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Branding Essentials for Designers

Lesson 9 of 14

Brand Case Study: Awake Chocolate and Swans Island


Branding Essentials for Designers

Lesson 9 of 14

Brand Case Study: Awake Chocolate and Swans Island


Lesson Info

Brand Case Study: Awake Chocolate and Swans Island

I wanna show a couple brand books here, but this is a really fun one. This is Awake. So I see it's afternoon, you know what everyone could use? Is a caffeinated chocolate bar right now. (audience chuckles) So this is a brand that came to us and they had this amazing formula where they added more caffeine to chocolate. So it tastes great and it gives you the effect of one cup of coffee, the bar does. So they came to us with this product right here that you see here on the screen. And they said, "Okay,I wanna sell it in the chocolate aisle. "What do you think?" And we said "Uh, it looks like an energy drink. "It doesn't look very appetizing." So what we did is we started concepting around this brand, and we thought you know what? What stays awake? An owl. So we loved the idea of an owl, so we went from this, to this. So we redesigned the bar itself, you see it has that owl in it. And then the packaging, it looks appetizing now. And so we started working with that owl. We use it on the pa...

ckaging, we created an owl suit that you'll see how we use it here in a minute. And then we created the brand book. So the brand book for this, we knew that our consumer, our prime consumer for this are college students. And they'll try caffeinated chocolate bars. So we created this brand book and you see it has that attitude of staying awake. It talks about two pieces and you can wrestle and under-sized badger. So it does it in a very emotional way, the brand book. And then we created this fun video. (funky elevator music) (record scratching) (intense rock music) [Voiceover] That's right friends, it's caffeinated chocolate. Yep. Chocolate. With C-A-F-F-E-I-N-E. In bite-sized, notchable pieces no less! One piece and you're ready to fold some laundry. Subscribe to a magazine. Or possibly return a phone call. Two pieces and you're primed to beat a rug. Stack kindling. Maybe even whip up a little tuna sandwich. Three, and kapow! Now you're ready to wrestle an under-sized badger. Study for midterms. Or don't be surprised if you have the desire to jog all the way to Saskatchewan... And back... And consuming a whole bar, test subjects have been known to read an entire novel in one sitting. Happily embark on a 52-hour road trip. Even take the GMAT and LSAT in the same day. Join the billions of fan all over North America who are giving three p.m. the feather. So if you don't wanna do this, then get your talons on some Awake. Because you don't want to miss out on any of this. (intense rock music) So that's a video you can tell we made ourselves. And it's been used a lot on social media. It brought a lot attention to the brand. So that didn't cost a lot, we made the owl suit. So you can create a lot of buzz through the amazing social-digital channels that we have right now. Speaking of buzz, we also did a tour across-- We launched it first in Canada, so we did a tour across Canada. And we put posters up around, we had this campus ambassador kit. It's called the Eyes Wide Open tour. And we got an old school bus, it broke down reliably halfway through the tour like it's supposed to. We recruited the campus ambassadors and then they went around sampling along with Nevil. And Nevil was there crowd surfing, drawing attention to the brand. The real energy that we've gotten around this is on social. We've done contests, like we've done a contest of taking picture of people asleep. The more compromising position, the more points you get. And then you win snowboards, skateboards, bags, and things like that. Nevil, one of our writers is the community manager for Awake. So he tweets-- and so all the social media commentary. And our design team mocks up little fun things with Nevil. So you can see Movember Olympics. Any excuse to get in front of people, Nevil does. We even did this fun thing where we sent the owner of the largest online shopping channel in Canada on vacation, And Nevil got the keys to the company. And he curated all the products for a week. So all these different ways that you can do it in a cost-effective way, get the buzz out. And even appeared on the Canadian version of Shark's Tank called Dragons' Den. Meet Awake Chocolate. (intense judging music) Awake is a caffeinated chocolate bar that combines the delicious taste of premium milk chocolate with the pick-me-up of an energy drink. To put it simply: It's Kit Kat meets Red Bull. One bar of Awake Chocolate contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. <v Judge #1>I'll take one of yours and one of yours. <v Judge #2>Good taste. The chocolate bars costs two dollars and fifty cents, about a dollar less than an energy drink. This is an alternative to that Red Bull or that coffee. Going to the hair for a second, did you get out of bed, have a chocolate, and went "Oh my god!" (laughter) I do what I can with what I have left. You can watch that on YouTube, but I won't go into-- They