Category: Real Jobs

Frankie the Fish: The ReMINDS Project

Background

The clients for this project are from the Department of Pharmacy and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Reading, where they are developing a project to examine medication reuse. The ReMINDS brand is to focus on medicine, the environment, people taking their medicine, pharmacy and drug manufacturing. It is important for people to know that old or left-over medicines in the home can cause harm, and that these should be taken to a pharmacy for safe disposal. This is because otherwise they can harm children if taken accidentally, the land and environment if put straight in the bin, and rivers, water and their inhabitants if flushed down the sink or toilet.


Restated brief

Main points of focus and the deliverables

The main aim for this project was to create a set of deliverables all building to run medicine amnesties on the Whiteknights Campus, where people will bring their old and left-over medicines to the ‘Medicine Amnesties with Frankie the Fish’ where they will collect and safely dispose of all donations. ‘Frankie the Fish’ is a special shaped container with vinyl stickers to make it look like a fish character, designed to collect the donations and spread the message that if people flush their left-over medicines it can harm the environment and its inhabitants. This event is (or was to be) funded by the Vice Chancellor’s Endowment Trust Fund, 2019/20 and run by the University of Reading, Department of Pharmacy and Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The main deliverable for this project was the large container called Frankie in the shape of a fish that would be wheeled around the campus and elsewhere for medicine amnesties. This provides a safe disposal mechanism and raises awareness of the problem of medicine waste. To make the container look like a fish, it is spray painted bright yellow and was designed to have vinyl sticker fins, scales and eyes. For this, a Print Cut File with these shapes and aspects was to be created to be sent to DPS to be printed. In preparation and to plan how this would look, I created mock-ups using colour and the fin, scale and eye illustrations. Due to the client unfortunately pulling out, as I will explain below, there was not the funding to print the vinyl stickers so there is no physical container to show as there is currently no medical amesite happening because of Covid-19.

The client also wanted a logo for the ReMINDS Project to create a brand around the project and the medicine amnesties that could then also be used on the deliverables that were advertising the event. As part of the advertisement for the event, the client wanted a flag banner to catch people who were walking on campuses’ attention and draw them towards the container to increase involvement. A leaflet was the other deliverable that the client later decided they wanted to have to advertise the event prior, to build up awareness and educate people as to how to get involved and why.

Target audience

The target audience for this project is very wide, being focussed on any student, lecturer or even visitor to the Whiteknights Campus. It is for those who take an interest in increasing the safety in their home and those who are conscious of helping the environment. The wide target audience meant that there was no strong style that needed to be followed.

Schedule

Until Covid-19 took a massive hit into this Real Job, I had stuck to the schedule well on my behalf. I feel that I was very organised and did all I could to keep things running quickly and smoothly. The first restated brief had the goal of completion for the 14th of February, this however was unable to be met due to tasks such as creating the window in the container and, mainly, spray painting the bin with an external company slowing down the process. The client, however, wasn’t worried about the schedule too much, therefore I took it upon myself to set a new deadline of mid-March, which the client approved of. This was to give us a date to work by so to not let the job take a back seat. Until Covid, when students had to head home, we were on track to have the project deliverables ready by mid-late March, with a minimal, quick change to be made to some of the colours after the paint colour came out differently than expected. However, with Covid this meant there were no students on campus, as well as it still not like normal this new academic year, therefore there was no strict deadline to get it done over summer. It was also tricky and inefficient to work on it remotely as I needed to physically see the container to make the important decision on colours. I picked it up again when back at university in September, but unfortunately the client was unsure how to continue in the current climate, therefore I set myself the goal to continue it again over Christmas when my first term deadlines were complete. I think throughout the project I have worked steadily hard and in an organised manner so to hit my schedule where possible and create new deadlines when necessary before Covid. This was my first Real Job on my own and with the deliverables increasing through the project I was pleased with my organisation and prioritisation of tasks to stay on top of things.

Updated restated briefs

Throughout the project I created new restated briefs to make sure the client and I were on the same page, and to give myself an organised, approved list to work from. As the project went on the client introduced new deliverable part way through working on the original ones. In the original restated brief, made towards the end of January, the deliverables were simply a design for Frankie the Fish to go on the container and a logo for the ReMINDS Project. However, after many emails, calls and meetings discussing the project and its progress, by February the client had added a more deliverables to enhance the project. Therefore, it made sense to update the restated brief with the new deliverables to confirm these with the client. The client had been more specific as to how the design for Frankie the Fish was to be stuck onto the container to be the fish character, as opposed to just a 2D design that could be used for other deliverables. As well as this, they wanted a leaflet to let people know about the event and how to get involved, a banner to advertise it further, both with the ReMINDS logo, as previously discussed.

