Innovation Researcher Charlie Lloyd caught up with Trevor Cairns, chief executive of Manchester-based design agency LOVE, to find out about the studio’s newest work and to get his take on the latest developments in the world of branding.
LOVE is a multifaceted agency that tailors its offering to the needs of the client rather than pigeonholing its identity into narrow terms by referring to itself as a ‘branding’ or ‘packaging’ agency. Instead, LOVE thinks of itself as a storytelling company, with services including but not limited to brand development, design, packaging, advertising, experiential marketing and strategy.
Perhaps most indicative of LOVE’s holistic approach to brand building is how it has recently begun to invest in startups. In return for a stake in the company, LOVE offers young brands a discounted rate card to accelerate early growth.
From the rejuvenation of the Jacamo brand to the conception of Haig Club, a whisky brand aimed at millennials that tore up the rulebook of the category with its bright blue bottles, LOVE has a proven track record in getting big name brands off the ground or back on their feet. It was fascinating therefore to meet with Trevor and hear about the company’s latest projects.
Blade Runner 2049 The Director’s Cut
Another of Diageo’s whiskey brands, Johnnie Walker, is the beneficiary of LOVE’s latest work. To coincide with the release of the Blade Runner movie sequel, LOVE designed the bottle for Blade Runner 2049 The Director’s Cut, a limited-edition version of Johnnie Walker Black Label. The whisky brand featured in the original 1982 movie, in a specially-designed bottle predicting what the brand might look like in 2019; the year in which the original was set.
LOVE followed the lead of the 1982 movie and conceptualised the Johnnie Walker bottle of 2049. The result is a bottle with a sleek, baton-like form, visually arresting by its futurism while retaining what makes the brand so recognisable; the striding man and the slanted black label. Just 39,000 bottles have been created and are being sold exclusively on Amazon.
LOVE was also the agency behind the Haagen-Dazs brand and packaging redesign, which launched in the UK three months ago and is currently being rolled out worldwide. LOVE commissioned more than 50 pieces of bespoke art for the new packaging, working with various artists around the world to create a unique piece of artwork for each flavour.
Artists tasted the flavours and created the art to represent the sensory experience of eating the ice cream, so not only do the new designs stand out on the shelf, they artfully communicate the flavours within. Consumers seem to find the new packaging as attractive as we do; mentions of Haagen Dazs on Instagram rose by 500% in the UK following the launch.
Peri.A fashion boutique
The other work we enjoyed hearing about was the agency’s branding for Peri.A, a fashion boutique recently opened by LA socialite Peri Arenas. Peri wanted the boutique to reflect her personality; in her words she asked LOVE to: “brand the s**t out of me!” The result was branding as bold and effervescent as Peri; bags with the words “This is my Peri.A bag. Get your own” printed on them, coffee cups suggesting men “sit this one out buddy, she’ll be a while” and instructions for shoppers to “Pay up, honey” near the cash registers splash Peri’s personality throughout the store in bright, vibrant colours.
Packaging as media
LOVE takes its work brief by brief, but one trend Trevor has noticed recently is the importance of packaging as media. Indeed, Haagen Dazs’ popularity on Instagram shows that customers can now offer brands the reach of expensive above-the-line campaigns for free as long as their products arrive in attractive packaging.
We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the agency’s future projects and sharing anything we LOVE.