all wanted to invest and got a lot of excitement with them. I wanted to skip right now. We're gonna go straight to this brand book right here. This is a company called Swans Island. So Swans Island was called before was called Swans Island Blankets. That was the name of the company. Swans Island was started in a little island off of mid-coast Maine called Swan's Island, and it was started by a guy who used to be a lawyer in Boston. And he had a dream to loom blankets and so they're all hand-loomed blankets and scarves and things. I fell in love with the company, I met the owner and ended up joining the company. So it's kind of a little passion project for us at Tether. And we're trying to move this brand to get more people aware of it. So this is a brand book that we did for them. And first of all, because you can download this I'm not gonna go too deep into it, but the language here is: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and then, "Why will people love you?" The first thing that we did is we posed the opportunity. There's something going on out there. It's about the maker movement, handcrafted to counter all the digital stuff going on. And so we ended up coming up with a mission of "to provide the goods, expertise, and services "that provide for a fuller realization "of what it means to be human." So that's our mission, that's the reason why we exist. Our brand promise is, as I mentioned, your internal mantra. Why you get up every morning. And so our brand promise we created was "A life worth passing forward." So it speaks to that heirloom quality. These are expensive blankets, so why would you buy this? Because you can pass it forward and you can keep it forever. You know every good brand has a face and a voice as we talked about. So the brands of the Swans' persona, the brand values of integrity, craftsmanship, sustainability, the power of a place, and community. Now you will see as we go through this, and in the next case study example and a couple others after that, that I talked about the mission and the promise and then the persona, that can come to life in different ways. Some people call them characteristics, some people call them values or a combination of those things, but it's the way that you act. And the brand characteristics for this is natural, artisanal, authentic, passionate, and warm. And this is how is comes to life, you bring that history, you bring that relevance forward, and then of course you celebrate the products. So the way you celebrate those products through copy, through photography, through the graphic elements is important. Any brand, it's about romancing the brand. It's all about being aspirational. Any product that you buy, even if it's a cooking utensil, it's aspirational. You wanna be a better chef, you wanna cook more... Or you car-- whatever it is that you get, it's all aspirational, we all have an aspirational element to our lives. So romancing the brand is important. So this is-- Swans actually has the largest organic hand-dyed facility now in the United States and it's just amazing to walk in and all the wool comes in and you see them hand looming the blankets and hand-dyeing it, and a really amazing process. So Scotty, who you'll meet a little bit later, and I went out there and we actually shot a little video, and we have a work-in-progress video right now, just some placeholder voiceover and things, to just give you a sense of the place of Swan's Island. Look at those blankets! Come on. I did this once at a presentation. I held up a Swans Island Blanket, I don't have one with me at the moment, and I said how much would you pay for this? And people said "I don't know, fifty bucks?" And I told this story of Swans Island, how they do it, the organic dyes, and how much would you pay now. A thousand? So it jumped ten times. I'll get that video right here. (thoughtful guitar music) Heirlooms are made, not manufactured. The labor of skilled hands doing what they do best the things they've done for centuries. Taking full advantage of the materials nature provides us. Transforming them into something beautiful, useful, and enduring. Crafting goods, and a way of life worth passing forward. (thoughtful guitar music) Pick tools that you are going use to tell your brand's story. Once you come up with that brand story you have those filters and all those things. Brand videos are extremely helpful. So it can be we do everything from stills. So you just show stills to music with type. So simple, it's a slideshow with music. We do a lot of those like that. Sometimes we'll do video, you can pick, you can just get stock footage. And if you're just gonna present it to your clients, all you're trying to do is to get them to sense the feeling of the brand. And there's no better way than music to add to your beautiful visuals and then a little voiceover, a little copy. That's just magic. And we're able to do that with most of the brands that we work with, and it's extremely effective. Sometimes those brand videos turn into the brand mantra, like who we are. And they show that off to the whole organization, or off to their retailers and it becomes their rallying cry. So those are very successful.

