Sproud Doesn't Need To Be Punk To Be Cool

by Rudy Sanchez on 02/05/2020 | 3 Minute Read

The Swedes have been facing an identity crisis lately. The country loves to drink milk, as the average Scandinavian drinks about 98 liters of moo juice annually, but Sweden is also one of the most eco-conscious nations around, leading many in the country to question their affinity for the dairy industry given its impact on the planet. 

It’s little surprise then that many innovations in the development of plant-based milk alternatives herald from the land of Volvos and self-assembled furniture.

The alt-milk space in Sweden is so competitive that standing out and getting noticed is going to be a challenge. These brands can’t solely rely on their ecological credentials to grab consumer attention, as was the case for Sproud, a Swedish-based vegan milk substitute made from peas. To create a visual identity and branding that rose above the crowd, Sproud enlisted the talents of agency Martin Kann Group.

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“The Swedish alt-milk market has developed rapidly over the last several years. and that's led to strong competition within the segment," says Martin Kann, founder and creative director for Martin Kann Group. "The design strategy is to significantly stand out in the alt-milk shelf from a distance. After getting the customers' attention, the value proposition, unique selling propositions, and information are shown on the side and back of the packaging."

Sproud’s visual branding makes use of black and white angular stripes for the principle product in their line, subbing out white for colors reflective of flavors in their vegan protein powders. The stark, yet eye-catching packaging is reminiscent of a classic Ingmar Bergman film without the bleakness of unrequited love and loneliness; Sproud is strong without being pushy, different without being weird, and smart without pretension.

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“The Swedish alt-milk market is characterized and dominated by Oatly, an alt-milk brand based on oats that launched seven years ago with prizewinning DIY style communication and design," Martin says. "So the challenge for Sproud was like trying to be heard in a classroom dominated by a shouting punk-rocker."

Oatly’s branding is rebellious and lo-fi, with the oat-milk maker regularly giving the dairy industry the single-finger salute. Sproud, instead, finds its own lane, drawing attention to itself by being chic and effortlessly cool.

Martin Kann, his team, and WeMake-the client and startup company behind Sproud-worked quickly, forgoing the typical brief, iterating while developing the brand in real-time.

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“WeMake is the startup company behind Sproud," Martin says. "As with many startups, it was a very fast process that resulted in a brief that we invented along the way."

Drawing cues from visual warnings and cautions that dot the urban landscape, Sproud’s look inspires the viewer to stop as it clashes with the competition’s packaging. “The overall design is inspired by classic attention signage you can find in a public space or at a construction site to stand out from a cluttered background,” Martin says.

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In less than two years, Sproud has seen success in its home market of Sweden, across the rest of Scandinavia, the UK, and is now making its way across the Atlantic into the US and Canadian market, where punk rockers Oatly have already caused a stir, leading to shortages and cartons getting sold at a significant markup.

Sproud debuted in 2018, not in an alt-milk versus dairy-milk bloodbath, but going against other large, more established plant-milk brands such as Oatly. Rather than focus on the ecological benefits of their pea-based milk or follow along with the “anti-dairy” vibe of similar brands, Sproud found success through stark and bold visuals to draw consumers in, and the hope is that the same strategy will translate in other markets like the US, where oat milk sales have risen over 630% into a $52 million market showing little signs of slowing down.

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