• Final Packaging
    This is what the final bottle looked like, and here is some more text to make it wrap to 3 lines

  • Minimal
    Here is the minimal version

  • And one with nothing

CASE STUDY: KAMM AND SONS GINSENG SPIRIT

Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit is a unique product. Sitting somewhere between Campari and Gin, but with it’s own delicious finish redolent of grapefruit and honey, it is a completely new kind of drink that sits in it’s own category. To paraphrase Kanye: When it came in the game/It made it’s own lane.

The distiller, Alex Kammerling, has been involved with Tinder and Sparks since the beginning – full nepotistic disclosure here: He’s my brother. But the process we went through to get to the final brand and label was the same as we’d go through for any client, if not more intense as a result of the close relationship, and we felt it was worth telling the story here. It is worth nothing that for legal reasons the name had to be changed from Kammerling's to Kamm & Sons. 

Alex’s professional background has always been in the drinks trade, including stints as a master barman, bar reviewer, and as ambassador for Grey Goose vodka. Being something of an alchemist at heart, he has always had a yearning to create a drink of his own. For years now his fridge has been full of small vials and bottles with arcane labels on describing various mixes of ingredients. When he got a stage where the spirit was good enough and stable enough to be commercially viable, he approached us to discuss the brand.

The target market was, as described in the brief:

25-40. Professional, moderate wine and spirit drinking, restaurant-going consumer. Occasionally buys organic, goes to the gym, looks after themselves. Aware of what they consume.

Two styles of brand were teased out of this brief.

  1. The Healthy Option. The drink itself is very clean and contains a heady brew of 45 botanicals and herbs including ginseng, ginko biloba and manuka honey, all of which are said to have health-giving properties. The first label reflected this by being pure white with clean, openly spaced typography and a sharp red accent colour. This was to attract the health-conscious consumers so they felt happy that what they were drinking was light (the ABV percentage is lower than most spirits) and invigorating. This route was pursued for some time but it became clear that while it may have been appropriate, it could also be seen to be faddish which led us to the second route to be explored.
  2. The Medicinal Option. Because of the numerous herbs and spices in Kamm and Sons that give it its complex finish, the taste is reminiscent of Victorian apothecary-style tinctures, and we felt this was a direction worth heading in. While no one is kidding anyone that drinking alcohol is a healthy pursuit, the style of this route gave a knowing nod to those times when products and advertising made wild and unqualified claims for the medicinal nature of their various compounds and potions. This route lends itself to a particular visual language and we spent a lot of time researching the styles of the time. These include wood-cut or hand-lettered type, combined with ornate flourishes and curlicues which gave the period a very distinctive aesthetic. You can see here some of the early sketches for Kamm & Sons which applied this style.

Of course, if we were going to pursue this route there was only going to be one colour of bottle: brown. With this in mind, we tested various accent colours to stand out against the glass, and a deep yellow was found to be both vibrant and modern. As you can see at this stage we were still experimenting with heavily ornate flourishes to give a sense of the botanical nature of the drink and a tip of the hat to Victorian advertising. It was felt this was rather too much for a modern label and so Alex – a keen artist himself – drew a number of sketches depicting some of the roots and plants that went into Kamm and Sons.

For typefaces we went a long way with wood-type and copperplate styles until it was agreed that we should use something a bit more up to date: Milo Extra Bold. This was clean and modern but with a nice idiosyncratic flick on the tail of the K and the R. We then modified the typeface with the cut down the middle to give it an open-face feel – a modern style with a foot in to the past – much like Kamm and Sons.

A pattern was created for use on the label and on the various media that would be a part of the brand identity. This went inside the yellow ribbon in the centre to give it some texture. But upon testing, this pattern wasn’t showing enough in the printing process, and to bring it out more would have jarred with the design and so this was also removed. However the pattern still lives a very fruitful life on the Kamm & Sons website.

