Image: KOO

Koo, one of South Africa’s favourite brands (2015 Sunday Times Top Brands Survey) has partnered with Yellowwood Future Architects to overhaul its on-shelf presence after a decade of comfort in the same clothes.

“The process of changing an iconic brand has to start with deep immersion, understanding and insight,” explains Ross Thornton-Dibb, senior designer at Yellowwood. “Iconic status occurs organically and it comes about when consumers tie the brand into their personal story.”

The objective of the packaging refresh was to increase Koo’s shelf presence and entrench the brand’s relevance among young, sceptical consumers – while reminding brand loyalists why they fell in love with the brand in the first place.

“Koo is a rainbow brand for a rainbow nation, ­ so it was essential that the packaging appealed to all South Africans, while telling the Koo story and staying true to the brand promise of consistent quality and taste,” says Koo brand manager Natalie Roberts.

Through research the team discovered a brand truth behind Koo that is better than any brand legend that could be created. A visually rich, textural, wholesome and honest narrative already existed, but just wasn’t being expressed in a powerful and distinct way. The new packaging will benefit from this. The team brought this great story to life, and also used its visual assets to resolve some of the brand’s challenges on pack.

One of the primary issues addressed was to create visual diversification within the range of 117 products. “Consumers are unaware of how broad the Koo offering is because the same packaging conventions have been repeated again and again, camouflaging the different products on shelf.”

The design team sought to create a visual system that allows shoppers to understand the extent of the Koo range. The system accentuates its breadth and depth, while simultaneously highlighting the premium, wholesome product behind the brand.

“We interrogated consumer behaviour and their relationship with the brand and product to bring our idea to fruition,” says Thornton-Dibb. “In order to show the genuine goodness of the Koo product range we changed flat colour to strong photographic textures with themes that bring the ‘farm to fork’ journey to life.”

This golden thread is carried through all design elements and signals a deft move away from the sterile, commodity-style packaging that dominates the rest of the category.

The narrative of the Koo story is brought to life throughout the new purchase journey. Starting in-hand with the detailed product photography on the product labels – the closest point of contact for the shopper before the product is consumed – moving out to the point of sale and even the wholesale environment, with broad landscape images drawing you into the Koo story. The consumer is taken on a distinctive, compelling and credible visual journey.

Roberts says the new packaging on-shelf is testament to the fact that, at Koo, “Only the best will do”.

The big take-out: Often the brand truth is out there, so it’s not always necessary to create a new one.


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