Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Safe is Sexy

I really like this design from L. condoms.  It feels smart, sexy and chic, which is what this kind of packaging should make you feel.  Often, it feels like the packaging is about bright colors or back alleys.  This is understated and sophisticated.

(designed by the awesome Adrian Gilling, seen via Lovely Package)

L. is a condom company with a cause: to empower women globally by supporting the human right to safe sex. For every condom you purchase, one is distributed in a developing country. L. not only provides those in need with safe sex options, but also educational programs in order to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS within communities highly affected by the disease. The initial packaging is designed to spread the message within developed countries in order to facilitate the “1 for 1″ mission of the company, through the “SEX – CAUSE – WORLD” message, and bold shelf presence.” 

I love that this is a product with a great cause.  Providing condoms to those in developing countries along with educational programs is a 1-2 punch to disease and overpopulation.  Often, people just throw condoms at the problem, which is a great start, of course, but if you can't make the recipients care about using them, then it's ineffectual.

The one very minor quibble I have is why does the box have a handle on it?  Is it meant to look like a purse?  Because 12 condoms aren't that hefty.  Did someone go, "Oh, it's for ladies, so it should look like a purse!", because if so, that's dumb.  We don't only like things in lady shapes. 

To learn more about L., visit their website and read about their mission.  You can never be too prepared.


And if you like packaging, you can see a whole lot more of it at Lovely Package.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Brand is in your Guts

I love reading the Nubby Twiglet archives.  Nubby is a perceptive, talented, on-trend designer and brand consultant that writes a blog about design, fashion, branding, and typography.  Her post on personal branding was one of the catalysts that sparked my interest in branding as a whole.

Her review of The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier is excellent, but it caught me off-guard.  Some of the first words of the book are:
First: A brand is not a logo.
Second: A brand is not an identity.
Finally: A brand is not a product.

I had no issue accepting the first and final statements.  I know from experience that a brand is not those things.  The second was harder to swallow.  My thought had been that a brand was the total represented identity of a business, product, or service, not limited to the logo or product, but certainly inclusive of them in its overall identity.  When people ask me what I do, I tell them Brand Identity Marketing.  Taking identity out of it seemed extreme.  If a brand isn't the identity of the company, what is it?

A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.

It's a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings. It's a person's gut feeling because brands are defined by individuals, not companies, markets, or the public.
True to form, I got hit in the gut when I read that.  It's true.  We buy and act emotionally, because those decisions come from a primal place.  When we are satisfying our needs, even if we think we're doing so logically, our needs come from a primal place.  Those decisions are partially rational, but driven by an emotional need. 

The best brands tap into that need, provide a well-designed product to meet that need, exceed customer expectations time after time, building customer trust and loyalty.  Trust = reliability + delight.  Great brands take time, because they create trust, and building trust takes time. 

Check out Nubby's post for the graphic illustrations of this book.  I don't want to bust anyone's copyright, so I'm not reposting, but half the awesomeness of the book is in its design.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Amy's Rebranding

Amy's is a brand I work with quite a bit in my professional life.  It's a range of natural, organic, vegetarian frozen products—convenience food that's actually pretty good for you.  That's hard to find in the frozen sector, an area not known for its quality.

There was a post yesterday on The Dieline discussing a recent rebranding the company underwent for the British market.



Honey Creative, in charge of the redesign says:

We approached this by looking at how little we needed to change to create a brand that spoke clearly to the British, albeit in an American accent. Stronger branding, using the full Amy’s Kitchen name against a holding device, the use of health claims, anecdotes and personal recommendations, create constant interest and novelty.
Using a very informal structure, we give space to the health claims, personal recommendations and anecdotes, varying these by pack so that there is always something interesting to read. The collage structure supports the handmade proposition. The design uses many of the best fresh or chilled food cues to emphasise the quality.

I like the redesign, though what I find interesting is that it looks "too American" to me.  If you check out the original post, there's lots of gingham, American flags, and picnic table backdrops in the redesign.  In a British context, this works at visually setting apart an American brand and making it distinctive, but I feel like those visual signs are so redundant in American branding that the new Amy's would fade into the background.  It reads like another Trader Joe's product.

There was a comment that the original packaging felt really dated.  That's true, although there's a co-op homeyness to Amy's that I love.  It feels like the kind of 70s natural health food that my mom would have heated up while looking through the Moosewood cookbook.  If, that is, my mom was into all-natural, vegetarian food, which she decidedly is not.  That woman loves her microwave, and luckily Amy's, regardless of packaging, provides delicious, healthy meals in seconds.  Everyone wins.