Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 7 June 2016
Higher Living is a British company who have been blending teas, herbs and spices for over 45 years using only 100% natural and organic ingredients. Continuing their collaboration with Higher Living, which began back in 2010, London-based graphic design studio B&B Studio worked with the company, following a recent expansion of the range, to help redefine its packaging and brand identity with the intention of establishing a new system that would help consumers navigate an increased variety whilst also retaining its idiosyncratic qualities.
More products often require a more defined hierarchy with increased communicative clarity, alongside a distinctive and unifying visual expression. So, while clearly unique in the market, the detail of the previous design felt busy and detracted from the smaller differences in form that looked to divide blends. In retrospect, although lovely, these smaller details did not appear pronounced enough, or provide enough room for greater variation as the range increased.
This is resolved through the addition of more space that draws the eye in, heavier and simpler forms, finer detail contained within these forms, and fewer tints and shades. It gives far more space to, and detracts less from typographical communication and benefits from a stronger and larger logo lock-up.
The previous design was far less logo-centric, illustration was impactful enough to define brand, although at the expense of quickly and clearly defining individual products. The original logotype felt too fine and without character to be memorable on its own outside of packaging. This new design favours a more logo-centric hierarchy, but roughly equalled by a unique and communicative illustrative expression, an element of storytelling and engagement through company and consumer-contributed haikus (not shown) as well as a scene to colour in the inside wall. This gives packaging and brand a bit more depth of expression.
A more robust logotype set over a curved baseline, and a logomark that compounds a teapot and crown, functions and looks far better, both on pack and online. Placed within the top third, its positioning and proportion favours convention, but is practical, freeing the lower two thirds for image and type.
The logo lock-up effectively balances an element of quality and play in the mark, a sense of craft and heritage in the looser rendering of letterforms and overall typesetting, while organic is given increased prominence and tied directly to brand through positioning and proportion where before it appeared as a footnote.
The bird illustrations, a motif for flying high and higher living, and the promise of an uplifting experience, feels well-suited to a convivial and accessible brand with craft and quality at its heart. This sense of conviviality and craft comes through in the posture and face of the birds, in the paper cut qualities of their rendering, the effect of bleeding ink, and flecks that give the impression of a mixed-fibre board. The ingredients are worked in well, doubling as wings. B&B Studio have done a good job to make these work for a large part of the range.
Although there is a variety, the profile of the bird provides a very strong sense of continuity, particularly when moved to different contexts, and servers as a good holding shape for colour which is bright but natural, and emphasised by light backgrounds.
Where illustration and logotype is irregular, condensed type, in contrast, is precise, helping to define its position within hierarchy, clearly defining, alongside the colour, posture, detail and environment of each bird, to define variety consistently.