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Defining Luxury Before They’ve Opened the Box

Lisa Marie Todd knows a thing or two about packaging and reinvention. After graduating from the University of Santa Clara she pursued a career in Hollywood, landing on “In Living Color” in 1990 as one of the famed “Fly Girls” dancers for two seasons alongside Jennifer Lopez. But by 2009 she yearned to both do something creative and work with her hands, and so she began to make and sell jewelry under the company name Marie Todd.

  • Brand Identity
  • Logo
  • Packaging
  • Stationery
  • Web

By 2013 Todd had expanded her product line to include luxury candles and fragrances, but realized her packaging wasn’t sophisticated enough to win over the well-heeled audience she wanted. And that’s when graphic design firm Prado Studio came up with a way to present the company and its products in a lavish light without losing sight of Todd’s original artistic flair.

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From Craft to Keepsake
When Todd first approached the studio, sales weren’t as good as they could have been. Part of the problem was the packaging. When compared to other luxury brands, hers simply didn’t measure up.

To give the packaging – and the brand – an overhaul, Prado Studio looked to Marie Todd’s own jewelry collection for inspiration. Just as a pendant is the epitome of beauty and a timeless keepsake, Prado Studio wanted to create packaging that consumers longed to hold on to indefinitely. The way to do that was clear, explains Prado Studio Founder Marilyn Prado-Test. “We needed to create an emotional connection.”

So how do you turn product packaging into a keepsake? The studio crafted traditional boxes wrapped with Neenah Paper’s CLASSIC Linen to create a sense of elegance and refinement. It was important to them to capture the complexity of the jewelry.

“There are a lot of different textures and corners and pieces that you look at, whether that be the colors or the way it’s been chiseled,” says Prado-Test. To convey those qualities in the packaging, “we incorporate a lot of intricate details, whether that’s embossing [or foil stamping] on the boxes.”

Then there were more practical concerns. For example, Prado Studio had to ensure that the glass vessels containing Marie Todd products wouldn’t be damaged during shipping, so they had to fit the boxes in a snug and secure way. Prado Studio also helped select the vessels, which they wanted to feel both sturdy and solid.

It was important that the packaging create the right mood from start to finish. Whether a customer sees the box on the shelf or opens it and actually holds the glass vessel in her hands, the entire experience must “stay true to the feeling of a luxury brand,” says Prado-Test.

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A Cohesive Luxury Brand
The packaging might have been the centerpiece of the campaign, but the initiative encompassed other media, as well. In addition to creating a new logo and identity, Prado Studio developed stationery, a website and other items such as brochures, packaging inserts, postcards, business cards and catalogs.

While it was important for the website to convey luxury, Prado Studio chose to make it clean and simple because they wanted the products to stand out on a white background. The various personalities of the different product lines are reflected in the imagery of the site. The page for the men’s line, for instance, has a very moody, dark feel while those for the women’s line are cleaner and simpler.

Brand cohesiveness was a priority for the campaign from the beginning. Stationery items such as business cards and postcards were also printed on Neenah’s CLASSIC Linen to not only convey that same feeling of luxury, but also to tie the different elements of the campaign together.

Prado Studio also found ways to add texture and intricacy to those items by using a lot of custom foiling, while the business cards were square rather than a traditional 2”-x-3”  format.

All told, it took about six months to complete the brand identity, and another six to work on packaging and additional elements. A soft launch took place in the fall of 2014, followed by a more formal one the following spring. The result didn’t just impress Todd, it earned Prado Studio a Dieline Award.

Most importantly, Marie Todd now has a brand identity that is synonymous with beauty and luxury. Looks like its former “fly girl” owner has a brand new reason to dance.

Creative Director/ Art director: Marilyn Prado-Test

Photographer: Richard Ruthsatz

Printer: Vanguard Printing

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Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.

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