For the first installment in our Q&A series, we reached out to independent branding and design agency Flood Creative in New York and spoke with CEO Paula Grant and strategic director Renée Whitworth to get their take on what’s making an impact on consumers, advice on crafting a brand story and how a disaster became a mantra.
BRANDPackaging: is there a story behind the name flood creative?
Paula: The winter before James [Grant, co-founder and creative director] and I decided to go out on our own, we went away for the holidays. We came back to our New York City apartment and it had been flooded—and completely destroyed. We pretty much lost everything material. We decided to name the company Flood to remind us that no matter how much success the future could bring, to always remain humble and thankful as it can always be taken away. I continue to be thankful for what we have and for the ability to do what we love with people we really enjoy every day.
Bp: what is packaging’s role in brand awareness?
Paula: It is changing every day, but I often feel the package is what makes the brand. In creating brands, I have always started with the pack and let the brand equities evolve from the one thing a consumer can hold in their hand.
Renee: It depends on the category; in personal care and fragrance it’s huge. In certain categories we simply have more visual and emotional attachment to product than we do in others. I don’t think it’s fair to examine all categories under one lens. We have different packaging expectations for our coveted shampoo verses a typical kitchen trash bag.
Bp: what design techniques are currently making an impact with consumers?
Renee: Customization. Can be seasonal, limited edition or highly personalized graphic design. Consumers almost expect to discover something new every time they shop.
Paula: Adding to Renee’s comment of customization, I think real art…and real craft make an impact. Hand-drawn type, illustration and custom artwork continue to add personality and premium cues to packaging.
Bp: any advice on creating a brand story?
Renee: There really is only one answer: Start with the truth. The truth is compelling and relevant—and faking it will get you into trouble. For a startup the truth might seem way more innocent, but even a big brand has a truth.
Paula: A good place to start the story is with the essence of the brand. That can come from the personal story of the founder(s), the attitude or “personality” of the brand, or the mission of the brand and why it was created. The combination of these elements are carefully woven into the true, unique story and can help inform every aspect of that brand.
Behind-the-Brand Moment with Flood Creative
Most of the fruit snacks on the market are not much better for you than candy, and don’t really teach kids to have a realistic expectation for the texture and flavor of fresh fruit. The team behind Nature’s Bandits wanted to create a line of back-pack friendly fruit snacks that spoke to the young at heart. Much work went into product development to create something all natural and organic with a great flavor and texture experience.
The inside scoop is that we did both naming and design for this brand from scratch, and in our Phase 1 we had a design with the lovable raccoon character under a different name. The team was inspired by the “naughty” nature of raccoons who can’t resist the good stuff. From there the theme of a line of characters was born, all of which are named after founding members family (which makes for some interesting Thanksgiving dinner arguments over who is the cutest). The cards were design to keep kids engaged but also to teach something about wildlife at the same time. Although all the components are fun, as parents the team at Flood felt that on days you are sitting in traffic with one of these bags is in your car cup holder, it would not be a shameful moment to open the bag and enjoy.