This article is in reference to a project we worked on.
What do you do when friends ask you to work for them? You say no a few times and then you give in.
Bluff snacks stumbled into my life as one of these projects. Two acquaintances asked me to come on board as a ‘design consultant’ and help them navigate the design process for their new healthy snacking brand. Not design it, but just be a sounding board or as I liked to call it their ‘extra baggage’. What started was a long journey of a close friendship and a ton of learning about how different designers function while sitting in a rather comfortable seat from the sidelines.
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My role at Bluff was simple yet complex. I had to suddenly be the client, providing ‘feedback’ to the designs we received from the agency the brand hired. All decisions were made by the 2 founders, but It was a great lesson in self control for me, where I could give inputs but at the same time let the designers do what they were best at doing. I looked at this opportunity to observe a startup gaining it’s legs and possibly run.
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While most of the design heavy lifting was done by the agency at work, things were not so smooth in the backend. The experience helped me be a part of the way clients process design. While any good designer knows to keep cost, target audience, market and competition in mind, it was a little different to actually be involved in the decision making process than to read a filled out questionnaire.
They don’t care about the kerning of the font or the symbol having meaning or the shade of yellow. They care about the larger picture- will the customer understand it? Will they be able to read and comprehend the text? Will it stand out on the shelf? This was a hands-on learning experience of things I could carry back to my practice.
To be able to make a client see why the Pantone shade matters, why the matte packaging might not be the cheapest idea but is important to speak to the consumers that they are targeting and why having 200 words on a package is not the best way to grab attention.
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If I had a penny for every time a client said ‘we are tied for budgets’. Funny how things change when you are at the other side of the table. Finding good quality work to match startup budgets was always going to be a tough job and we made plenty of mistakes on the way. Mockups over photography, make-shift photoshoots, finding a vendor for small quantity packages and ringing up friends from far and beyond seemed to all work in harmony somehow.
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After the packaging, came the digital presence of the brand. By this time, I had fallen hard for the brand. I must have done something right, since they asked me to come on board as their creative partner in this long journey ahead.
What do you do when friends ask you to work for them? You give in. And that’s what I did. I set out to design my first (and possibly last) e-commerce website which was a rollercoaster in itself.
What followed was crafting a strong digital presence, fleshing out the brand identity and helping the brand find its own voice among a sea of competitors.