NEWS & ARTICLES   Our latest projects, insight, comment and news

  • Comment: Being brave with 'special' packaging

    It’s good to break the mould sometimes…

     

    For almost 25 years, DA has been working with challengers and market leaders to take existing products beyond their

    core packaging.

     

    For challengers and market leaders, gift packaging, limited editions, on-pack promotions and range extensions are brave and inventive ways of making new connections with shoppers and extending a value proposition.

     

    For a short period of time, brands can carefully break free from the brand guidelines to create something that helps to refresh their offering to win in a busy segment.

     

    ON-PACK PROMOTIONS

     

    Vogel’s have been making bread since 1954 and have a range of speciality breads sold across all the major multiples in the UK. After the success of the previous two promotional campaigns, the brand decided to launch another promotional campaign aimed at boosting sales and brand recognition. More…

     

    “Our brief to DA was create a set of Promotional packs that had a WOW factor, breaking significantly away from our all year-round brand livery to stimulate trial and engagement…

    we challenged them to be Brave and we have not been disappointed!

     

    We’re delighted with Designs which we think are impactful

    and engaging, taking a completely fresh approach that is category disruptive whilst also embracing our core customers love of the outdoors.”

     

    Over the years we’ve been proud to work with brands that have tried and tested different ways of winning in their category. Here are some other ways to disrupt the market.

     

    LIMITED EDITIONS

     

    Only in circulation for a short period of time, limited edition packaging needs to communicate to shoppers that they are distinctly different to the normal products and feel extra ‘special’ and retainable in some way.

     

    GIFT PACKAGING

     

    We worked with Nivea to create some gift packs for Mother’s Day and gifts for men to elevate products beyond their everyday packaging to increase perceived value and make it looks special enough for gift giving.

    Our seasonal gift-packaging for Toblerone created a classic top up treat for that ‘someone special’.

    Frijj wanted to fundamentally change the look of the pack. It was a really brave change and it made a huge difference to how consumers viewed their product.

    "A bold new look for our Easter packaging and DA pulled out all the stops to deliver in time. We are delighted with the new packs and I'm confident it will revitalise the brand and renew consumer engagement"

     

    Karen Crawford

    Managing Director, Elizabeth Shaw

  • NEWS: An Autumn moon inspires Hatherwoods special edition ruby ale

    Lidl UK challenged us to create a design for their special edition Autumn ale. The inspiration behind the name and design is The Hunter’s Moon. The Hunter’s Moon is the next full moon after the Harvest Moon in late Autumn, historically known to help hunters see their prey at night and made hunting easier in times gone by.

    The design combines the Autumn harvest and a quirky moon character, turning him into a resting hunter himself. The off-white cream and bright orange help
    with the Autumn ruby ale cues.

  • Comment:  Five minutes with a senior designer: Lee

    What is an average day like for you?

    My day starts at 7am with a quick shower, coffee and breakfast, swiftly followed by my daily ritual of painting and drawing before I set off to DA’s studio based on Greenway Farm, just outside Bristol. I arrive at the studio at 8:50, just in time to turn on the mac and get ready for the days briefings!

     

    Jon (Account Director Extraordinaire) will brief me on a variety of projects, which includes anything from developing branded packaging design concepts through to in-store consumer engagement campaigns.

     

    My day usually finishes around 5.30pm, in time for some food, a beer and more painting.

     

    What are you listening to at the moment?

    I listen to a lot of podcasts. ‘Freakonomics’ or ‘Stuff you should know’ are my go-tos. If it’s music, whatever I’ve recently bought. So, this week it’s been a lot of Nick Cave & the bad seeds.

    Before that, it was the ‘baby driver’ soundtrack. It’s nice to have variety.

     

    Your top 3 apps?

    Easy. Instagram, PayPal & Risk (the game). Instagram lets me share my arty things, PayPal allows me to receive money for them and Risk. Well, Risk is just a game I like.

     

    Favourite piece of software/equipment?

    Oh, that’s a tough one. Wacom or lightbox, wacom or lightbox? Both super slick. Probably Wacom as I use it more often and it allows me to create a lot of things. My day to day work life would be super slow and tricky without it.

