Superfly by B&B Studio, United Kingdom
Opinion by Richard Baird.
Superfly is a limited edition non-alcoholic cocktail, and collaboration between celebrated mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, and naturally revitalising UK juice drink brand Firefly. The cocktail blends redcurrents, aronia berries and grapefruit with botanicals that include green coffee, angelica, wormwood, kola nut and cascara. It features a unique packaging design by London-based B&B Studio that wraps Firefly’s distinctive structural design with bespoke botanical illustration. Following the success of this limited edition, Firefly worked with B&B Studio to develop this across their entire range.
Confident in the distinctive and recognisable qualities of Firefly’s structural design B&B Studio’s work on Superfly is notable for its full-coverage illustration and the low-prominence of the Firefly logo. It stands out for the quality of its imagine, inspired by botanical books and journals and those that feature across Mr Lyan’s own range. This is given impact through the use of some lovely colour choices and the proportionality and arrangement of flowers and leaves across bottle. Communicatively, it effectively leverages a well-established association with craft, natural quality and botanical discovery, and draws unique character and an element of mystery from this in implementation and the absence of a prominent logo.
Illustration finds a pleasant balance between period authenticity and contemporary polish, has a compositional quality that effectively utilises bottle shape, and features a good use of contrast in the combination of solid colour and fine illustrative flourish. This oversized and uninterrupted coverage of image across bottles is bold and distinctive, feels well-suited to on and off-trade contexts, mixing initial impact with plenty of detail up-close, and intelligent, rather than blunt, in its intersection of two brands.
Following the success of the on-trade special edition, B&B Studio was commissioned by Firefly to redesign their entire range with a similar botanical illustrative approach. Where the special edition and its on trade context afforded some degree of leeway; using image to capture the eye and the bottle to establish continuity with the Firefly brand, the on-shelf product, particularly in the introduction of a new and more sophisticated visual expression, required sensitivity in the introduction of type and its relationship with image.
Firefly is slightly on the backfoot here in its new brand-wide visual language. The use of botanical imagery as a shorthand for natural extracts and the absence of refined sugars or artificial ingredients are increasingly prevalent throughout a number of categories. It borrows a lot from a booming gin market, and appropriates some of the more grwon-up associations, which makes sense.
The special edition stood out for its singular and confident illustrative gesture, faith in the bottle shape, absent typographical detail. Bringing this into a retail space is more challenging, brand immediacy and distinction is essential. It does, however, pull this off. This is largely down to the choice of illustration—pulled out of real botanical journals—pushing the Firefly colours to be richer, making the most of the full surface and shape of the bottle, and a composition that balances all of these considerations with the Firefly logo, now prominent on the front. More work by B&B Studio on BP&O.
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