lol­lipop gild

Florida’s He­lium Cre­ative serves us the inside ‘scoop’ on how its flavour­ful re­brand project for drip pop’s stateside launch fea­tured a web­site build dusted with de­signer sprin­kles

Web Designer - - lollipop gild -

in the sci­ence of mod­ern mar­ket­ing, the idea of ‘brand’ is more closely en­twined with and in­trin­si­cally linked to an on­line pres­ence than ever. Big, es­tab­lished and long-trusted house­hold names feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to push bound­aries and ex­ert their mar­ket prow­ess in the dig­i­tal space, while for oth­ers it can re­ally open the first win­dow into con­sumer con­scious­ness. Cre­ative agen­cies have, of course, had to vastly evolve their re­mit to ac­com­mo­date this seis­mic pro­mo­tional shift and de­liver ‘out of the box’ brand­ing ser­vices to clients. Op­er­at­ing al­most off the golden beaches of Fort Laud­erdale, Florida, is one such award­win­ning agency that ap­plies ‘fine-arts’ sen­si­bil­i­ties to the seam­less blend of brand with de­sign. He­lium Cre­ative cre­ate dy­namic, per­son­i­fied, branded ex­pe­ri­ences for clien­tele who value an in-depth col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach around the de­liv­ery of ‘un­con­ven­tional so­lu­tions’ for im­pact­ful brand ex­pe­ri­ences. Typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with lux­ury real es­tate web projects, things were to get de­cid­edly more di­verse when Fiji Pop ap­proached them with a de­li­cious dilemma. Keen to in­tro­duce the US mar­ket to their frozen pop­si­cles, or lol­lipops to Bri­tish tongues, these five young Bo­li­vian en­trepreneurs were seek­ing a com­plete brand over­haul in­clud­ing a new name. Tak­ing di­rect in­spi­ra­tion from the flavours, sen­sa­tions, colours, in­gre­di­ents, and story be­hind the prod­ucts, the He­lium gang set off to cre­ate a so­lu­tion full of vi­brancy and play­ful­ness. Rechris­ten­ing them ‘drip pop’ in­stead, they would go on to de­velop new brand mes­sag­ing, iden­tity, pop pack­ag­ing, su­per­mar­ket box pack­ag­ing, a splash page and, in­deed, a full web­site. “They were look­ing for a cre­ative stu­dio that saw the brand as a piece of art,” He­lium be­gins. “Once we had the brand el­e­ments we needed to work with, the fo­cus be­came build­ing a unique on­line ex­pe­ri­ence. With this in mind, we wanted to push the play on the dif­fer­ent lay­ers each flavour has, cre­at­ing this di­men­sional play­ground and in­ter­ac­tion with ev­ery user. We kept the de­sign it­self very min­i­mal, so the fo­cus re­mained on the mes­sage and the play­ful prod­uct.” Al­low­ing the project brief to bring out the kid in each of them, He­lium would be uniquely placed to ap­pre­ci­ate drip pop’s ap­peal and spread the love.

Art­ful brand­ing

“Dessert is al­ways fun, es­pe­cially when it’s a frozen dessert meant to be en­joyed on hot sum­mer days,” the team laughs. “For drip pop we had the op­por­tu­nity to play with food both in real life and on the com­puter.” Hardly a bad way to make a liv­ing, most would agree whole­heart­edly. Plus that en­thu­si­asm for the con­sump­tion of a food-based client prod­uct would, of course, reap div­i­dends within the ini­tial brand­ing ef­forts. “From an ac­tual melt­ing lavapop we cre­ated a vec­tor illustration used to fur­ther the drip iden­tity. Hand-drawn pat­terns that por­tray in­gre­di­ents are added to pho­to­graphs of rich tex­tures to rep­re­sent the vi­brant colours found within the lavapops them­selves and help make the pack­ag­ing unique pieces of art.” This crit­i­cal iden­tity work needed to hap­pen be­fore even con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing how the web side of the project could re­flect it. The team knew that un­der­stand­ing the new brand inside and out was cru­cial, not least so they could be aware of all the brand el­e­ments to use in the de­sign process.

“To get started, we had this brand, all of these re­ally cool tex­tu­ral de­sign el­e­ments, pat­terns, and back­grounds, etc., and so the ques­tion be­came what can we do to make all of this con­tent come alive while not be­com­ing this crazy over­load of de­sign? Quickly the an­swer be­came all about cre­at­ing that mag­i­cal bal­ance of clean, ty­po­graph­i­cal de­sign that the brand en­tails and con­trast­ing it with or­ganic and play­ful artistry.”

