Oct 11, 2021

Standing out in a crowded marketplace

We spoke to Bic Bicknell, co-founder and 3d director at Brown&co, about the design challenges and opportunities of different packaging materials.
Elisabeth Skoda

Jacobs Douwe Egberts recently acquired the Ti Ora brand and relaunched it with a new identity and packaging across Europe and China. Brown&co and Look360 were challenged to create a bespoke tin to sit alongside the pouch packaging, help drive purchase and encourage gifting. Elisabeth Skoda asked Bic Bicknell, co-founder and 3d director at Brown&co, about the design challenges and opportunities of different packaging materials.

What would you consider the most important factors that can make a pack stand out on the shelf?

It’s generally acknowledged that people shopping in the supermarket spend little time considering purchase decisions and competing brands have only a few fleeting seconds to attract attention and convert a sale. Categories such as tea offer a myriad of choices and every pack is trying to make a subconscious connection, so anything disruptive within the category or visually distinctive will have a better chance at standing out and catching the eye. Presenting Ti Ora in a pouch pack format immediately differentiates from the conventional, rectangular carton box and giving away a free, durable tin adds immense value and functional benefit to the brand proposition and experience.

Ti Ora’s overt use of satin-white combined with pure, minimalistic pack formats reflects the brand’s essential purity but also takes a different approach to communicating natural, herbal ingredients alongside a sea of competing tea brands all communicating flavour in the old conventional way.

On launch, Ti Ora provided end of aisle gondola merchandising and point of sale which provides prominence and additional support to getting noticed.  This encourages trial and uptake of this new brand in what is a highly competitive and over-subscribed category.

What are the specific challenges and opportunities of the tin format combined with a print carton wrap?

Printed tinplate has been used for over 200 years and remains one of the most popular materials for presenting food products in a premium and attractive way, especially during the festive season and for promotional purposes.

Its inherent metallic quality can be exploited and combined with print to create highly decorative finishes and the tinplate can be embossed to create detailed, three dimensional surfaces. It has an enduring and nostalgic quality and delivers a perception of value and quality like no other material.  It is also far less likely to be disposed of after use.

Tin pack construction has altered little and there are limitations to what can be achieved in terms of shape and form but modern processes now mean that embossing and registration of print is far more accurate. Embossing the top of the lid is nothing new but we wanted to create a deep concave surface onto which we embossed the central Kiwi character.  This was a new innovation that the supplier had not attempted before. Working closely with the Chinese manufacturer during development and prototyping was crucial to achieving the final design as originally conceived and within the cost targets imposed.

Have you noticed any change of perception of this packaging material in recent years?

Tin is enjoying something of a revival as a means of offering a durable and practical storage container.  It is especially pertinent when used in the context of sustainability and the environmental impact of single use packaging. Latest figures show steel as Europe's most recycled packaging material for the 12th consecutive year with the recycle rate of tinplate increasing from 25% in 1991 to 80,5% in 2017.

When durable tins are provided with lightweight and minimal refill packs they deliver a compelling combination that reduces waste whilst delivering functional benefits that many other primary packaging cannot. Strength, waterproofing and secure sealing make tins perfect for providing airtight storage for everything from tea to biscuits and chocolates.

Tins are arguably the most kept and re-purposed items of packaging ever produced and a good, attractively designed tin can end up being used for years, if not decades. Increasingly consumers are making purchase decisions based on environmental factors and packs that can be used within a circular economy or ‘up-cycled’ are perceived in a positive way.

How did you go about capturing a New Zealand feel for the brand?

The brand identity (created by Turner Duckworth) has a strong graphic presence combining bold typography with a memorable Kiwi character that instantly communicates a New Zealand provenance and flavour. The role of structural packaging is to compliment and support the two-dimensional branding but there was also an opportunity to reflect other Ti Ora brand values.

Where the typography has imperfections that echo the irregularities of nature the tin has a simplicity which hints at purity and perfection. Where the Kiwi delivers a ‘smile in the mind’ with its charm the cube-like proportions of the tin also engage and encourage people to pick it up and explore its surfaces.

The Ti Ora tin design doesn’t attempt to be overtly ‘New Zealand’ and, whilst being ‘natural’ the brand is bright, refreshing and uplifting. The inherent sensorial qualities delivered by its flawless, eggshell finish, tactile embossing, snug-fitting lid and aesthetically pleasing proportions were all inspired by the countries amazing mountains, valleys, skies and vistas.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!
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