Class Description


  • Bring a unique human touch to a brand story
  • Define brand attributes, vision, and strategies for naming
  • Employ tactics to ensure brand consistency across all platforms


A great brand is the culmination of strategic thought, experience, and a little magic. It all results in a story that creates brand fans. A logo, a name and identity are starting points, but by themselves don’t create successful brands. Learn what it takes to build a lasting and meaningful brand in Branding Essentials for Designers with Stanley Hainsworth.

Stanley is the the former creative director at Nike, Lego and Starbucks and now founder of the multi-disciplinary creative juggernaut – Tether. In this class he teaches the role stories play in developing a strong brand identity and how to create a strategic roadmap for sharing a brand story with the world. You’ll learn tools and methodologies for creating brands that can be applied to projects of all sizes.

Through this class you’ll develop the skills you need to offer clients the complete package when it comes to branding – not just a logo. Deepen your branding know-how and infuse meaning into your design work with branding whiz, Stanley Hainsworth.


This class is for design professionals, entrepreneurs, startup founders, marketing and branding managers, and creatives interested in learning more about branding.


Underneath that highly unorthodox shock of follicular iconoclasm lies the turbocharged brain of a highly attuned branding machine. Stanley mastered the art of brand storycraft while serving as the creative-in-chief at three of the great brands of our time: Nike, Lego, and Starbucks, where he was VP of Global Creative during an era when the now-ubiquitous brand matured into the cultural icon we know today. His creative influence extended from products and campaigns to all consumer touch points. Prior to that, as Global Creative Director for the Lego Company in Denmark, Stanley directed a total visual overhaul of the brand, including advertising, interactive, packaging, retail and brand stores. At Nike, Stanley worked on everything from the Olympics to creating Nike Entertainment. He has written books on branding, is an educator, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and is a sought after speaker on branding and design worldwide. 

Connect with Stanly online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Huffington Post


  1. Personal Journey

    By telling his story, Stanley models personal branding in action - how did a small town western Kentucky boy come to realize that he, himself, was a brand? Stanley addresses the fundamentals here: what exactly is branding? How are brands like people? What are the key questions to ask when developing a brand?

  2. Defining the Brand: Nike

    How is joining a brand like joining a religion? What is the power of listening to the consumer? How do you set up a sell-out new product launch? Stanley takes you through his process in building a stand out brand as creative director at Nike: you get an inside look at his branding strategy that brought the original product line to the full 360-degree consumer experience it is today.

  3. Brand Visuals: Lego

    Stanley takes his personal brand to the next level and creates his own role at Lego. He explains the process of rebranding - taking a well known corporate brand beyond its logo - and the roles of a brand book, brand promise, and developing visual language in this process. He answers important questions: What is the relationship between the emotional and practical in successful branding? How do you develop a reciprocal relationship with your brand fans, or most loyal customers?

  4. Fine Tuning the Brand: Starbucks Part 1

    A good brand develops a “gut feeling” identity throughout the years; as a newcomer to a team, how do you learn this so-called “tribal knowledge”? What are brand guidelines and how are they essential to brand building? Stanley explains how to codify the ephemeral “feeling” of a brand in order to produce consistent brand messaging.

  5. Fine Tuning the Brand: Starbucks Part 2

    You’ve established brand guidelines and you’ve created a brand book; how do you use these tools to bring your brand to every touch point with a consumer? Look inside Stanley’s process of redesigning product packaging and his reasoning behind decisions made. Learn how to go beyond traditional ad campaigns to create a memorable brand experience with your customers - to deepen their emotional attachment.

