Design is tangible, it’s what you take home. You live with it, offer it to your friends, have it to hand in the kitchen or on the table. It becomes a friend, a prompt, a prop, an accessory.
Advertising by contrast is transient and often purposely so. You can turn the page, walk past the poster, skip the ad or switch channels, but design is enduring. It makes up the very fabric of our lives.
And because design is right at the beating heart of the brand it can also be the springboard for brand activation – the remaining 359 degree touchpoints. The brand’s visual DNA, its ‘crown jewels’, must not only be fit for purpose on packaging but also inspiring for extension into other media.
So, front of our mind we are always thinking ahead to how the brand can be activated and, as more and more markets go dark on alcohol, this becomes increasingly important.
One way to activate people is with an intriguing brand name – one that begs the question ‘why’ and is rich in the possibilities of creating a distinctive and appealing brand world. Monkey Shoulder, once a repetitive strain injury amongst malt men, was the name created for a blend of single malt whiskies to appeal to a younger generation of whisky drinkers. Not only rooted in truth but also raising the question and inspiring a rich vocabulary when it comes to bar calls – “Make mine a brass monkey!’ A pop up 3D brand world with tree houses (where else would monkeys live?) also comes to life at music festivals. Our design, in turn, carefully balances contemporary bottle, surprising name, tactile icon and crafted graphics.
Another creature that activates, this time with 8 legs, is the Kraken apparently named after a sea beast of myth and legend said to have wreaked havoc amongst tall ships and rum running vessels throughout history. This black spiced rum brand was launched with a media kit that included various proofs that the kraken exists – a kraken tooth, its black ink etc – and, more recently, the monster has arrestingly taken over the entire frontage of BarFly in Camden, threatening to overwhelm the building and drag it down to the depths.
Moët is a brand where so much began with the packaging we designed. An early observation we made was the ’cross your heart’ neck label. This has since been dramatised in ads as if the bottle is wearing a long black evening scarf… And the impeccably dressed brand ambassador, Roger Federer, wears his black bow tie casually undone. It seems either the advertising agency or Anna Wintour has a sharp eye for design focus on the crown jewels! Similarly, Scarlett Johansson’s blond hair and true red lips echo the distinctive and definitive red house mark on the bottle design.
If you invest in the crown jewels, you reap just reward.
In redesigning Baileys Original Irish Cream we stirred a sleeping equity. The Celtic double B emboss sits like a gold jewel on the nape of the black bottle, for all the world a jewel set off against a little black dress. For the fashionistas amongst Bailey’s adorers the double B icon also nods towards Gucci double Gs, Chanel double Cs and Fendi double Fs, elevating the brand. The icon focuses many touch points of the brand including the resplendent bath ice bucket and advertising.
Hot on its heels, our new Baileys Chocolat Luxe design is graced with an ornate gilded Rococo frame, elegantly decorative, playful and sensual like the liquid. Bompass & Parr have created the Rococo serve. Poured over ice into a long stemmed glass (branded with the icon), it is then garnished with a raspberry, threaded on a pearl-topped attelet. This ritual has been designed to add theatre and, as the ice chills the drink, a hypnotic pattern emerges on its surface, swirling and marbling the rich chocolate liqueur into a lighter, ornate Rococo design redolent of the packaging. At the media launch, chocolate based food with marbled decorations was served to mimic the packaging and the effect of the drink served over ice.
Absolut, not content with creating 4 million different, abstract, graphic designs for their bottles, have created one off bottles where cobalt blue pigment, the brand colour, is dripped into the molten glass of each bottle so that each has its own unique blue ‘fingerprint’. In turn, these packs and their production technique inspired Royal College of Art MA textile graduate, Kitty Joseph, to create a clothing collection based on three looks – Drop, Flow and Settle. She loved the idea of the fleeting moment of the pigment down the bottle being recorded in the cooling molten glass. In a further creative take, the collection is featured in a short film directed by Rohan Wadham.
Powerful packaging design not only lies at the heart of the brand, it can also be the inspiration for branded activation programmes. Truly becoming the Powerhouse of the Brand.