I also amended the restated brief a couple of times after Covid to update the schedule, more for myself by the end as the client was no longer replying to emails, as this helped me to organise my time alongside the expected deliverables.

 

Process

Initial contact with client

My first contact with the client was through email and closely followed by an online call. In this meeting the client outlined what the ReMINDS brand was. She talked about what she expected from the deliverables and I made note of this. Following this meeting we had consistent email communication where I exchanged initial designs and ideas, having another couple of meetings online a few weeks later to discuss how this was going and extra deliverables she wished for me to do. From then on, aside from frequent emails to the clients, I met with another one of the clients in person. This was mainly to discuss plans for the physical container and to confirm ideas and decisions from over emails about other deliverables.

Overall, I think that this project improved my communication skills and gave me more confidence in talking to clients, both in person and on email, making sure I kept myself organised so that I could answer all their questions and have the work done for when it was needed.

Covid-19 and client dropping out

Unfortunately, after Covid-19 left uncertain circumstances at university and on campus it meant that the client was unsure how we might progress at the moment with this project. This is because the medicine amnesty requires the campus to be busy in order to raise awareness and collect the medicine. I suggested a call to discuss future plans but didn’t receive a reply after a month or so, so was advised to continue without the client. I plan to get in touch again when the work has been signed off, to allow them to see what was made and to give them a chance to use it in the future when circumstances are simpler. I am disappointed to not get the final result of the bin and seeing all the deliverables at work advertising and showcasing the medicine amnesty but because of Covid it is expected.

Research

When I was initial assigned this project, I started by getting a clearer understanding of what medicine reuse was and why this project was so important. I felt this would give me a good base to start this project, and through learning facts around the subject area, like how much of our waterways is contaminated with pharmaceutical runoff, it inspired me to help make the positive change. While I was doing this, I also researched into competitors, or companies/campaigns that do or promote this kind of work already. This was useful in furthering my research, as well as looking at the branding style of this area.

When starting to design deliverables such as the logo, I initially created mood boards from researching medical and pharmaceutical logos online to generate some ideas and to see the different styles that I could play around with. From this research I could see there tended to be a simple, but professional-looking illustration of something related to the health, medicine or pharmaceutical industry, such as DNA, a medical cross, stethoscope, pills, etc. This illustration was often in a bright colour that was integrated with a plain, san-serif typeface for the company name. From my research I chose to use pills to represent the area and as I felt it suited the project best. I then did further research into different styles of arrows I could create for the logo after deciding to represent the idea of medicine reuse with the pill and arrows. I also created a mood board when coming to design the fish character from researching online to get a feel for the different styles I could play with for the client to decide between, as well get an idea of the age groups that different styles might apply to. When it came to creating the leaflet, I found it tricky to arrange everything on the page and to know what style to go for, therefore I found researching medical leaflets useful as examples.

As this is something that is new to the university, there weren’t people to directly ask about past experiences and problems with the medicine amnesties and the branding surrounding it. However, after explaining it to some peers, I got some feedback and tips about what they, students (the people who will interact with it on campus), thought. They commented on how the bin should be linked into the branding deliverables, like with the fish drawing and bin drawing on the leaflet. As well as that, they mentioned that there should be explanation of what the medical amnesties are on the leaflet to raise awareness. As well as this, I created user personas on my Trello page to highlight different possible users and to think about the different people that may interact with the medicine amnesty and the deliverables surrounding it, using this to help in my designs.

Trello board

Through this project I have taken what I learnt from my previous Real Jobs and used the Trello board in an efficient way by keeping it updated as I went. It helped to structure my work and make sure I hit all the necessary aspects for the project. I was successful at uploading the development of my work for different deliverables and explaining reasons why I made these decisions.

Design stage

Fish character

The first task I did after restating the brief was create a fish character. I did this by doing some simple research online at some different types of fish and styles of illustration. Below I show the different fish characters I drew based off of this research online. The client then chose a certain fish character, which I then tried in different colours and sent back to the client for them to pick one, of which they settled on Orange tones. I am happy with the fish character that was chosen as I felt the colours are vibrant and the client liked the idea of it looking similar to a Goldfish. This was to be included on the banner and leaflet to carry the brand and the ideas behind it. Later in the project, when the container was spray painted it looked more of a neon yellowy-green than planned, therefore the colours of the fish were to be slightly amended so the separate features would match the colour the bin turned out better.

