Case Study by Alan Krpan RGD, Creative Director, Riordon Design
Reputations are established through repetitive action. In business, great reputations are built by delivering on promises, exceeding customer expectations and being innovative and consistent.
That said, a great reputation can be limited without a proper marketing communications plan. Marketing is important to achieve growth beyond your existing customer base.
Lorpon Labels, an established family-owned label company in Toronto, has a long-standing reputation for creating innovative label solutions for its clients; quality materials, consultation and service are at the core of their value offering. These are great foundational elements for the company, but were not being communicated to a broader audience. To build brand awareness, they needed tools to tell the story of their 30+ years of success and reach an audience beyond that of repeat business, personal networking and referrals. Cue a plan for marketing.
A team led by Tania Stadnik, former Senior Marketing Director at The Mezzanine Group and now partner at Hop Skip Marketing, took Lorpon Labels through a comprehensive communications audit to define their key markets, clarify their true value proposition and define a plan to tell their story. Following this audit, Riordon was brought in to respond to the marketing plan and execute the design deliverables. The label industry is not historically known for leveraging thought leadership marketing, so Lorpon had a great opportunity to stand out.
As a design studio, our model is one of flexibility and partnership. We’ve often said to clients that we can be as big or as small as they need us to be. In this case, the research that we would usually do for a project like this had already been done; we were provided a summary deck (PPT) that outlined the client's history, demographic profile, percentage of the market, competition comparison and desired attributes. It was our job to respond to this information and create the brand image. This image would be essential for helping Lorpon knock on the doors of the big players in their targeted verticals: Food & Beverage, Health & Beauty, Nutraceuticals and the Craft Beer market.
If you’re going to be a leader in your industry, you need to look like one. Working between the client and a marketing agency can sometimes make designers feel like they’re being kept at a distance or out of the loop, but we maintained a three-way partnership with open dialogue (in-person, by phone and over email). Riordon was responsible for all creative presentations and execution of deliverables, while Tania managed meetings, timing and client feedback. The client was more on the receiving end during the initial design proposals, but directly involved when we moved to testing and production of the labels since that is their specialty. Everyone pooled their skills to work towards the same goal.
We started the process with one of the foundational elements: the brand identity. This is the visual anchor and representation of any company, service or product. While it can’t say everything you need it to, it does need to capture the essence of an organization's purpose.
We presented four brand identity proposals. As part of our process, we present in person and via projector, prefacing each proposal with a a rationale for what is about to be revealed. We then show the proposal, compare it to their existing brand identity and put it in a 'competitive set' slide to see how it holds up to the competition. We also show each option it in multiple formats and against various backgrounds and then vision cast it in application (reception sign, mug, jacket) so the client can see it in context.
At first, the client was looking for just a refresh/update of the label depiction in their existing identity. Two of our proposals responded to this with a unique spin on the concept, they were quickly dismissed. The new identity needed to represent an evolution that would take Lorpon to the next level. Besides their product (labels), the identity needed to capture all of Lorpon's offerings: their partnerships with clients, consulting to help create unique label and packaging solutions and their “outside of the box” thinking that looks at what needs to be done but also at what is possible. Yes, Lorpon can print off the shelf “Label #XYZ”, but that is not what they’re about. They want to help clients “Own The Shelf”. This phrase was introduced as part of Tania’s communications audit and recommendations, and became the organization's new tagline.
To match this bold statement, we needed a bold identity. Our design solution focused on the two “L’s” in the company's initials. When these kinds of happy coincidences pop up, you need to recognize the opportunity and mould them into a creative solution that gives them purpose.
Throughout the project, Lorpon emphasized the importance of process in their organization. We visualized this insight by creating a linear ligature – one that forms a cursive “L” (Lorpon) which flows into a second cursive “L” (client) and then back to the beginning. This visual represents a cyclical process that speaks to Lorpon's mission to provide partnership, guidance and consultation. Placing it in a circle gives the intricate linear a bold container and creates a singular focused icon.
The selected proposal has six colour versions (Red, Blue, Orange, Purple, Green and Grey). Red was selected to be used primarily, representing Lorpon's passion and energy, but the client has the option to use any of the others in communication to show versatility and their ability to colour-match. One of Lorpon’s quality assurance benefits is to guarantee colour accuracy within 97% of any Pantone® chip – an extraordinary ability in a digital printing environment. With that in mind, we made sure to offer a vibrant, energetic colour suite. Depending on the application, Lorpon can use any one of them to show variety and accuracy.
To complement the icon and spell out the company name, we created customized letters that share the linear design of the icon. This was also applied to the lettering in the tagline “Own The Shelf” which, in application, is treated more like a secondary identity and signature marketing line.
With the brand identity in place, we designed a stationery package, presentation deck for the management and sales team and sample book. A Brand Standards manual was created to document all of the assets created and to provide direction on how to use them properly. It covers:
- Visual Expression (the brand identity itself and what it stands for)
- Corporate Structure (the various formats available)
- Clear Space (to protect the area around the brand identity)
- Corporate Colours (formula breakdowns for print and web)
- Backgrounds and Sizing (using the correct brand identity + minimal size)
- Typography (primary and secondary fonts)
- Imagery (primary + secondary and how to choose images)
- File Names (how to decode the file naming system)
- Application (documenting the stationery suite)
Lorpon also needed an online presence to effectively communicate their design and production capabilities. For brand continuity, we repurposed product imagery and palette development from the sample book and expanded on product offerings. To put a face to Lorpon we introduced the management team on the website, which had been missing from the previous website. The website provides public access for Lorpon to showcase their expertise, equipment, success stories and case studies.
A big challenge was how to show customers what Lorpon can do. Label samples from manufacturers were flat, uninspiring and clumsy. We needed something unique and accessible to showcase label designs in context. With that in mind, we designed a 12-label “Own The Shelf” swatch book. Each swatch speaks to a defined market and identifies how that particular label would help enhance a specific product.
Client confidentiality meant actual label designs could not be shown, so we used the new Lorpon icon to create labels for faux products in markets Lorpon serves – everything from wine labels, to olive oil, to labels for spirits, skin cream and cookies. The other benefit of this approach was that Lorpon actually offers label design services. Creating a suite of faux products was an effective way to demonstrate the different possibilities. All of the labels were printed and photographed on actual products to show context and help potential customers visualize what a product could look like. The labels were then reconfigured to fit within a common area on each page so when printed, the customer could see, feel and peel each label. This sales tool gives Lorpon a unique advantage for telling their story and showing clients the possibilities available.
ResultWhile exact metrics have not been gathered for how the rebrand has impacted Lorpon's business, the client is extremely pleased with the end result and the suite of tools we designed for them. Already leaders in the industry, they now look the part and can confidently court new clientele and mine new opportunities.
- Define roles at the onset and embrace others' talents and efforts, even if it’s part of your skill-set as well.
- Include the client as much as possible. You will never know their business as well as they do.
- Don’t limit yourself to creating what is asked of you – think and create what is possible.
- Be engaged and critical throughout the process. The best results will happen with your input.
- Keep the decision-maker circle small and appoint the appropriate people. Asking a neighbour or spouse who might not understand all that’s involved is not a good idea and can negatively influence progress and the end result.
- Embrace a designer’s critical thinking in your strategic plan. They are able to visualize the task at hand and understand how visual and verbal messaging can be extended and interwoven across multiple media.