2015 Makeover Challenge Reveal: BrandFirst

BrandFirst Creative Agency


“As a group, we liked BrandFirst’s [close-in] concept the most,” Andrea Alasi, a product specialist in TELUS’ product marketing department and the company’s lead for the Makeover Challenge, remarks. This group, created by Alasi, was designed to address multiple points of influence in the packaging lifecycle and included internal and external marketing and design experts. Invited to comment and analyze the Makeover Challenge concepts were the agency that serves as its print broker, the managers who work on the company’s retail accounts, and the marketing team for TELUS’ prepaid products.

The group evaluated the designs with the goal of communicating the TELUS brand but grabbing more attention from shoppers, which Alasi admits is not an easy feat. “I gave the contestants a lot of brand requirements,” she quips. “BrandFirst was the agency that stuck closer to what our current concept is. They followed my brief very closely and got the TELUS brand onto the packaging.”

Brec Morgan, managing partner at BrandFirst, recalls, “The creative brief was very specific and as we were reading through, we were getting a little bit nervous because we didn’t know how much openness we would have and how much we were going to be able to reach in order to do our designs. But after we talked to them and they walked us through our branding, we got more comfortable with them and our client interaction with them.”

Alasi remarks, “They asked good questions. They had follow up after the brand presentation. We even sent emails back and forth with further questions and answers.”

Through that interaction, a level of trust was built between the two companies. “They started to give us a little bit more leniency,” Morgan says.

Dianna Rogers, senior associate, strategy and new business initiatives at BrandFirst, adds, “It was nice that they were open to seeing something a little more out of the box as well as closer in. The ability to do two different designs was good for our designer.”


The close-in concept

The competitor’s creative director Victor Hunt notes that in both the close-in concept and the stretch concept that BrandFirst wanted to stay true to the TELUS brand. “We didn’t want the package to look totally different from everything else within the brand family,” he remarks. “For the closer-in concept, we wanted to challenge ourselves and just be constrained to the existing form, hierarchy and brand guidelines, and tweak it just a little bit. As part of the creative process, we did challenge some of those things in the stretch concept.”

Both concepts started with a competitive analyses of the prepaid mobile market. Hunt notes that the appearance of a phone is important to all consumers, whether they are in the prepaid or postpaid markets, because “phones are sort of an extension of who our personalities are and it’s almost like a bit of an aspirational thing.”

But BrandFirst observed that many phones in the prepaid market aren’t treated with that same reverence. “None of the packages really paid respect to the actual device, so we wanted to highlight the phone with the addition of a plastic cling that would show off the phone’s user interface. This would differentiate the product from competitors with empty black screens.”

The design firm also used color to emphasize the “friendlier” visual equities. “TELUS uses the critters as a sort of metaphor to make technology more friendly and approachable,” says Rogers. The agency also found that the bright colors of the TELUS birds could be leveraged to highlight the phone’s many features, from its touchscreen to high-resolution camera. “We thought it would be a cool way to incorporate a different icon for each of the colors that would then move on to their website and then move on to the inserts inside the phone with the instructions and things like that,” says Morgan. The company’s brand colors, especially the TELUS green, was used to create a focal point around the product.

All strategies earned high marks from Alasi. “They used the critters,” she exclaims. “They also used the brand color to make the package look a bit more premium. Carrying that color through to the vinyl cling at the front of the device was another good touch.”


The stretch concept

For its stretch concept, TELUS decided to take a more conversational approach while keeping in mind TELUS’ guidelines that its critters are shown exhibiting realistic behaviors and not take on comic-like action such as engaging in verbal dialogue. “Our farther-out concept features a big hero bird with its wing outstretched like it’s waving to you,” Morgan says. “But the conversation bubbles are positioned not so much like the bird is talking to you but the phone is talking to you. Instead, we have the birds doing more natural actions that make the phone buying and activating process more approachable.”

Hunt adds, “During the competitive audit, we noticed that none of TELUS’ competitors could articulate what the plan was in simple terms. If a consumer is choosing between two phones with similar aesthetic appeal, the one way to help them lean toward your brand is to articulate what exactly is the plan. So we tried to make that as simple as possible, setting up a one, two, three, four process and a non-complicated way to communicate that on package as well as on the website.”

BrandFirst reports that both concepts were seen as on brand. “We were a little nervous when presenting the second concept because we were stretching it a little bit,” Morgan recalls. “But when Andrea saw it she was like, ‘Oh, you guys made it sound like it was so much more far out than it is. This is really screaming TELUS, and it’s not too far out at all.’”

Part of the agency’s ability to stretch the brand guidelines and still capture its personality can be attributed to its collaboration style. Says Alasi, “Brandfirst, Porchlight and Gelcomm were all really great to work with.”



You can cast your vote now for BrandFirst Creative Agency’s concepts at www.packagedesignmag.com/makeoverchallenge, or in person,
September 28-30, at the Package Design booth (#S-6418) at Pack Expo Las Vegas. The agency with the most votes wins the challenge and
will be featured in the November/December 2015 issue.

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