Initial fish illustrations
Frankie the Fish drawing

Mock-up

In preparation for printing the vinyl stickers for the physical fish container, my next task was to use the features from this fish character and create a mock-up of the container and plan where the vinyl stickers of the fins, scales and eyes were to go. This allowed the client and me to imagine how it may look in person and to play with different layouts to find the one that looked best. Further into the project, when having to amend the colours after the spray-painted bin came back a different tone than planned, it was useful to use the mock-ups to play with different colours and the arrangement of these. With the yellow being brighter and less orange than planned, a more toned down, lighter orange suited being used more frequently for the fins as the brighter orange clashed otherwise.

Initial container colour variant experiments
Example of updated mock-up layouts
Final stages mock-up layout

Physical fish character container

The client organised and bought the container previous to me being assigned to the project, therefore after our initial call I was sent over a picture of the shape of the container we were to work with. The first job I did concerning the physical fish container after making the initial mock-ups was to measure-up the bin for the hole to be put in it and to plan for the size and layout of the vinyl stickers. I did this careful and in great detail so it would be as accurate as possible. Once I had measured this, it was organised for the hole to be made in the container, which would later be covered with clear plastic so to see the medicines inside. While the bin was off being cut, I worked out the size each feature would be to use on the print cut file.

The next task, and the one that took up the most time, was finding the best way to colour the bin. To work this out I spoke with DPS and asked what they best suggested. A wrap was suggested, however deemed more complicated and riskier than printing them separately. Therefore, to give the container colour, spray painting was suggested as the most durable for its outdoor use. When deciding the colour, I sent the client images of the different colours, as well as showing one of the clients the swatches in person for a clearer idea of the colour they’re picking. The colour didn’t come out as the clients expected, being brighter and more of a green-yellow. This was a shame as clients questioned re-doing this, however, as they realised, they had chosen it themselves, they kept it and we decided to simply change the tone and/or arrangement of the oranges for the fins and scales. Now with no client due to uncertainties with Covid, there is no physical fish character container that is finished as there is no funding behind it to have the vinyl stickers printed.

   


Print Cut File

Once I had measured up the container, I could then decide the size of the fins, scales and eyes of the vinyl stickers. The making of the Print Cut File was something I had never made before. It taught me further tools within Illustrator and the importance of using layers effectively, things that have benefitted me in my other studies.


Logo

I initially created mood boards from researching medical and pharmaceutical logos online, to generate some ideas and to see the different styles that I could play around with. I liked the idea of incorporating pills as this fit with the project and brand and as well as being understood by all. It also holds a more serious message than the fish cartoon, which is what the client asked for the logo. Once I had decided on this, I experimented with different ways to introduce the pill as a logo, trying to use the pill as the ‘I’ in ‘ReMINDS’, however this wasn’t clear enough and didn’t work as I’d hoped. I liked the idea behind my initial drawing of the pill packet, but when incorporated with the words I felt it didn’t look professional enough. Aside from the pill, to relate the logo back to the idea of medicine reuse and helping the environment, I felt that arrows represented this very well. To add further depth to the logo, I experimented adding water into the design to relate back to Frankie the Fish and the suffering environment in the contaminated water. After experimenting with colour and different arrow styles I decided to incorporate this into the arrows by giving them a water-like colour scheme and texture. I also tried a version of the logo hand drawn and then image traced to create some more interesting textures, but this did not look professional enough compared to ones from my research. I sent the client these logos throughout and built and changes based on their comments, in the end I sent them the final logo in a selection of colours, and they chose blue. The final adjustment suggested by my supervisor was a shadow so the pill would stand out even when on a white background. After creating the illustration part, I focussed on researching typefaces used in medical/pharmaceutical logos, of which I then tried a range of san-serif typefaces and decided upon Sukhumvit Set. To tie the words into the illustration I pulled two different blues from the arrows and used these on the words. As we wanted ‘ReMINDS’ to have more hierarchy over ‘project’ this was put in semi bold weight and the brighter blue, while ‘project’ was in the darker navy and a light weight.

Overall, I think that this logo is effective and hit what the client asked for because it represents the subject of medicine reuse well and in a professional manner, like the logos I found in my research. On reflection, and something I have learnt from this real job is to have more initial ideas and to go into detail for a number of these, not just go into detail with one or two before I send these to the client. Despite the client always being excited about what I showed them, it is more professional to give them a range of options to start with.