     

    Favourite destination?

    Besides my home, Lisbon. It’s a beautiful city, incredibly bright, colourful and made me feel completely at ease the entire time. I went there for my mini-moon (yup, that’s a thing). It was flippin’ glorious.

     

    Must read for 2017?

    It’s not really a read, but there are some beautiful paintings to look at. Andrew Salgados, Ten. It’s a compilation of a large majority of his paintings from the last 10 years. Lovely stuff. When it comes to reading I like trashy thrillers for holidays and non-fiction for other times.

    Lee Ellis - Senior Designer

    Are you subscribed to any magazines?

    Nope. Everything is available online. Magazines seem like a waste of paper and money.

     

    What’s been your work highlight/biggest achievement to date?

    I’ve a had a few pretty cool ones. I’ve created a world within a tooth paste for Oral-B, which went live a couple of years ago now. So much fun. Also worked on numerous projects for Coca-Cola, there are too many to name, but was super fun working on arguably the biggest brand in the world.

     

    Words of wisdom/favourite quote

    ‘Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back’ – Oscar Wilde

     

    This month’s design inspiration?

    No one thing inspires me. It’s a combination of everything. As we’re surrounded by design, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing.

  • Comment:  Improving shopper journeys with Brand Activation

    That feeling…

     

    With just 6 seconds to engage customers through visual excitement that will influence their decision at fixture, experiential brand campaigns are becoming more popular than ever.

     

    As humans, we tend to remember people by how they made us feel. Did they listen, make us feel calm, excited, happy, reassured, empowered, relaxed? The list goes on…

    Either way, positive or negative, this experience or feeling will stick for some time and it may take another 15 experiences to change that initial feeling, so it’s good to achieve a positive brand experience first time to keep customers engaged long-term.

     

    There are multiple definitions when it comes to describing what brand activation really means to retailers, so we’ve decided to describe our approach and why it’s becoming more important than ever to consider the holistic shopping experience.

     

    At DA, we work with blossoming start-ups and iconic global brands to develop memorable physical packaging and in-store theatre experiences that bring products to life. It doesn’t stop there of course. The depiction of a product online is essential when it comes to clinching a sale, so the photography needs to do the product justice and bring it to life.

     

    Defining Brand Activation when it comes

    to shopper marketing

     

    ‘Activation’ is an umbrella term used for a variety of shopper marketing activities that bring a brand to life across all trade and consumer touchpoints – taking the brand from being static to interactive, from tangible to visceral.

     

    The experience created for consumers, as a result of having a good activation strategy can create long lasting impressions and positive feelings associated with a brand to elevate its status beyond the products they offer.

     

    This could easily sound like another bit of meaningless marketing jargon, but we feel that it’s one of those words that usefully groups multiple marketing activities under one heading, so we won’t be putting it into 101 just yet. Instead, we’ve adopted the term as part of our service offering beyond an initial pack design or a product re-brand.

     

    The DA approach to Brand Activation

     

    We’ve outlined the different facets of activation and how DA works with consumer brands to bring products to life on-shelf, in-store and online.

     

    The big idea

     

    With consumer insights to hand and a strong understanding of key purchasing drivers as a result, the best place to start is the pack design, but it’s also the compelling story and marketing concept surrounding it that brings a brand to life, making it memorable to customers. An ‘inspirational’ campaign is essential to increase engagement.

     

    We create above-the-line style campaign message and marketing key visuals that capture a tone of voice and the provenance or heritage of a product, carefully selecting assets that compliment individual touchpoints along the shopper journey.

    Online amplification

     

    Consumers are constantly bombarded with online visual stimuli and it’s easy for brands to provide a negative experience by making things too complicated, so we work to simplify a message across multiple online touchpoints.

     

    We create digital tool-kits for product and retail campaigns, designing the look of the user interface and a feel for navigation to enhance a consumer’s digital experience. This involves applying tailored messaging to promote a brand across social media, display advertising and targeted banner adverts.

     

    Nutrivend Sports Nutrition

     

    In-store Theatre

     

    In-store experiences are ‘real life’ experiences that can be amplified on social media, creating awareness and re-enforcing one single message.

