Process: Reviver Pets
The key to success is finding an agency that can meld your brand vision with their creative prowess, generating a finished product both parties are proud of.
- Ben Kusin, Founder of Reviver Pets
We love our furry friends, but unfortunately - with these lovely creatures comes a lot of unwanted smells. Reviver, in partnership with Petco, came up with a product that empowers you to instantly eliminate unwanted smells that cling to clothes, fur, and paws.
The Dieline team spoke with Ben Kusin, founder of Reviver Pets and Scott Meisse, Project Director at Ferroconcrete, the Design Agency that has the task of creating the brand identity and package design for Reviver Pets.
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The Dieline: So, first of all, What is Reviver Pets?
Ben Kusin: Reviver Pets is a daily, reusable freshening swipe for you and your pet that empowers you to instantly eliminate unwanted smells that cling to clothes, fur, paws and hair. It’s an effective, convenient way to bring fresh confidence with you and your pet wherever and whenever you need it.
DL: How does it work?
Ben: All of our technology has patents pending, but in laymen's terms, Reviver deposits an invisible layer of compound that neutralizes odor on contact, while leaving a pleasing fragrance in its place. The Reviver formula is hypo allergenic and safe for all pets. Your pet is then fresh till its next wash (or romp in the grass). To account for double-coats of fur on some dogs, we formulate Reviver Pets for Dogs with advanced encapsulation technology, which leaves microscopic beads of fragrance on the dog to freshen throughout the day. Pretty cool stuff...
DL: How did Petco pick up the product?
We pride ourselves on sourcing innovation from a variety of different places. We can’t just sit in our office and hope the next big idea hits us. We’re constantly listening to our customers, manufacturing partners and retailing partners for ideas on how we can innovate. Reviver Pets is actually the product of our collaborative partnership with Petco. Petco merchants saw our core product and reached out to us about developing a line for pets after realizing our core Reviver technology worked well on their four legged friends. Being a nimble company, we were able to turn around a product and brand specifically designed for pets within months.
DL: What was the exact time frame did you guys have for the design?
Scott Meisse (Ferroconcrete): We had a very tight timeline, as Petco had a firm in-hand delivery date to have product on shelves. This was not negotiable, so we had to be efficient and execute the complete Identity system, Packaging and Point of Purchase elements in 3 months.
DL: Tell me a little about the brief
Scott: We were asked to consider the complete brand architecture for this new product. Would it share the same naming convention as the flagship product? How would we define the relationship between a scented product for humans vs. one for animals? We needed to think about the naming and visual systems, how it created a distinct difference between dogs, cats and people, then be very clear about quickly educating the consumer about the function of the product, as nothing like this had existed before. We also needed to consider how future scents and product lines would work out by creating a scalable identity system.
DL: What was the research process like?
Scott: We went to Petco right away and studied just about everything on their shelves, (as well as their shelves), to get a sense of what current products looked like. We also went to Orlando to take a look at upcoming and future products at the International Pet Expo. We’re pet owners ourselves, so we had an idea of what was out there and what would be a great way to talk about this brand. We spent a lot of time talking to the Reviver team as well to truly understand what their vision of the product was, as well as their plans for future releases. They have a lot of exciting ideas in the pipeline, so it was more important for us to create a unique product personality that would be a part of a larger family, rather than just offset the competition.
DL: Who do you consider Reviver Pets’ competition? (I don’t think there’s anything like this out there, was the approach different from creating something that is going into a saturated market?)
Scott: The existing ‘pet odor removing’ products are based on wet sprays or wet wipes. Reviver Pets is radically different by being a dry and is completely reusable, two things no one would expect in the category. We didn’t really consider any product as competition, we considered consumers expectations and purchase habits as the competition and greatest challenge.
DL: Are there any brands that are aspirations for the design?
Scott: We looked at brands like Warby Parker, Everlane, Levi’s and Target. We wanted to find a balance between clean and modern, accessible and friendly. These brands all do a great job of incorporating elements of these attributes. We have a very different approach and process at Ferroconcrete though. It was just as critical for us to apply our process of creating a true personality, emotional attributes, and tone of voice that’s new and unique to the brand as it was to educate the consumer on the functionality of the product. This is how brands go beyond being ‘liked’ and connect with consumers on a much more emotional level. We go for 'love', not just 'like'.
DL: What was the idea behind the 3 different ‘faces’? Is there a particular reason why those colors were assigned to the different category?
Scott: Ah! This is where the graphics had to do much of the heavy lifting! Trying to communicate a dry deodorizing product that is a reusable swipe that you can use on fur, your best sport coat or your favorite dress is a tall order. Knowing consumers would only have a few seconds to glance at the product, we needed to use ‘face’ shapes and color to quickly convey the message that these work for distinctly different users, as well as reveal the brand personality.
Dog owners wouldn’t buy a cat product for their dog, and vice versa. People wouldn’t normally buy a pet product for themselves. Men wouldn’t buy a feminine deodorant. The shapes and colors needed to communicate these high level points so the copy could communicate more simple, but necessary information.
DL: How did Ferroconcrete split up the workload amongst your designers? Do you break up smaller teams to come up with different directions? How do you guys manage a project like this?
Scott: We’re kind of a smaller team to begin with, so our entire team of designers + writers worked on this pretty consistently the first month, then broke into a smaller team once we had a clear approval on the direction. From there, we could pull in other designers who worked on it in the beginning to help work on the Packaging and POP when we needed help meeting print deadlines.