Initial logo ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrow experiments

 

Typeface experiments
Last series of logo experiments sent to client before they picked

Banner

The design for the flag banner was to be used at medicine amnesties to draw attention to and advertise to people on campus what was happening. The client wanted a simple design that was similar to the leaflet design, in terms of using the same colours, the logo and the fish character. The design I created I think is effective for its purpose because it tells people what the need and catches attention with the bright colour and fish drawing. This was the deliverable that, despite not having designed before I found the simplest to design as there wasn’t much text to fit with the logo and drawing. The background was chosen to be yellow like the physical fish container, so to match the other deliverables and create a cohesive balance between them, as well as it being a bright colour to catch people’s attention. Once the design had been decided, with a few amendments of the layout of text, it was recommended by DPS that the yellow should become opaquer so that the design didn’t show through on the other side. It was also initially going to have different drawings on either side of the banner; however, this was changed to create consistency on both sides.

The biggest query surrounding the banner came right at the end when I was planning to sign off the banner at the end. My supervisor raised the question of whether it was meant to be one-sided with a reverse show through side where the writing would be backwards, or double-sided where the writing would be printed on both sides from left to right. Over the last week I saw an example of a flag banner in the street that showed a one-sided flag banner, this initially made me think I should do the same. However, after exchanging emails with my supervisor for advice, as well as re-reading old emails from DPS, and doing some basic research online that taught me how a double-sided banner is made from two printed graphics that are stitched together with a lining in the middle to allow the message to be clearly displayed, I decided to have it double-sided.


Leaflet

Like the banner, the leaflet was a later addition to the deliverables. The client and I decided that a leaflet would build up knowledge of the project and awareness of the medicine amnesties. The client gave me the information they wanted to be on the A4 leaflet, and after creating some initial designs I felt it was too information heavy, however the client stressed that if possible, all the information should be included. While this was frustrating as I felt it was limiting the design as it looked overly busy and would catch attention less, I did also understand that most of the information was necessary for the reader to understand the ReMINDS project’s goals and details of the medicine amnesties. Therefore, since the client dropped out, I decided I would choose the amount of information myself based on the design, however, of course include the essential information. I played with a couple of designs with more and less information, but landed on the one I did because, although I preferred the design with less, it is important for motivation as it gives the reasons ‘why’ behind the project.

When doing this I did some research into medical leaflets, something on reflection I think I should’ve done sooner in more detail, however doing this gave me an idea of the general layout and design of them. From this I learnt that many of them have quite busy layouts, with a decent amount of information, as medical topics/projects tend to need explaining. These are separated into sections on the page using colour and shapes in the background. In terms of typography, they generally use san-serif typefaces, so to represent the serious nature of the topics.

One issue I had to tackle while designing the leaflet was how to show the fish container. This was because initially we would have had to wait till it was completely finished and taken a photo of it for the leaflet to then be complete and be able to be shared. This was not only inefficient in terms of timings, but also it was pointed out that a photo of a bin or container would never be overly aesthetic, therefore I suggested a drawing instead as this was more visually engaging. I based this drawing off the mock-up I had made previously. This improved the leaflet as it added something more visual and paired with the drawing of the fish well. I also added the waves underneath the blue box as I felt these were appealing colours that matched the theme and balanced the colours over the leaflet.

I decided to use the same typeface that was used in the logo to carry the brand over to the leaflet. It also followed similar tendencies to the medical leaflet examples I found in my research that also use a san-serif typeface.

     

     


Final designs

RJ00410 Leaflet

 

RJ00410 ReMINDS Project Logo

 

RJ00410 Container Mock-up

 

RJ00410 Banner Mock-up

 

RJ00410 Banner Template

 

RJ00410 Print Cut File

Feedback

Unfortunately, due to the client dropping out and the medicine amnesty not taking place I have not received any proper feedback for the work and deliverables. Before the client was unable to continue the job, they were very happy with the work that I had completed so far and trusted they would be effective in creating a brand and advertising the event.


Reflection

This project has developed into a very interesting and individual project, with the branding deliverables being not only a logo, leaflet and poster, but to design a fish character for a bin that will be used at the medical amnesties.

This was my first real job I took on my own, which at first was slightly daunting as it meant I didn’t have a peer to ask for a second opinion, but with this job I have learnt to ask lecturers and my supervisors more for advice when needed which I think is a valuable skill and one that will benefit me in my studies.

I think I have handled the workload well, especially considering the projects unique deliverables that seemed to have increased throughout the project, and managed to stick to deadlines as well as I could, with factors such as finding and getting the spray painting done being trickier to sort than initially planned. Having to juggle a Real Job on my own alongside modules helped me to cut out my previous habit of procrastinating, as it was important for me to prioritise as the job was time sensitive. This is an improvement that has helped me across many areas of my studies.

