IS THERE VALUE IN LIMITED EDITIONS?
B&B studio’s Lisa Desforges strongly thinks so, but only if you follow the rules
Lisa Desforges on the rules to follow when venturing into limited editions
Done well, limited editions can attract attention and add value to a brand, expressing their unique story in a fresh, unexpected way.
A limited edition offers brands the chance to explore new frontiers and aesthetics – or even entirely new mediums – while staying relatively safe, letting them reach new pools of potential consumers and reaffirm links with existing ones.
It can also enable brands to test the water before embarking on a wider rebrand. For example, in 2017 we collaborated with celebrated mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, on a limited edition for botanical drinks brand Firefly called Superfly, encasing the bottle in bold illustrations inspired by botanical books. We removed the logo from the front, creating consumer intrigue.
After the success of the Superfly bottle, Firefly was empowered to revisit the branding for its core range of botanical drinks, and this year we delivered an upscale rebrand inspired by the limited edition, again drawing on vibrant illustrations to showcase the depth of taste and flavour but with a more sophisticated identity.
Of course, done badly limited editions can have a negative effect on brand reputation.
As someone who’s still forced to carry a picture of Will and Kate in my wallet, simply because I renewed my Oyster card in 2011, I’m not a fan of commemorative limited editions.
But in line with the 2018 Royal Wedding, there has been another predictable influx of Fast-moving consumer goods brands jumping on the bandwagon with flag-themed limited editions that reek of opportunism, sometimes amounting to nothing more than a lazy attempt to attach a tired notion of Britishness to a brand.
So how to get it right? There are two rules: first, stay on message. Limited editions offer freedom to act differently, but they must authentically link back to your brand core.
Secondly: remember, there’s a reason they’re called limited. Some brands mix it up so often it’s hard to remember the original packaging. Too many iterations can be harmful.
Vodka brand Absolut has the right idea, hitting both of these core points. Endlessly experimental and creative, Absolut has released limited edition bottles partnering with artists such as Ron English and Libs Elliott, dedicated to cities from London to Istanbul, and aligned with social and cultural movements using its iconic bottle as a medium.
These bottles are just available for a short time – thus increasing their value, both in terms of consumer appeal and collectability – but in sticking rigidly to the Absolut brand guidelines in terms of bottle shape and branding, there is no room for consumer confusion as to either the brand’s core aesthetic or its purpose.
So, in a nutshell, keep it on brand, keep it limited, and please don’t put Meghan Markle on my bus pass.
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