The brief was to produce a series of illustrations for packaging to be used for a new range of organic biscuits for children.
The purpose of the exercise was to build on lessons from previous exercises and follow a process led approach to developing a range of designs for a specific customer segment.
Keywords from the brief:
- Illustrations for packaging
- New range of organic biscuits for children
- Raisin, Choc Chip and Ginger
- Featuring extinct animals interacting in some fun way with a biscuit
- To be used on the boxes
- Colours to reflect the flavour of the biscuit
- Research the market
- Submit all stages of the development process
- Thumbnails, visuals for all three designs and a mock-up of at least one
Research and analysis
The purpose of the initial research was to provide an overview of the current market (competitor research) and good examples of how other design agencies and companies have approached the same challenge.
I used a number of methods to gather research materials.
Field trips to Tesco, Waitrose and Surbiton Health Foods. I photographed any products that I could see with the following characteristics:
- Products aimed at children where the packaging incorporated some kind of character
- Series or variations of the same product usually differentiated by a range of different flavours
- Organic products with interesting packaging
Internet research using Pinterest to gather images under three categories:
- Children’s food packaging
- Organic food packaging for children
- Organic food packaging typography
I took a total of 48 photographs. These were then filtered to provide better focus.
Products aimed at children where a character is used in the packaging design:
Products where there are variations usually differentiated by a range of different flavours. Note that some of the images are repeated because they fit into both categories:
Children’s food packaging (internet research)
I carried out three types of analysis which then fed into the development of my own packaging brief. This included:
- Competitor analysis
- Case studies
- Customer and client needs analysis
This method has a number of limitations:
- The analysis will not be tested and validated against a real sample of customers
- There has been no discussion or involvement with the client or their brand and marketing teams/agencies who would have quantitive and qualitative data to feed into the process
I couldn’t find any organic biscuits aimed at children. I has assumed that Waitrose and/or Surbiton Health Centre (that includes a well stocked health food section), would be most likely to carry this type of product. Whilst I could find a number of brands selling ranges of organic biscuits, these were aimed a adults. Interestingly the supermarkets carried more ranges of organic products aimed at babies than those targeting any other customer segments.
So my conclusion is that this range of products is innovative and the first to address this market. I would usually start to worry at this point and do more detailed customer research to find out why this is the case and whether other similar products have tried and failed.
Case study 01 – Little Dish
Little Dish product description
Little Dish are an award winning company that make food products for children. They describe what they do on their website: At Little Dish we know it’s not easy making good nutritious meals for your little ones day in and day out. So that’s what we do.
They have a range of products and focus on quality of ingredients and nutritional recipes. The website includes numerous testimonials from grateful mums.
The brand stands out from any competition because of the style of illustration used. This is carried through online, social media, offline marketing and packaging. The tone of voice is friendly, reassuring and authoritative.
Little Dish target customers
Busy mums who want quick, hassle-free, tasty and nutritious meals for their kids.
Little Dish packaging layout
Packaging for each product in the range uses the same basic layout. The main differences between products are the character illustration and colour swatch. These elements are different for each meal.
The different visual components in each layout includes:
- Background – uses the same texture that is recoloured
- The Little Dish logo
- A strapline: Fresh food for growing appetites
- The product title e.g. Mild Chicken Korma, followed by a brief description of the meal
- A speech bubble coming out of the illustrated character’s mouth with four key quality statements: No added salt, no added sugar, no additives &, no preservatives
- An official looking quality stamp: Paediatric Dietician Approved
- The weight of the product in grams
- A character illustration
Little Dish packaging typography
All of the typography uses machine fonts i.e. nothing has been hand drawn. The fonts are friendly and each product uses a different colour swatch.
Little Dish illustrative style
The illustrations are hand drawn and are in full colour. It’s not clear what medium has been used; it could be ink/paint or coloured pencil. The effect is very subtle and gentle. It’s also not clear whether colour has been added in Photoshop – this is what has been done to the background.