Up until Covid sent students home mid-March, I was on track to have things sorted by the new deadline, with only slight changes to make to the colours of the fins, etc on the fish container. I was disappointed when this all had to be put on pause when I was no longer to access the bin to make an accurate colour change, as well as there being no rush to have the deliverables sorted as campus wasn’t busy like normal, so the client couldn’t hold the medical amnesty anyway. I felt that I was very on top of this job while I could be and am pleased with my progress at working as an individual.

This job has allowed me to improve my communication skills through skype calls, email and numerous meetings where a range of different things had to be discussed, and I have learnt to make sure I take detailed notes so I can pass on information correctly. For example, being in contact and talking to DPS directly was confusing at first, however, it has been a great insight to see how these things work and how I should best handle my files.

A more specific skill I have learnt to do on this project is create a Print Cut File for the scale and fin stickers that will go on the bin which taught me about more in-depth tools on Illustrator and further taught me the importance of layers and print specifications.

On reflection, something I have realised from this project is that I need to come up with more initial ideas for things, for example when creating the Reminds Project logo I didn’t come up with enough styles and ideas to show the client, even though they were happy with what they picked for me to develop, next time I would like to give a client more choices.

 

References

XL Displays. Crest Flag Banner And Pole Double Sided. Available at: https://www.xldisplays.co.uk/products/crest-flag-banner-and-pole-double-sided.aspx#:~:text=The%20double%20sided%20printed%20flag,effectively%20display%20your%20marketing%20message.

 

 

RJ00468 ROSES posters

Background

ROSES is the Reading online sports economics seminars held every Friday. The seminars are organised by our client James Reade who also promotes the seminars on social media and posts them on Youtube. In the past James had either made posters for these seminars himself or asked a colleague to design them on photoshop which James was pleased with but from a design perspective they weren’t very effective and had a lot of issues with alignment and consistency. 

 

Restated brief

The brief was a simple process for this job as the client made it clear what he needed, we needed to design posters for the ROSES seminars and to find an accessible way for James to replicate our designs for future talks. The posters and the template needed to be versatile to deal with different levels and amounts of information which the original poster designs we were shown did not handle well but James expressed that he enjoyed the rule used in the original posters as well as stating that the posters needed to look professional and the images used needed to reflect the subject matter of each talk.  As for the template, the client was very open minded about how we created the template and what format we used, as long as it was accessible and effective.

We agreed to create the following deliverables for our client:

  •  4 posters for each ROSES seminar
  • Poster template for the client to use to create his own posters 

 

User Consideration

This poster had several uses all on digital platforms, as an email flyer, poster on social media, and first slide of online weekly presentations. These all had to vary whilst also being clearly consistent as a series. For this real job, we needed to consider the user and the reader. This made the job considerably more difficult. When considering the user of the template ­­­– our client, we first had to attain what software he had available to him. We explored simple free design software that could be used such as adobe spark and sketch. However, after we found that the most accessible software also worked in the correct dimensions; 16:9.

 

Reader consideration

This was primarily the visual design, we needed to ensure the template produced a visually engaging, informative, and also reflective of the content of the poster. The typeface we chose was inspired by those found on football shirts. This typeface is also available to download for free with google fonts. The box we used that held all the information mimics the sports announcements appearing on television. The imagery takes the main focus thus why a box was most effective as it was least obstructive.

 

Poster Design

The original posters used for ROSES, from a perspective of a non-designer appear to be modern and professional but from our perspective, the posters lacked an effective structure and it was clear no guides or clear rules were used for any of the elements of information. The images used were also not carefully considered or positioned, some images obstruct the legibility of the type, as well as this, the hierarchy of the typography seemed to be lazy and not well organised with the names of the guest speakers in very large, bold type which we understood the client enjoyed but with the name so large, it created more issues than it solved and with particular name lengths, the white rules became too small and unbalanced.

 

RJ00468 original poster

 To begin with, we created different approaches to poster layouts that we got peer feedback on to help us choose which layout to take forward and develop. 

 

Initial ideas

After our initial client meeting, we both went away to come up with as many visual outcomes as we could. We felt a banner over the image as shown enabled a clear section for information, whilst still allowing the image to be prominent. Our next main concern was to create a template that had as few possible points of error, meaning keeping manual intervention low, and where it was necessary minimal. Our client was very clear on wanting a rule, so we used one to divide up our information, so we implemented a red one with the same red as the logo to tie the components together.