As you can see the whole labelling design was an exercise in turning complexity to simplicity in the spirit of Antoine de St. Exupery words: "Perfection, then, is finally achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

As a final touch, Alex wanted a crest as part of his brand, the solution for this was staring him in the face. Several years previously, the idea for developing Kamm & Sons came to him while he was travelling with his daughter around India. While there he added extra stress to his trip by lugging around a beautiful hand-crafted cow’s heads that he had fallen in love with. This was mounted in pride of place on his wall and it was this that gave him the inspiration for the crest. Alex drew the head, and we vectorised it, simplified it and placed it on top the central ribbon to create the full label.

From the outset, the challenge of developing the Kamm & Sons brand was putting Alex’s vision onto the page. As one would expect when working with a brother there was an intensity to the relationship which made the process something of a tussle aswell as being hugely enjoyable. Alex had many ideas for the look-and-feel and our job was to channel these into a brand that people could connect with. Hopefully we did that and created something that is both appropriate and beautiful.

At the time that this post was published, Kamm & Sons is available to buy from Selfridges and Gerry's on Old Compton Street, and can be sampled in, among other places, Claridges, 69 Colebrook Row and the Savoy. I you would like to purchase a bottle – and why wouldn't you? – you can buy it from here.

Case Study: The Kensington Magazine

The Kensington Magazine is an institution in the Royal Borough. A free, monthly magazine, it digests and discusses the likes and loves of Kensington, whilst promoting small businesses and local events. It is distributed to over 30,000 homes and businesses in the W8 area, including many of the major players along High Street Kensington and Church Street. Tinder and Sparks have had a relationship with the magazine from before it even was The Kensington Magazine, and this is where we were asked to help.

Originally called The Kensington Community Times, it was still an amazing magazine. The content was excellent and it was well-received and well-loved in the area. However the editor, Lucy Elliot, didn’t feel that the name fitted the proposition – people often thought it was a church magazine – and also that it was time that the cover and masthead reflected the kind of people who would be reading it. The old magazine cover was very static with two bold red stripes running across it and the typography was clear but plain.

It looked like it could be any local magazine and was not the kind of cover that reflected the Royal Borough, one of the most exclusive and expensive places to live on earth. As Lucy explains: “The brief was to come up with a look which represented trust, a hint of conservatism with a modern twist and a strong visual brand.” The magazine had to appeal to brigadiers and financiers, old money and nouveau riche. Not an easy task.

We knew we had to do something strong with typography to make it stand out from the crowd. We also had to make the main cover image sing. The cover was different every month; sometimes it would be Lucy’s own photographs, sometimes a promo shot for a local event and sometimes a showcase for a local artist. This posed it’s own problem as the cover needed to be dynamic whilst still maintaining it’s integrity and identity.

We showed three routes in the end, all of which are shown here. As you can see we felt the tradition and elegance of the area was best represented typographically by a bold and beautiful serif. The second route offset this conservatism with the cursive K which we played with for a long time, but as Lucy explained, it was rejected in the end as it interfered too much with the main image.

The route that was chosen used a gorgeous and expressive serif called Arepo with the words THE and MAGAZINE slotted into the spaces which opened up in it’s extenders and descenders. The main idea behind the cover was simple but smart: The cover itself would change colour depending on the main image being used; Lucy would sample a colour from it, or choose a shade that offset it, in order to give it a coherence and beauty of it’s own. Even the masthead text colour would change to reflect the tones of the main image. Everything else remained the same so it was clearly and definitely a Kensington Magazine cover. From that point on, each issue has become a unique and collectible piece of art, and Lucy is told many people hang on to each issue.

Since the launch in 2010, The Kensington Magazine has gone from strength to strength. It now attracts some amazing advertisers – the lifeblood of the magazine – aswell as high calibre contributors and many plaudits around W8. As Lucy herself says in the interview below: "Reaction from the both the residents and our clients has been amazing." 

