The first one-to-one meeting with Shikatani Lacroix Design, Bee Wild founder John Wright exclaims, “was epic!” He adds, “SLD blew me away with the time, energy and effort they put into doing market research.”
Wright is impressed by SLD’s strategic approach to design and how they come to projects with the goal of being a true business partner.
Shikatani Lacroix Design believes in a strategic approach to design, and it was especially apropos for the Bee Wild re-imagining, as SLD strategist Ada Zhang explains, because Bee Wild had a unique problem. “He has so many value propositions for Bee Wild’s products,” Zhang says. “One, there’s a great brand focus on sustainability. Two, they are a grassroots company, which makes them so authentic. Three, there are three generations of legacy, which builds on that real root trust. Four, they’re a premium high-quality honey product! We had so many different territories we could play in because there’s so much to offer. To dial down our focus to a few design territories, we had to approach this from a very strategic method.
“First we sought to understand John’s customers,” she adds. “Then we looked at the trends, especially because we knew that there are specific demographics that are changing to be more in favor of honey. These markets include households with no younger children, and there’s a rise in men purchasing honey.”
The agency found outstanding branding and design work being done in the market, globally. The competitors then brought that wealth of information to Wright to embark on a collaborative process. “SLD broke the research down for me,” Wright recalls, “so I could really understand who my direct competitors are, what they are doing [with their packaged products], their brand traits and the unserved business opportunities in this very niche market of boutique honey. They challenged me to stand out from my competitors versus follow the trends, and that really resonates with me on a personal level. The coincidence is that approach is what I’ve always wanted to do with my brand. I want it to stand out and be unique.”
Lori Smale, account director, SLD, recalls, “Ada did all this great strategic work alongside our creative director, and then we made sure we gave him our audit ahead of our first call so he could digest it all. That worked out great because John contributed so much to kick off a discussion of the different designs options for where Bee Wild’s design could go.” Zhang adds, “We landed on the ‘contemporary earth lover’ territory, which is at the intersection between both modern and approachable design.”
SLD’s creative director Gary Oakley emphasizes how important this approach is to not only narrowing down a design territory but to developing true partnerships with SLD’s clients and delivering business results beyond package design. “Ada’s research really dug up nuggets of information that could positively impact John’s business yet had nothing to do with package design,” Oakley explains. “This was information that could help John with how he goes to market. The research also helps us connect more to the brand and then the creative becomes more grounded on logic, insights and strategy versus personal preference.”
Wright adds, “SLD backs up their recommendations with actual data. That gave me so much deep confirmation about the brand direction and ensured that it was a lot more solid than a feeling or impression.”
This data helped SLD and Bee Wild determine what messages they wanted to include on the limited real estate of a package. “That’s why we emphasize messages such as no artificial ingredients, locally sourced and a source of antioxidants,” Smale explains, “because we know the market is changing. More middle aged men are joining this market so we wanted the packaging concept to succeed with the current market but also continue to succeed in the future market.”
SLD takes such effort in being choosy in its messaging because of its brand communication philosophy. Diane Mullane, vice president of client services, SLD, explains, “Our philosophy at Shikatani is the blink factor. So everything we do, we want to make sure that we're connecting with consumers in the blink of an eye. So we wanted to make sure our design is unique, impactful and memorable, and stand out amongst any of the competition.”
The packaging concepts pictured here for the gift set and the subscription box exemplify those attributes, with a strong design that quickly communicates with shape while avoiding overuse of current market communication devices. For example, the hexagon is a common design element in the honey market. SLD chose to move away from the hexagon as a overall box shape and instead bring the structural design back to the honeycomb in its entirety. This approach evokes the moment in time when the honey is made by the bees and then harvested on the farm, thus giving an authentic sense of experience versus simply a product.
“SLD totally blew me away,” Wright remarks. “It was impressive to see all the work that they did—starting with research through to the design side. Everything they was supported by the work they did before. For example, the market research supported the brand concept and then the brand content supported the design work.
“SLD’s hive taster design for the three 3-oz. jars, for me, is the very definition of a ‘door opener,’” he adds. “SLD designed the hive taster to deliver the experience of actually looking into a working beehive, with the back with the honeycomb cell cut-out of the carton’s back panel and the flowers represented on the interior carton panels. There’s this element of enchantment and boldness paired with the element of surprise and adventure that creates an invitation to explore the hive. The complete concept then reflects back to the brand essence, which is natural, rich, adventurous, bold and expressive.”