BrandAid picks up three brand development awards

BrandAid owner Luke Johnston with two of the products he has won packaging awards for. PHOTO:...
BrandAid owner Luke Johnston with two of the products he has won packaging awards for. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
It has been a three-week trifecta for BrandAid owner Luke Johnston.

Work done by the Dunedin brand development and design company has won three national awards in that time.

Not that Mr Johnston was into entering awards. Rather, he was much more content to focus on doing a good job for his clients.

It was those clients who did the entering and the successes came as a nice surprise, he acknowledged.

Escea's retail brand Stoke Fireplace Studio won the best emerging business/new brand category at the TVNZ Marketing Awards.

The Dunedin-based gas fireplace manufacturer launched the new Stoke showroom in Auckland in May last year.

Working with BrandAid, Escea established a brand identity and strategy for Stoke, followed by an integrated marketing campaign. It launched in Wellington and Queenstown this year ahead of schedule.

Another Dunedin business, Ocho, won best packaging at the inaugural New Zealand Chocolate Awards, while Emerson's Brewery won best packaging at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand awards.

Born and bred in Dunedin, Mr Johnston studied design at the University of Otago and then worked for Taylormade Media for four years, the last two as creative director.

Ian Taylor, from Taylormade, and his wife Liz Grieve, were ``super supportive'' and a huge number of businesses had spun out of their business, which was testament to the way they were with their staff, Mr Johnston said.

Ready to do something else - and with no other place that he wanted to work in Dunedin - he decided to establish his own business.

That was about 14 years ago and he remained the only employee, preferring to operate in a ``contemporary'' type model, pulling together a team of those best suited to a job.

With the Emerson's Brewery rebrand, there were 10 people who worked on it, including from Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin. Doing agency quality work from Dunedin was ``pretty cool'', Mr Johnston said.

In the pitch process, BrandAid was up against some big Auckland agencies but managed to outbid them.

He believed the success was due to understanding the client - ``getting them'' - particularly as they were based in Dunedin. Also being ``Dunedinites'' - down-to-earth and approachable.

The marketing and communications work with Emerson's was ongoing and he enjoyed his contact with the company.

``I felt honoured and a huge responsibility to take on the brand because it's such an iconic Dunedin brand,'' he said.

There had also been so many great stories from the company that had never been told and Emerson's was ``quite happy to poke fun at themselves and not take themselves too seriously''.

Craft brewing had seen a ``massive explosion'' recently while Emerson's had been around for 25 years. All of a sudden, there were ``all these new kids on the block''.

Emerson's longevity in the industry had given them a huge amount of credibility, and Mr Johnston described founder Richard Emerson as ``kind of like the godfather of craft brewing in New Zealand'', who had been very open helping other brewers and sharing information.

With the Emerson's brand, it was about both owning that space for all that time, telling the great stories but also making the company relevant in today's market.

With a lot of experimental brands, some people had bad experiences and Emerson's was a ``safe pair of hands'' for craft beer enthusiasts.

Creating a way of communicating flavours, using flavour sliders, helped people easily navigate across the range and meant people had confidence to explore the range.

Mr Johnston loved working on the brand ``because they want to have a bit of fun with it'', injecting humour and personality.

For Ocho, he had created packaging that reflected the quality of the chocolate and, like Emerson's, sales had increased with the new packaging.

``It's cool to work for local businesses that are doing great things and helping them do ever better,'' he said.

The great thing about what he did was having the ability to work with all sorts of different brands, he said.

Mr Johnston had also been doing free work to help the establishment of a wildlife hospital to help save and rehabilitate wildlife in Dunedin.

He had clients throughout New Zealand and also overseas which kept things interesting.

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