International design showcase

Over its 115-year history, Buckinghamshire, Eng.-based Hovis has built a reputation for quality and innovation - it has always been a cut above the rest. It's a brand that reaches out to a new generation of bread buyers.
The brand's recent introduction of a radical new pack design featuring everyday healthy foods communicates the brand's goodness, celebrates the role of bread as good honest food and has created a 'wow' in the category.

Gary Oakley, chief creative officer

Nexient Solutions, Toronto

Over its 115-year history, Buckinghamshire, Eng.-based Hovis has built a reputation for quality and innovation – it has always been a cut above the rest. It’s a brand that reaches out to a new generation of bread buyers.

The brand’s recent introduction of a radical new pack design featuring everyday healthy foods communicates the brand’s goodness, celebrates the role of bread as good honest food and has created a ‘wow’ in the category.

Created by London, Eng.-based Williams Murray Hann, the design is printed on an economical white poly substrate, that in itself is rare for the bread category in North America. It illustrates the favourite British foods eaten with Hovis: for example, baked beans on toast and the classic sandwich fillings of tomatoes, cucumber and egg.

The quality of printing is excellent; it illustrates wonderfully the textures, colour and realism of the foods. The embossed gold logo is strong, traditional and predominant – it creates echoes of the years gone by. Shelf impact and variety recognition is superb, no competitor comes close.

This illustrates how a package should create, sustain and increase the desire for a brand. More than that, it shows how packaging can still be innovative, fun and relevant in today’s marketplace.

Kelly Frances, manager,

new business development

Strategies International, Toronto

The Kiehl’s line of products came to my attention recently on a trip to an exclusive store in downtown Toronto. Based in New York, Kiehl’s is a manufacturer of high quality skin-care products using only the finest, natural ingredients. Although Kiehl’s doesn’t advertise its products, the line has become popular over the last few years, mainly through word-of-mouth recommendations and editorial press.

The packaging strategy intrigues me because it takes a unique approach not often seen in premium skin care products. High-priced products usually come in rich, opulent, often overdone bottles, jars and boxes (think of Versace’s gold designs), as opposed to the direction that Kiehl’s has taken: the use of clean, functional packages that have a pharmaceutical quality to them.

Kiehl’s lists all the ingredients on the front of all of its products, a real departure from the norm. Printing this information quite prominently on the package is part of Kiehl’s overall brand strategy and suggests its confidence in the quality ingredients it uses. Kiehl’s brand strategy is to be honest and forthright with what it has to offer and it makes a point in its marketing materials of saying that it refrains from using hyperbole.

The look of the packaging carries over into Kiehl’s in-store environments, which are called ‘Official Kiehl’s Dispensaries.’ The flagship New York store resembles an apothecary, with employees dressed in lab coats, and shelves of clinical-looking bottles and jars. The design of the environments blatantly communicates the fact that it’s the products that count.

I did wonder, however, why there is an inconsistency in Kiehl’s logo treatment. There are a few different typefaces, including italics and non-italics, being used both on its products and marketing materials. The company might consider standardizing all of its packaging in order to avoid confusion and create even more brand strength. Other than this issue, I find Kiehl’s brand strategy to be very strong, unique and well-positioned.

Maria Kennedy,

president, creative director

karacters design group, Vancouver

This really isn’t about design in the expected form – although of course Europeans have incredible design sense. Northern Europe is a mecca for graphic design and interiors. Southern Europeans have a fabulous sense of fashion. But the thing that always gets me is the food.

As a foodie, I love seeing how visually appealing they make food look, no matter how small the store, or how large the display.

I just returned from Italy, and I think the Italians do it best – markets are everywhere, making it easy to get a piece of fresh fruit in the downtown core of any city. When you walk into a store, you get greeted with a ‘Buon giorno.’ Then you proceed to devour everything with your eyes. Tantalizing smells help to complete the scene. It’s a visual feast – one that whets your appetite for the meal to follow, even if it’s just a fresh loaf of bread, cheese and olives. Mmmm…