Brand Case Study: Awake Chocolate and Swans Island


Branding Essentials for Designers


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

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-discipline creative juggernaut – Tether. In this class he’ll talk about 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. 

Stanley will teach the essentials of brand identity design:

  • The importance of bringing a human touch to the brand story
  • Defining brand attributes, vision, and strategies for naming
  • Tactics to to ensure brand consistency across all platforms

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.


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!!