Outstanding By Design – Guest Post by Theresa Phelan (@ 3sa23)

Coming up to Outstanding I was contacted by Theresa Phelan (link to her Linkedin Profile) who lives in Kilkenny. She did Visual Comms in Limerick and heard about the day during a work placement with Brand Union.

She helped me out during the day and wrote this guest post on each of the talks. I enjoyed her take on each of the talks and the day overall -thanks :-)



Outstanding by Design, took place on the 10th of May and explored the beneficial outcomes of great branding and design on food producers sales. The one day event of inspirational discussion, happened in the beautiful surroundings of Highbank Orchards, located on the outskirts of medieval Kilkenny.

The itinerary for the day scheduled 7 Irish designers to speak with their partner food producing client, about collaborating and developing their successful branding and packaging. Outstanding by Design was not limited to insightful and inspiring presentations, but also held 1 to 1 consultations between attendees and designers. The atmosphere was light and relaxed with a wide range of attendees from local entrepreneurs to passionate designers.

Sarah Maguire, Brand Union & Paddy O’Connell, Paddy O’Granola

The day kicked off with Sarah Maguire from Brand Union, discussing her role in constructing the branding and packaging designs for Paddy O’s Granola. Paddy O’Connell is the owner and producer of Paddy O’s Granola and holds the ambition of becoming the leading granola seller in the UK.

The choice to rebrand was also driven by his desire to heighten his on-shelf visibility within supplier outlets. Sarah strived to portray the product as being fun and wholesome by placing Paddy’s own personal story at the heart of the brand. Sarah described the different visual assets used in order to communicate the brand essence ‘getting the most out of life’.

One area of design which particularly stood out was the inclusion of intricate map illustrations on the packaging, which provides the consumer with a personal experience and builds consumer engagement with the brand. Paddy pointed out that it is quite expensive to rebrand, yet it is definitely an essential key to progressing a brand. In regard to the success of the rebrand, sales grew by over 300% with the product being sold in large retailers including Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes Stores, Palas Foods and Avoca.

Laura Macaulay, Navigate By Design & Ka Tutandike

The second discussion of the day reflected on the success of Ugandan Katu Honey collaborating with designer Laura Macaulay and Kristina Moody from non-profit organisation, Value-Added in Africa. Kristina discussed the Value Added Africa model which explores the plan, concept, research, copy, design and produce.

The Ka Tutandike ‘Lets Get Started’ charity is based in Uganda and decided upon selling honey due to its accessible production and high demand from a consumers point of view. Laura Macaulay from Navigate by Design looked at rebranding the existing identity of Katu Honey by choosing to portray women empowered as the underlying brand concept. Tying in the idea of women harnessing the power of nature in their back garden to produce quality food gave way for a strongly ethical piece of design.

Kristina discussed the process of survey evaluation on the product which took place on survey monkey prior to the products launch. This allowed for feedback from consumers which helped exam the designs created for the brand thus creating a solid structured finalised brand. Other points given during the talk included the necessity of creating a compelling brand story, hiring a copywriter can strengthen a products design, develop strong working relationships with everyone on board the project and to market with broad brush strokes.

Erik Johansson, The Green Man Studio & Paul O Connor, Trouble Brewing

The third talk was by Trouble Brewing who originated in 2010 and has been producing beer for nearly 4 years. Paul O’Connor is a partner in Trouble Brewing and began the discussion about the different variations of beers they are marketing and producing within their Kildare based brewery. They decided upon a name that wasn’t typical Irish for standout amongst similar produce sellers while their approach to design is quite unusual for differentiation in their point of sale. 

The craft beer industry allows for great exploration in ingredients and alcohol levels which ultimately allows for creative branding. Erik spoke about the given brief for the redesign of the existing brand identity which aimed to be rebellious yet not offensive. The design was inspired by cartoon comic strips to get a story across to the consumer.

Erik looked at humour to portray a contemporary feel to the brand, resulting to a highly innovative piece of design with a controversial approach to brand identity. There is currently a large interest in the craft beer sector with Trouble Brewing’s sales growing almost 50% every year of their existence.

