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!

Darkly Divine new flavours…

September 21, 2018

Fairtrade, farmer owned chocolate brand Divine have launched a new range of high cocoa bars. Working with organic growers on the equatorial island of São Tomé off the west African coast. Rich, dark chocolate is paired with fresh flavour combinations, from Turmeric and Ginger to Blueberry and Popped Quinoa. The five new bars will be sold globally but target the ever-growing organic markets in the USA and UK, and consumer’s increasing appetite for delicious but conscientiously produced high percentage cocoa, flavoured chocolate.

Together created the new look and feel for the 100% biodegradable packaging. Striking colours and bold patterning denote the cocoa and flavour ingredients of the individual bars.

A little bit gorgeous…

July 26, 2018

Restaurateurs, Corbin & King, are known for developing some of London’s most iconic restaurants and The Wolseley is certainly one of the most important jewels in their crown. Adored by locals and international guests, The Wolseley has recently extended its sought after collection of gifts, and launched Café Wolseley at Bicester Village in June – complete with a dedicated retail space.

Together created the look and feel for the packaging of The Wolseley Collection’s latest range of gifts, as well as the take away packaging in use at The Counter at Café Wolseley. Available to purchase now.

A partnership between The Health Foundation and the University of Cambridge made THIS Institute possible and we were honoured to be commissioned to bring their vision to life. THIS (The Healthcare Improvement Studies) Institute has a simple yet important goal: to strengthen the evidence base for improving healthcare. It’s an urgent priority not just for the NHS, but for health systems around the world. Our job was to develop the overarching brand strategy, the name and the visual identity for the new institute with careful consideration of the brand architecture and the role of the partners contributing to the institute’s success.

The name THIS provided huge scope for marketing and campaign development and the visual identity, which uses a wonderful mix of colours, illustration and typography, also lends itself to a broad and deep range of touchpoints and applications. We’ve brought consumer language to a complicated sector and achieved real differentiation. All of which we hope will assist THIS Institute to become a driving force in getting better at getting better.

In full bloom…

March 20, 2018

Our work for Charbonnel et Walker’s Easter collection has hopped onto shelves. An ode to spring time sees illustrations buzzing with colour, wrapped around chocolate boxes, eggs and egg-shaped tins. At least spring has sprung on our chocolate packaging, even if it is still snowing outside! Keep an eye out for these Easter treats in stores now.

Glow on, treat yourself!

December 20, 2017

Liz Earle celebrates ‘light’ with a collection of gifts to help customers find their inner glow. The theme of light and the brand’s core focus on ‘caring’; for skin, for others and for the world; perfectly align with the mood of the season and are brought to life through the gift range we have designed. Calming shades of blue and evocative, abstract photography set the backdrop for flourishes in gold foil that create eye catching, flickering lights on shelf. The ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ gift box is set to be the hit of the season.

Wish List

December 19, 2017

This is our first season working with the Jack Wills team on their Christmas offering – a collection of 40 gifts ranging from toiletries and gadgets to accessories and games for men and women with an eye for fashion. Using the core brand colours, we’ve reorganised the palette, adding in bold colour blocking to achieve real stand out on shelf. With such a wide range of gifts, appealing to a broad audience, there is something for everyone in store this Christmas.

A time for sharing

December 18, 2017

Working with the wonderful illustrator, Rose Blake, we were delighted to again be asked by Caffè Nero to deliver their Christmas campaign and celebrated Christmas cups. This year is all about ‘Time for Sharing’ – customers taking time with friends and family and the extra mile that Caffè Nero baristas go to share their time with customers. The design has a playful feel, mixing proportions and positions. Carefree customers relax, perched atop oversized coffee cups, and baristas find themselves socialising front of counter rather than behind. A reflection of the barrier free, friendly community you’ll find inside Caffè Nero.

Life is but a stage…

December 14, 2017

Inspired by Victorian miniature paper theatres, this year’s Christmas collection for Charbonnel et Walker, is alive with colour and celebrates the magic of the entertainment of yesteryear. Flanked by plush red velvet curtains, Dancing Ballerinas and Noblemen take centre stage in a variety of delightful scenes. For lovers of the finest chocolate everywhere look out for The Chorus Line Cracker Drum, gorgeous Christmas ornaments, both Milk and Dark Selection Boxes and of course the highly sought after advent calendar. In stores and online now.

After the success of last year’s fellowship card, the RSA asked us to create a campaign to raise funds for their new building project at the RSA House. As a nod to their historic origins, they will be constructing an Enlightenment Coffee House for a modern day fellowship!

We teamed up with the wonderfully talented illustrator Jack Hudson, to help us capture what an Enlightenment Coffee house for the 21st century could embody – a place where knowledge and information is shared, world changing ideas are created, and enlightened thinking and collaborative action can lead to social change. We’ll raise a cup to that!