Robot Food's NAW Is A ‘Dog-First’ Brand
by Chloe Gordon on 04/28/2023 | 5 Minute Read
NAW is a line of dog treats made with all-natural ingredients. The brand turned to Robot Food to create a packaging system that reflects the personality-driven brand. The brand stays true to itself through bold, almost handwritten typography and detailed imagery, moving in a dog-driven direction instead of a human-driven one.
Robot Food has created the striking, dog-first branding for NAW – a range of all-natural, air dried, high-protein dog treats made from animal offcuts – based around the personality-packed creative idea ‘let your dog out’.
The agency worked across everything from the visual identity to copy, online assets and the name, which is based on the acronym ‘No Animal Wasted’ as a nod to the products being made from animal parts such as buffalo tracheas, pigs ears, lamb tails and chicken feet that would otherwise go to waste.
“Our client had identified a strong commercial opportunity to offer high quality, all-natural products within mainstream retail,” says Simon Forster, Robot Food founder and ECD. “Currently only sold within the specialist pet channels, we worked together to create a pre-packaged solution that broke down the barriers to both stocking and purchasing products of this type. Having a strong overarching multichannel brand will add value to the business and ensure NAW builds equity with consumers and stands out amongst competitors”.
Leaning into the gross
The identity for NAW is based around a dog-first approach that prioritises both happiness and healthiness in pets. “It’s changing what it means to ‘treat’ our dogs and what we choose to treat them with,” says Forster. “Most treats in the supermarket are in nice pretty bone shapes and use colourful illustrations – NAW is about embracing what the product actually is and why dogs love it. We leaned into the ‘gross’: you might not like the look of some hairy lamb ears – but guess what? Dogs bloody love them. And will love you for them too.”
That idea of ‘owning the gross-ness’ is carried through NAW’s tone of voice. Turning potential negatives around the products’ appearance and smell into positives, the copy is playful, honest, and dog-centric with lines like ‘One animal’s trachea is another one’s treasure’; ‘chews they’d choose’ and ‘Waste not, want NAW’.
The visual and verbal identity also underscores the “nose to tail element,” according to Jess Cook, Robot Food client director. “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of food wastage and more familiar with ideas like circular production,” she says. “That foodie angle tied into NAW: why should we as humans decide which bits of animals to waste, when they could be going to good use for our dogs?”
The evolution of ‘fur babies’
The product launches at an interesting time for pet care: dog ownership is increasingly skewed towards younger, more urban consumers who are mindful of sustainability and natural ingredients, and prepared to spend a bit more on high-quality brands. NAW shifts this further towards catering for dogs’ inner most desires and away from the “anthropomorphising of the pet care industry,” according to Robot Food.
"With an influx of 'new to dog' owners to the market, we knew we needed to challenge what's expected of the category, to connect with consumers in a different way and help them treat their dog's right,” says Simon Brown, CEO of NAW.
NAW targets the newly millennial-heavy generation of pet owners, as well as mainstream consumers looking to provide their dogs with less processed, tastier, and more sustainable alternatives to traditional processed brands. NAW’s identity therefore had to clearly communicate the product benefits such as being high-protein, additive-free, hairy to help prevent worms, and great for dogs’ teeth.
“NAW is kind of the antithesis of pampered ‘fur babies’. There’s nothing wrong with treating your pet like a child (I do!), but there’s this inherent anthropomorphising that comes along with that. What your dog really goes wild for is this raw, unprocessed product that’s essentially just dried pieces of animal,” says Cook. “We want to avoid projecting our own needs and thoughts onto our pets: with NAW, rather than humanising our dogs, we’re doggifying us humans.”
Closing the gap between ‘fun’ and ‘function’
NAW’s distinctive identity flexes across retail experiences and NAW’s D2C experience, creating a cohesive look and feel that unites the products’ own ‘nothing goes to waste’ ethos with a progressive approach to packaging that puts sustainability at the forefront. The packaging design system also had to be flexible and versatile enough to allow for additions to the range in the future.
Treats visibly formed of animal parts had previously only been sold in specialised retailers, but NAW looks to move them into mainstream supermarkets as well selling D2C. Since NAW sits as a pioneer in the dog treat space, Robot Food examined trends in human vegan foods as well as surveying the pet treat landscape to inform the brand’s upfront, self-aware, and engaging identity.
“For the visual style, we looked to some progressive human foodie brands that are quite raw and expressive,” says Forster. NAW’s disruptive design uses a contemporary look and feel to standout against competitors. Closing the gap between fun and function, the brand’s transparency is made literal with a clear window on-pack to display the product. On-pack copy clearly communicates NAW’s benefits to consumers in an accessible, direct way; while the photography across the brand world demonstrates NAW’s inclusive values by showing a wide range of dog breeds and environments.
The designs amp up NAW’s credentials as authentic, unapologetic, and unprocessed by leaning into texture and a handcrafted feel across patterning and text. The letterforms for the logotype and other brand copy take cues from traditional letterpress and hand-painted type, with all-caps characters that Robot Food has developed into a functioning font called ‘Ruff Cuts’. The typeface includes multiple alternates for each character, enabling variation in the textural nuances even on the same letter and reflecting the product’s natural ingredients.
“The client was totally on board with our thinking on the strategy and really embraced that tone of voice: it’s ballsy, because it’s zigging while everyone else zags,” says Forster. “It’s complete disruption, which felt so obvious to us.”
Brown adds, “We couldn't be happier with the result and all the great opportunities the branding project has delivered".
NAW launched at Crufts in March 2023, and will be stocked by Ocado from July.
- Designed By: Robot Food