Pentagram's Astrid Stavro Creates The Identity For A Kids' Cereal Designed For Grownups

by Rudy Sanchez on 07/09/2020 | 4 Minute Read

Breakfast cereal conjures up simpler times as they are mostly eaten, at least the tasty ones, by children. The confluence of sweet and near-dessert flavors with the hearty taste of grain paves the way for a quick trip to satisfaction-town. 

While a big bowl of fruit-flavored tori packaged in a box festooned with simple mazes and pun-based jokes might satiate some kids, adults seeking those same-cereal thrills need something a little different. That idea wasn't lost on OffLimits' founder Emily Elyse Miller, whose new line of cereals reinterprets breakfast for grownups. Astrid Stavro and her team at Pentagram crafted the brand identity for OffLimits, and Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One created the cereal mascots.

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The first two kinds of cereal in the line evoke adult attitudes “wired” and “tired” with flavors and visual identities reflective of both states-of-mind. “DASH” is a coffee and chocolate cereal infused with caffeine while “ZOMBIE” is vanilla and pandan, a mellow concoction as soothing as it is pleasant. 

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Both boxes have a cohesive look that seems inspired by adult animation such as Bojack Horseman, Rick and Morty, and Bob’s Burgers. Each mood remains unique, with their own characters represented prominently, similar to how CPG brands like Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Post have a unique persona for every breakfast cereal line.

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The logo, made with a custom typeface designed with Emma Williams, is meant to evoke how out-of-reach sugary snacks were as children but defiance at that denial adults are no longer beholden to, a new attitude that sees nothing as off-limits.

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OffLimits’ defiant attitude gets tempered by playfulness, fun, and irreverence. The result isn’t a call-to-arms to change the world per se, but more of a call to rebel against expectations by eating something yummy for breakfast. OffLimits’ branding encourages grownups to live their best Michael Scott life, retaining childhood attitude while holding regional manager responsibilities.

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But there’s another kind of mission that the brand is getting at, as they want to destigmatize some of the hard conversations society has around wellness and mental health. Instead of puzzles and mazes on the box, OffLimits includes sheets with different stress and anxiety-relieving activities you can play while munching on a bowl of cereal. Also, instead of toys sitting at the bottom of boxes, OffLimits features an online game arcade where customers can exchange credit earned through purchases for prizes.

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Many of the playful brand assets designed by Astrid and her team reinforce this near-aspirational mindset, with t-shirts and mugs that tell their intended audience to “break the rules” and “keep it real,” all of which make Williams’s typography the star of the show. They even utilize a newspaper-format to put the branding on display.

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“The name OffLimits serves a dual purpose," explained Emily Elyse Miller in a press release. “It's a playful take on the sugary treats that always seem to be out of reach when we’re young and also represents the element of defiance that's ingrained in the brand's DNA. Right now, the system is broken, and we're rebuilding the world we want to live in. Nothing is OffLimits!” 

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Ultimately, OffLimits taps into the childhood nostalgia of a morning bowl of cereal while updating and upgrading the experience for adults, satisfying both taste buds and nostalgia.

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