Liz Maybury & Mella McAuley, Mella Fudge

Mella McAuley grew up producing fudge in the locality of Clonakilty in Co.Cork. Mella’s passion for making fudge expanded into a large scale project which currently markets in a variety of artisanal stockists including; Avoca, Butlers Pantry, Selfridges and SuperValu.

Liz Maybury is a young passionate designer who took on the task of creating Mella’s Fudge brand identity and packaging. Liz firstly spoke about her own design process and how she believes in meeting the client in person to discuss their brand belief and to gain insight into what the client requires.

Mella had one criteria for the design which was to include gold foil in the packaging design to evoke a sense of quality.Liz pointed out the importance of looking at different competitors on a national and international level to gain deep insight into the existing branding trends.

The Q & A section of this discussion gave rise to some interesting protocols needed to be considered when creating a brand which included registering a brand to become the full owner of a brand name. Liz also stated that when a client is choosing a designer, they need to research their portfolio and previous designs to ensure that their style is suitable to their product.

Steve Simpson & Mic Wejchert, Mic’s Chilli

The afternoon session of discussions began with renowned illustrator Steve Simpson speaking about his role in creating the branding packaging and identity for Mic’s Chilli. Mic was unfortunately absent for the talk yet Steve gave great insight into the alternative approach taken in producing the packaging and label design. Mic was drawn to the chilli industry after he became redundant. Mic wanted a design that is attractive on a table not just in the supermarket. The packaging acts as a piece of artwork on its own rather than a food product.

Mic got in touch with Steve to create a brand for his new product even though he is not a traditional graphic designer. Simpson’s background is based in comic book design and has designed for renowned brands such as Boyne Valley , Eddie Rocket and Panda.

Steve’s inspiration for Mic’s Chilli derived from day of the dead artwork. Hand lettering was a huge influence as Simpson wanted to incorporate a vintage feel into the packaging with a limited colour palette. A particular area of the package design which is intriguing is the development of a personalised barcode. Simpson cleverly created this barcode to sit with his design. Steve has a set of guidelines to stick to with barcodes on his website which may be usual for designers: http://stevesimpson.com/17721/1202053/portfolio/illustrated-barcodes

Mic’s chilli has gone on to win various awards including the Great Taste Awards and the ICAD Awards. The produce is currently being sold in SuperValu, Harvey Nichols, Avoca and many other stockists on an international scale.

Rachel Kerr, Creative Inc & Liz Skehan, Skoff

Skoff pies are a new range of premium branded Irish pies by Donal Skehan. The new product is only 6 weeks old and has already received great commendation from consumers. Donal’s mother Liz, worked in conjunction with Bord Bia who held 3 pitches with different design agencies in attaining the branding project for the new range. Liz required the brand to stand for home cooked food with a funky personality which ultimately reflects Donal’s own self. 

Rachel Kerr from Creative Inc took on the job of branding Skoff and spoke about her main ambition of getting the story of the client across through the packaging and branding. Creative Inc originated in 1995 and are primarily a branding company whom have worked with clients from public to private sector. A strong point Rachel made confirms ‘a good name is the gateway to be identified, recognised and understood’.

The name Skoff is an overarching and distinctive name that suggest wholesomeness while still linking Donal’s own name by replacing the c with k which links to Skehan. The design was influenced by 50s graphics with vibrant colours which undoubtedly grabs the consumers eye. Liz lastly spoke about the importance of the packaging format in terms of being stackable and sustainable. Skoff pies are currently being supplied in various stockists including SuperValu, Dunnes Stores and are currently in negotiation with Tesco.

Lorenzo Tonti & Fingal Ferguson, Gubeen

The penultimate discussion of the day was given by Fingal Ferguson from cheese producing company Gubeen and the brand designer Lorenzo Tonti. Fingal grew up on a family farm in West Cork and has been always creating exiting foods and holds a strong working relationship with Lorenzo.

Fingal spoke about the heritage of the family and the existence of the Gubeen Logo which is a piece of artwork owned by the family and was originally created by renowned typographer Eric Gill. Lorenzo furthered the discussion by stating the relevance of getting to know the client in order to reflect on the story of the producer to communicate to the consumer. Exploring the essence of the producer provides a rich identity for the brand.

