Easyfairs recently commissioned a study revealing Britain’s top 10 most recognisable brands’ packaging. On this list of long-standing brands with iconic packaging that has remained largely unchanged for decades sits the Fairy liquid bottle at number seven. Its packaging was designed more recently - by us - in 2008.
‘Iconic’ is an objective that appears on nearly every design brief. Looking at examples such as the Coca-Cola bottle, long celebrated as a design classic, it would seem that ‘iconic’ status and consumer recognisability are gained through decades of nurturing and evolution.
However, the Fairy bottle is an example of why this doesn’t have to be the case. Many will remember Fairy’s original white cylindrical bottle, well known for 50 years before it switched to recyclable PET. But can anyone remember the bottle that came next? Our challenge to design a new pack came in 2008.
To stand a chance of becoming the category archetype, the revised design needed to be relevant, both to its category and to its target audience. But being relevant is not enough. To truly connect, we needed to create meaning. Not easy with a commodity product like washing-up liquid. However, carefully considered consumer research can help. A key way to achieve a design that will stand the test of time is to find a simple, confident big idea. Ideally this should be based on a core product truth.
In the Fairy bottle’s case it’s the droplet-shaped silhouette. The number of dishes a single droplet will clean has been a key equity of the Fairy brand for many years, communicating superior performance. Within the silhouette, we framed the label with a circular bubble shape. The generous curves connote viscosity, and we used this feature to create a grip. Lastly we added faceted details, designed to catch the light.
Fairy was elevated to Superbrand status in 2013. In 2016, Superbrand ranks Fairy as the number one UK consumer brand in the household cleaning products category. So, can a pack become a supremely valuable brand asset by reaching iconic status within just 10 years? Absolutely.
Tim Perry is managing director at Webb deVlam