 

Initial poster idea

 

Taking forward the poster layout that received the most positive feedback, we developed iterations of the poster and took this to our supervisor who helped us to refine the poster iterations to a refined design to be sent to the client. The adjustments made mostly surrounded the hierarchy and positioning of the text, we reduced the amount of different type sizes to just a couple of paragraph styles. The positioning of the text was carefully thought out as we needed to make sure that future posters with longer titles or longer dates would not make our design fall apart, we ensured this wouldn’t happen by shortening the format of the date and adding a rule to separate the date from the title and speaker name of the seminar which meant that the information for the poster could be placed and adjusted within a neater, tighter rectangle across the image with a tint behind the text to reduce the interference with text and image and therefore increasing legibility.

 

Final design 

The final design has banner, as we felt this visually conveyed how sports announcements are made in the industry (television). We had less variation in typography, it instead had intentional use of white space to indicate hierarchy with more subtlety and elegance. We also decreased the weight of the rule to stop it from drawing away from the image and information too much. We added ‘Reading Online Sports Economics Seminars’ as we felt it was not clear without what exactly ROSES was and therefore a potentially interesting target audience could miss their opportunity.

 

final poster design 

Template 

Once we had decided on the final design, we then had to make it as a template. Our first challenge, as some of the talk titles were 2 lines and some were 1, was having the box be self-adjusting. This we were able to achieve by adjusting the padding and changing the box settings. The next challenge was to ensure the paragraph styles were set correctly, this had to be done so replicating the same order of styles could be easily achieved by the user. Then we had to tackle the guide putting guides in place to indicate where the components should be placed so there is no variation between outputs. Unfortunately, the rule was the one part of the template we couldn’t automate. Since this is simply adjusting the rule to align with the top of the text, we wrote clear instructions for the user and felt this was the best way to keep the effective design, with limited interference from the user.

 

Client

James Reade, our client was very open minded about the process of making a template which helped as it allowed us to explore multiple platforms and ways of creating a template. Throughout the process we maintained contact with him through email, although his replies often meant pushing back our meetings, particularly towards the end of the project as we were hoping to talk James through how to use the template (despite the template including instructions we thought having a chat on top of this would be ideal) before the Christmas break but due to James being busy with his own work and a lack of communication from his side, this chat has been pushed back and therefore extending the project. However, this isn’t a detrimental issue as the deliverables for the project are completed and apart from this issue our client has been very helpful throughout the process.

 

Reflection

This project has been highly beneficial for our personal skills due to the research we carried out when looking for the appropriate software for a poster template. The powerpoint template is a skill we can use in the future whilst simultaneously keeping in mind the client’s needs and knowledge of software, as rarely clients will know how to use or have access to the adobe cloud. Although we had creative freedom on this project, designing a template for specific information was limiting however, we feel that we dealt with these limits well and produced posters and a poster template James Reade can effectively use for future ROSES seminars.

 

Longhaul Branding and packaging redesign

Background

Longhaul is a company which strives to create savoury performance food for endurance athletes. Currently they have one product on the market, a pouch of blended all-natural whole foods with no added sugar. Although they have two flavours available right now, they are working to offer a larger range and are expanding to four flavours. Each pouch ensures slow released energy that should keep you fueled steadily over a long period of time. They reached out to the department to update their packaging design and make some tweaks to their brand identity so their products have a better shelf presence and stand out from other brands once they launch in grocery shops and supermarkets. 

To see more about Longhaul go to: https://longhaulendurance.com/

The brief

The initial brief called for us to edit the logo and strapline and design the packaging for four flavours (two existing and two new ones). However, it soon became clear that they did not actually want any change to their logo, although they did seem to like the proposed tweaks we brought forward. Instead, we worked on a new strapline, which went through many different versions until the very end, and then also made the packaging for the four flavours. Unfortunately, we also started realising that designing finished packaging for the two new flavours was not going to be possible since the client had not yet finalised recipes and gotten them approved. Instead we offered to give them editable files for them or future designers to edit once all the copy and information has been confirmed. 

In the end, our deliverables were as following:

  • Logo files with new strapline
  • 2x indesign files of finished packaging for the existing flavours 
  • 2x indesign files with missing information for the new flavours to be used by designers in the future

Research 

The user

Longhaul specifically brands their product towards endurance athletes. Since none of us in the team are endurance athletes, we had to break out of our own comfort zone and start thinking outside the box. We created a few user personas who ranged from professional athletes to recreational athletes who are serious about their sport. While it was easy to figure out what they would want from the product, it took some more time to think about what they would want from the packaging design. We were confined to the type of pouch the client had chosen, but we had to figure out an attractive and effective way of communicating important information. Although we tried to do this before starting the project, it was something that kept developing as we designed. In the end, it became clear that athletes buying endurance food (or other sports supplements) most care about what they are about to put in their body, what it’s for, and at which stage they should be using it. 

