Following on from the first ever above-the-line Bumper Bar campaign and the granting of a rare patent for its One Square Meal product, the main Cookie Time brand has also undergone a big transformation. And for Dow Design's creative director Donna McCort, reimagining the classic Kiwi brand was a huge responsibility.
As part of the rebrand, which was completed to coincide with Cookie Time’s 30thbirthday next year, 956 new signs are being put up on dairies nationwide, its cookie packaging is changing and the franchise vans are getting redecorated. And McCort says the new look had to modernise the brand but still hold true to the company’s traditional values.
“We had to take a look at all the brand’s touch points and things that underpinned it,” she says.
The whole process has taken more than a year, with one of the first steps being to establish what New Zealanders already loved about Cookie Time and what could be improved. Surveys showed that people enjoyed the “real” feel of the cookies; the fact that chunks of chocolate and generous amounts of nuts were used. People also regarded Cookie Time as a fun-loving, upbeat brand. And the Cookie Muncher character—the red fuzzy-looking chap who has adorned Cookie Time packaging and signage for years—was a big reason for that.
“There was a decision to make the Cookie Muncher play a bigger role in the brand,” says McCort.
The rebrand sees the him scribbling cookie-centric thoughts—phrases like 'It’s always Cookie Time’ and 'Good Cookie Times, bring them'—on dairy signs and Cookie Time vans.
“Cookie Muncher’s pretty close to our hearts and we thought it was time he got his own ‘voice’ to share his thoughts on what Cookie Time means to him,” says Cookie Time founder Michael Mayell.
The Cookie Muncher also gets a more prominent role on cookie wrapping. New packages are designed so his paws and teeth appear to be clasping the cookie inside. It’s a tactic with a double purpose, says McCort: first, it allows the consumer to see the cookie they’re buying. And secondly, the Cookie Muncher’s mouth forms a sizeable grin when he is ‘biting’ into the cookie, a feature that communicates one of Cookie Time’s main ideas about their cookies.
“The essence of the rebrand is defined around the idea that the cookies are ‘the taste of happiness’,” says McCort. “And that’s all tied up with the Cookie Muncher on the new packaging.”
The bold, handwritten-looking font was a way to further stamp Cookie Muncher’s newfound prominence on the brand, as well as helping to to declutter the packaging.
“The packaging is a lot simpler now,” says McCort. “The font plays a big part of that, as well as the colour.”
She says the packaging colours have been changed to reflect the everyday ingredients used in the cookies, with use of beiges and yellows—as opposed to the blues and reds that were strong previously—being more accurately indicative of the brand's cookie flavouring.
Overall, McCort says the new look is strong, simple and “really bold and in your face” and it's a look that reflects consumer’s perceptions of the brand.
“Cookie Time is known for its huge, big cookies with big chunks,” says McCort. “So in that way the look is true to the brand.”
While she has worked on iconic Kiwi brands before, revamping such a well-loved name was a big job.
“It means a lot to New Zealanders,” she says. “So it’s nice that we get to refresh brands and help them do what they need to continue doing well.”
In addition to Cookie Time rebrand, its sub brand Bumper Bars have also been given a big kick in the brand pants, taking to TV for the first time in its history with some fairly surreal ads courtesy of Consortium, doing a massive social media-based sampling campaign via its Facebook page and launching a pretty cool new website.
Cookie Time was also recently granted a patent for One Square Meal, confirming the muesli bars as being the first product in a new category (nutritionally balanced food and beverage) with the sole rights to sell product within it. Patents have also been lodged in various other countries, from the UK to US and Australia.
The bars, which come in distinctive square packages, provide a third of an adult’s recommended daily intake of energy, protein, carbohydrates, good fats and dietary fibre. And you can expect to see One Square Meal cereal and beverages in the future, too.
“It took years to crack the code and achieve a great tasting product which has precisely the same daily value of all macro and micro nutrients. But now that it’s been done with three flavours of bars made from wholesome ingredients we are confident that we can apply the insights across other food categories – beverages, breakfast cereal, even baby food,” said Cookie Time general manager Lincoln Booth. “While the words ‘nutritional balance’ have been somewhat hijacked as a marketing term, this is the real deal. It’s a revolutionary approach to start with recommended daily intakes and then design a specific food to deliver to these ...We now have ownership of a novel, yet universal food and beverage proposition that no one else can touch. For a small, privately owned New Zealand company, this is a huge success story."
In essence, patent protection secures the right to sell an original product without competition for a 20 year period. And while numerous foods and beverages have been patented on the basis of manufacturing process, a patent on invention of a product that creates a brand new class of food or beverage products that can cross numerous categories found on supermarket shelves is very rare.
“While One Square Meal bar currently stands alone as the first in this new nutritionally balanced class, we have the sole rights to extend this across other brands in numerous categories. We are already in discussions with potential partners and welcome approaches from others who see the revolutionary scope in this."
One Square Meal was launched in the New Zealand market in 2006, and in January it was launched into the Australian market under license to Sanitarium.
- This story originally appeared on idealog.co.nz.