Lorenzo felt Gubeen are a group of passionate and creative people with strong beliefs which needed to be communicated in the brand. They are also inventive in the sense of using up in season products. Gubeen act in a collaborative manner to provide the best end product. This notion lead to the highlighting point of the talk which reflected on the necessity of strong interaction in the development of new and innovative products. Lorenzo wanted to express the history of the family through the survival of the brand logo from the 70s.

Revitalising this brand mark as the current logotype was inevitable due to its rich essence. Gubeen revisited the brand wanting to extend their range to salami’s and smoked meets which required the design of new flexible packaging systems and colour schemes. Overall Lorenzo and Fingal’s discussion pinpointed the value of close relationships as they allow for ease of development of ideas. The range is constantly growing which keeps the brand contemporary thus business is always changing. The talk finished up with the term ‘chaordic’ which is a system that may appear unorganised from the exterior but has an underlying organised system, which reflects the creative working methods of Gubeen.

Giles Calver

The day came to a close with Giles Calver speaking about food packaging designs and examining the different traits of successful branding. Strong points to take into consideration included the advantage of communicating the provenance of local food producers in branding is huge. The quality of packaging is also crucial as its longevity will allow for the brand to last. Asserting a particular attitude and building a relationship with consumers can help strengthen sales. The visual style of a product is relevant in keeping a consistent and own-able brand.

Calver ended his insightful talk with an astonishing figure which stated that a barrel of oil is valued at the same price as a barrel of Coca-Cola. Branding is truly an essential part of business development and driving sales.

In review, the event was highly inspiring which gave real scope into the branding and packaging design industry for entrepreneurs, potential producers, designers and food lovers. The discussions evoked many topics of interest which informed my understanding of how a client and designer relationship can help strengthen a brand. It was great to see such creative energy combined with passionate business mindsets. This one day event has surely instigated great encouragement for food producers to become more aware and familiarised with their own branding and the process involved in building a successful business.


Outstanding By Design – thank you

Phew. Full house, great presentations and attendees who learned loads.


This is Sarah from Brand Union working through their creative process on the Paddy O rebrand and them individually below on winning advertising and consistent growth.

Next up were Laura Macaulay and Kristina Moody on Katu Honey and trade not aid.

Erik Johansson, Green Man Studio and Paul O’Connor of Trouble Brewing on voodoo dolls and not being sued by a multi-national

All that stood between us and lunch was fudge. Mella McAuley and Liz Maybury on V1 branding (disaster) and V2 which wasn’t

Its after lunch and Steve Simpson plays the role of client and illustrator (Mic of Chilli fame was unable to make it)

Skoffing, food service and a son who cooks from Liz Skehan and Rachel Kerr

A ten year relationship between designer and brand – Lozenzo Tonti and Fingal Ferguson

Finally Giles Calver rounded out with some observations based on his packaging collecting habit :-)

So many thanks to each of the speakers – its a big ask for a full Saturday from each of them.

Ken McGuire shot video for the full day and right now he is editing and doing post production – big thanks Ken.

My brother David Bohanna and Theresa Phelan assisted on the day. Miriam Donohue helped with PR. Helen Costello did catering (yum).

And final shout out is to Julie and Rod Calder Potts. They are wonderful hosts and a joy to work with – genuine people. Biabeag events are as much them as me.

Loads more on the day coming up over the coming days and weeks.


Illustrated barcodes? @stevesimpson explains these and more at Outstanding By Design

You know when a designer gets full reign to do whatever their imagination dictates. That must have been what the relationship between Steve Simpson and Mic Wejchert of Mic’s Chilli must have been like. Can’t wait to hear the pair of them at Outstanding By Design.

These screenshots taken from Steve’s Dropr page.

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More details and a booking link for the day (next Saturday 10th May) here.


Outstanding By Design – why are attendees booking?

Couple of blog posts between now and next Saturday’s Outstanding By Design featuring people and businesses who will be there on the day. So you get a sense of what is driving them.