     

    In-store theatre can bring your brand to life, from event stands, PoS, to complete fixture ‘take overs’, format graphics, interactive games and real product trials - all tailored to a single campaign message to provide a more holistic consumer experience.

     

    We create positive disruption to make your product stand out, whilst educating the consumer about product benefits by creating temporary, semi-permanent and permanent point of sale solutions, from highlighters and display units, through to fixture theatre and off-shelf merchandisers.

     

    Go Ahead

     

    Drive Sampling

     

    Nothing beats experiencing a product than a product trial. Engaging customers with real product during a campaign can instantly build brand reputation with every positive experience, paving the way to a future purchase. So, brand interaction on a personal level is key, whether it’s a new product launch or targeted sales promotion.

     

    Typhoo Tea

     

    Get in touch

     

    An experience or a ‘brand feeling’ created with an activation campaign can be what differentiates your brand from the competitors and ultimately leading consumers to buy into your brand and purchase your products.

     

    If you’d like to talk through your project needs in more detail and would like to orchestrate an effective activation strategy to launch a new product, please get in touch.

     

    Tel: 0117 933 9400 or email nina@designactivity.co.uk

     

  • NEWS: Summer vibes for Lidl UK's new craft beer

    Lidl UK recently invited us to develop a new name and label for their Summer craft beer, which launched this month. We came up with Summer Daze to convey a feel-good summer vibe.

     

    We focused on identifying what people love to do during the summer months to enhance the experience of being away from everyday life.

    The inspiration? Festivals. There’s no better place to get away from it all and let your hair down than at a summer festival.

     

    The aim of the label design was to encapsulate this feeling so stylistically we developed it to look like festival poster using sunny graphics and quirky typography.

     

  • Comment:  Five minutes with a director

    What is an average day like for you?

    A family and work sandwich is the way I’d describe it…starting at 5am! I like to play with the girls before work to get the best hour out of them.

     

    Then it’s a 40 minute commute from Bristol to the studio with a bit of TalkSport. It also gives me a chance to plan the day mentally, being the first in the studio sets a great example for commitment and work ethic.

     

    My day is usually a mixture of challenging client briefs and strategy meetings and actually doing design. As one of the 2 design directors we manage our time well so it allows me to still be very hands on with design work.

     

    Then it’s back home for bath time with the girls and stories before bed… if there is time I might fit in a bike ride!

     

    What are you listening to at the moment?

    It’s all about new sounds and fresh music for me…

    I am a regular Spotify user and tend to go for ‘recommended for you’ options based on previous listens. I let the music find me! Then I add it to a playlist and go back to it.

     

    Your top 3 apps?

    Prisma: photo editor, Strava and Spotify.

     

    Favourite piece of software/equipment?

    Definitely my Wacom tablet because it gives me the ability to draw and work on my screen at the same time! I’m a happy man with a digital pen in my hand.

     

    Which work have you enjoyed working on recently?

    The Jelly Belly License for QDOS was an exciting, yet challenging brief – to bring the Jelly Belly brand to the technology market, where so many had failed previously.

    We planned the strategy, and ultimately created the packaging – this was combined with quality QDOS products to renew consumers enthusiasm for the Jelly Belly brand in a new sector.

     

    Favourite destination?

    Everywhere and nowhere. When I get on my bike at the end of a busy day in the studio I like to free my mind and just ride wherever the roads take me!

     

    Must read for 2017?

    The Winning Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns, which was recommended at a DBA seminar. I’ve currently got a copy on my desk that I’m excited to get stuck into!

     

    Are you subscribed to any magazines?

    I used to be subscribe to quite a few and would pass them around the studio. My favourite read was always eye magazine, it captured what was trending and was presented brilliantly from a creative stand point – sometimes I just liked to look at the typography and illustration styles.

    Rikki Payne, Design Director

    Proper graphic magazines are special, I still like having something in my hand. It feels more composed when they are producing something physical. It feels like content is planned ‘properly’ and every page considered.

     

    What’s been your work highlight/biggest achievement to date?