 

An interview with Lucy Elliot is reproduced below:

1. The magazine was originally called The Kensington Community Times. Why the need for the name and the branding change?
We realised we had to reconsider our brand since although the magazine was doing very well, a lot of people and businesses assumed that with the current title, it was either a Church or Council related magazine. We also needed to change the ‘look’ of the magazine, particularly the front cover, so that it reflected the conservative nature of the area we represented, but also had a modern look about it too, to attract a younger audience. It was a tricky balance achieving both so that neither sector were alienated.

2: I have to say I agree, I felt the magazine looked a little out of touch and so it was good to be involved in the rebrand. So what was the brief for the job? What was the tone of voice and how did you want people to feel about the magazine?
The brief was to produce a look that stood out from the other magazines on the shelves in Waterstones or Waitrose; something that was smart but still had a ‘local’ and friendly feel about it. It needed to be accessible so that it was relevant to all members of the community. In short the brief was to come up with a design which represented trust, a hint of conservatism with a modern twist and a strong visual brand. Importantly, we did not want something ‘too smart’ since the magazine was not trying to be Vogue or Tatler.

3: Were there any holy cows for the masthead? Were there colours or typefaces that you particularly wanted ignored or included?

We had done quite a bit of research and realised that a lot of homes in the area where decorated in muted colours. In order for residents to be encouraged to retain the magazine for longer than a month, we had to have something which ‘sat’ in their homes comfortably, ie. no garishly fluorescent colours. So we asked you to use a brand colour which reflected something modern but would also ‘go’ well with residential colour schemes. As for the font, this had to be instantly ‘brand recognisable’, conservative and modern at the same time. The font suggested and indeed chosen, achieves this very well.

4: For a long time we flirted with the idea of having a very classic typeface for the main part of the logo, but having a very expressive 'K'. Can you tell me about this and why in the end you rejected this ?
We really liked the original proposal of the ‘expressive’ K with the sweeping diagonal line crossing into the image as we felt it served well with mixing a conservative and contemporary look as well as giving the front page good visual impact. However, once we started playing with images, we realised the diagonal line would cross into the image, interrupting the aesthetics of the front cover, so we decided to concentrate on the font itself with no cut into the image.

5. And so in the first reveal when we showed you the concepts, how did you feel? Were you happy with the direction we took?
Indeed yes, very. We were also surprised that with such little instruction you had managed to encapsulate exactly what we were looking for. We could have chosen all of the designs given. And from there I remember the process being quite straightforward, you chose the route you liked and we showed how it worked with different images and colours and it was signed off, along with the design for your business cards.

6. Since then, how have your readers reacted to the magazine? What about your clients?
Reaction from the both the residents and our clients has been amazing. We have received calls of interest from high end businesses such as Trailfinders, Kuoni, De Beers and The Orient Express. I am sure we would never have received this level of interest with the ‘old look’ style magazine. We are also invited to cover high calibre events such as The Global Party and art exhibitions at Harrods, the Burlington Arcade and New Bond St. In short it has opened many doors for the magazine and has meant that we can go out in front of the businesses and residents of W8 with our head held high knowing that we have something that everyone in the area can feel proud of.

Thanks Lucy and good luck keeping the magazine going from strength to strength.

Case Study: The Waypoint

Tinder and Sparks were involved with The Waypoint from the very start of their campaign and it is an excellent example of what happens when client and agency work together to create something beautiful. 

The Waypoint is a new generation of boating website that makes it easier for boat owners to book moorings and plan their cruises, and for berth owners to make money out of their vacant berths. It is essentially a dating website for boats and moorings and is leading the charge in make planning cruises a pleasure rather than a bind.

When we first met the directors, Charles and James, they already had a logo for their company that they were pretty happy with, and when we first saw it we liked it. Their marketing agency, Caspia Consultancy, wasn’t so sure and asked us to have a meeting with them. After an exciting conversation with them about their project, it became clear that their current branding – while very good – was not appropriate for the market they were aiming for. It was agreed that Tinder and Sparks would work on some ideas for their mark and for their brand as a whole. But first we needed a name.