Bound­ary push­ing

In this re­spect, He­lium had freer rein to de­sign some­thing without the nor­mal bound­aries their nor­mal com­mis­sions dic­tated. That free­dom can, of course, be a bless­ing and a curse in some re­spects and gave the de­sign­ers some think­ing to do over where they couldn’t per­haps tread. “As much as we want free rein with any­thing, we al­ways go back to need­ing those lim­its,” laughs Ex­pe­ri­ence De­signer Kelly Gedvi­las. “With this in mind and from an ex­pe­ri­ence stand­point, I knew I wanted to show­case all these lay­ers into mov­ing parts and what would el­e­vate these parts by how the user would in­ter­act with them. I sup­pose when it came to lim­its, I needed to cre­ate some­thing that would be eas­ily un­der­stood by an older de­mo­graphic, while still

ap­peal­ing to the younger mil­len­nial and what would be at­trac­tive to both.” This for­ma­tive di­rec­tion was, guided by some sign-off ap­proval from the client, with com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­cen­trated most at each end of the process. He­lium tends to draw up a ba­sic sitemap that sign­posts all the con­tent as­sets re­quired, which the client then green-lights be­fore pro­ceed­ing. “Once the client ap­proves the con­tent of the sitemap, we jump into de­sign­ing two main pages of the site,” Kelly con­tin­ues. “The pur­pose of this is to show them our ini­tial ideas without de­sign­ing ev­ery­thing up front. We share these two main pages to open up col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the client and de­signer. This en­ables ev­ery­one to dis­cuss ideas and ini­ti­ate con­ver­sa­tion of the thought process be­hind the de­sign, al­low­ing the client to feel part of their own project.”

Drool-wor­thy di­rec­tion

From the very beginning, He­lium was ex­cited by the project’s po­ten­tial for doing some­thing fresh. Div­ing into a mar­ket­place markedly dif­fer­ent from their usual work, they sensed an op­por­tu­nity to buck a few trends. Early mar­ket re­search yielded few com­peti­tors in drip pop’s space that had any lead­ing con­cept, de­sign or story within the in­dus­try. This would en­able them to recog­nise what other com­pa­nies were lack­ing, chiefly be­ing any per­son­al­ity, life or over-arch­ing con­cept. “For­tu­nately, we had done the ini­tial brand de­vel­op­ment for drip pop so we were able to re­ally tell a vis­ual story with some great play and ex­plo­ration. All of this back­ground process set the stage for us to seam­lessly cre­ate a web­site that mir­rored the same en­ergy as the brand foun­da­tion. Paint splat­ter, hand-draw­ing, cus­tom art­work, quirky icons, are just a few of the brand el­e­ments that gave us the flex­i­bil­ity to con­cept a re­ally en­gag­ing web­site.” For Kelly, this in­sider brand de­vel­op­ment knowl­edge could be cou­pled with the wider mar­ket ob­ser­va­tions and kept in mind while for­ag­ing for de­sign in­spi­ra­tion. This ‘fun stuff’ would in­clude a broad sweep of all sorts of on and off­line de­sign sources, grab­bing cool ref­er­ences like a cre­ative mag­pie. “No mat­ter the in­dus­try, no mat­ter the plat­form, this is where I dive in the deep end of Pin­ter­est feeds, Be­hance mini GIFS and trend­ing sites on CSS De­sign Awards. I usu­ally get my in­ter­ac­tion

“We had the op­por­tu­nity to play with food both in real life and on the com­puter”

ideas for a sin­gle site eas­ily from a com­piled list of over ten sites, lik­ing bits and pieces from each one.” Armed then with enough vis­ual mo­ti­va­tion, the chal­lenge be­comes fo­cus­ing it to give drip pop’s on­line pres­ence enough dis­tinc­tion from the oth­ers. In a sat­u­rated mar­ket of sump­tu­ous frozen treats, how could He­lium’s in­spi­ra­tion and brand­ing work give a drool-wor­thy prod­uct a suit­ably mouth-wa­ter­ing web­site?

