“We have somewhere in the region of 1500 office furniture items and we need a brochure…”

And no, the phone didn’t go dead. Instead we rolled up our sleeves, stocked up on Lavazza and set to work. Many (many) hours – and several billion clicks of the mouse later, we had a rather attractive perfect bound 140 page brochure the client was delighted about.

“This has really raised our game” said Centric Director, Phil Sloan. “IWP made the whole project straightforward – I was able to leave it to them and get on with my work”.

We pride ourselves on attention to detail – and with every item having price, dimension and colour information, balancing important detail and especially user convenience was the order of the day (and yes – a liberal helping of style).

Have need of an attractively designed, carefully produced brochure of any size? Call IWP. We’ll get the coffee.

Hunters Cheshire Gin is a high quality, export strength London Dry Gin full of character – with it’s heart in Cheshire. Subtle citrus overtones with a spicy fruit edge using Cheshire apples from historic Norton Priory Garden’s orchard. A single batch distillation from a 300 year old recipe, including aromatic Balkan juniper berries and coriander, Iberian lemon & sweet orange peel, Florentine orris root, French angelica and Madagascan cinnamon bark. A unique and sublime fusion of quality botanicals and export strength alcohol.

When IWP were asked to redesign the Hunters Gin label, we took a long hard look at the craft gin market and decided that there was a lot of power in keeping the Cheshire Gin story, the provenance of the Norton Priory Gardens’ apples marking a compelling point of difference.

Extensive sampling was of course part of the process..

A very interesting new product designed for cyclists, with compelling sales points – the Racing Greens philosophy is simple.

Formulated to give the body the tools it needs to thrive, thanks to the performance-enhancing properties of its carefully selected ingredients, the Racing Greens alkalising pH balancing drink delivers more oxygen to the cells, which increases energy, stamina and performance.

Racing Greens also helps after exercising, thanks to its detoxifying properties, which make sure that lactic acid is flushed away, reducing recovery time.

With a blend of over 48 natural ingredients , this is a powerful formula, packed with vital antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. In fact, Racing Greens provides six servings of the five a day recommended by the World Health Organisation.

IWP were asked to consider how best to support the launch of the brand – the sales are via a website so we developed new, more exciting packaging, completely upgraded the website and placed ads in the cycling press – add to this a full social media campaign, and sales took a healthy upturn – with immediate effect.

 

Derbyshire Brewery’s new brand looks as good as it tastes

Whaley Bridge Brewery based in Derbyshire’s beautiful High Peak recently asked us to redevelop the Whaley Bridge brand across their amazing range of small-batch beers.

We believe that to succeed in an ever more saturated market place, small, independent brewers must focus first and foremost on developing trade on their doorstep. With this in mind, we developed a clean, simple and contemporary graphic style for Whaley Bridge Brewery that is designed to resonate with the local drinker who is looking for something a little bit different. The four core beers are named after real locations that have an associated back story:

CROW HILL Overlooking Whaley’s long-ceased Gunpowder Mill. The substantial ruins lie in a watery grave beneath Fernilee reservoir – in times of drought they can still be glimpsed

STONEHEADS The beer act of 1830 was intended to reduce the consumption of gin by encouraging the sale of beer. In the hamlet of Stoneheads above Whaley there was a ‘Public House’ that allowed the selling of beer on payment of a two guinea license fee

HOCKERLEY HOLE Where in 1850 Hockerley Colliery was being worked from a field, near Whaley Bridge station

MOUNT FAMINE The Kinder Scout mass trespass of 1932 was an act of desperate frustration at the lack of progress towards access, including paths across nearby Mount Famine

We are very proud of the new brand we have developed for Whaley Bridge Brewery – the first step in the next phase of growth for their business. Whaley Bridge Head brewer Mike Wilde said ‘We are delighted with the new image, now the beer looks as good as it tastes’.

burger king 2

 

The last few years has seen beer lovers rejoicing at the surge in the production of craft beer in the UK and the seemingly unstoppable rise of the independent brewer – and if we look at what’s happening in the US beer market as a guide to what might happen in this country, there’s the potential for further growth. The global giants haven’t been resting on their laurels though – they were caught off-guard at first by the craft beer revolution, but quietly and stealthily, they’ve started to react. So what does 2016 have in store for the UK craft beer market? Here are some predictions from us…

Lager renaissance

Sales of the typical cheap, bland lagers have been in decline as drinkers turn to craft brews, the majority of which are ales and bitters. That doesn’t mean to say that lager is down and out though – lager sales still heavily outweigh those of ales and dozens of craft lagers have launched recently as brewers seek to redefine the much maligned beer style. We are expecting to see further craft lagers launched in 2016 as brewers look to capitalise on an upturn in popularity.