Originally called 24/7 Seas, no one was sure if this was quite right. We had another session with Caspia, the directors and ourselves and went through hundreds of ideas. The name The Waypoint – a nautical term that describes the coordinates of a point for use in navigation – was struck upon quite early in the meeting but we felt it was important to exhaust all possibilities. After an ideas session that deteriorated into ridiculous puns (Berth Control anyone?) it was agreed that we would sleep on The Waypoint. Within a day the name was officially chosen and the URL was purchased.

Following this, a brief was written up by Caspia Consultancy and signed off by the client. This included these instructions:

This Brand needs to be a classic from the start. Users should see it as reliable, simple, fast and efficient. Although it is an online website primarily, it mustn’t be seen as techy or fly by night or overly young and certainly not trendy, although it should be modern, relevant and timeless in the classic sense – think Rolex. It should strongly reflect a nautical sector feel without being clichéd.

This Brand is:
· Solid
· Experienced
· Reliable
· Exploratory
· Safe
· Consistent

With this in mind we set about researching for the brand. Even a rudimentary search on Google found logos for a number of companies calling themselves The Waypoint. Almost without exception, these used a compass icon and most of them placed it in the O of the POINT. We knew what to avoid.

On the left are some initial sketches for the brand. As you can see a lot of these are just rough doodlings, mostly playing with the idea of the W as an icon. We also looked at various typefaces for the company. In the reveal for the first round of brandmarks, we showed three routes that were purely typographical. We felt that if it was to look like a really confident, established brand, a beautiful and bold typeface would be a good place to start. From these initial sketches we moved to the computers and started to digitise our ideas. A rough page is shown left. Here you can see the germ of the idea that we finally settled on.

The concept behind this logo and why we feel it is successful is that is says a lot in a few lines. Primarily it is a stylised W. But the shape also creates an arrow, which conveys the ‘point’ part of their name. In addition, the shape also represents a ship’s hull as you look at the ship straight on, and also an anchor. In the initial reveal, six routes were shown and it was agreed that the stylised W was the icon to focus on. In subsequent rounds, we experimented with amending the typeface, shading of the W, the main colour, the accent colour around the mark and even splitting the badge into two shades of blue to bring out the idea of the ship on water. In the end the final agreed logo was very similar to the original shown but we all felt it was worth making sure that we had the best configuration.

The stationery followed the brand in being clean, elegant and high end. The business cards were printed on 450 gsm cards, 3 colour with a clear foil illuminating the blues.

Finally we developed a look and feel for the website, since the site was the focus of the entire business model. This comprised of a homepage and a navigation, and while we flirted with a site that was dark blue with white-out text, we all felt that the clean white, accented by the nautical blue, was the style that would best attract the customers and keep them exploring the site. The website was then rolled out and built, with aplomb, by In It For The Web Productions, and a very fine job they did too.

The Waypoint website has already been a huge success and has garnered plaudits from all sectors of the boating industry, as well as being one of the most well attended stands at the British Boating show this year. The genius of The Waypoint lies in the simplicity of the original idea and the way the website has been developed with the end user in mind. But we hope that our contribution to the overall proposition has helped to create a brand that is, as the brief demanded, experienced, reliable, solid and consistent. As James, one of the directors, says in the interview below: “You hit the brief with absolute precision.”

