The market in premium baby design seems to be well and truly bouncing. ‘One of our best sellers is a Maclaren buggy with leather seat, at £800,’ says Janet Rawnsley, co-founder of The Baby on-line retailer, which has just been redesigned with a more lifestyle-led image by consultancy Caulder Moore. She reckons that her customers – parents with an average age of 38 – spend about £2000 on nursery furniture, compared to £300 a couple of years ago.
And, as the popularity of the stylish Bugaboo, Quinny and other design-led baby products continues, so does the branding and marketing surrounding it. For, in just a few short years, the whole baby-product caboodle, from bib to buggy, has been propelled into design-conscious consumerism. ‘What the baby is wearing and what you’re pushing the baby in is an extension of your personality,’ says Rawnsley. ‘The pram really is another handbag.’
Philip Taylor, head of design at baby brand Silver Cross, which has been working with Manchester consultancy Love on quirky brand literature, agrees. ‘It’s an extension of you,’ he says, adding that as the premium nursery market has become more sophisticated and lucrative, it has caught up with trends in mainstream branding. ‘Creativity and design – from point-of-sale though to store – is being used much more effectively throughout,’ he adds.
In such a competitive market, brands are looking for a break from the worthy and saccharine staples of old, and the pastel pinks, baby blues and ultra-serif fonts are disappearing, says Claire Garvie, director of Baby Kiosk, a design and marketing consultancy specialising in the baby market. ‘Clients want sans-serif fonts and funky colours now,’ she says. ‘There has been a shift in the last few years towards presenting brands and products with fashionable lifestyle imagery, whereas five or ten years ago the focus was on the product.’
Baby Kiosk’s own designs for nursery décor company Treehouse reflect this, featuring photographs of children, along with billowing bed linen and exotic beaches. ‘You’re presenting an aspirational lifestyle to people,’ adds Garvie, ‘and trying to communicate to them that if they buy these products, they’re buying into that.’
Silver Cross brand literature and packaging
Design by Love
Humour is invaluable to the new parent, and Love’s Little Book of Silver Cross – Goo Goo on the front, Gaa Gaa on the back – is lively, quirky and fun, with recipes and activities, in addition to the Silver Cross product range.
Although the website – designed by Large – opens with a roll call of celebrity customers, Love senior designer Adam Rix said the idea was to get away from a pristine, designer fantasy of impeccably dressed infants. ‘We’re trying to get back to reality, to embrace the more fun parts of being a parent and make it cool,’ he says.
This is also demonstrated by the product packaging, which features children playing happily with the empty boxes. In the Goo Goo book, the designers have taken traditional baby imagery, such as building blocks and nursery rhymes, and given them a twist.
Love is now putting together the next book, photographing five families out and about to convey the idea that the Silver Cross brand becomes one of the family.
The Baby website
Design by Caulder Moore
In such a competitive market, building brand loyalty is essential, and Caulder Moore sought to give the branding and website for The Baby a more personal, lifestyle edge with ‘a sense of community’ for new parents, who might otherwise be feeling out of the loop.
‘Our target was one-child families with a bit more income,’ says Caulder Moore designer Libby Carter. ‘They put everything into their child and indulge them, and want them to have everything.’
With headings such as Push Me, Feed Me and Treat Me, The Baby has a look and feel akin to consumer magazines, especially the What’s Hot section, which highlights the brands and products that celebrity parents are buying.
But it’s not overly frivolous and prides itself on being an authority on its product. Equally, it does not use pastel colours: the site’s base colour is dark grey, and strong accent colours are used. In addition to the new website, The Baby is this year planning to expand its showroom network.