Center-Designed KatKin Is For Hardcore Cat Parents
by Rudy Sanchez on 02/02/2023 | 5 Minute Read
According to an annual survey by UK Pet Food, an industry trade group, 28% of UK households have at least one cat. The total number of feline pets in the UK is 12 million, one million less than dogs. While dogs are more popular overall, cats remain a popular companion choice.
It’s not hard to see why felines are so beloved. What would the internet be, especially in the early days of the web, without videos of cats doing cat things? These little furballs are full of personality, eccentric, and sometimes bewildering. Despite streaks of obstinance and independence, cats are also affectionate and playful—cat owners will even overlook the occasional “gift” dead bird or mouse on the bed or a spat-up hairball on the carpet in the name of companionship.
UK-based cat food brand KatKin is for cats with humans who want the best food for their felines. Founded by siblings Brett and Nikki O’Farrell, KatKin is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) food delivery service that tailors shipments for each cat. Since cats are carnivores, KatKin takes human-quality meats, freeze dries it, and ships them straight to your doors.
The O’Farrell siblings see KatKin as part of a mission to upend the industry by providing the best pet food possible, a manifestation of our adoration of cats, which the brand describes as “hardcore love.” KatKin is also an act of defiance and rebellion against the “fat cats” of the food industry that sell cat food with fillers like grain, which isn’t ideal for meat-loving kitties.
Armed with a strong send of revolt borne out of cat love, it makes sense that they’d turn to Center to deliver the brand's visual identity and break category norms. Visually, KatKin's packaging doesn’t have slick photography of sockeye salmon or incredibly photogenic cats against soft pastels or neutral colors. Instead, KatKin is bold, with bright colors and illustrations of cats, sometimes holding protest signs. The logo has a brushed effect, reminiscent of handmade posters or a fashion designer’s logo.
Shipping boxes continue with KatKin’s attitude with a focus on cats with copy like “Claws off, this box belongs to a hardcore cat parent.” Shipping tape uses the same colors as the product packaging with the KatKin logo across. Similarly, one of the shipping box’s panels also has a large KatKin logo. Center founder Alex Center says they wanted to create excitement for the customer and provide some bragging rights for cat parents as neighbors see the box sitting at their door.
While KatKin certainly had that disruptor vibe of past clients like Gente, Butter, and Simulate, Center wasn’t entirely on board with doing a pet food brand at first. “I am not a pet owner. I've never had a dog or cat,” Center says. “For KatKin, it was fascinating to learn about cats, cat parents, and their relationship. Because, as an outsider, I didn't know much, I came in as a very blank slate to this project.”
"I wasn't sure if we should do KatKin because I always like to have a relationship with the products or some sort of connection,” Center continues. “But in this project, the connection that I had was to the founders. I instantly connected with what they wanted to do—create a brand in the pet food space only for cats, one that didn't feel like a traditional pet food brand. Katkin wanted to be bold and colorful and create a new visual language for pet food."
It’s common for design studios to go out and do firsthand research for a project, but few have probably tasted pet food, but Center did. “At the beginning of the project, I went to the facilities in London and visited the factories. It's quite an experience to see the food being steamed. I tried it; it tastes like real food,” Center said.
Center also ran the KatKin photo shoot, and in a first for the agency, it involved the literal wrangling of cats. Even though they were feline models, cats are gonna' cat, and capturing them in real moments of catness ultimately gives the KatKin branding authenticity and makes a genuine connection with cat parents by reminding them of their fur buddies’ behavior.
“We did a four-day shoot in four different Brooklyn homes,” Center says. It was quite a scene, wrangling cats. We wanted to capture that unique relationship and the kind of crazy things that cats do. But it's one of those things where it's hard to mimic or fake. We got this level of fun when we shot people with cats. We also got a lot of things like cats climbing up fridges, in sinks, and looking at themselves in the mirror, weird cat things.”
KatKin’s “love hard, feed fresh” attitude is on full display thanks to the bold, colorful protest poster-inspired visual identity. The defiance against less-than-healthy cat food extends through the packaging. But Center’s design strategy communicates hardcore cat love with branding unlike anything else in the cat food category.
Available in the UK, you can purchase directly from KatKin.com.
Photographer – Marcus Nilsson
Prop/Set Designer – Sophie Strangio
Brand Strategy – Sonder & Tell