All bottled up

By The Drum, Administrator

April 9, 2004 | 4 min read

Project: Highland Spring packaging redesign

Agency: 999 Design

Cool, clear and fresh - sounds as pure as water - right? Right. 999 Design was briefed to take a simple, clean, honest approach to Highland Spring's refreshing new look and deliver a design that was distinctive, contemporary and wholly Scottish.

The UK's No 1 produced brand of natural mineral water required a makeover of its logo, packaging and labelling. The identity shift for the 100 per cent Scottish product had to retain certain elements of the existing brand while moving towards a purer, cleaner look that would enhance sales across the national and international markets and support the immediate launch of three new products.

The effective communication of a natural product from a protected organic source was core to the re-design. The previous tartan has been replaced by a specially commissioned modern, vibrant, corporate tartan now featured across the entire range of packaging as a tartan sash. The existing thistle motif was redrawn and bandings in gold and silver add a richness to reflect quality. The flagship one-litre bottles now present still water in clear glass and sparkling water in the rich green glass. New additions to the range are 500ml sparkling six-packs and bigger 750ml sports bottles. 999 Design's revamp was a meticulous process, examining hues, tones and technical possibilities from the weaving of tartan to shrink-wrapping. Keith Forbes, group managing director, reckoned there was an unusually high degree of communication to bring the work to fruition. "We were brought on board by Highland Spring's advertising agency, Merle. This meant a constant three-way dialogue on brand strategy for over a year. The results speak for themselves as the brand communicates Scottish provenance, authenticity and natural purity."

The design brief covered all areas, including labels, cartons, shrink-wraps and crate boxes. The outcome is a sleeker, more sophisticated look, and over £30,000 was spent on final lifestyle photography alone to get the right images to project the new look and do it justice. The £10 million brand support programme includes Merle's TV ad campaign, which kicks off next month, running alongside the national press and outdoor promotion.

Such is the extent of Highland Spring's portfolio that the new-look products will take a full two-month introduction programme. Sally Stanley, marketing director for Highland Spring, said: "The new design highlights our Scottish provenance, embracing our position as a premium, fresh, natural mineral water. With the increasing trend towards pure, natural products from a known, trusted source, we expect our new makeover to attract many new supporters while appealing to our existing customers."

Keith Forbes added: "The look is sound. We knew it was a winner and the results of the market research confirmed it. We used a combination of quantitive and qualitative research and the results were excellent."

The design had to be flexible enough to adapt to future campaigns and an expanding product range. Highland Spring is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is fundraising in association with Breast Cancer Care. The charity's pink ribbon motif appears on more than 50 per cent of the new packaging.

Though its headquarters in Glasgow, 999 made full use of its UK-wide team. Glasgow took the lead with account director Stuart Duncan, who managed the entire 15-month design process commenting: "We've created a pure and honest Scottish brand for a really great Scottish product. It's a thrill working with Highland Spring but the real excitement is walking into my supermarket and seeing customers select the new look range from the shelf."

Sally Stanley added: "Early indications show that the new packaging is generating substantial incremental sales for the brand and, at the end of the day, that was one of our key objectives."


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