The current market and how Longhaul compares to it

To understand how sports food packaging works, we had a look around at the current market. We actually found that most existing energy related food packaging is not the most eye catching or effective. However, they do often use bright, almost neon, colours so they do still tend to stand out amongst other food packaging. Further, if using any sort of image, most products would use a photo of the main ingredient that the flavour is based on. 

The one brand that both we and the client thought stood out the most was Tribe. This brand is also very focused on natural performance energy supplements, much like Longhaul. However, the main difference on the surface is that Tribe creates sweet flavours while Longhaul makes savoury blends. Tribe’s packaging really works on visualising the natural aspect of their product by showing illustrations of scenes of nature such as a wave, iceberg, or peak of a mountain. The colours of the scenes change for each flavour. 

While finding such a successful design was nice for us since it showed that sports food packaging does not always have to be neon and pretty boring, it also made the challenge for us even bigger. There was a brand out there that stood out, so how were we going to design something that stood out even more compared to that? 

Our mood board built up of other sports food packaging and other pouch packaging

Designing 

Setting up a template and colour matching 

We received a complicated product data sheet from the client that discussed all the technical data from the printer and manufacturer. I took to trying to decipher all the different measurements on their technical drawing and translating this to an inDesign file that we could work with including a different bleed than we’re used to and strange margins. 

Template based on the printers’ guidelines for us to work on

In the logo files we had received we found three different versions of everything: RGB, CMYK, and Pantone. Unfortunately, neither we nor the client knew which file had been used in the end for the packaging (Pantone or CMYK). Alex went and printed out many different versions to find equivalents which we eventually got to compare the original packaging to after the client had mailed those to us as well. After doing this, we also did a few legibility tests of the red and blue used on the packaging since we saw this as a possible issue. Although we proposed a few changes, the client decided in the end that they were still happy with their original logo.

Test prints of which colours could have possibly been used on the pouches

Initial sketches 

As usual with design processes, we started with sketching some rough thumbnails for the front on the pouch. Although this did help us understand what the client wanted better, we quickly also realised this was not the best way for us to explore ideas. We had very specific colours and assets to use since those parts of the brand already existed. It was very difficult to see how specific aspects would look together in the different situations. What we did learn from our initial sketches was that we were trying to stick too much to the existing brand and how they had used it in their original packaging. 

Initial pencil sketches I made
The original pouch sleeves

Moving on from the original design 

Based on what we had learned from our quick thumbnail sketches, we moved to working digitally and tried our best to move away from the original packaging design. However, we were faced with a whole new list of issues. First, working digitally meant that it was easier to try out small changes and more difficult for us to work collaboratively. This led to a whole range of different ideas, which may sound good initially, but it left us completely lost. There were so many options. We took a very shallow approach: focusing on sport. Since this idea was not specific enough, none of us were able to create a design that truly fit. Everything was either too general and so boring to look at, or would exclude certain athletes. For example, after a meeting with our client we all agreed that representing specific sports would not be appropriate for food that is meant for anybody that falls under an endurance athlete. 

Sample of pouch designs based around showcasing sport

Typebased and more geometric 

After a discussion with Rob, our supervisor, we made an attempt to choose something more specific and move away from imagery that suggested certain sports. This attempt entailed a typographic approach and a geometric graphic approach as these can be very successful when done right. It already became clear quite early on that this was also not the way to go, but I believe our team was trying desperately to hold onto some kind of direction so we did not want to let go of these approaches. 

Although this approach wasn’t what we ended up going with, we did start getting the information hierarchy down. We did still continue to develop this to make it even clearer, but we started realising what information would be important for athletes and what should stand out more than other aspects. For example, to grab the attention of an athlete walking by in a grocery store, things like protein is more important than knowing the details of the flavour, which they can read after picking the product up. 

Sample of pouch designs that follow the typographic and/or geometric approach

Restarting and figuring out what the brand means 

We had a meeting with Rob after trying to make the typography and geometric designs work for very long. During this meeting, he asked us for a few keywords that described what the brand was and what it stood for. It quickly became clear that we had no clue. This was the root of our problems. How can you design something that suits the brand if you don’t know what it’s about? We went away and created a list of words to describe the brand and what the design should be like, eventually narrowing it down to ‘energetic, impact, light, bold, clean’. Although that list may still seem a bit contradictory and generic, we knew exactly what we meant with the words. After that, our designs finally started going into the right direction. 