The style is quite distinctive and memorable. The characters relate to the contents e.g. a running chicken with a number 1 attached to it’s chest is used on the chicken korma dish and there is a playful sense of humour. This is a style that has a nice illustrative almost picture book quality that both mums and their kids could relate to.
Little Dish packaging observations
The design of the packaging is very simple – it’s a box with no cutouts or ‘special’ frills. The design stood out for me. Almost all of the other children’s food packaging uses bright bold characters and bright bold colours to stand out; speaking to young kids in a style they understand. Little Dish packaging is much more subtle. It exudes quality by using more of a picture book style that speaks equally to mums as well as their kids.
Case study 02 – Bear Claws
Bear Claws product description
Bear Claws are described as: 100% pure fruit and vegetable kid’s snacks mashed into monster shapes. With no added nonsense and 1/3 vegetables they are a great way to get the little ones to eat more veggies and are one of your five a day. They’re available in four flavours : Strawberry & Butternut, Apple, Pear & Pumpkin, Blackcurrant & Beetroot and Mango & Carrot. More information about the products can be found here.
Bear, the company that makes Bear Claws, also make a range of other confectionary using the same standards and philosophy.
I selected these products because they are available in supermarkets now, whilst not organic, they are in the same kind of space as the client’s organic biscuit product and they apply the same brand using different characters and colour swatches across the different flavoured products. They are as close to a direct competitor that I could find.
Bear Claws target customers
Mums that want to give their toddlers and children a healthy snack and the toddlers and kids themselves who want a treat.
Bear Claws packaging layout
Like Case Study 01, packaging for each product in the range uses the same basic layout. The main differences between products are the character illustration and colour swatch. These elements are different for each meal.
The different visual components in each layout includes:
- Background – each product has a different flat saturated background colour.
- The Bear logo
- The Claws logotype
- A strapline: No added nonsense
- The product title e.g. Strawberry and butternut followed by 100% fruit and veg shapes
- A graphic element with text that says: 1 of your 5 a day
- Text which describes the number of bags in the box
- A character illustration
Bear Claws packaging typography
The Bear Claws logotype looks hand drawn with the rest of the typography using a ‘handwritten’ style machine font. The font colour changes to reflect the different colour swatch that is used for each different flavour.
Bear Claws illustrative style
The characters are all monsters in the style of Monsters Inc. The visual style is bold and uses flat block colour. These are probably created in Illustrator. The monster bodies are almost identical with the facial features and feet providing the variation.
Bear Claws packaging observations
This packaging looks like it’s aimed at younger kids and toddlers with the use of bright bold colours and cartoon like monster characters. One nice touch is that the monsters have cardboard cutout feet that make the boxes look like they’re standing up.
The characters are quite impactful and help the product stand out on crowded shelves.
Customer needs analysis
Based on the client brief and findings from competitor research, the customer requirements for the organic biscuit packaging are:
|Customer||Customer need||How this will be addressed in the packaging design|
|A mum with young children||As a mum I want to buy my kids healthy treats so that they’re not eating junk food that is bad for their health||Make the word Organic part of the logotype
Include quality statements such as No additives, No preservatives etc.
|A mum with young children||As a mum I want to know that the snacks I’m buying will be tasty so that my kids enjoy eating them||Make the word Organic part of the logotype
Make the flavour of the biscuit clear
|Child between the age of 6 and 10-years||As a child that loves dinosaurs, I want the packaging to feature dinosaur characters that I’ll recognise so that I can better relate to, remember and enjoy the product||Make sure the dinosaur characters are based on real dinosaurs|
|Child between the age of 6 and 10-years||As a child, I want the product to have a memorable name so that I can remind my mum to buy them again||Make the product name easy for a child to remember|
|A mum with young children||As a mum I want the packaging to clearly identify the flavour of the biscuits so that I don’t have to think when I’m selecting a box from the supermarket shelf||Make the flavour of the biscuit clear|
The packaging brief has been written to meet the customer needs analysis and the client requirements outlined in the original brief.
