The Dieline Awards 2016 Outstanding Achievements: Howies Packaging

Howies are an outdoors lifestyle brand based in rural Wales that specializes in manufacturing quality men’s and women’s clothing. They are a brand that believes in quality and making a product in a low-impact way that is good for the environment. This sustainable approach means their t-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans are produced using organic cotton where possible, as well as using best practice for all of their manufacturing. 

Carter Wong design have worked with howies for over 15 years, and throughout that time they have witnessed the brand expand and retain its consumer base at an impressive rate. They have collaborated with the brand on many projects throughout the years, from creating a point of sale display using discarded wardrobes to crafting a wood carved typeface for the brands many marketing activities, and relish their current role as brand guardians. 

In collaboration with Carter Wong, howies have honed their distinctive tone of voice across multiple touch-points, making this a crucial part of their brand equity. However, howies recently decided their in-store and e-commerce packaging was sadly lacking the memorable, quirky and witty language the brand has vocalized since its inception. With this in mind, Carter Wong design were briefed to re-design howies packaging to tell more of a story about the brand and its values. 

Often e-commerce packaging is deemed of low importance, as brands see it simply as a vehicle to get a product from A to B, which means it typically receives very basic design treatments, and this in itself poses a lost design opportunity. However, Carter Wong design were keen to tap into this under-utilized channel by creating unique e-commerce wraps that expounded howies unique ethos. Understanding that the packaging for goods purchased over the Internet can pave the way for a positive purchasing experience, Carter Wong aimed to design a packaging range that met the specific needs of this retail environment and the challenges it faces.

When approaching the project, Carter Wong needed to ensure that the packaging revealed howies’ brand story in a truthful, ownable way. To do this, they sought inspiration from the handcrafted typeface named ‘Castan’ they designed for the brand a couple of years ago, and used this as a starting point for the packaging. 

As with the creation of the wood font, they began by going back to nature by sourcing a slice from an old Acer tree, which became their canvas. The tree was used to create unique wood impressions, which were then given quirky printing treatments to make the designs definitively that of ‘howies’. 

Taking into account the many varied activities howies customers engage in, we decided to represent these as fine silhouettes around the horizon of the woodprint and, being rendered in the same textured finish as the print, they physically and metaphorically became part of the landscape. We have a downhill cyclist negotiating a particularly gnarly piece of knot, a runner leaping a crevice between bark segments and a road racer out of his saddle climbing a steep testing section of the tree. The most pleasing thing is how this subtle idea reflects the understated nature of howies simple clothing with the silhouette figure not immediately obvious.

This concept is carried through to the in-store clothes tags, which have been lovingly crafted using the finest recycled card, bestowing the packs with a raw and organic aesthetic befitting the products themselves. By referencing a tree trunk in this way, the designs echo the companies belief that it is worth taking time to do things in order to achieve the best results, whilst also marrying the brand identity with the companies love of the outdoors and physical location in rural Wales. In answer to the brief, Carter Wong delivered howies with a versatile, communicative, refined packaging range that is recognized as distinctly that of ‘howies’.

 

Illustrators: Chris Bounds, Ian Froome

Art Director: Phil Carter

Designers: Phil Carter, Chris Bounds, Ian Froome

Designed by Carter Wong design

Client: Howies

Country: United Kingdom