The London-based agency, which specializes in branding healthier food and drink options, was brought in to work on the project in 2020, working across the visual identity, packaging, website, and wider brand world.

A key aspect of the project was ensuring Panda’s branding reflects and retains its position as the category leader while helping it secure new store listings and dialing up stand out on shelf.

“Panda’s competitors all look very much the same: a round, black logo and white type,” says David Pearman, This Way Up Creative Director. “Panda is the original licorice, and it needed to better communicate its role as a brand leader.”

Balancing pleasure and wellbeing

Currently sold across continental Europe, the UK, the US and Canada, Panda was founded in 1927 in Finland; and it was important for This Way Up to convey the brand’s rich heritage while ushering in a more modern feel.

“We needed to find the sweet spot between the familiar cues of the category and some of the more emergent codes of healthier indulgence,” says Amber Hart, the Account Director at This Way Up who led on the Panda project.

“Panda natural licorice has a short ingredients list and there are no real nasties in there, so if you're going to indulge in confectionery, Panda is a positive choice.”

Battling some consumers’ perception that licorice is for older people, the new designs looked to target younger people who prioritize balancing indulgence and pleasure with wellbeing.

“We wanted to really play on being natural on pack without using brown paper bag effect like everyone else,” says Pearman. “That can look very old-fashioned – a little bit ‘old school retro’ – and doesn’t play into capturing a younger audience.”

The creative idea centers around rediscovering simple pleasures. The resulting designs are joyful, colorful and vibrant, packed with energy and positivity.

The small size of Panda SKUs such as licorice bars made it even more vital that the packaging leaped out from the shelves and clearly identified the product– something the more traditional-looking former designs lacked.

“Panda has a very distinctive product shape which actually makes it a better chew, so we wanted to really hero that,” says Pearman.

This flower-like ‘revolver’ shape acts as a lockup device for the new identity. This works alongside, organic textures and leaf details to underscore the short, natural ingredients list.

“Be more Panda”

A suite of illustrations and animations for touchpoints such as social media assets center on the new “be more Panda” proposition around simple pleasures and “little moments of joy”. Imagery includes a woman enjoying some time by the lakes, a nod to the brand’s Finnish heritage.

“It’s about saying ‘just put your feet up, relax a bit more’, bringing Panda into your life in a subtle way,” says Pearman.

The designs launch in February 2022, with the new digital look and feel landing in Spring 2022.