the fun ways to show the colour palette and even the page numbers?
7. .eps, .png, .psd, .tif, .jpg, cmyk, rgb… there’s nothing more disappointing than a guide which looks fabulous but doesn’t supply the right assets in the right formats for a user’s needs.
8. Respect your elders… by which we mean historical imagery, brand marks or other graphics. Treat them with reverence. By all means give things a modern twist, but only for a good reason.
9. Design systems vs asset overviews… give people kits of assets then show them in use. Create design systems with principles and rules you can articulate, rather than giving a huge array of assets without instruction of how they fit together.
10. Aftercare… don’t forget to explain the approvals and queries process!