Gravity Helps Diamond® Launch Environmentally-Friendly Tableware
By Jesse Rotman, Contributing Writer
A glistening strawberry or a juicy watermelon wedge shown perched on the tines of a new, dark green RENEW plastic fork? That was one of the final questions facing the Diamond® division of Jarden Home Brands and its packaging partner, Gravity, a Cincinnati brand strategy and design studio.
In the end, the strawberry—representing healthy, experiential indulgence—was chosen. Its eye-catching, bright red image on the new packaging was as important as its iconic power for RENEW tableware’s aspirational positioning for use indoors and outdoors at parties and picnics.
Those are important values for the first mainstream, disposable tableware made from recycled plastic with a contemporary geometric design of hollow handles on forks, spoons and knives. The product claims “premium strength with less plastic,” as Diamond declares on the new packaging.
RENEW is expected to face off successfully against primary competitors Solo and Dixie brands as well as a multitude of private-label brands for consumer preference in the plastic tableware aisle. Its eye-catching sky blue and green packaging, underscoring its “good for the Earth” viewpoint, offers a meaningful definition of its RENEW branding, including the new name itself.
The Gravity/Diamond team came together at the end of 2006 following a preliminary review process involving three design companies. They all imagined they had a normal product- and package-development cycle to follow. What they didn’t expect was that Wal-Mart Stores would take the fast track just after the first of the new year, slotting RENEW for a limited-store test starting in August, 2007.
A Fast Introduction
The steering force at RENEW, Amy Lemen, joined the 125-year-old Diamond brand in May, 2006, and brought Gravity into the partnership in December. The design firm had already earned the respect of other Jarden managers with their previous work restaging the company’s venerable Ball® brand of fresh-preserving products.
The initial outline for the RENEW product took shape because the two resources found compatibility quickly, feeling equally committed to the introduction of this environmentally friendly product.
“Gravity worked with Diamond by becoming the company’s packaging partner from start to finish,” states Rick Murphy, Gravity’s Creative Director.
“Diamond was easy to understand and passionate about our partnership. They took seriously the Gravity mantra ‘design without strategy is meaningless’.”
This viewpoint was especially appropriate because the partners would be lifting a commodity product out of the generic marketplace and giving it a unique meaning and face. Diamond also commanded a 15-20% price-point premium for the new, up-market tableware brand.
Gravity is the creative arm of Phototype, a nationally known single-source graphic communications firm specializing in packaging and brand promotions. The company’s clients include consumer product giants such as Procter & Gamble, Church & Dwight, and Cargill.
“By partnering with our parent company, Phototype, an international pre-media powerhouse, we were able to explore print feasibility very early in the conceptual and design stages,” states Frank Grimaldi, Gravity’s Vice President-Creative Services.
“This enabled us to deliver designs that executed predictably on-press with exceptionally quick turnarounds.”
Another important factor was Gravity’s insistence that they find answers for questions about Diamond’s marketplace position. It was essential to know who their competitors were and what they were all doing in the tableware aisle.
“It was our view that Diamond would be unique and attention-getting with the product design and the special packaging,” Grimaldi adds. “It has turned out that Diamond captured this flag from the beginning at Wal-Mart.”
The design company’s team reached out to Diamond by immersing themselves in the existing market research and product definition strategies.
“From the outset, Gravity showed us they had the right ‘brand guts’, a proven design process, and creative sparkle,” states Amy Lemen, Diamond’s Brand Manager.
“The company’s marketplace sensitivity helped us to consider new ideas about our brand, our products, and our image in a contemporary context,” Lemen adds.
“Gravity proposed design solutions that were not obvious at all but successful in their positioning. We found much to like with their presentations and their reasoning, and so we moved ahead.”
The final design, just appearing on Wal-Mart shelves, appealed to a critical shift in consumer thought about sustainable products. Diamond’s positioning of the new, green tableware made from recycled plastic with premium strength hit the target.
The base configuration is a 24-piece box of knives, forks and spoons in a 100-percent-recycled paperboard carton. The Century Box Company produced these packages.
The sky-blue cartons showed some clouds in the background with the green tableware pictured front-and-center. The red strawberry held its place of honor on top of the fork. A Diamond statement, “Committed to Environmentally Friendly Products,” is also featured on the box’s upper-left corner under the Diamond name.
The “Made from Recycled Plastic” pledge was presented in fairly large type just below the RENEW Dinnerware identification. Although the unusual hollow handles gave the product a special design appeal, they also saved material and production costs.
The RENEW product appealed to Wal-Mart category buyers because of the retailer’s own focus on sustainable and recyclable products and packaging. Furthermore, Diamond knew that there was no existing, leading manufacturer in the environmental tableware category.
The new product is also headed to other retail chains for fourth-quarter introductions.
The Design Process
“Part of what made the RENEW design so successful is that, prior to crafting the design brief, we did a complete audit of both the cutlery category and of newly emerging environmentally-friendly household products,” states Terri McConnell, Gravity’s Director of Brand and Business Strategy.
“We saw that standard plastic cutlery had a pretty cut-and-dried graphic language,” McConnell adds. “Competitors had little or no ‘experiential’ imagery to help the consumer connect to the brands.
“We learned that environmentally oriented product packaging featured earth-friendly verbal and visual communication cues. These may include a predominance of green color, recycling arrows, and outdoor imagery.”
Gravity’s strategy was to fill the empty space in the category with aspirational, photographic imagery. The design firm intended to help RENEW make a direct emotional connection to shoppers.
Packaging immediately differentiated RENEW from established, non-recycled plastic brands. It also served to make the product stand out on shelf against a “sea of sameness” in the category.
McConnell notes that working with the Diamond team was a special experience.
“It was easy to feel passionate about this project because of the way Amy Lemen and her colleagues partnered with Gravity. They made prompt decisions at each critical gate and demonstrated a very high level of understanding about the process,” McConnell states.
Gravity’s team now has been assigned the entire Diamond product family—matches, lighters, fire starters, toothpicks, and other household products—for restaging a new logo and for repackaging.
For more information, contact:
VP Creative Services Gravity