Developing the Kellogg’s cereal bars concept remains one of the proudest moments of my professional design career. It was one of my first ‘big brand’ projects and an opportunity to learn a lot…about pretty much everything a business of this size does, how it operates and what works at that size and scale.
Having already developed new pack architecture for the core ‘box brands’, this was an opportunity to take those values and concentrate them onto these new, little boxes and even smaller bars. At the time the bars were the smallest packaging application of the Kelloggs logo, there were lots of brand rules – do’s and don’ts that needed to be addressed but balancing the physical space on the bar, the importance of the characters, the brand name and colour palette, led me towards using the red band at one end of the pack with the vertical positioning of the logo – previously unheard of in Kellogg’s packs. Subsequently over time, as the product has became more recognised, the logo has returned to it’s natural horizontal position. But when these packs were very much a new concept, the presence of a bold, red panel holding the logo helped people identify this as a Kellogg’s product.
Working hand-in hand with the R&D team at Kellogg’s, developing new packaging methods and materials (cardboard engineering, plastics, wraps, print techniques and environmental materials) was really exciting. For me, as a designer, the opportunity to established the Kellogg’s brand within a totally new sector (for them at the time) was a fantastic opportunity and something that I, myself, found hard to believe was actually happening. To this day I’m really proud to have been involved with project, this brand and the people who helped me deliver it.
What did I learn?
The simple answer…loads. Working with a global business, a food producer who manufacturers in 18 countries and sells products in over 180 countries there’s a lot to learn. First has to be the formidable heritage…Kellogg’s has been in business for over 100 years, that’s an incredible amount of time and that brings with it a wealth the brand heritage, only a handful of other businesses in the world have this kind of back story.
Some would say this level of heritage can be a handicap, how do you innovate a product that’s been around longer then most people can remember? The Kellogg’s archive is vast, looking through the classic ad campaigns, packaging and other marketing materials made me realise the pressure that lay ahead working at this level, with such a high profile project for a world-renowned brand. But that was massively out weighed by the thrill that I was able to play my part in this journey.
Taking all my learning and knowledge to develop a completely new line for the business was a real thrill…I might even go so far as to say an honor, but then that’s the brand-designer geek in me, as I was so excited to be working with the daddy of all breakfast cereals…Kellogg’s.
I found the whole process incredibly inspiring, researching the Kellogg’s brand, seeing how it had developed, followed trends, innovated and reinvigorated the whole breakfast food sector for over a century.
It was a feast of inspiration and learning, looking back, seeing new products emerge and grown into the household names that we have today. Armed with the historical knowledge of the brands (and the rules that came with them), I found it genuinely exciting to work on the ‘new’ cereal bar concept. Sure there were a lot of ‘golden rules’ and things that cannot, and should not be played with. But what an opportunity this was, to take all that’s gone before, use all those established values and develop them into a completely new range.
I can remember visiting friends one weekend a few months after this had all gone live, we were perusing the shelves of a large supermarket, taking stock ready for a few days away, when one of my friends turned to me, packet of cereal bars in hand and said…“So you designed that!” and I replied “Yes”. What I didn’t point out was all the bakery products and numerous wines, spirits, and other foods that we’d walked past during that shop that I’d designed as well.
One of my greatest learning points whilst working on these projects has to be the insight I gained into the role of internal communications. Having the clarity of message, connecting that message with a passionate team of people who can lead the business, people who really understand their customers and show respect for their customers trust. This was always evident at Kellogg’s and a powerful part of what had brought the brand such success.
People at all levels of the business clearly understood ‘why’ doing their role was important and how it came together, like a giant jigsaw, to provide a product or service for other people. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked with many businesses, some big, some small and all the successful ones were clear about their role in the world, they respected their customers and strived to inform everyone within the business about what they were doing…and why they were doing it.
This is the first in a series blog posts that mark 20 years of me creating a buzz for businesses across numerous channels and disciplines.