How This Candle Company Was Designed to be Anything but Ordinary

Candles are generally associated with some big time rest, relaxation, and/or romance—relaxing in a bubble bath, meditation time, or treating someone to a romantic dinner at home. Thus, packaging designs for these products generally follows suit. But Wiff takes a different approach, revitalizing the market with bold colors and confident designs. We spoke with Mark Higginson, Creative Director at UK agency BramCreates, on how they went about designing Wiff, where they found their inspiration, and the importance of market research.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

BramCreates: WIFF evolved from a family discussion we had about six months ago. My sister Claire and brother-in-law Graeme, the founders of the business, approached me to see if we could look at the current candle and diffuser market to see how viable me and my business BramCreates believed it would be to create a disruptor brand.

Claire and Graeme felt the landscape needed a bit of a shake-up and that there was nothing that really worked in the luxury market that they could identify with. It seemed to be full of very overly feminine and faceless brands that were ideal for our parents but not a younger more creative-minded shopper like ourselves.

The brand had to know how to have fun and the bold colours and tone became apparent pretty much from the off. The name was short and sweet and very direct. It was also a deliberate to play on the associated negative connotations of the word ‘whiff,’ rebadging it in a positive light. This positive stance was evocative of the brand values and the packaging needed to mirror this.

‘Instant’ and ‘fun’ were the two factors that we kept coming back to when looking at the early designs. Each product needed its own identity and the look very much had to bring to life the names and ingredients of each product.

The designs came together pretty quickly—we had a couple of illustrative routes that it came down to, including some a bit more grown up and serious, but the playfulness of the chosen route with the mosaic style we just kept coming back to. The illustration style complemented the cheeky nature of the name, and rather than a fully-structured grid, we opted to make the individual squares different sizes. This added a bit more personality and gave it a ‘childlike’ quality.

As a concept there is also a lot of scope for future products in which we could keep the framework very similar, with just the colours and icons that we'd need to address.

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with WIFF packaging and how did you accomplish it?

BramCreates: The biggest goal we set out to accomplish was for the quality of the boxes and print to represent the quality product it was housing. But at the same time we understood it’s a business so we couldn’t pay over the odds for each box. So the quality versus cost was very interesting, but I think we got there in the end.

What elements did you consider when creating WIFF in order to give it such a unique (and different) personality from other candle and diffuser brands?

BramCreates: The names of the candles obviously helped set a theme for each design, and once we had one style set the others came pretty quickly. The one thing we wanted to achieve with the designs was to create a distinctive personality. There was a lot of candle packaging we looked at that was very minimal, so it was important to go against the grain with this project. We wanted to create a fun product but that would be taken seriously. 

Tell us a little bit more about creating the images and graphics on the boxes. Additionally, some designs are used on every product while some are unique to the scent—why did you decide to mix it up in this way?

BramCreates: We cast our net far and wide when looking for inspiration. We found editorial illustration patterns and textile prints that connected with our ideas a lot more than those found with standard packaging design. The simple shapes and icon style very much evolved out of this research. It was just a matter then of honing the designs so there was a consistent thread across all products, in order to work as a suite. Each product at the same time also needed its own voice—so it was a fine balance between these two things really.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

BramCreates: We were working to quite a tight time frame, so with fitting in initial concepts, creating mock-ups and sourcing the right materials and printer, it was all a bit of a juggle. Definitely having a good solid base of suppliers helped with the smooth running of this project.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

BramCreates: I think the brand we created working as a whole is something we’re really proud of. The designs seems to fit hand-in-hand with the original philosophy and it was something we didn’t really deviate from too much. They all seemed to come together in a matter of days rather than weeks, but then we did have a really strong idea in our heads of how we wanted them to look. We just stuck to our guns with it throughout.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

BramCreates: The one lesson we learned was that research can be king. Looking at our competitors and the existing market really helped paved the way for us and gave us a clear direction. This then helped feed into the research when looking at design inspiration and actual routes to take. Without the right research the project wouldn’t have had the same outcome.