prac­ti­cal chal­lenges

“For web­sites, I usu­ally sketch ev­ery­thing on pa­per be­fore­hand,” Gedvi­las en­thuses when asked about the vis­ual de­vel­op­ment phase. “Ev­ery­thing. Nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems, foot­ers, pop-ups, sort of in a Crazy-8’s fash­ion just to get all of my ideas out of my head. Some­how, in some way, this process helps the tran­si­tion onto the com­puter so much eas­ier! I can quickly re­it­er­ate from my sketches to see what trans­lates the best and just run with it.” This project was also unique, be­ing tied so tightly with a co­he­sive re­brand­ing ini­tia­tive that in­cluded prod­uct pack­ag­ing. The graph­ics for all of the con­tent were orig­i­nally crafted for this pur­pose, while the team still wanted new ren­di­tions of the pat­terns to be im­ple­mented on the web­site. This would en­sure that each area the cus­tomer sees, whether it’s in a drip pop lo­ca­tion, pur­chas­ing a box of pops, or vis­it­ing a kiosk, is a com­pletely unique ex­pe­ri­ence. “There was a lot of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with the lay­er­ing of each pat­tern and flavour be­cause some­times it worked and oth­ers sim­ply didn’t. All in all, how­ever, this was a fun project to play with all of the brand el­e­ments with.” Once this fron­tend de­sign work is com­pleted and ap­proved by all the par­ties in­volved, He­lium passes ef­forts over to its de­vel­op­ment team. Kelly con­cedes that this part of the process of­ten takes the most time, typ­i­cally to en­sure ev­ery­thing is fully func­tion­ing prop­erly on all de­vices, browsers, and re­spon­sive for­mats. “A lot of the time, we run into com­pli­ca­tions of what works on what de­vice, and if there are is­sues, we need to come up with al­ter­na­tives that won’t com­pro­mise the user’s ex­pe­ri­ence with the site. The ‘trial and er­ror’ pe­riod can then en­tail is­sues be­ing fixed on one plat­form and then a prob­lem where there was none be­fore, so it’s all about puz­zle-piec­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing.”

Launch phase licked

Fix­ing those is­sues is, of course, im­per­a­tive be­fore con­tem­plat­ing han­dover and launch, with the client en­joy­ing a fi­nal ‘sneaky peek’ be­fore that but­ton gets pressed. “They don’t re­ceive the test link un­til the project acts and looks as a live func­tion­ing site. They test the web­site and once the site is ap­proved as good to go from their per­spec­tive, it’s just a mat­ter of go­ing live!” Nat­u­rally, a con­sci­en­tious agency like He­lium wants to set its clients up for suc­cess here, han­dling all of the back­end de­vel­op­ment and setup this de­mands. This live launch and han­dover process is there­fore pretty seam­less to say the least, usu­ally de­pend­ing more on the cir­cum­stance the client is in.

“For in­stance, if this is a client for a re­brand, we typ­i­cally do a nec­es­sary in­tro­duc­tion be­fore launch and the same goes for a client that is re­launch­ing un­der a new name. For drip pop, it was blank can­vas and just a mat­ter of putting the brand out there for recog­ni­tion!” Thank­fully, that at­ten­tion has been a two-way street, with He­lium en­joy­ing an equally en­cour­ag­ing help­ing of recog­ni­tion for the live site as the client. Hon­ours in­clud­ing CSS De­sign Awards Web­site of the Day, as well as Best In­no­va­tion, Best UI De­sign, and Best UX De­sign prizes for the web­site, have been joined by nu­mer­ous brand and pack­ag­ing ac­co­lades. Such suc­cess vin­di­cates the project’s fo­cus on this be­ing the start of a last­ing work­ing re­la­tion­ship, with on­go­ing main­te­nance of web projects some­thing He­lium’s clients can ex­pect. In drip pop’s case, this con­sti­tutes ad­di­tional up­dates such as adding new flavours, stores and lo­ca­tions, fix­ing any pos­si­ble bugs, and keep­ing the site up to date. “Right now, this com­pany is still su­per-new and they are fi­nal­is­ing a lot of the frame­work to flush out the rest of the brand to the world,” Kelly con­cludes. “Drip pop has plans to sell in ma­jor su­per­mar­kets and open­ing kiosks in South Florida, but for the time be­ing the web­site it­self is serv­ing as its mar­ket­ing tool for cre­at­ing ini­tial brand aware­ness.”

“nat­u­rally, a con­sci­en­tious agency like He­lium wants to set it clients up for suc­cess”

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