More acquisitions by the big brewers

Skyrocketing sales of craft beer have resulted in big brand beers flatlining, and it’s obvious that the big brewers weren’t going to stand idly by and watch. First there was SABMiller’s acquisition of Meantime, then AB InBev’s purchase of Camden and in the US, Constellation’s takeover of Ballast Point.

Craft beer enthusiasts have been crying foul and some have rounded on Camden for “selling out” but from our point of view, it’s an entirely understandable business decision, and I wonder how many other craft brewers would stick to their guns if the opportunity came their way?We do have concerns though – if we look at the US market where the global players have bought stakes in a large number of craft brewers, there have been many cases of costs being cut and quality suffering as a result. And, of course, the big brewers will be able to sell their newly acquired craft beers at a price point that independent brewers can’t match, meaning that many craft brewers might find themselves being driven off the shelf.

We expect to see more craft brewers being bought out in 2016 as the other major brewers turn their eyes to the UK market.

More craft offerings from the big and regional brewers

In contrast to the likes of ABInBev, Diageo have responded to the rising tide of craft beer by launching “The Brewer’s Project” – an experimental brewery that has so far come up with 4 very creditable craft style beers.

Adnams have been expanding their crafty feeling “Jack Brand” range of beers over the past couple of years, Shepherd Neame revived the Faversham Steam Brewery identity for their Whitstable Bay range of beers and Fuller’s have their Frontier small batch craft lager, Montana Red ale and Wild River Pacific pale ale.

With their established brands to fall back on, regional brewers are perhaps able to take more of a risk on something that might not work out, so we predict that 2016 will see more of these sorts of exciting and interesting beers launching onto the market as other regional brewers look to break into the craft beer market.

Experimental beers from small, traditional brewers

Following on from the previous point, we’ve recently spoken to a couple of small, local brewers who are working on their own experimental beer departments for 2016. They wouldn’t necessarily identify themselves as craft brewers, but they’ve been watching what’s going on in the craft segment with growing interest. They are planning to produce small-batch brews of something a little bit more adventurous, without jeopardising the production of their traditional beers.

Cans vs bottles

Canned beer has always been seen as the poor relation to bottled beer, but that’s been more to do with the quality of the liquid put in the can more than anything else – bland and insipid lager is going to taste bad whatever container you drink it out of!

US brewers have been leading the way with cans up until now, but we think 2016 is going to see more UK based craft brewers taking the plunge. When you look at the logic, it’s a no-brainer – it’s clear that sunlight degrades the flavour of beer and aluminium cans provide complete protection from UV. Besides, cans are easier to store and transport than bottles and the aluminium in cans can be recycled over and over again. The polymer lining in modern cans also means that the beer is protected from contamination or unwanted flavours.

Modern micro-canning technology makes canning affordable even for small craft beer producers, and there’s even a mobile canning line fitted into the back of a transit van that you can book to come and visit your brewery. From our point of view, cans look great too and provide the designer with a fantastic canvas to work with.

Gluten-free beer

A few years ago, those that suffered from coeliac’s disease and gluten sensitivity had to pretty much give up on the idea of drinking beer given the paucity of gluten-free brews. Now though, there’s a growing range of options such as Celia, Greens gluten free beer and St Peter’s G-free to name but a few, leading the way in showing that gluten-free doesn’t have to mean flavour-free.

In 2016, expect more brewers to produce gluten-free offerings as they realise that there is a whole group of potential customers who aren’t as well catered for as they could be.

And a few we aren’t so sure on

Sharing bottles

Big brand lagers in sharing bottles have been around for years but will we see the trend becoming more commonplace in craft beer this year? The jury seems to be out at the moment – some craft beer retailers we’ve spoken to tell us that they are selling well, whilst others say there’s not much demand. We’ll keep our eye on this one.

Whale testicle beer

We read recently about Toast Ale, a Hackney based brewery making craft beer from surplus bread – a great idea that helps combat food waste and harks back to the oldest surviving beer recipes from 4000 years ago, but it was another recent beer related story that really made us do a double take: Hvalur 2 is a 5.1% ABV beer from Icelandic Stedji microbrewery that’s made from water, special berry hops and two types of malt and the crowning glory of a single whale testicle in each brewing cycle, weighing between seven and eight kilogrammes.