    I think winning the Pentaward last year for the redesign of Hatherwoods Ales for Lidl. That’s really as important to me as the previous DBA awards we’ve won have been based purely on achieving sales figures based on design investment, so it felt good to receive an award for the aesthetic look of the design.

     

    Words of wisdom/favourite quote

    A phrase I use in the studio a lot when we are challenged with a piece of work that is either challenging or perceived ‘impossible’ … “if it were easy, everyone would do it”… it really captures our studios hard working and relentless can do attitude!

  • Comment:  Nurturing branding & packaging designers

    Designers are born with a natural talent for being creative, but harnessing this talent for commercial purposes doesn’t come naturally. It must be honed and shaped.

     

    University prepared me as well as it could for the commercial world of design, but learning and grasping the complexities of target audiences, product sectors and markets took a long time to understand. Finding and identifying the gaps between brands is crucial to developing and building brands with a real USP.

     

    I learnt this through being involved in the design process from start to finish, and like most designer’s by being exposed to the needs of individual brands and businesses over a period of time. Many design agencies choose to protect their younger creatives from this, choosing instead to keep them focused on ‘being creative’. Here at Design Activity, the earlier a designer is exposed to the nuances of the full design process, the sooner they will start to create meaningful, relevant design that is on brief.

     

    Many designers create work that is creative but is often unconsidered in terms of truly understanding the person who buys and uses the product, where it’s sold or what the overall market is doing.

     

    We work across a wide range of sectors at Design Activity which helps our designers accelerate their learning on how to position products correctly, targeting the right consumer.

     

    As a Design Director it’s my job to help steer designers towards the right path to deliver results for our clients. Designers who grasp this for themselves quickly start to avoid disappointment, and start to see more of their work on the supermarket shelves rather than in their portfolio.

     

    Meet some more creators and read

    Five minutes with Rikki Payne, Design Director

    Mark Stubbington, Design Director

  • NEWS:  The Rise in Craft

    Where your passion for what’s inside meets our passion for what’s outside

     

    The craft beer explosion wasn’t just a thing of 2016 – it’s still on the rise in 2017 and we’re excited to showcase the launch of the first in the Hatherwood seasonal range, The Fathers Day beer ‘Total Legend’.

     

    With UK off-trade craft sales up by a massive 87% year on year over the past 12 months (Grocer April 2017), more craft ale and cider brands are investing in the power of design to differentiate, including Lidl UK.

    The Total Legend design needed to feel like a ‘special edition’ version of the Hatherwood core range, focusing on Father’s Day. The hipster beard is a very popular look for chaps at the moment and seemed like a natural fit for the Hatherwood beer buyer. By adding an old bowler hat and styling the label to look like a Western film character, the design adds a fun twist to a Father’s Day beer that appeals to both the older and younger gent.

     

    Looking ahead…

     

    The Grocer (May 2017) also highlighted that the craft ale category is accelerating and it’s more than likely that sales will double again in the next two years so we can all look forward to seeing and more importantly tasting more creative craft beers.

  • Comment:  The benefits of co-branding partnerships for mum & baby

    The baby category is a busy fixture and it’s getting busier! We were at The Baby Show earlier this month and for us, it highlighted a missed opportunity for baby brands to consider joining forces...

     

    What do we mean by this? 

     

    There are many examples where two brands from the same category are not competing, other than for shelf space. They are targeting the same consumer (mum), in the same moment of her babies age stage development. This is relatively unique in the market place!

     

    So, why do players in this category choose not to get noticed more saliently by creating a strategic partnership that can boost brand awareness and reach new markets? As well as simplifying the lives of parents, it will extend audience reach online & offline for both collaborating brands.

     

    Parents use multiple products related by usage and age stage, including food, drink, feeding bottles, Tupperware, nappies, soothing items and OTC medicines. All of these products are carefully formulated for a specific age stage, providing a unique opportunity for baby brands to collaborate and join forces on colorful and exciting marketing ventures…

     

    Combining marketing strategies to increase market share

     

    It’s not necessarily about establishing a long-term partnership, but more of a mutually beneficial shared marketing plan designed to achieve a set of marketing goals. Mum’s have to navigate very busy fixtures when it comes to choosing the right product for her growing baby who is about to transition through several age stages. She will always want to make the best choices based on quality and value - from being a newborn to toddler age and beyond.