  6. Building a Creative Environment

    The creative process gets messy in the best way - how do you create a work environment that fosters creativity? Why is it important that brand messages and core values are reflected in a workplace itself? Designers often work together across disciplines, but how do you involve executives in the creative process? From t-shirts to competitions and design camps, Stanley discusses how to cultivate creativity in the workplace.

  7. Inside Tether: Behind the Scenes Studio Tour

    Take an exclusive tour within Tether, Stanley’s own branding agency to see a real-life example of a creative playground. From big-name clients, to developing a new brand, to personal projects, Stanley gives you behind the scenes access.

  8. Brand Case Study: Gatorade

    How do you reposition a company to remain relevant in a shifting market? What do you keep, change, and enhance in your brand strategy? When do you listen to consumer feedback, and when do you just make decisions? Stanley models how to expand beyond a specific product to create a line of customer offerings.

  9. Brand Case Study: Awake Chocolate and Swans Island

    Coca-Cola and Pepsi rely on big name recognition, but what about the smaller players in more niche markets? In this class, Stanley demonstrates the power of effective product packaging coupled with strategic marketing. Learn creative ways to harness social media to not only advertise, but also drive public relations. This is Marketing Techniques and Brand Storytelling 101.

  10. Brand Case Study: The Grove School

    Tether brand manager Kari Strand outlines the process of a unique project: a new brand involving many stakeholders in students, families, the company,and its teachers as essentially brand ambassadors. From developing a brand name to a myriad of marketing materials, you’ll see multi-use touch points that not only communicate important brand messaging, but also represent the brand’s core values. Kari models how to develop common language to dialogue with potential customers.

  11. LIVE Brand Case Study: Live Love Snack

    How do you reposition a brand to enter the mass market? Tether designers take us deep into the world of product packaging: learn how to problem-solve and watch as their designs evolve with each iteration. The Tether team answers essential design questions: how do you lead an effective brainstorming process? How does narrative fit into design? Why is hierarchy of information important?

  12. LIVE Brand Case Study: Squatch Watch

    What does a multi-disciplinary approach actually look like inside a creative agency? The Tether team demonstrates the benefits of non-work order projects by participating in a soapbox derby.

  13. Evolution of a Brand

    Long-term success requires evolution. Learn about the power of storytelling and the role of compelling taglines in the evolution of BMW motorcycles and Keen footwear. How do you build upon an existing legacy to expand into different markets? You do you re-ignite brand buzz?

  14. Create Your Own Opportunities

    Stanley dips into the not-for-profit arena; what does branding for a cause look like? How do you create consistent identity throughout the many arms of an international organization? Stanley returns to an old pet project that stuck - a concept he couldn’t shake. He closes with an affirmation: trust your journey.


Lily Raz

Stanley's branding class was packed with so many actionable takeaways!! I learned so much about the thinking behind how branding is important for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. One of the biggest things I learned was when he said describing a brand is like describing a person to someone. He talked a lot about the process that it takes to build successful brands and keep them true to their promise. I really loved when he did a tour of his agency Tether. This class is filled with lots of creative material and great energy. I definitely recommend it! Thank you Creative Live!!


I am LOVING this class. I have heard &quot;brand&quot; explained in a lot of different ways, but Stanley's metaphors and examples made such sense to me that I actually feel like I have a firm grasp of what it means, and how I can make my own. Describing and showing his process with various brands was especially helpful. I feel empowered and excited (rather than overwhelmed, nervous, or uncertain) about strengthening my brand. Without Creative Live, I would not be able to take a class from an expert like Stanley Hainsworth, so I am especially grateful for today's course. Thank You! - Alexis (a.k.a. Free Range Al)


He is fun and engaging... This class has given me a whole new perspective of how to build my brand and keep it consistent as I go. The videos he shows are soo fun, and they show off his great sense of humor, and fun personality!!