Character branding for grown ups

18th January

Recently a colleague showed me the packaging for Honey Hunter honey (above) and it got me thinking about the use of characters in branding for adults. Classically the remit of kids’ brands, we’re now seeing more brands that want to openly connect with adults through a specially designed character. It tickled me that the Honey Hunter bear looks mean; it’s a clever design as it unlocks latent associations we have between bears and their love of honey, and it catches the eye because it’s purposefully not all sweetness and light.

Fresh chicken, the agency behind the pack said: ‘People are fed up with positive characters, happy families and sweet animals in commercials, they’re waiting for something fresh. Our bear is not nice; he lies in wait for the right moment. Keep an eye on your honey!’

This bear feels cantankerous and there’s something very appealing to adults (especially Brits) about that.

The need to identify with brands is nothing new, but seeing a greater diversity in brand personalities is refreshing. Relatability is key; many of us now find that what now resonates design-wise is not just what’s uplifting but what’s real. It seems we’re increasingly attracted to the slightly ‘treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’ approach, as long as it’s lighthearted. It’s certainly a departure from the sickly sweet idyllic brand worlds we see so often.

French Connection have put all of their advertising might behind their ‘the man’ and ‘the woman’ characters, who are playfully aloof to great effect.

Taking this appetite for greater diversity in brand personalities quite literally, Danish design studio Bessermachen has created ‘Chocolates With Attitude’. The boxes contain 12 variants which are named after the 12 branding archetypes: Caregiver, Hero,Innocent and so on.

I think we’re getting closer to the point where a wider spectrum of branding personalities will be asked for from designers, even in the FMCG realm. If the darker ones are still playful and help to make light of the shopping experience, as the Honey Hunter bears do, there will be nothing to fear for brands experimenting in this space.

By Jenny Winfield, Creative Planner, jkr

1 Comment

  1. Katie Ewer

    January 21, 2013 8:10 am

    So true! And I have definitely always preferred the acerbic wit (and sometimes downright sarcasm) of Puccino’s coffee stalls over Innocent’s cutesy tone of voice.

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