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Having launched on a shoestring in 2009 (the founders sold their house and tasked B&B to create a family-focused dried fruit brand that made healthy, no-compromise snacking more accessible and desirable) BEAR rapidly became the fastest growing brand in healthy snacking, delivering over 30million portions of fruit in the UK in 2012.
The BEAR brand resonated with kids so much that the brand team had to create a role within the business dedicated to responding to all the letters that children were (and still are) sending to ‘BEAR’. Says B&B Studio’s founder Kerry Bolt, “It was 3000 letters a week within 2 years of launch.”
BEAR is a very design led brand and B&B had to consider the brand world early on as part of their work on the brand identity. The initial brand idea for ‘BEAR’ was based on the product being nothing but naked nature. Positioning the brand as a healthy snack that would connect with people on an emotional level, rather than dried fruit, was key to the design strategy.
As a character, BEAR is a larger-than-life brand ambassador. Living in a cave, deep in the woods, he has a story that transports kids to another world and quickly captures their imagination. “It’s interesting that all this depth emanates from what is, in actuality, a flat, two-dimensional logo,” says Bolt, “and that’s the secret of the BEAR brand – a simplicity of approach that gives consumers the freedom to engage and interact.”
The bravery of the identity commands respect from both consumers and competitors alike, and kids are allowed to imagine the complete world of BEAR rather than the more usual ‘cute and cuddly’ bears they might be used to.
“The brand identity was the springboard for the world in which BEAR lives, from the BEAR cave to the ‘BEAR code’,” reflects Bolt. The BEAR code (an on-pack barcode) became a vehicle for collecting packs and sending them off for free activity materials. “We considered every touch-point and interaction from the perspective of the BEAR brand,” Bolt says, “and this definitely helped maximise the engagement with consumers, both the parents and kids”.
In the early years following the creation of the BEAR brand, B&B worked with the client on all of the brand assets. “We worked very much in partnership with the Founders, really as an extension of their team” says Bolt, with the design studio creating all the packaging and collectable-cards, as well as assets and copy for the brand world.
The visual and verbal world did develop in the years following B&B Studio’s creation of the brand, but the core creative essence remained the same. It also played a big role in the look and feel of the investor deck which was fully styled and designed to bring the world of BEAR to life – even to the point of being covered in fur. “We know” says Bolt, ‘that this investor deck, and its design, played a key role in BEAR being bought by Lotus Bakeries 6 years after launch for £70m!”
BEAR grew very quickly, and the processes that come with managing a growing international brand came into play. There became a need, in part due to the brand’s design-led nature, for an in-house design team to keep up with the volume of materials that needed to be created.
B&B Studio continued to work closely on key projects with the in-house team. “These may have been NPD packaging projects, or one-off initiatives,” reflects Bolt, with the agency providing strategic brand guidance on a consultative basis. An example of one of these one-off initiatives was the design for the teams’ new office space post BEARS’s sale, creating features such as a tree-house, meeting rooms and market place – all in keeping with the BEAR brand look and feel and tone of voice.
An instant hit with consumers, in the years since launch, BEAR has inspired thousands of kids and a host of competitors. “As B&B’s first client and new brand creation project, BEAR will always remain close to our hearts,” says Bolt.
B&B Studio and BEAR won the DBA Design Effectiveness Grand Prix Award in 2014. See the cracking case they put together: read the winning case study here.
B&B Studio and BEAR
Although the medical breakthrough has given hope and life to millions of diabetics around the world in the hundred years since, a diabetes diagnosis still remains life changing and fraught with risk.
Being able to manage diabetes and survive with it, can mean daily injections for many. Learning how to use an insulin treatment device, overcoming a fear of needles, managing the discomfort on a daily basis and ensuring the correct dosage are all hugely significant factors in the quality and outlook of life for diabetics.
That was the start point for an ambitious design brief instigated over a decade ago. A design that won the DBA Design Effectiveness Award Grand Prix in 2009 and which still continues to have a transformative impact around the world today.
The original brief was clear; to create a new, disposable pen injector for the delivery of insulin that would offer significant improvements over all other disposable insulin devices on the market in terms of comfort, safety and ease of use for patients.
Launched in 2007, the solution was SoloSTAR. Created by Sanofi Aventis and agency DCA Design International through an evidence-based engineering design process, the injector pen was capable of delivering a single insulin dose 30% higher than other competitor devices.
Significantly, SoloSTAR’s innovative design also enabled it to deliver the lowest injection force in its class (by a whopping 30%) providing a much smoother injection experience for patients. Being such a key factor in patient comfort, it’s not surprising that 7 out of 10 patients reported a preference for the injection force of the SoloSTAR device and in 2008 it accounted for 41% of all growth in the global injectable insulin market.
With its discrete and appealing form to negate stigma attached to public use, and a design that carefully considers risk and accessibility factors for diabetics, SoloSTAR has delivered important safety and usability advantages for patients – especially those with visual and physical impairments. Medical professionals also welcomed SoloSTAR and the reduction in time needed to teach patients how to use it. As one diabetes nurse noted “we can teach more patients and teach them more quickly. That is a huge advantage.”
As the prevalence of diabetes grows with 463 million adults living with diabetes in 2019 and set to rise to 700 million by 2045, the continued innovation of drug delivery systems is paramount to maintaining functional lives for millions across the globe.
When launched in 2007, Sanofi Aventis and DCA initially developed two variations of the SoloSTAR pen for two insulin types; Lantus (basal insulin, typically taken once a day) and Apidra (taken with meals, 3 or more times a day) and over a decade on, the SoloSTAR device continues to be sold in large volumes globally today.
Testament to the effectiveness of the collaboration and the design, is that there are now over ten variants in the SoloSTAR range, each using a similar mechanism to the original device, but optimised for purpose.
“When developing the Toujeo SoloSTAR and Toujeo Max SoloSTAR injectors which are used for concentrated insulin”, reflects DCA Design International’s Rob Veasey, “we adjusted the mechanism to provide an even lower injection force.”
Although other competitors have risen to the challenge with attempts to mimic the SoloSTAR mechanism, Sanofi’s SoloSTAR range continues to be an important product and Sanofi remains one of the world leaders of the market.
The continued effective collaboration between Sanofi and DCA has included the development of a highly competitive new pen injector for the Indian market, where there are rising cases of diabetes. The success of this device has subsequently led to the creation of a variant for other global markets, the AllStar Pro reusable pen injector which launched in 2017.
“Being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of our design work is the lifeblood of a consultancy like ours,” says Veasey, “what really matters is being able to give demonstrable examples of how our designs achieved commercial success for a client – that’s fundamentally important for our business.
Having winning case studies such as SoloSTAR helps us evidence the power of design and communicate its strategic value in a persuasive way. SoloSTAR remains a great example of successful design and the product continues to be a high selling drug delivery device across the world.”
The SoloSTAR Pen Injector won the DBA Design Effectiveness Grand Prix Award in 2009. Read the full case study here.
Owen Beard | Unsplash
Sanofi Aventis and DCA Design International