Goodbye flaky packaging

Steve Osborne samples Mr Kipling’s updated cake boxesand he thinks it’s exceedingly good design

On a recent visit to Safeway, or Morrisons as it is now known, I couldn’t help noticing the new design for Mr Kipling cakes. I immediately bought half the range just so I could ogle the packs, despite personally having the UK’s lowest per capita consumption of cake.

Of course, this is nothing like real consumer behaviour. But it would be great if cake eaters of Britain buy Mr Kipling cakes in droves and prove that brand design can thrive in a food and drink market where own-label seems to be making nearly all the smart moves.

The quality of Turner Duckworth’s work is especially noticeable while old and new designs share the same shelf space. The previous incarnation of Mr Kipling, while I’m sure a breakthrough of sorts in its day, now appears as a shrine to ‘old branding’. It has that ‘trying very hard’ naffness that often characterises brands of a certain disposition. From the fake signature logo, with its ® mark undermining any sense of Mr Kipling’s humanity, to the glossy, embossed, windowed box, it simply screams ‘factory’. (It was designed by Brown ID, since subsumed into Enterprise IG.)

In stark contrast, the new design boldly and deliciously gets to the heart of the matter: cake. Cake uses basic, natural ingredients, and is an honest, warm and traditional product. Everyone has their favourite recipe, and those old enough to have been in a real baker’s shop can remember the ‘box’ as its natural packaging.

All of these powerful home truths are represented in this redesign, which is based on scaled up, simply mouthwatering photography, bold but lovingly crafted typography, and structurally basic boxes which for some lucky products even have ‘authentic’ proportions. Consultancy and client have been brave enough to dispense with the obligatory product shot on the front – though it’s still on the side. Even the ‘new’ flashes are little gems.

What I like most about this design – if it works in the marketplace – is that it offers encouragement to all designers trying to help manufacturer-brands to re-engage with consumers, who are increasingly unimpressed by the old symbols of authority, preferring to trust their friendly local megastore.

I only hope the products deserve such an exceedingly good design.

Steve Osborne is managing director of Osborne Pike

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