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!

Packaging is just another format or touchpoint for a brand to reach its audience. Right?

Yes, however it also requires the juggling skills of an octopus to ensure that everything works together seamlessly. There aren’t many other design tasks that require so much detailed thought for each square cm of space.

The usual considerations around audience, sector, product, competitors and ambitions first need to be thoroughly investigated. Then comes the ‘feel’ with aesthetics, format and usability. Mix all that with the practical concerns of production, finishing, distribution, on-line ‘thumbnail’ appeal, shelf space, environmental concerns and compliance and you already have a lot to think about.

But we also need to create the on-pack hierarchy, by which customers will navigate the range. How will we lead the eye around such a small area to communicate all that there is to say, in a priority order of importance? When the number of SKUs is large, the way in which we segment the range into smaller ‘families’ (by ingredient, type, function or result) and what features we use to do this (colour, format, image or messaging) become increasingly important. Get it wrong and it will be hard to add to the range at a later date. Get it right and everything becomes easier and more intuitive.

We’ve recently been thinking about the nuances of on-pack information rather a lot as we re-designed the entire Boots food range and refreshed the branding for QMS Medicosmetics.

We’ll never find the right systematic approach, as there isn’t one. Understanding the rules is as important as breaking them when the time is right. But what we know for certain is that we love the juggle, we love the different and complementary skills that come together in our packaging projects and we love it when multiple considerations and decisions come together in a way that looks natural and effortless.

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.

In the Butler’s pantry…

February 12, 2019

No kitchen pantry is complete without the essentials – and we consider Charbonnel et Walker’s latest range of chocolate bars to be just that. So we were thrilled to design ‘The Butler’s Pantry’ collection – four individual chocolate bars ranging from scrumptious hazelnut milk chocolate, milk and dark chocolate, and indulgent sea salt caramel.

Breaking away from traditional tones, we used modern, bright and vibrant colours, with Charbonnel et Walker’s classic gold foiling and a unique rectangular format to create a unique look and feel, and compliment both The Drawing Room and The Grand Ballroom ranges. These inspired cupboard staples will liven up your next party, create a wonderful gift, or be the perfect accompaniment to that nice cup of tea.

So go on… indulge. We certainly will.