Cookie Time has undergone its biggest face-lift in 20 years, and for Donna McCort, reimagining one of New Zealand’s most iconic brands was a huge responsibility.
McCort is creative director at Dow Design, the firm that orchestrated the look behind Cookie Time’s recent brand revamp. As part of the rebrand, 956 new signs are being put up on dairies nationwide, its cookie packaging is changing, and the franchise vans are getting re-decorated.
The rebrand was completed to coincide with Cookie Time’s 30th birthday next year.
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 New Zealanders’ thoughts the company – what they already loved about Cookie Time and what could be improved.
Surveys showed that people enjoyed the “real” feel of the cookies – the fact that huge chunks of chocolate and generous amounts of nuts were used. People also regarded Cookie Time as a fun-loving, upbeat brand. It was discovered that 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 – a point that is important in the purchase decision process. 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” – 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.”