The connection between design and company values really becomes clear when you create, brand and market your own product and/or business. As co-founder of Oname, an eco-conscious solid soap company, i’m responsible for all branding, design and packaging, while my partner is responsible for the soap making. Collaborative from the start, branding had to marry and express both of our tastes and aspirations for the product. In a saturated market, how would our soap stand out?
Our product was aimed at a new age of eco-aware consumers. Moving away from the uninspiring brown paper ‘eco’ look, we used bold colour and fun illustrations, to share a positive message about how to save the planet. We were making solid soap for a new generation who know they want guilt-free eco products and still enjoy the pleasure of buying a beautiful, interesting product that sparks a little joy.
Our packaging and designs had function on more than an aesthetic level. The fitting design and material needed to allow our soap to ‘breathe’, open easily, and be easily packaged and displayed in retailer outlets.
Attractive, innovative and communicative, good design functions on many levels. Ultimately it has to connect and resonate with the market you’re aiming it at. Once this is established, research and development of an idea lead to a process of discovery through trial and error. Problems give rise to solutions and the product, the brand and the ethos of any emerging company evolves.
Our development process for Oname has meant that we’ve had to push our boundaries, learn new skills and adapt to new working environments. We’ve positioned sustainability and innovation at the heart of out business, constantly evaluating our approach and how we deliver our products for maximum consumer benefit.
Identity & Packaging Design
The most challenging part of our journey was in the creation of our identity and packaging. A visual representation of our company and an expression of our core values, this is where the heart and soul of any product or business emerges with consistent and quality design.
We created unique, colourful and attractive designs, along with illustrations for each soap, all scalable for use across digital and print platforms. We also custom designed our own packaging to create further interest and reflect our values. Our designs are our core assets that engage people, help to tell our story and develop our product over time.
Creative thinking around a product or brand is what brings it to life, adds impact, character and expression. We had a lot of fun discussing the colourful characters that personify our soaps and communicate our message. I created a playful and fun series of illustrations intended to be used across all of our products and which would speak directly to different age groups and open up the possibilities for further interaction and engagement.
Website Design & Build
This is being updated on a regular basis as our vision and our product range grows.
We used WordPress for the build as this provides a solid, secure and scalable platform on which to develop the site. It also allows us to incorporate the e-commerce integrations quickly and eficiently.
A range of constantly updated and seasonal images are important for the website and social media platforms. I’m an experienced photographer so we have a lot of fun taking our own photos to communicate the properties of the soaps we make and the vibe we want to create.
Over the last year we have seen that the essence of a brand can be caught in everyday shots taken in the moment, but it is still important to invest in a photographer with the right eye and equipment to take pictures that express your brand fully.
Marketing today centres largely around our online presence given lockdown and the limitations of the high street. Learning how to engage an online community takes effort and it’s good to have some initial direction to guide you.
The ongoing nature of website updates, image creation, videos and animations needs thought, creativity, skill and proper investment to engage interest.
Our longer term strategy has always been to sell our soaps both on and offline in a growing number of eco-stores and outlets that reflect the ethos of our brand. Press releases, retailer sell sheets and shelf displays are a key unifying feature of any brand that need to catch the eye and instantly draw people to the product.
Sometimes we need to go further than standard print techniques to achieve results we’re happy with. Screenprinting allows us to showcase new designs with low cost and volume. It also adds a crafted handmade quality which is very important to the products we produce.
Our presentation boxes are all screenprinted by hand in either two or three colours and are constantly updated with new designs.
It’s a fascinating process well worth the effort. Seeing the images appear on the exposed screens for the first time is magical and applying the ink to the boxes provides a welcome break from staring at a screen!
Everything about Oname is custom designed and handmade. From the very start this was important to us – making our products unique and unlike anything else on sale – from the soaps through to the packaging. Nothing is off the shelf or bought in. This also includes the machinery for making the soap. I custom built the moulds, the tippers and the soap preparation equipment. This means we are able to produce soaps that are unique and in the quantitites we need for production.
Since launch in November 2020 Oname has recieved an overwhelmingly positive response with widespread attention from the press.
We’ve been lucky enough to appear in a number of press articles and magazines and have secured positioning with retail outlets and online stores.
People love the soap, the design and the fact that we go deeper by offering tips for health and wellbeing and offer free yoga to all. It’s about creating a brand that makes people feel good and that does good. Now and for the future.