Sometimes I work on great projects that don't materialize. However, just because the design wasn't used, it doesn't mean it wasn't good. I'm not saying this is the best thing ever, but I did have a lot of fun working on it. If anything, it illustrates how I go about presenting design work to clients. It's a much more involved process than illustration, with a heavier communication payload up front.
The good folks at Goodforks recently asked me to help them put together a design concept for their client, Six Foods. Six Foods was preparing to launch their latest entomophagic product, Chirps — chips made with cricket flour.
Although personally disgusted by the idea of eating bugs, I thought it was a very cool design challenge, since it is such a subversive food concept, and probably a pioneer in what will become the norm as we clue into the utter wastefulness of our carnivorous diet.
My concept, which was based on the assumption that there was no way around the gag factor of eating bugs for most consumers, was decidedly brash and unapologetic about the product's ingredients.
When pitching my concept, I opened with the above set of images — to demonstrate a Western attitude toward eating bugs. Most images of people eating bugs looked like it was part of dare. You'd have to dare me, that's for sure!
A lot of my own assumptions in this project were based on some great brand strategy research put together by FutureFuture. I was able to put forth this risky concept pretty confidently because the target demographic, their attitudes, and so forth were very thoroughly designed. It was all hypothetical, of course, but design is always hypothetical until it's not. So I came up with three key ideas about this brand that were pivotal in my design thinking, which I presented to the client:
Eating bugs really is disgusting.
Let’s be honest—for most of us, eating bugs is a hard sell. The packaging should appeal to that small set of the population who are predisposed to try something new and who care enough about the planet to put their money where their mouth is.
Instead of saying things to the effect of don’t knock it ‘til you try it, or bugs taste great—we swear which take a defensive stance, cut to the chase by putting the higher purpose forward: “Eating bugs will save the planet.”
Chirps is a platform for social change.
In the same way that The Body Shop stands for No Animal Testing and Benetton spreads the message of diversity and tolerance (both through consumerism), Chirps can become the megaphone for global and social change through mainstream entomophagy.
Taking these key ideas, I summarized the concept with a title (Culture Jammer) and a synopsis statement, followed by a moodboard. I put together the moodboard prior to sketching up design concepts. Doing this helped the client see, through existing examples, the gestalt I was trying to tap into. It also helped give me a reference point when creating, to keep me on track.
I'm probably an over-explainer and risk overwhelming my client, but I do so with the conviction that context is everything. Before showing the work, I needed to communicate to the client that I understood the design problem and that my approach was based on such an understanding rather than whim and raw instinct. (Indeed, had I gone on a whim, the design might have looked more like my illustration work, which is not so much designed as it is conjured.) The hope is to surprise the client with the concept, but not to catch them off guard.
First I showed the logo, and then the logo in a mocked up package. To be honest, I think it would have been really hard to pull off this presentation without a good, realistic mockup. It removes all question of how the flat design would translate to 3D surface. To create these bags was embarrassingly easy. I picked up a script from PSD Covers that built the mockups from my flat files. All I had to do was run the sccript!
So what happened? The client said they loved the concept. They were extremely enthusiastic about it, but it was ultimately killed in favour of a more cheerful and accessible one. I can totally understand why they would choose it over this one. To be honest, I would have been surprised if they went with this concept.