Effective mountains and tweaking the visual information

Alex and Ro had been experimenting with using mountains as the main graphic for the pouch, reflecting the mountain that can be found back in the logo. However, these still were not suited. They were either too detailed or too simple (and so looked more like a shape than a mountain). During a meeting with Rob talking about exactly that, that the style did not seem to work correctly, an idea suddenly hit me. In our first year, I had taken it upon myself to learn how to create polyart. I created a mountain using this style, which gave us a nice balance between geometric and detail. We all immediately really liked the new idea (which was the first time, so it was a very good sign), and were hoping our client enjoyed it as well. After we got positive feedback from them, Alex went back to edit the mountain so it used tints and fewer swatches as it had already taken me a few hours to create the original mountain, and this was another job that would take a while. Doing this made it easier for us to switch out swatches so we could make the mountains in new colours easily. 

Pouch designs focusing on mountains

Our initial idea with the mountain had most of the information as text on the front. It was quite text heavy for packaging that should catch somebody’s eye. Luckily our client really wanted to use their icons, so we could replace much of the text with icons. Unfortunately, the existing icons did occasionally have a different line width and used the colours in a less consistent way. I went in and made changes to make them more consistent. For example, gluten free was first in red since all the other icons mentioning the food was free of something had a red line through it. However, it made gluten free seem negative and putting a red line through the icon would create a double negative. Instead, we decided to keep it white and in line with the other white icons. I also went as far to create a new icon that signified organic. This was originally because the icon was missing from the files we received, but in the end we and the client liked the new icon more. 

The back

Alex did most of the work for the back of the pouch while the client was too busy to get back to us with feedback on the front of the pouch. The original pouch had way too much text on it, so we agreed on which bits had to be taken out. While a lot of text had already been taken out, a real change was making everything fit on and still follow the type size guidelines. What we really liked about the original back was the clients’ names that they had in a different font at the end of their message. We decided we could make this even more personal. I wrote out their names initially to see if we could fit on handwritten signatures. On the final design, we had managed to get them to write out their own names, which makes the pouch just that bit more authentic. 

Pouch designs for the back

The colours

We looked at colours throughout the entire process, it was not done at a specific point, we were still tweaking up until we sent the files off for sign-off. There was a lot of playing around. Many sports related food products use neon colours on their packaging. We tried using bright colours as well, but this felt very fake and tacky. We also tried correlating colours to the flavours, but most blended foods just turn a shade of brown. Not only is that not a great colour to use for this kind of packaging, but it also really limited us. In the end, using tints and only three swatches on the mountains gave us a nice balance between giving the flavours a relatively bright colour that wasn’t necessarily related to the flavour and a muted colour scheme that fit with the natural aspect of the food. 

Production

Production was different than expected. At first, we were working towards press ready files, however in the end we had to perfect our inDesign files for other designers to work further with. Luckily, we had kept our files very clean. We just had to compare them to the printer’s specifications so we wouldn’t burden a new designer with that job and risk our designs being compromised. When we were almost finished, we came across a rather confusing requirement for the type. Alex got in contact with the printers and found out all text had to be a solid colour, meaning we had to go through and either make text fully C, M, Y, K, or a Pantone swatch. Luckily the client had already told us he was willing to pay for more than just 4 colours, so this was an easy fix.

Final designs

Final pouch design
Final design pouch series

The client was very happy with these designs, listing:

  • [It’s a] more current design, and the use of a mountain is very well aligned with the brand image we want to portray.
  • The design is both clean and eye catching
  • More striking and would stand out on a shelf against competitors well
  • The colour combinations go really well and the nuance in the colours of the mountain looks great.
  • The design works well as a concept that we can apply to new product ranges

Reflection

This job took much longer than any of us had expected. At first, it looked like the turnaround was going to be in just a matter of weeks, but it took just under a year. Although I am very glad that we ended up having more time, since our designs for the original deadline were not successful, the job did stretch on for a little too long. There wasn’t much we could do about this with our client occasionally being out of the country and corona hitting everybody in a way that could not have been expected. That being said, there was much I learned during this job. Our main challenge was finding out what sort of graphic and design would fit the brand the best. I now know to never start a project without having a clear sense of what the company is about and what the brand should mean. Further, this job also made me understand group work better. We took an approach that leaned towards equal distribution and everybody working on everything, which is not always the most efficient. However, there was not much to distribute amongst us since we were creating a series of packaging (Maybe the team was just a little too big for how small the job actually ended up being). 

We have been extremely impressed with the designs that you have all put forward & are very happy with the final results. So thank you for all of the hard work! – Amelia Watts (client)

It’s been a pleasure working with you all and I’m very impressed and pleased with the final result. – Staale Brinchmann (client)