     

    In addition to the obvious synergies of two respected brands joining forces, joint venture marketing is an opportunity for two brands to make parent’s choices easier.

     

    Why do it?

     

    • Elevate a product or proposition over rival purchases by offering consumers something extra

    • Encourage or drive trial in a product that would not usually be associated with the other

    • Drive awareness by addressing a wider audience

    • Increase trade and consumer engagement with a compelling story about the two brands working together

    • Create opportunities across PR, social media, advertising, packaging and in-store engagement

    • Consumers have the benefit of getting ‘better value’ from propositions as there is a purchase incentive.

    • Facilitate greater reach across consumer touch points with both brands leveraging omni channel strengths

    • Share market research in a specific area

     

    In our next article, we’ll be sharing a few joint marketing venture ideas for the baby category. To receive future emails, sign up to our mailing list.

     

    At Design Activity, we focus on helping brands to engage with their consumers using captivating packaging design and in-store brand communications to create an easier and more welcoming shopping experience.

     

    Our work

     

    We design better for baby because we understand mum

     

     

  • Comment:  The baby category - a marketers paradise?

    The Baby sector is one of the most vibrant places to market a product. Here’s why…

     

    Thanks to creation or evolution, whatever your world view might be, one constant in life is child birth with its consistent and rotational audience of new and expectant mums.

     

    This provides baby brands with a unique opportunity to reinvent and develop their brand is a luxury other categories don’t have. No other retail category has such a high turnover of a single primary target audience every few years.

     

    For the brave, this enables brands to be far more experimental and daring…

     

    We have been lucky to work alongside some leading baby brands in the past few years, learning about their challenges and opportunities first hand to develop creative packaging solutions and we’ve gained some useful insights along the way…

     

    Last week, Nina from our team went along to The Baby Show at the Birmingham NEC, where a variety of brands jostled for parent’s time, from re-usable wipes through to biodegradable nappies…New parents have a lot to learn and navigate as they weigh up their babies needs and try to make all the right choices in terms of food, personal care, health and accessories.

     

    Best-selling author on baby food & nutrition, Annabel Karmel gave some recipe advice to an audience of inspired parents, captivated by her health and nutritional information that could make the prospect of becoming a new parent ever so slightly easier to navigate.

     

    We’ve brought some of these insights and useful conversations back into our studio to encourage other blossoming baby brands to be a little bit braver.

    When the product is right and there is a demand, baby brands have the chance to experiment with design, ranging and brand development. From our insights working with HiPP, Nuby and Bassetts, there is a consistent experience for all mums (and dads of course) and this starts a journey of well scripted and staged development for a baby, from infant to weaning and teething, through to being a toddler and beyond.

     

    In this world of age-stage navigation across in-store fixtures and online, the market is inherently transient, with mums and dads entering the marketing and leaving within about 3 years. Even if those parents don’t choose to return to using the same brands with their second or even third child, there is still a new market waiting as this short-term baby growth cycle creates a market that provides brands a unique opportunity to completely revisit the way they engage with mum via their packaging design at a relatively low risk. If it doesn’t work, ideas can be changed and adapted for the next batch of mums…

     

    Yet, few (if any) brands appear to take advantage of this phenomenon, which we think is a missed opportunity.

     

    In baby, the risk is significantly diminished because if it goes horribly wrong, brands get to target a new mum in a years’ time. Imagine having a radical new NPD pipeline such as a unique product innovation, or structural packaging with inbuilt usage benefits, where normally the risk of getting it wrong would ensure it never sees the light of day.

     

    We design better for baby because we understand mum

    Branding and pack design for mum and baby: our work

     

    So, if you think this sounds like what you’re looking for and your baby brand is in need of a fresh perspective, we’d love to hear from you.

  • NEWS:  Belheather whisky beer launched.

    Packaging design for Belheather - a Scottish Whisky Beer

    After the successful launch of Lidl's Scottish Lager brand Belheather we were briefed to design the beer packaging for a whisky beer range extension.