DL: What was your approach going in to present the different directions? How many directions did you end up showing Ben?
Scott: We wanted to get out the gate quickly. We didn’t have weeks to spend getting the overall visual concept on point, so we showed our best 3 directions as quickly as possible, even before the naming phase was complete. We know, it’s crazy.
DL: What was Ben’s initial reaction to the presentation? Was this the direction he immediately gravitated towards? Were there any convincing to do on your end?
Scott: Ben gave us a lot of great insight before we even started, so we knew where to begin. We were extremely fortunate to be working with Ben on this, we don’t see how this could have been possible with anyone else. Ben can be very clear about what he’s looking for, while at the same time giving us 100% creative freedom to hit the mark or go beyond it. He trusts us, and we try to reciprocate by exceeding his expectations. With ‘Pets’, he gave such great feedback in the first round we were able to get the visual direction and tone of voice nailed down quickly, moved into logo explorations and then it was off to the races.
DL: What was the process like creating the packaging for Reviver Pets? Was the idea of using a reseal-able pack something Ben wanted from the beginning? or was it a packaging solution that you guys came up with?
Scott: We had to consider the packaging in the earliest stages of the identity process due to the newness and function of the product, as well as the deadline to be in stores! This really ended up working to our advantage. The original Reviver had a resealable pack, but most people saw it as a wet wipe or one-time use product. We knew people needed to see the product to bring this ‘dry’ concept home. We wanted as little copy on the package as possible to keep it clean, so we used the shape of the windows to clearly indicate which was for dogs, cats and people. We did suggest the tear off top include a perforation line. Almost all resealable packages now don’t include a perforation, so the top looks uneven and sloppy once the package is open. We don’t like packages that are uneven and sloppy.
DL: What is the substrate used for the packaging? Why this particular material?
Scott: It’s a basic 4 mil LDPE Poly. We chose the thickest material we could get based on the fulfillment factory’s requirements. There’s always limits to what you can print with soft film poly and the printing process was critical to make the design successful.
DL: Since this is a Petco exclusive product, did they have any say in the product or design development at all? Especially the POP pieces
Scott: Petco was very cool to work with, they gave us basic specs for the POP footprint and let us have at it. They were very open to seeing how far the design could go, even if it broke a few house rules along the way. They were very supportive to us through out the whole process and gave a lot of great design feedback and customer insight too. We learned a lot from their team!
CLIENT / DESIGNER RELATIONSHIP
DL: Have you ever worked with a design firm/designer before? What was your expectation of the process going into it? What did you find most interesting?
Ben: As a former brand marketer in interactive entertainment (EA, Vivendi), I have extensive experience working with creative teams, especially when developing new IP. That said, virtually all of our teams were in house. Getting to step out to see what the design world has to offer has been an eye opening experience, to say the least. There are so many brand visionaries and agencies with such an array of talents, I never could have imagined there was such community and capabilities in the world of design. That said, the key to success is finding an agency that can meld your brand vision with their creative prowess, generating a finished product both parties are proud of.
DL: How was it working with Ferroconcrete on the branding / package design?
Ben: In a startup environment, you have very little room (or tolerance) for error. One miscommunication could have resounding implications on costs and timelines, so it is important to find vendors that can operate symbiotically with your organization. Ferroconcrete has been special because the simply "get it"… we task a project, have an upfront meeting of the minds, then they get it done… and done right. Once you establish a cadence, you can feed new projects into the pipelines with relative ease. As such, what started as one project has developed into literally dozens more. It's a big relief to have such a trusted partner.
DL: What was the experience working with Ben as a client?
Scott: Its always a thrill for us to have someone like Ben come to us with an amazing product, immense passion for the brand, keen marketing acumen and a terrifying deadline. We have such a great rapport with Ben and his team that we understand his vision and he gets our process. We really rely on client feedback and insight to a great job and Ben’s one of the best. He knows how to give feedback well and is always asking big picture questions. He also has an uncanny ability to stop everything and retrace our steps-are we asking the right questions? He trusts our judgement and still pushes us to get the best work possible. It’s great, we’re looking forward to working with Ben and Reviver for a long time!
DL: What was the take away for Ferroconcrete (or your designers) from this project?
Scott: We learned how to work quickly - well. Reviver Pets altered the way we work and our internal process permanently and its all for the better. This includes how we approach packaging in our branding process, its so integral to the identity, we’ve brought package concepts into our earliest steps when starting the identity phase. We applied this approach to the flagship product Reviver re-brand launching this Fall. We’re super excited to see those on shelves too!
Last question, Ben, Any insights or tips you could share for other entrepreneurs launching their own products + brands?
There's an old saying: "Buy cheap, pay twice." Just because a proposed solution may be the least expensive, it may not necessarily be the best option. It is very important to do what is best for your product and company the first time so you aren't forced to re-invest to correct your mistakes. When establishing a cost benefit analysis, always weigh in the implications of a do-over, and suddenly the premiums on vendors and talent may not look so daunting.
Thank You Ben Kusin, founder of Reviver Pets and Scott Meisse, Project Director at Ferroconcrete for giving The Dieline their time and share with us the process behind the design of this wonderful (and cute!) product, Reviver Pets. We are looking forward to see amazing things from Reviver brand this fall.
Please leave your questions and comments below - we will make sure to get you the answers.