Personally, we prefer our whales alive and swimming in the sea – each to their own and everything but we’ll stick to our whale-free beers thanks.

So that’s our take on craft beer trends for 2016 – it will be interesting to see how things develop and how many of these come to pass. From our point of view though, just as important as the actual beer itself is the brand – the number of breweries and the volume of beer being produced is increasing at a much greater rate than the available shelf space and the number of venues selling it. It’s absolutely crucial for breweries of all sizes, from the smallest microbreweries right up the biggest conglomerates to continually invest in developing brands that set them apart and help them stand out in what promises to be an ever more competitive year.

 

In an ever more congested market, it’s essential for craft brewers to develop strong, original brands

Craft beer is one of the fastest growing segments in the UK food and drink industry with over 600 new breweries opening since 2013, driven by budding consumer demand for something more flavoursome and exciting than the usual mass produced offerings from the big breweries. Sparked by the recession, the craft beer revolution has seen the emergence of a new generation of young brewers re-inventing beer as we know it with an incredible variety of weird and wonderful flavours, styles and brands.

Standing out from the crowd

When the craft beer boom first started, there was a perception that being passionate about producing exciting and experimental beers would be enough to drive demand, and visual identity was treated as something of an afterthought. In the early days, this wasn’t an issue, given that the only people buying craft beer were the true beer geeks. Now the craft beer drinking demographic is much broader and more varied than ever before.

Alongside this, there’s also a growing threat from the major brewers: many of them are waking up to opportunities created by the craft beer revolution and are starting to respond by buying up craft brewers such as Meantime and Camden, or by launching their own “craft-style” offerings. With their monopoly on shelf space in the major multiples, there’s limited room for smaller labels.

Producing great beer isn’t enough on its own anymore: it’s absolutely essential for craft brewers to embrace high quality, well thought-out and considered brand and packaging design if they want to survive and thrive in the long-term. The design of your labels can be the difference between a consumer picking your beer off the shelf or not.

Top 4 tips for craft beer design

Your design should tell your story instantly

Creativity and innovation is the driving force behind the boom in craft beer, so it makes sense for that to be reflected by the packaging design. A good design team will be able to get under the skin of the business and become ingrained in the culture of the brewery. They will be able to come up with visual cues, unique to your brand that creatively express the character and personality of the brewery, the authenticity, the provenance and the style of the beer. Good design will get your story across to the customer instantly.

The balance between adventure and security

In the craft beer market, there is a level of tension at the point of purchase between adventure and security; by definition, the craft beer drinker wants to try something new and different – dissatisfaction with insipid mass produced beer was the catalyst that sparked the craft beer revolution – but they also want a level of reassurance regarding the quality of the product.

In our view, this is where some craft beer brands fall down – it doesn’t matter how great your beer tastes – if your packaging looks amateurish, it risks raising concerns about quality, especially with customers who are new to the sector. If your packaging is too safe and traditional, you risk being seen as boring and won’t appeal to drinkers who are after a new experience. Just be aware though, if you go too far the other way with a totally wild and off the wall design you might stand out, but it’s not going to do you much good if people don’t already know your brand or if it’s not clear that it’s a beer.

Good design can help you achieve this balance – bold and original labels will set you apart from your competitors and help you stand out on shelf with the reassurance that the beer tastes as great as the label looks.

Think about how it looks from afar 

Visual identity needs to communicate from a distance – if your beer is in a bar, chances are that it’s going to be in a fridge behind the bar, and the customer is going to be viewing it from 6 feet away. Your design needs to be eye catching and inviting enough to stand out but clean enough that viewed from a distance, the key information on the label can still be seen. There’s been a move recently away from overly busy beer labels towards those that are cleaner, simpler and easier to read.

In an ever more congested market, it’s essential for craft brewers to develop strong, original brands

More beer is now drunk at home than pubs and bars, so good design is about more than just pump clips and bottles. With the growing popularity of sharing bottles, growlers, and a move to canned beers, your visual identity needs to work across different packaging options. Of course, this is something a good designer will have in mind right from the start.

