Are you sitting comfortably?

Are you sitting comfortably?

Tim Leahy, Managing Director of Leahy Brand Design discusses the benefits of telling a story through packaging design

Brands must stand out clearly in consumer’s minds to get noticed and be tempted into the basket and onto the table. Memorable brands connect with consumers on an emotional level and story telling is a powerful way to make that connection.

During the Olympics we were introduced to sportsmen and women that were unknown to us, they won gold and a place in our hearts. Not only because they were winners, but because my personal favourite, Clare Balding, helped to unearth what drives them and their personal back-story. Brands are no different – like people they are all different, they all have a story to tell and packaging is the visual expression of them:

•    Product shape, taste & delivery – The satisfying snap and share of a Kit-Kat is all wrapped up in taking a break and relaxing, and the iconic Toblerone, a chocolate bar from Switzerland that looks like a mountain, simply brilliant;
•    Packaging structure – Marmite’s iconic jar reinforcing a spread that packs a punch and Bonne Mamam’s jars and lids reminding us of Grandma’s kitchen;
•    Packaging design – Charlie Bigham’s charming ‘book cover’ sleeve telling us the ‘twosomes’ story, a conversation on pack, great stuff.

Great brands know their audience and tell their stories with clarity in a tone of voice that connects in a memorable way that is distinctive and effortless so that we enjoy and appreciate coming back to them time and time again.

At LBD, we discover our client’s story before we start to create the big idea and design, and with Keogh’s that meant a trip to their farm in North County Dublin. There we found a true family business, Peter Keogh’s and Sons all working on the farm, they talked to us passionately about their Irish potatoes over a cup of tea around their kitchen table. So we built the brand and story around them, using each family member – Tom, Ross, Derek and Peter to tell their story, how they grow the finest potatoes and handmade crisps in Ireland.

‘Grown with Love in Ireland’ was the big idea we came away with and we went about creating a simple brandmark that captured this; a shortened brand name ‘Keogh’s’ and a growth message within the logo and strap-line. The personal touch has carried on through to the back of pack right down to a Spud Nav that tracks the crisps back to the field they were grown in, the potato variety and person who cooked the batch.

The Keogh’s family continue to tell their story day to day through social media, generating a true community of followers that love the brand and products because they can see the story is real. The family now has 1,700 followers on Facebook and 500 on Twitter – the story continues.

The brand story is not simply telling the history and origin of the product and its people. When brands are company brands, especially in commodity markets, finding that unique and differentiated position is a much more challenging task. One such challenge LBD faced was to take the Whitworths Sugar brand and give it personality and difference from the brand leaders – Tate & Lyle and Silver Spoon.

We spent plenty of time discovering what it is about sugar that people love, and found that it really is the catalyst for creativity and happiness. Home baking has been growing now in the UK for a number of years and we found that everyone has a story about a baking triumph or disaster and that everyone has a cooking tip or idea they love to share.

So we took this spirit of sharing as the starting point for the brand story – baking tips and recipes for the baking range and fun facts and life affirming thoughts to make you smile over a cup of tea and piece of cake. As with the Keogh’s brand we wanted to begin the story on the packaging and carry the dialogue through onto the website and social media.


•    Discover the story, don’t tell the same old story, be something different because being the same is the death of most brands;
•    Develop onto pack – put the brand first, a visual expression on the front, a more developed back-story on the sides and reverse, and a clear signpost to carry the conversation off pack and online;
•    Define your audience, the best stand up comedians and story tellers know who they are talking to;
•    Create a big idea to help position the brand in a special place in consumers’ mind;
•    Extend the story – onto point of sale, through advertising, real time social media, on the road and face to face at shows and events.

So to sum up, it’s vital to understand where the brand story can be told. Packaging is the front line, always available and visible to tell the brand story. The front of pack is all about getting the brand noticed so pack structure, brand name, colour and craft of typography and product photography will be the focus here to help differentiate and stand out from the crowd.

If the front of pack is the book cover that communicates the key information, the back and side of pack (as well as the inside) are the pages, they can be used to expand and give colour and tone to the brand story and engage the customer beyond the point of purchase and into their home.

Try and understand how the product is going to be used at home. Post purchase experience is often forgotten in the rush to launch, and can help keep the brand engagement going.

A current example is the way Rice Krispies have just used the ‘colour me in’ pack idea, and here at LBD we continue to tell the Butlers Chocolates brand story through the multiple brand touchpoints and exciting opportunities that the luxury chocolate gifting category offers – wraps, sleeves, ribbons and labels that all play a part in reinforcing the brand story for consumers.

Holly Aston