A COVID-19 lockdown launch

Developing the branding and packaging for a new product is a labour of love for any small business. In terms of working with a design company it entails meetings, presentations and research. The project can include everything from designing a business card, to printing labelling, to developing and directing photography. Then there are all the online elements to a launch. This all can be challenging at the best of times.

Going through the whole process during lockdown is a tad more complicated. This is what one of our clients have just gone through with us.

Firstly why put yourself through all this during a global pandemic? Well, apart from the obvious challenges, one reason is that the market will be quite open to new products at a time when there are very few launches. This is one situation where being small and nimble is a definite asset. Also, some good news really won’t go amiss in lockdown England.

The project started on April fools day. We’d been talking to our client before about the outcomes of research, but the project actually started in full lockdown. We’d known them for years so meeting ‘digitally’ wasn’t going to be a challenge. So what does a branding project look like and did it differ in lockdown?

Stage 1 – Research

This is something that is never really thought about by the ‘outside’ world. This is where paying £25 for a logo differs vastly compared to the service that organisations like Puur offer. Research is as much about us getting to know our clients’ business as it creating a foundation from which we can build a meaningful branding platform. Research can be anything from sitting at your desk finding out as much about the competitive landscape as is possible to conducting interviews and analysing surveys.

The research stage can take anything from a few hours to a few months. It is dependant on the size of the client, the size of the dataset and the scale of the budget. Research is vitally important, it informs everything. At Puur we include positioning within this stage. This is how we can measure the value of our work. It takes away the ‘I don’t like that’ moment, it creates an element of objectivity.

we’d worked with Chosan for many years and had talked at length about where the business needed to be in terms of ‘brand’

In this case we were lucky, we’d worked with Chosan for many years and had talked at length about where the business needed to be in terms of ‘brand’. We’d also had the opportunity to gain feedback from meetings with peer organisations. Add this to desk research and historic documents, we were in quite a good place to begin with. If this hadn’t have been the case, the project could have gone in a very different direction.

Stage 2 – Creative exploration

This stage is where the drawing starts, it’s where all the information gleaned from the first stage is distilled into marks on a page. It can begin with mood boards as a graphic embodiment of the research to help jar the branding brain cells. This time we started on paper. Time was an issue as the launch date for the product had been arranged with the manufacturer. As far as we knew, this was set in stone. Working backwards, printing had to be finalised by the beginning of June.

For lockdown, the whole project was being done in a hurriedly put together makeshift work space. Sketches on the last remnants of studio stationery very quickly turned to any scrap of paper we could find.

We believe that branding is so much more than a ‘logo’. So our initial presentations detail elements that would work together to create a foundation for all graphic needs moving forward. Knowing the challenges a brand will face in the future is paramount here. With this in mind we look at colours, typography, imagery, textures, secondary devices as well as tone of voice. How a brand will talk visually and verbally. This stage can take a few weeks or a few months, it’s dependant on how large a brand and how many touch-points need to be taken into consideration.

Working with Eliza has always been great in terms of freedom to design. This project has been no different in terms of that.

We have always really tried understand the needs of whoever we work with and have seen strong face to face communication as being key. Not being able to do this during lockdown has taught us a lot about how important it actually is.

Michael Rance, Creative Director at Puur

Our first presentation for this lockdown project had three separate routes, each defining how the different aspects of the brand would work together. The presentations showed how the new packaging would look as well as how the new branding would translate in terms of existing products and collateral. From this initial web presentation, we had a further two more until we had the final design agreed. During this time planning was fluid and phone calls became a very regular occurrence. Lockdown was still total.

Stage 3 – design development

This is where we take the agreed route and start making it more ‘real’. Where we start talking about adding real copy and real sizes. We start to think about production methods and delivering the first items of the new brand. This is where we started to speak to printers to see if there was an opportunity to meet this deadline, to deliver the brand and packaging we were now creating. A great number of printers were on skeleton staff, with timelines weeks. We ended up settling on a printer who was offering a short time-line on an off the shelf label.

This is where launching in lockdown differed to before. We’d normally create labels to help build the brand further, bespoke cutters to really help the new product ‘sing’. In lockdown we had to design labels that used existing cutters.

You can imagine that launching a brand without any sort of messaging could be a little difficult for fans of the brand to take. So whilst all this has going messaging was going out on social media talking of the new design. This gave followers the opportunity to give feedback, and whilst most people were stuck in doors, the feedback was extensive and positive.

Stage 4 – artwork and production

This is the time to create the print ready artworks that will become the labelling, the stationery, the leaflets of a new brand. Normally we would look at collateral that would back up a product launch. Create anything from leaflets to brochures. However, in lockdown, the idea of giving people anything print-wise is a little alien.

For the new set of jams, labelling artwork was created in two sizes. One set printed on rolls for the production facility, the others on sheets for sample pots. Mock-ups were made to check everything worked as well as it possibly could. When all was finalised and approved the button was pressed.

Simple tasks such as printing all the labelling for the jams or preparing a whole socially distanced photo-shoot were areas we knew could have been almost impossible. This is where working with people we know and trust has been paramount.” 

Michael Rance, Creative Director at Puur

Something that had become a definite, was the need for photography. Again, this would be simple at any other time, but in lockdown it was going to be a challenge. This is where having people in your contacts that you know and trust is a must. Giving Sadie at Big Fish Photography a call solved pretty much every challenge we had. Sadie spent the weekend taking pictures of her family eating or holding all kinds of sweet delicacies over a weekend.

Without the invaluable help of companies like Big Fish Photography, Chosan may have had a finished product, but wouldn’t have had the tools to launch it.

Stage 5 – The digital delivery

This is the final part for this project, but not for all projects. Some projects need guidelines; booklets giving details of all the branding elements, how to use them – and how NOT to use them. There can also be any number of literature bolt-ons, advertising projects, environments that need branding – basically anything that is brand linked could follow on after or as part of a branding project.

This time the digital delivery was they final piece of the jigsaw. Delivering an updated website, showing the new products and the new branding. With the new photography delivered and the text from various press packs, this was relatively straight forward. As well as delivering an updated and more secure website, we also re-skinned all social media channels.

What did we learn?

This project was a challenge, there is no getting away from this fact. Mainly because there was no real face to face contact. We get so much more from real life contact than we do over Zoom, Teams or Skype. Somehow, the screen in front of us acts as a barrier – everything takes longer. And where letting someone speak face to face seems simple, on-line is more of a challenge. The other thing we learnt was that working with people you trust is worth so much more than we realise. We are very proud of the work we have delivered to Chosan. Even though it has been (and still is) very different, the work has benefitted from the hours of focus that not stepping outside the front door has allowed!

Coming to a shopping outlet near you shortly… We hope.

Here at Puur, every element of work we deliver is unique, we ensure that the work we do for our clients is bespoke to their needs in and out of lockdown. Creativity, craftsmanship and the attention to detail are at our core. Our decades of experience from both sides of the design ‘fence’ gives us a strong understanding of what is needed for branding to be successful.

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COVID Update (August 2020)

While the world is still in the grips of this terrible virus, Puur is still working. We're not at the office, but we can and have been doing all the work we usually do (read our blog piece on launching a brand in lockdown).

Obviously if you have any branding related projects we'd love to chat (over zoom). In the meantime stay safe.

Find out the latest government guidelines
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