Conclusion

Obviously the quality of a beer is vital for it to succeed – if it doesn’t taste right, no one is going to want to drink it, but a great beer in poor packaging isn’t going to do very well either. Great design for craft beer brands is essential for their success in an ever more crowded market place – a good design team will take all that is unique about your beer brand and translate this into a distinctive, bold and original visual identity that tells your story and stands you apart from your competitors.

For help with your beer branding challenges contact Steve Whitehouse.

ManShoppingTo compete in markets dominated by big players, small brands need to get their approach just right. They might not have the spending power of the big brands, but even with limited budgets, small brands can make a real impact so long as they have a strong USP, a well-defined niche and maintain a flexible and innovative mindset.

By the very nature of small brands, they tend to have less resource and fewer specialist skills in house, so it is also crucial to know what you are missing and surround yourself with trusted advisors in the areas where you need support.

Small brands making waves

The food and drink industry is a good example of a sector where small brands are able to make waves – at this year’s International Food Exhibition, we were impressed by the sheer number of new, slick looking food and drink brands doing some really interesting things. And it’s these small brands that drive the majority of innovation in their categories – they can be much more nimble and faster to market with products that meet changing consumer preferences than their bigger brethren; and when the big brands do try and catch up with their own versions, they often find it difficult grab the customers imagination in the way that smaller companies do.

The beer industry is a case in point – there has been huge growth in the number of small craft breweries over the last few years, stealing market share from the big players with their exciting and flavoursome beers, and we’ve been lucky enough to work with a couple of them recently.

Some of the big brewers have responded to the craft beer revolution with their own “craft-style” offerings but for the most part they have struggled to resonate with the consumer and have been hampered by set ups that aren’t as well tailored to rapid innovation as their smaller competitors.

Consumer focus on authenticity, provenance and quality

Small and innovative food and drink brands and the craft beer revolution both tap into a consumer focus on authenticity, provenance and quality – a consumer trend that one of our long standing clients, MPM Products saw coming back in 2006 when they launched Applaws – a cat food designed to appeal to the quality conscious consumer who cares what they feed to their animals, made with 100% natural ingredients and no artificial additives.

Since we started working with them on the initial brand identity and launch of Applaws, MPM Products have grown, with our help, from a turnover of £300K and two members of staff to sales of over £30m with their products being stocked by Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Ocado, Pets at Home and Amazon and sales in Italy, Australia, The US, China and 28 other countries around the world.

The secret of their success has been a focus on constant NPD, product extension and innovation, and investment in brand, packaging design and a customer acquisition strategy that have helped them stand out on crowded shelves and win market share from more well established competitors.

Over the past 9 years we have helped them launch the world’s first 80% protein dry cat food, develop a range of cat and dog food designed specifically for the grocery market and develop two major product innovations – the world’s first see-through pet food pouch that shows the consumer the quality of the food inside, and a simple and convenient re-sealable easy pour jug-bag for cat litter.

For more details on our work with MPM, click here.

MPM might still be a relatively small player compared to the likes of Purina and Mars Petcare, but they have come a long way – from start-up to turnover in the tens of millions in only 9 years, stealing market share from much bigger brands and establishing themselves in a very crowded market – a true David vs Goliath story.

Conclusions

There is a great opportunity for small brands to succeed in sectors dominated by much larger competitors provided they have a strong USP, focus on delivering what the consumer actually wants and surround themselves with people who can help fill their skill gaps. If you want advice on how best to apportion small budgets to deliver branding, packaging design, advertising and an effective growth strategy that delivers real ROI, give us a call!

Background

MPM is a natural pet foodAppDogPouchMockUpSalmon manufacturer with two brands, Applaws and Encore. Encore is now stocked in Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Ocado and Amazon, and Applaws is in Pets at Home nationally and all good independent pet retailers.

When we started to work with them, they were a small company with two directors and a turnover of just £300k. We helped them to launch the new Applaws cat food range in 2006 to sit with their existing cat litter product.

We then launched Encore in 2009 designed specifically for the grocery market. We developed all of the brand identity for both brands and helped to develop their launch strategies. ApplawsDryFood_catVis2We have worked with them for the last nine years, acting as their marketing department initially – then once they grew to a size where they could recruit an in-house marketing department, we’ve worked as an extension of that team.

We’ve helped to launch product and flavour extensions, building the corporate identify for MPM Products and been integral to two major product innovations: the world’s first see-through pouch in pet food, and an easy pour jug-bag for cat litter.

Our work hasn’t been limited to solely the UK; we’ve also helped MPM market their products overseas in Italy, Australia, the US, China, and 28 other countries.

