CASE STUDY SID LEE, BLUE GOOSE
THE USE OF ILLUSTRATION ADDED AN ARTISANAL TWIST TO A MEAT AND FISH COMPANY
The Toronto studio of creative agency Sid Lee was briefed to create new packaging designs for Blue Goose, a range of meat and fish that prides itself on being ‘clean protein’ – the brand’s emphasis is on transparency and tracing the product back to its farming origin. Agency executive creative director and partner Tom Koukodimos says that going down the illustration route and commissioning Ben Kwok was perfect, as it allowed the agency to capture a complex story in its simplest form and “do it in a way that’s unique and ownable, and visually distinct”.
The solution sets the brand apart from competitors, which often lean towards simple images showing potentially generic images of farms. “The illustration was meant to feel artisanal, but without leaning into artisanal visual shorthands,” says Koukodimos. “It needed to be new and imaginative, and a little inventive. The style has a craft feel to it, but without getting into those dated cliches of craft.”
will always bring their own take on something and that brings a whole new angle. It’s all about collaboration, not just telling people what to do.” The key to that sort of working relationship is both clarity and flexibility: setting out a clear brief, but being willing and open to listen to new ideas and seeing an illustrator not as a gun for hire, but a crucial cog in the bigger creative machine.
WHEN TO ILLUSTRATE
Of course, as with any other design communication tool – be it copy, typography, photography, pattern or colour – designers working with global brands have to do some careful research into any unexpected signifiers that might say something they don’t want to say in other countries.
When Design Bridge worked with Timorous Beasties on a set of highly illustrative packaging for Fortnum & Masons, for instance, the team soon discovered that moths are seen as unlucky for certain cultures; and had to take care with the shape and colouration of the butterflies that appeared in the work.
As we’ve seen, illustration and craft beer are superbly comfortable bedfellows, and many food brands, too, use illustrative imagery to convey their message and create on-pack details. So are there any sectors where illustration wouldn’t work?
According to Lightfoot, not really. “There might be sectors or client types you wouldn’t think could use it, but illustration can disrupt in an exciting manner,” she says. “Even with a product where photography might be king – maybe with something like a tech brand – there’s always a way that illustration can play a part in the marketing, and I’m excited about brands that use it as part of their core messaging.”
Templeman agrees: “An illustration route goes straight to the point in conveying a brand’s message. It has so much stretch and there’s such a huge spectrum of different styles – from more linear, stripped-back work to infographics to beautiful artworks – that I can’t think of a brand that illustration would never be right for.”
Design Bridge worked with Timorous Beasties to create packaging for Fortnum & Mason.