     

    The complexity of blending a beer with a highland single malt whisky demanded a more detailed and premium design to reflect this. However, the Belheather brand still required a level of consistency to reassure consumers the beer is part of the Belheather stable.

     

    The beer is sold exclusively in Scotland.

  • NEWS: Fergeson's Scottish Pies launched.

    Brand identity and packaging design for Lidl Scottish Pie range.

    Lidl briefed us to create a new brand identity and packaging design for a new range of Scottish pies being launched exclusively across Scotland.

     

    Using two pies and a banner, the identity creates the shape of the iconic Scottish milk thistle. The top pie creates a crown and the base pie includes the Scottish Saltire as the pie's crust detailing to create a unique brand marque.

     

    The packaging focuses on beautiful pie photography in a table setting; invoking the warm, sharing occasion in which the pies are supposed to be enjoyed.

  • NEWS: Award winning transformation of Lidl's Hatherwood Craft Ales

    Design Activity International packaging design award winners

    Design Activity are proud winners of a Silver Pentaward. An International packaging design award for the re-design and range extension of Lidl’s craft beer range the Hatherwood Craft Beer Company.

     

    The range consists of six craft style ales, each with a unique flavour and design to match. Following on from the original Golden Goose and Ruby Rooster variants, another four flavours were added all with an animal theme. This radical redesign elevates Hatherwood from a traditional ale into a speciality craft beer brand in its own right. Read more...

  • NEWS:  Vogel's 'Win Fresh Air' promotional packs launched.

    Vogel's bread packaging designed by Design Activity

    Vogel's wanted to create a range of limited edition packs to promote the brands ethos of ‘loving the great outdoors’ – using both the packaging and a ‘Win Fresh Air’ competition.

     

    With a clear brief to focus on nature, we developed a range of striking, vibrant insect patterns.

    Using a different pattern for each bread variant and a simple, iconic balloon graphic to clearly show the competition element, they are sure to grab consumers’ attention on shelf! Read more...

  • NEWS: Lidl Oaklands' fruit and Veg range transformed.

    Lidl wanted to bring simplicity and consistency to the design of their extensive Fruit & Vegetables range, as well as ensuring clear messaging as to the origin of the product – British or Non-British.

     

    We have developed a flexible identity that evokes the feel of fresh, good quality ‘grown’ produce whilst ensuring maximum visibility of the product within the pack. A comprehensive system of messaging has also been created to ensure consistency across the existing range, and make it easy to add new products to the range in the future.

  • NEWS: Elizabeth Shaw easter egg's transformed.

    Design Activity designs easter egg packaging
    Design Activity easter egg packaging design Bristol

    Happy Easter! We have just transformed Elizabeth Shaw's easter egg's which are now on sale.

     

    The brief was to design impactful and innovative egg packs, combing the pack structure and graphics whilst retaining the essence the of core brands; to create gifts consumers would be proud to give.

     

    Our designs have created a massive step change for both the Elizabeth Shaw and the Famous Names brands. The packs have excited buyers so much that their order volumes are higher than ever. Let's hope the sales are just as good!

  • NEWS:  Caulder's confectionery launched.

    Caulders Confectionery range designed by Design Activity
    Design Activity designs Caulder's Sweets packaging

    Lidl wanted to put their Scottish confectionery into a new brand called Caulder's Confectionery. The primary consumer is adults buying for themselves so Lidl didn't want the brand to be childish or traditional but have a more playful character.

     

    We took inspiration from circus graphics which are weird and wonderful to create a 'Mr Caulder' a quirky ringmaster and sweet shop owner. The central holding device replicates a circus sign while the traditional coloured stripes can be viewed as both a sweet bag or the big top tent.

  • NEWS: Hatherwood Craft Beer Company transformed.

    Design Activity redesign Lidl's Hatherwood Ale range. The range consists of six craft style ales, each with a unique flavour and design to match. Following on from the original Golden Goose and Ruby Rooster variants another four flavours were added all with an animal theme. This radical redesign elevates Hatherwood from a traditional ale into a speciality craft beer brand in its own right.