 

An interview with James Steward is reproduced below:

1. Can you tell me a little about the background of the Waypoint and your involvement in it?

The mooring availability concept had been knocking around Charles's head for some time. Year-in year-out he was squashed onto busy visitor pontoons or forced to raft, whilst the marina had ample spaces in the annual tenants area. He had heard of various attempts to get annual tenants to inform the management of their availability however, no solution was particularly elegant. Once websites like Laterooms.com and Lastminute.com became more common, Charles assumed it would be a matter of time before someone started the marine equivalent, yet it never came and after 5 years or so, he had had enough and decided to fix this problem himself.
He then turned to me to produce a feasibility study to understand if the idea could be turned into a profitable business. Approximately 18 months of planning followed, which involved looking at revenue streams, fundraising and the specification of the site. We then sought the opinion of a marketing and business development legend who I knew from a previous life, who in turn introduced us to you for the brand identity, since the typically conservative sailing community would need a strong brand to relate to.

2. Originally you were called 24/7Seas, why did you feel it was necessary to change the name and the branding?

We tried really hard to find a domain with .com, which was nautical, prestigious and not silly money as some were well north of £100,000. We eventually, out of necessity, went for 247seas.com as we were getting desperate. But we didn’t like it because of the kind of lawyers4you tacky websites. The logo was also tough going because it’s hard to make numbers look exclusive. We wanted to stand out and try to be a 'brand': something that could grow and be recognised without having to write it out. We needed the identity to fit both our desires to be a brand without being too aloof and not aimed at sailors.

3. So then we went through the naming process. Can you tell me a little about that?

I think we spent about 2 hours in that hot little room. We struck on the Waypoint quite early but tried everything else to ensure it was right. It seemed to roll of the tongue and was very nautical. Every sailor knows what a waypoint is, it’s a term for a place to meet up at sea, so it was perfect.

4. So what about the brief. Who were you looking for?

The brief was clear, we knew what a boat owner looked like because the CEO Charles is one, we knew what they did, how much they earn, where they spent their time and where they went on holiday. As The Waypoint was a novel concept it had to be bold and elegant and modern all at the same time, not an easy brief by a long way. The early requirements had much to do with reassurance, because people’s time and money are in our hands. We had to look established and secure to nullify that fear. The visitor had to assume we had been around a long time and that he had previously just missed us.

5. So we then went away to develop some concepts and we met a few weeks later to discuss these. How was that first meeting?

I knew we had it down in our first formal meeting with you. You hit the brief with absolute precision. You only showed 6 designs, of which two jumped out at us. Both had a solid, traditional feel but with a hint of modernity. I remember saying to you that I felt like we were in safe hands.

6. Yes I remember that. So how did you choose the route that we went for in the end?

Well it just popped from the page, almost as if it was an established logo which we could just pick up and run with. It’s quite masculine which fitted the brief perfectly; sailors tend to resonate with strong brands, like Rolex and Princess.
But it also had an ambiguity to it, with some saying the icon was an arrow, some like a 'W', others saying it looked like a boat coming head on, others even an anchor. I’ve always liked logos like that because they allow people to be challenged by the look and then settle on what they think it looks like, creating a schema in their mind which means that the logo works without needing a name.

7. How did you feel after the meeting and the subsequent developments of the brand?

I’m not sure if this is common in design but it felt like a weight off our shoulders because we had been lumbered with this nasty 247seas logo, which actually affected the whole business. Now we could get our chins up and faces out there because we were THE WAYPOINT. It lent a certain purpose. It’s well balanced and does make the right impression with suppliers and customers taking us seriously from the start of a relationship

8. In terms of colour and font, how do you feel about the brand?

The colours filter down through our branding so the site, business cards, print media, online stuff all sit nicely together, and I love the font because I was a big fan of Obama's ‘08 campaign so was happy that got in the design also. Although the brand is for sailors I feel like in some way I’ve had an influence.

9. Has the branding helped you to get in front of the clients that you are wanting to talk to?

Absolutely. Because the brand looks so well established, it does half of the work for us. People trust the brand from the outset and you can’t ask for much more than that. When I look back I’m very glad that we met that day as I don’t think we could of made the kind of impression on the boating community that we have without the clear branding and design you developed.

Thanks James, and good luck with The Waypoint in the future.