Michael Scott Would Be All Over This Breakroom Essentials Packaging System

by Jessica Deseo on 01/15/2021 | 4 Minute Read

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Editorial photograph

Overview

Perk competes head-to-head with other providers of away-from-your-desk office basics. This includes the kitchen and restroom essentials you use on a daily basis, along with seasonal fare to mark the passage of the year, and specialty selections that support office culture and events.

The Perk brand is positioned around the goal of re-energizing workplaces by imbuing moments spent away from a desk or a workroom with a breath or two of fresh air.

To compete in a category with such narrow profit margins, products are typically value-engineered to meet utility needs and sustainability targets. Given these design constraints, the packaging itself can become a differentiating part of the brand experience.

This project involved the development of a communications system to unify the three primary segments of the Perk offer: kitchenware, restroom ware, and personal care. More importantly, it began with a question.

What if the packaging were a canvas that the brand could use to start a conversation with frequent users? In a model where brands have a look and feel, a tone of voice, and a point of view, the Perk brand began with a POV, then added a TOV, and wrapped it in a charming GUI.

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Brand Design Language

In the office essentials category, products generally merchandise themselves via thin-film wrappers. This convention led the brand development team to see the exterior surfaces of the package, and the product surfaces revealed in SKUs with transparent wrappers, as an opportunity. What if they could work together as billboards for the Perk brand to speak up?

This creative jumping-off point led to a brand development process where the team explored the personality of Perk through the “language” of the brand. “What would Perk say?” was an easier question to pose than answer. Through brainstorming sessions, iterative reviews with colleagues, and cringe-worthy discoveries of what didn’t work, the team began to coalesce around some guard rails for writing Perk stand up.

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Once the ground rules were set, quips and asides flowed freely. As the pool of winners began to outpace the losers it became easier to recognize (and document) the Perkisms that gave the brand its character and charm.

The combination of cheeky calls to action, for products that don’t require them, juxtaposed with a backdrop of bright color fields, livens up places where a little personality goes a long way. Not just break rooms and cafeterias, but even inside cupboards or drawers or closets, where a friendly ‘hello’ can brighten someone’s day.

The visual design exploration took its cue from the lightheartedness of the brand voice development. The Perk trade dress is expressed through a palette of light pastels used in repeat — across products in a pack, packs in a mix, and throughout its Perk signage systems — to unify the visual language.

Brand Management

The Perk brand management tools celebrate the opportunity for writers on brand teams, who generally welcome a little running room to get their copy on. Within reason. The “How to write for Perk” guidelines show creative teams how to be conversational, interesting, and quick, without becoming pushy, bland, or heavy-handed. They even get a little meta about breaking the third wall. Because sometimes the office can feel like The Office.

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The Perk visual design guidelines also bring some wit and whimsy to the graphic tools, including directions for the use of ALL CAPS in its visual grammar i.e., how to stay “in voice” without shouting like an angry text.

The guidelines also define how the brand uses a simple, dotted line graphic element to animate Perk package facings and signage, as well as Perk animations, by directing the eye to a punchline or ------- > a call to action.

Takeaways

Brand identity teams love the opportunity to work on a kinetic identity system, where the creative strategy invites them to use variations on a theme to keep things fresh. Think old school: MTV and Nickelodeon. Or more recent: the Google search home page.

But a kinetic verbal identity system is a new wrinkle. For a category where, frankly, the packaging is a consumable for a consumable, this platform has defined a perennial way for packaging teams to “revitalize” the Perk brand promise by refreshing its execution.

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Editorial photograph

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