Our work

Brand Identity     Packaging innovation     Packaging design     Shelf ready packaging    In store and POS    Marketing consultancy    Press advertising   Websites, banner ads    Email marketing    Social media

Results

Sales increased from £300K to £30M+ in nine years.

Over the last three years, Encore’s share of the premium cat market has grown by 49% with the majority of the share growth coming from new shoppers who are switching to the brand from Sheba and Gourmet. Growth has also come from existing category shoppers adding Encore to their repertoire of products.

YorkiPupAcross dog, MPM’s brand share growth is even more impressive with Encore’s share of the wet dog category increasing by 755%.

Over the last three years, Applaws’ share of the premium cat market has grown by 64%, whereas Hi Life, Gourmet and Lily’s Kitchen have all experienced share declines in the same period. The majority of Applaws’ growth is coming from customers switching out of other brands [notably Whiskers and Gourmet], along with new shoppers into the category.

Across dog, brand share growth is also impressive with Applaws’ share of the wet dog category growing by 363%.

Feedback

When we launched the Applaws range both buyers and customers loved the new designs. Encore was specifically designed for the grocery market and from the first time Sainsbury’s saw it they haven’t requested any changes.Willow_CO_V2

We recently rolled out the Encore brand to pâté, pouches, dry cat and dog and it has been very well received.

Timeline

2006  IWP started work with a small pet products business called MPM Products. We created brand identity for and launched the new Applaws cat food range to sit with their existing cat litter product.

2007  Extended the Applaws range to 9 flavours and 2 multipacks, building the corporate identity for the company MPM Products as well as the brand.

2008  Massive success of cat food saw MPM launch Applaws wet dog food in 156g tins; we were right at the heart of the company acting as their marketing department.

2009  MPM launch Applaws dry for cats which is the world’s first 80% meat cat food and Applaws dry for dogs. IWP develop the new bags from photography to design to final translations and proofing. Encore brand launched into Sainsbury’s, 70g cat tins in a gravity feed single serve outer, developed to give great on-shelf presence.

ApplawsDryFood_catVis22010  We help develop the world’s first see through pouch in pet food for Applaws; how the food looks has always been the greatest asset to the brand and now for the first time the shopper can see the food before they buy it. IWP developed the idea from concept through to finished product. The Encore cat pouch was launched and the brand developed into Tesco and Waitrose. IWP created and produced full tray mock ups for the line review at Tesco.

2011  Encore dog 156g tins launched. IWP developed the labels and SRP’s, did full tray mock-ups for the line selections for both Tesco and Sainsburys.

AppCatPot5langEFGSDcgi_chickRice2012  Following research it was decided to launch an easy peel pot for Applaws and Encore, again with see through sides to show the product and a sleeve to deliver the message. Encore dry cat and dog ranges were launched. IWP developed both sets including creative design, photography and artwork.

2013  New product launches, Applaws and Encore cat and dog pâté, high meat content and a venture into complete wet food. IWP also designed the distinctive Applaws Jelly pouch as an extension of the broth pouch. Launch of new brand and product range for cat litter called Nature’s Calling. IWP developed the name, new easy pour jug bag, launch packs, exhibition stand and website.

2014  New designs for Applaws Dry Dog and Dry Cat – with the launch of Cat Jelly tins and Grain Free products in the USA.

2015  Developing the Applaws Cat Layers product and the Encore version – and the launch of Applaws 156g Dog tins in the USA.

Overseas

USA  We redesigned the 70g tins for the USA market, and more recently the pots have been taken up.

Italy  Working with a distributor AppTunaLoinITALcgi_Spinachwe have developed a complete range of both Applaws and Encore for the Italian market.

 

Australia  Initially working with Coles Supermarkets, we have launched wet cat and wet dog, then more recently dry cat and dog and a brand new premium cat litter as well.

Digital  

We have produced hard-working websites for Applaws, Encore and Nature’s Calling. We run Facebook and Twitter for both Applaws UK and US and the Encore brand. We have also created email campaigns for the US market and banner ads for Ocado.

 

 

SIBA_full_colour_nostrap_reduced

Yay! Happy new SIBA membership to us!

With Brewers expanding more into European markets, we think our experience producing multi language packaging (not to mention our astonishingly cool design and marketing skills) could be of interest to the industry… Have a look at our beer pages at www.iwp.co.uk – then call us to discuss your design brief immediately.

I thank you.