Differentiation is everything for a brand – without it, you're dead in the water. And with a new co-owner on board, Rush Munro's has lifted the lid on a new look that's pumped up the colour and personality.
There were a few issues plaguing Rush Munro's, senior designer at Dow Design Tony Masterantonio says. Consumers didn't realise it was a New Zealand product, and some supermarkets didn't want to stock the brand based on the old product packaging, which lacked the X factor. People were even confusing Rush Munro's with Killinchy Gold in freezers.
"It had that American ice cream parlour look to it, all the stripes and all of that, the doily housing device the logo was contained in ... that was putting some people off," he says.
New Rush Munro's co-owner Simone Forde knew the ice cream was great but the branding wasn't communicating that well enough.
"She came in and said 'I want to make a noise, stand up against some of the more established players' and she wasn't afraid of being quite different," he says.
Not everyone was open to drastically revamping the brand's look but Forde was driven by her instincts and not afraid to express them, Masterantonio says.
They've kept the gold overtones and the rose logo (which acknowledges the roses that grow in Rush Munro’s Ice Cream gardens in Hastings), though the latter has been restyled slightly with heart-shaped petals. "There was a little too much history associated with the rose to just drop it from the packaging, so we were looking for a way to reinvent it to fit with the new casualness, if you like."
There's a tip to Rush Munro's artisan heritage ("it's that whole made in small batches by hand, using local fruit and basically quite literally stirring the whole fruit into the ice cream thing") through the typography, which Masterantonio describes as a modern styling of an old fashioned script.
Treading that fine line between 'natural' and 'premium' and communicating that visually (not just through words) was a challenge, he says.
"One of the strongest inspirations was the orchard signage that's all over New Zealand you see in the countryside - naive, handpainted by growers, it's got a real honesty to it. That was a big inspiration for us. Then you naturally go to painted wood signs and things like that ... but then we decided it was just becoming too cliche.
"Then we developed this blackboard texture, with what we described as gold brushstrokes, and used that as our backdrop - that was just simple and wasn't distracting from the handpainted type. We found we were still able to keep that honesty and naivety but when we switched to more a script type it brought back that premium feel.
"Every single competitor in the premium space, they all say all natural, New Zealand, and premium. We were trying to take a step back and show all of that graphically."
Forde wasn't a fan of the packaging cliche of perfectly rolled scoops of ice cream, so providing "taste cues" to consumers had to be done another way.
Consumer research has found that shopper decisions are driven by flavours, so individual ice cream flavours are now displayed front and centre in bright hand-painted lettering.
The new packaging launched this month and Dow's designs have also been applied to other consumer touchpoints, such as mobile ice cream carts and merchandise, with the website and retail outlets to follow.
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