As more consumers than ever begin to introduce vegan and plant-based alternatives to their diet, established brands are increasingly developing innovative products that reflect a rapidly evolving food landscape. With a focus on sparking attention within a growing market, one of the most common challenges involves standing out from a crowd of competitors – not only through the products themselves, but through the look and feel of their design and marketing.
In 2021, students from MA Graphic Branding and Identity at London College of Communication (LCC) were invited to work on a live industry brief with leading food and beverage company Kraft Heinz as the company prepared to launch a new line of vegan condiments.
Working in small groups, they were tasked with developing a suggested brand identity for sauces which aim to elevate vegetables through striking flavour combinations such as miso and sesame or soy and kombu, with an emphasis on ‘busting myths around vegetarian food being boring’ while emphasising 'just how easy it is to impress with delicious, vibrant, vegetarian food.’
Underpinned by solid market research, each team created their own extensive concept identity across areas including visuals, tone of voice, brand personality and digital interface, along with additional considerations for future campaign activations, packaging designs, social presence and brand positioning.
After presenting their ideas to Kraft Heinz, student group (Seriously) Good Chillies - Inês Segadaes, Elena Ferrari, Zhifei Chen, Yuni Lee, Xinyu Yang and Giuseppe Mauro - were named the winners of the live brief challenge for their concept, ‘Eatcetera’, which brought together a bright colour palette and anthropomorphic illustrations under a core focus on ‘making plant-based meals feel extraordinary’.
"Some of the most talented future designers"
Isabel Oliver, New Ventures Executive at Kraft Heinz, praised all of the students involved for their vision and creativity.
“We partnered with student designers at LCC to bring a new, creative approach to how we deliver communication plans at Kraft Heinz,” she said.
“The students delivered a communication plan, brand story and packaging design that exceeded our original brief, and proved we were working with some of the most talented future designers in the industry.”
"Professionalism, resilience and agility"
“This project gave our students an incredible opportunity to develop their approach to graphic branding, and they worked hard to develop a series of speculative, practical outputs for brand packaging and point-of-sale,” he said.
“Collaborating on a live design brief enables 'real world' skills to develop alongside students' continuing research and self-directed practice, and it’s this interplay that defines our course approach.
“Our students loved working with Kraft Heinz as well as with each other, describing it as a highlight of their MA studies. The clients were delighted with the design work produced, which we consider some of the best work we've seen on MA Graphic Branding and Identity. We're immensely proud of their professionalism, resilience, and agility as emerging brand designers."
We caught up with 2 students from the winning team, Inês Segadães and Elena Ferrari, to discuss their experience of collaborating with a global brand, the importance of graphic storytelling, and highlights from their time at LCC.
Have you always been interested in graphic branding and graphic identities, or are these areas that you've moved towards over time?
Inês: From school, I always knew I wanted to pursue graphic design at university and then as a career. Not only does the field give me space and skills to create and develop my perspectives, but also to improve my thoughts and opinions as well.
However, I’d say that branding only became a passion later on while I was studying for the second year of my BA.
Elena: I've always been interested in non-verbal communication, so studying graphic design was a natural choice for me. My interest in graphic identities came later, when I considered different career paths. I thought brand identity was an interesting way to experiment with graphic design while telling stories.
How did you find out about the opportunity with Kraft Heinz, and why did you decide to get involved?
Inês: The opportunity was actually part of our collaboration unit for the course, and I'm super happy that it was part of our curriculum!
Elena: Our tutors presented this opportunity to us, and when we were given the chance to work with Kraft Heinz, we were all super excited! All of us thought it would be a great opportunity on both a personal and a professional level.
Tell us about your creative process - what inspired your idea, and how did you develop it?
Inês: The briefing with the Kraft Heinz team inspired us a lot: they had a brilliant idea and an innovative concept - they just needed a thoughtful brand.
Our idea was inspired by the fact that vegetables have never been seen as the protagonists of a meal, but rather as its ‘etc.’ Our job was to really shine a spotlight on vegetables to make the 'etc's' become 'eatceteras', and that's how our brand 'Eatcetera' was born.
Elena: We wanted to express the joy of gathering around a table, and worked as a group to find the best solution. Something always seemed missing, so we brainstormed constantly in the first part of the project to explore the idea more fully, which was key.
What did you aim to achieve with your design concept?
Inês: Our goal was to design something clever and thoughtful which would be easily distinguished among other brands.
Elena: While we developed the identity for a vegan product, we didn't want to only refer to a vegan target audience. We wanted to send the message that eating healthy food together and experimenting with different flavours can be an enjoyable experience for everyone.
What were your roles in the project?
Inês: We didn't really assign specific roles to our group; however, me and another group member were in charge of the brand identity.
Elena: We didn't use roles much, especially in the initial phase, as we didn't have much time. We thought the best approach would be to discuss every idea we had, analyse its strengths and weaknesses, and use this strategy to find our path.
After that, we divided into two sub-groups: Fain [Chen], Yuni [Lee] and Xinyu [Yang] took care of the showcase part, while Inês, Giuseppe [Mauro] and I curated the promotion part.
What were your highlights of the project?
Inês: My highlight was definitely when we saw how excited the members of the Kraft Heinz team were when we presented Eatcetera's brand concept on our mid-point presentation. From then on, we knew we had a chance of success.
Elena: I think Yuni's illustrations were my highlight, as well as our choice of bold colours which really give an extra touch to our project.
What have you most enjoyed about your time at LCC?
Inês: I’ve really enjoyed the diversity of students and staff in the course, as well as the opportunity of working with Kraft Heinz, for sure!
Elena: I love how everyone is always on the same level – we’ve all been equals. Everyone is always willing to learn something new and give advice whether they're tutors or students, and I also like that you're encouraged to unleash your creativity.
What advice would you have for other students who are interested in exploring the field of graphic branding and identity?
Inês: Work, work, work… and work a little more!
Elena: The world is always changing, and brands have to innovate to fulfil the world's new needs. That’s why I believe that graphic branding and identity is an ever-changing practice, so I’d say the best thing would be to keep updated and look at what other brands are doing.