After being impressed by some of its brilliant packaging concepts, GDR invited Robot Food to design the cover of the 65th Global Innovation Report, which arrived back from the printers this morning. Hot off the press, Innovation Researcher Harriet Cox found out a bit more about the Leeds-based agency.
Who are Robot Food?
Seven years ago we were two guys working around the dining room table. Our beginnings were humble to say the least, but sheer determination and a clear cut vision of what an agency should be have helped us to grow exponentially over the years. Today we’re a close-knit team of around 20 individuals in a studio in Leeds, working with some of the biggest brands in the world.
What do you think makes you different from other agencies?
For us it’s about getting better, not bigger. We’re selective with the work we take on and never accept a job just to fill volume. You’re only as good as your last piece of work so if it doesn’t feel like a good fit, like we wouldn’t be able to deliver the best possible solution, then we won’t waste anyone’s time. By focussing on truly creative projects that we whole heartedly believe in means that we can add more value to the project and generate more impact. That’s not to say we’re snobby about it. If anything, it means that we get to work with a broader range of clients, from small challenger startups to huge global corporations.
What work are you most proud of and why?
It has to be Vocation Brewery. When John, Vocation’s owner, first approached us there was something about his story that really struck a chord. He had originally intended for it to be called ‘Brewery on the Hill’ but we saw more potential in the brand and he trusted us to do what we thought best. From this came a purer, bolder brand that has grown from the core range of ales into a craft lager range and most recently ‘Vocation & Co.’, a flagship venue for the brewery. It means a great deal to have been there from the start and see their rapid growth as they expand into leading UK supermarkets, bars and restaurants.
We’re also extremely proud of our own brand, Electric Ink. What started as a health and beauty concept is now sold in Urban Outfitters globally, a number of Hut Group online retailers and 450 Superdrug stores across the UK.
Can you tell us a bit about how you approached the brief for the cover of GIR 65 and talk us through your idea?
We’ve seen the amount of affection that challenger brands with a compelling story can generate. Similarly, we’ve all seen the backlash big corporates face and the scrutiny they come under. A lot of the time opinion seems to be clear cut, ‘good guys vs bad guys’ so we thought it would be fun to play the front cover off against the back and visualise this perceived divide.
For the design itself, we wanted to mix it up. Most of the previous covers have been very graphical, so we decided to go for something more tactile. We gave Illustrator a break and rolled up our sleeves to create paper models and landscapes, which we then photographed for the final result.
Finally, how do you see the role of packaging in an increasingly digital world and where do you think it might go in the future?
It’s expected that within the next few years most goods will be purchased online. There’s no doubt tech will dictate the changes, but packaging design will always remain a key part of our experience with branded goods. As shelf presence starts to become less important, we think it will be interesting to see how things like transportation and usage ritual come to the fore when designing packaging. We also think that the use of data in design will continue to grow in importance. As consumers, we’re demanding a lot more from the products we buy and can already see data used regularly in scanning barcodes for the likes of calorie counting and fitness. Personalisation as well – in an increasingly digital world, we really see this area exploding.