Conor Mulhall, General Manager, The Little Milk Company

“Irish Organic Dairy producer The Little Milk Company confirmed that they were the winner of the Best Organic Cheese award at the 2013 British Cheese awards. The results of the 20th British Cheese Awards were announced on Friday night in a big top marquee on a quintessentially English village green in the heart of Cotswolds. During the Summer months they also won a silver for their newest cheese the Organic Caerphilly and they won a Bronze and the prestigious Gold award for their Organic Mild Cheddar, Croagh Patrick.

According to the Little Milk Company General Manager Conor Mulhall they were thrilled, “We entered the Irish awards back in June and won four awards and then to come to the International awards in our first year and win 4 awards including the Gold is just amazing. It is a testament to the quality of our farms, our milk and all the hard work our farmers and excellent cheese makers have put in to get the cheese right.” The cheese is now available through Paxton and Whitfield as the Guest Cheese for September, and many others. It is also available online at their website www.thelittlemilkcompany.ie. The company are also in discussion with several other retailers with a view to getting the product available nationwide over the coming weeks.

Croagh Patrick Mild Organic Cheddar is made with the farmers own 100% certified Irish organic milk. This is made made using pasteurised milk. It is made using a traditional recipe and the cheese is then hand-wrapped in cheesecloth and hand turned in their maturing rooms. The cheese has a creamy taste, with a subtle and long lasting flavor. Other cheeses The Little Milk Company produce include: Mount Brandon Caerphilly (2 months old), Sliabh na mBan mature (aged from 9-14 months) and Sliabh na mBan vintage (aged from 14 months up). They are all high in anti-oxidants and rich in omega 3. The mature and vintage are made from raw milk. They has been very well received at tastings and they the company have received orders from France Germany, the UK and Dubai.”

Edmund Hart, Marketing Manager, GoatsBridge Trout Farm

“We have recently re-launched our shop and as part of an incentive we are looking to roll out our ‘fish Friday’ promotion where customers who come to our shop on Fridays can avail of special promotions. We are also actively looking to hold smoking workshops and cookery demonstrations throughout the year, anyone interested in booking these or simply coming down to the farm for a tour should go to www.goatsbridgetrout.ie for more info.”

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Helen Meade, Marketing Manager, Killowen Farm

Here at Killowen Farm yogurt we find packaging is an area of great complexity. We make everything from 125g pots right up to 10 Litre buckets for hotel and catering and we also do a greek-style yogurt range in glass jars. I suppose up until now we have been working on a “needs must” basis and figuring out our packaging on our own. This has led to a rather fragmented looking range with some labels are multi-tasking a bit too much over a wide variety of packs.
We also need to look at ingredients and labelling from a legislative perspective as there are new EU directives around this area.
We also want to tell the story of the farm and show the quality of the product better.
With all this in mind we are now looking to improve our packaging portfolio and the workshop is an excellent opportunity to get an idea of how the agency/client relationship works. It’s really good timing for us.
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Paul Broderick, General Manager, Pembroke Hotel

Its not just food producers! ” I have fairly good working knowledge of branding but currently in the process of tendering for the right designer to take our branding project to the next level. After making some wrong choices in the past, I want to ensure that I have the knowledge to write an effective brief to ensure we choose the right person for the Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel.”
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Look forward to meeting all of those and many more on Saturday 10th at Outstanding By Design – bringing food branding and packaging design to life :-)

Outstanding By Design – @lizmaybury and the story of the @MellasFudge packaging design

Cheating here, this is a guest post done for me by Liz in 2011 (5th May, almost 3 years ago!) and bringing it up the blog because Liz and Mella are one of the pairings in Outstanding By Design on 10th May. She may not like me for not updating her photo :-)

Elizabeth Maybury who shares the story of the Mella Fudge packaging design including some practical stuff on her experience of finding printers for the work. I first saw Mella Fudge in Partridges Fine Foods shop in Gorey.

This is Elizabeth

and this is her post:

Mella’s Fudge is based in Clonakilty, Co. Cork and produces the most amazing, buttery, crumbly, handmade fudge you will ever taste! The fudge currently comes in four flavours – vanilla, walnut, rum & raisin and chocolate.

I first met Mella a couple of years ago when I redesigned her logo. Mella’s name comes from the old Irish word for honey, which is represented in the logo by a little bee which forms the apostrophe of Mella’s. Honey is sugary, tasty, a treat – sharing the same sweet traits as fudge.

