The power of good design

The new BBC television series High Street Dreams features a series of would be retail success stories, each with a product they’d like to bring to market. The first programme bodes well for the rest of the series I think with a young couple making wholesome burgers in their kitchen looking to expand and an extended Sikh family making hot sauce in their garden shed.

Of course it’s a television show and has to be inherently entertaining so we have to take a lot of it with a pinch of salt. But what it does do rather well is show the process of bringing a new product to market. The interesting bit for me is where they have to make their product look the part, so the retailer they pitch to will take them seriously and the consumers who test it will believe in it.

Highly respected retail brand and packaging experts Pearlfisher were handed the task to redesign Mr Singh’s hot chilli sauce. The current packaging was a mess and to be honest, it wouldn’t have taken much to improve it. But improve it they did, and the vastly improved design certainly played its part in high street retailer Asda agreeing to roll it out in a number of their stores nationally.

Here’s what it looked like before, with a confusing proliferation of messaging, illustrations and logos in a traditional bottle:

And here’s what the final version of the Pearlfisher packaging looked like – clean, powerful and distinctive:

Interestingly, the solution wasn’t exactly on brief in terms of the ‘family’ feel the client was looking for. But I think the brand experts quietly ignored that and designed a pack design that has bags of standout on the shelf and the distinctive Sikh turban (or is it a moustache?). Either way, it has lots of personality, wit and humour.

There was still quite a bit of work to be done with the messaging – is it a condiment sauce or a marinade – which came out when talking to consumers – but this seemed to be relatively simple to fix.

I was struck yet again by how dramatically the right creative can change and shape perceptions of a product, service or even person. When the brand and the product are aligned it becomes a very powerful thing.

But it’s always nice to see it so graphically and it was a real joy to see the connection between the Singh family and their new brand – you could tell by the looks on their faces that they loved it and connected with it immediately. I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on and hope consumers connect with it in the same way.

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