- Product name: Organic Bites
- Product subtitle: Healthy snacks for little monsters
- Other written information to appear on the packaging:
- The flavour of the contents: Chewy Raisin, Chunky Choc Chip or Sweet Ginger
- Quality statements: No additives, No preservatives, No junk
- The Soil Association logo
- Customer types: Mums with young children and young children between the ages of 6 and 10-years
- Customer needs: See the customer needs analysis above
- Subjects for the cover: A different dinosaur character per flavour interacting in some fun way with a biscuit
- Illustration format: To be presented in a PSD format at no less than 300dpi
- Illustrative style: Drawing or painting i.e. not created digitally
- Typography: Handwritten logotype and product subtitle. The other typographical elements to use same font family – choice of font to be defined but should be friendly and in keeping with other organic products (see research)
- Packaging: Resealable bag or pouch
- Size: Must be large enough to contain 100g of cookies. Dimensions and format to be defined by the illustrator
- Layout: The same layout to be used across all three products in the series.
- Use of colour: Individual product packaging to have a different colour swatch to reflect the flavour of the biscuit
Ideas generation and thumbnails
This was an interesting exercise in that most of the packaging design thinking had to be done before thinking too much about the illustrations. This was because the format and layout of the packaging design defined the size and positioning of the illustrations.
The ideas generation, layout, thumbnails and some initial thinking about the illustration style developed in parallel.
My starting point was to brainstorm the product name and think through the other elements of copy.
The ideas were very fluid. Changes on one page led to amendments of another.
I mocked up a very rough visual to see if the overall idea would work.
Media and approach
One of the PART 4 tutor feedback was that ‘It would be good to see more finished drawing that is not moved into Photoshop to be cleaned up at the end of an exercise as you sometimes tend to do’. I therefore wanted to create the main illustrations using non-digital media/processing and only use Photoshop to composite the final design together.
The format and layout of the final graphic was defined by the choice of packaging. My research told me that the product should be sold in resealable bags, so I researched the dimensions of this packaging and found a suitable mock-up template.
As per the brief, the overall layout for each of the three designs was identical with only the colour swatch and character and product illustrations changing.
I decided to use gouache to paint the character illustrations and liquid watercolour to create background textures.
The following images show the different visual elements being created. They include:
The handwritten logotype
The logotype was initially drawn using an ink pen that was scanned and ‘placed’ in Illustrator to make a nice clean and scalable vector image.
I quite like the bites taken out of the lettering.
Other text elements
I spent quite alot of time searching for and experimenting with suitable fonts.
The background textures
I stole this technique from the Little Dish case study. I noticed that the Little Dish illustrations had a nice textured background that was reused for each product illustration.
Colour is simply added as an overlay in Photoshop. Varying the contrast of the monotone image layers alter the strength of the texture.
I developed a colour swatch for each of the three products. Note that I did change and rebalance the colour at the end of the process when I had all three illustrations side-by-side.
The character illustrations
The product illustrations
Shadows for each character and product
The notice board illustration
I needed a graphic device to highlight some of the features of the product. Initially I had the idea of using a dinosaur footprint as a background for the text, but ended up using a more straightforward notice board graphic.
Final client visuals
Final client visuals were composited together in Photoshop using the colour swatch and various different graphic elements.
I used a paper bag mock-up template from a company called Yellow.
The Soil Association logo is from the Soil Association website. Companies that use the logo need to be accredited so I’m making an assumption that the client meets all the necessary criteria.
What I learned from the exercise
What went well
- I managed to resist the temptation to jump straight into digital, and because of this I think the final illustration has a richer more interesting range of colours and textures.
- The research and analysis really helped me create a solid brief. In the end the final layout made itself because I was really clear on the different elements.
- I discovered a huge range of packaging mock-up templates that are great at bringing visual concepts to light.
What I could have done differently/better
- I did jump quite quickly to a visual style for the extinct animal characters. In hindsight I probably should have pushed that ideas part of the character development further.