The brief

When it came to the packaging, the aim was to communicate that the fudge is a premium quality, luxury product, but also that it is handmade in a kitchen by Mella rather than mass produced. Mella asked me to incorporate gold foil somewhere on the packaging and I really wanted to use Kraft ribbed brown paper, so I thought the two combined would be a good way to communicate both the luxury (the gold foil) and handmade (the brown paper) qualities of the fudge.

Use of Colour

There is one colour to represent each flavour, making it easy to differentiate between each, but also complimentary when displayed together. The wrapper was carefully measured so that the edge of the bar would remain visible, even if there were slight discrepancies in each bar’s shape (it is handmade after all).

Sourcing a printer
The difficulties began when I went to source a printer. Most refused to even quote, as apparently gold foil on brown paper isn’t a very common request (who knew!). Finally I tracked down the wonderful Glennon Print in Ashbourne, Co. Meath (sadly they have recently ceased trading).

Reading the barcode

You will notice that the barcode is printed on a white background box. This was to ensure there would be enough contrast between the barcode and the background so that barcode readers could pick it up. Cue many test trips to my local shop to make use of their tills and try out the barcodes in various colours on various papers. Finally we decided the white background was the safest option as directly printing on the brown background was having unpredictable scanning results. So after several weeks of tests like this, ink checks, gold foil on Kraft tests, meetings and samples the job was finally ready to go to press.

The Press Check

I travelled up to Ashbourne for the press check, as the colour of the inks would change unpredictably when on the brown paper and they had to look exactly as intended. Several adjustments later and they were perfect. After printing they were sent out for gold foiling before being delivered to Mella in West Cork.

This was definitely one of the most challenging but also the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on. Mella and I were both happy with the results, and I really appreciate that Mella let me go with this when we were being told so often that gold foil on Kraft wasn’t possible. Glennon Print were brilliant to work with and put so much time into this.

Mella’s Fudge is stocked by Sheridan’s, Fallon & Byrne and others. Mella also sells her fudge at Bantry Market on Fridays and Schull Market on Sundays. The full list of stockists is available on her webpage www.mellasfudge.com

Elizabeth’s contact details:
Twitter: @lizmaybury

More on the full day on 10th May here and you can book there too :-)


What is Packaging Design?

This book by Giles Calver, who is with us for the day during Outstanding By Design on 10th May,  is now a reference for design students in the UK. It is strongly visual while containing a lot of very useful guidance around the application of brand within packaging.

It is not specifically just for food but contains a lot of food case studies.

Some excerpts with my comments on same:

“..with the prominence of branding, packaging is often the living embodiment of a brand’s values and personality”

> Packaging is important – but only part of the overall picture. If you don’t have a good grasp of the core elements of your marketing messages and branding positioning your packaging won’t make much difference

“Packaging’s primary face….should engage with consumers, attracting attention, triggering consideration”

> Your Packaging has only one goal – to sell your product. The design – a combination of the visual elements and the text – should be rigidly focused on that.

“The central message refers to the main persuasive issues or arguments.. the peripheral message refers to all other tangential elements…”

> You will have difficult choices to make – deciding what are the key 1 or 2 reasons why a consumer purchases your product/brand and ditching the rest in the packaging design 3 is the absolute limit – this is already too many messages for a consumer to scan.

“a brand becomes a compound of tangible and intangible values, the latter being formed in consumers minds it is very important to define your intangible values…packaging design can..portray these..”

> If you are a start-up your brand has no heritage so consumers start from scratch in sub-consciously deciding what the brand stands for. They will take a lot of their cues from the packaging and if you get it wrong your brand will suffer and you will loose control even faster

Giles will be with us for the full day during Outstanding By Design on 10th May and he will be available for 1 to 1 meet ups.

More information including the full line up and booking here.


Bord Bia Branding Workbook

Thanks to Bord Bia for giving us 20 copies of this workbook to use during Outstanding By Design on 10th May.

It steps through the various stages of developing a consumer focused approach to building a strong food brand in a well written and bound workbook. These are rare now – they have come towards the end of the print run – so treasure your copy if you get one!

All this and loads more on 10th May – click here for the full line up on the day.