Behind every brand, small or big, there is inspiration and a story waiting to be told. At Multibird we thrive on finding that story and expressing it graphically, whether is creating a new name or brandmark, or giving an existing one a refreshed and relevant voice for communicating on packs, in store and online.
Here are some of the brands we have found, and continue to find, inspiration working with.
By Katharine Herringer, co-founder of Multibird Branding Inc.
If you’re unfamiliar with BioFach, it’s the world’s largest organic trade show. This year, marked the 25th anniversary of the event and drew and impressive crowd of 42,000 trade buyers from 134 countries.
Within the 9 halls of vibrant, oversized booths of organic food and skin care companies, there was representation from all continents. An excellent opportunity for countries to show off the best organic goods they have to offer. Dried organic fruits from Colombia, Peru and Mexico, flower oils from Morocco, skin care made by priests from Romania, coconut products from Thailand and mountains of olive oil from Spain and Italy. And of course the Canadian pavilion with a few of our own organic brands, with billboard and all at the metro station.
Italy even had an entire food court sponsored by Bio Italia, with a lineup a block long, hungry trade-show goers waited to grab a primo, secondo and even an organic tiramisu for dessert. All washed down, of course, with a vino rosso biologico. And yes, this was just lunch. Long live the Mediterranean diet.
The trends: Beyond all the wonderful foods, natural fiber-designed pavilions and fashionable crowd, certain tendencies and ideas stood out throughout the show.
1. Real food, served fresh With the size of the natural products in North America hovering around the 90-billion mark, and a large percentage products still being ‘almost’ non-perishables, at Biofach there was a real emphasis on serving up plain, simple, fresh organic food: artisanal cheeses, yoghurt, wines and even donkey milk. There is also a definite trend of re-cultivating ancient and heirloom varieties of grains, fruits and vegetables, which of course go hand-in-hand with organic and biodynamic agricultural practices. Overall, the European consumer seems to demand foods as they’ve always known them, today with the added reassurance of ECO-CERT, as well as the ever-expanding Demeter biodynamic label.
2. Everything Baobab From Baobab-spiked carbonated beverages and energy bars to dipping sauces and body care, everything Baobab is hot. Providing mega nutrients, pre- and probiotics, minerals and fiber, this “tree of life” seems to be the flavor of the day. The good news is that the baobab raw material seems to be sustainably and responsibly cultivated by most of the brands that we saw. Amongst the most memorable brands were the pioneering beverage brand Baola (baobab.org), and an Italian snack bar brand, wow!bab (wowbab.com).
3. Great packaging and retail design Europeans do packaging really well. Even the smallest, start-up brands have their act together in a way that makes some big North American brands look unfinished. The use of color, texture, functionality and sheer inventiveness are an open invitation to walk to the shelf and engage with the products. They understand that the quality of the packaging should be as good as the stuff it holds. Amongst our favorites were an Icelandic sea salt company Nordur (nordursalt.com), who not only has exquisitely pure salt produced in a completely carbon-neutral way, but every element of their story and package is embedded with design intention; or an organic gelato retail concept Bio Bio by Moca (moca.it), with their repurposed-wood paneled concept stores, selling fresh-daily organic gelato using compostable cups and spoons.
4. Oils with intention Traditionally, Europeans have never been down with popping capsules or tablets for health. They much prefer to eat their “medicine” – which seems to be working for them.
On display was everything from the latest trend of camelina oil, to argan, macadamia, walnut, pumpkin seed, hazelnut and toasted almond oils, and of course a whole section dedicated to the finest organic and bio-dynamic olive oils in the planet.
But some of the freshest ideas came in the way of functional oil combinations. One of our favorites was a beautifully packaged mix of macadamia oil with raspberries from French brand BioPlanète (bioplanete.com), boldly labeled Gibt Frauen Power, literally Gives Women Power in German. How can you not love that? It’s a tasty little oil made to balance women’s hormones. Others were labeled Get Your Day Moving or Open Up Your Mind, incorporating oils from macadamia, pumpkin seed, orange and pomegranate amongst others. If only Canadian regulations would allow this level of labeling vigor, what a great concept.
5. Local and wildcrafted beauty Although the beauty section of the show, Vivaness, is much smaller than the rest of Biofach, there was a vibrant representation of organic and natural brands from every continent. The trend was towards beauty products formulated with local ingredients and wildcrafted herbs. Some of our favourite’s included a South African brand, Africa Organics (africaorganics.co.za), who draw on powerful indigenous plant extracts, including the omnipresent baobab. Another find was a Russian skin care line, Natura Siberica (naturasiberica.ru), using indigenous wildcrafted herbs. Small boutique brands, like Latvian specialty soap maker MiloMill (milomill.com), impressed with their illustrated botanical packaging by a young Latvian painter—so beautiful that I wanted to wallpaper my bathroom in their boxes, certainly the ideal effect to have on any potential consumer. All in all, the brands we found the most interesting were taking natural beauty to a new level. Of course, the best muse is to simply look around and connect with the local landscape, so the trend of drawing on wildcrafted botanicals for inspiration seems very a relevant.
At the end of the day, BioFach/Vivaness is definitely the place to allow the bouquet of international brands to inspire you. Watching as these brands strive to create and develop a rich consumer experience in-store and in their daily lives. The thought, care and intention in creating beautiful organic products, seems to respect and honor this special relationship. For without consumers, we would have no industry at all. Why not continue to delight and inspire them – it’s where the magic happens in creating a memorable natural brand.
Fairtrade Canada’s Retail Awards have been announced, and the winner is Multibird-designed Arayuma Organic Coconut Milk. Big kudos to Sahala’s visionary founders and creators of Arayuma, Marise and Chanaka, and to the entire team of dedicated staff, friends and family who have made it possible. We look forward to many more wins for Arayuma.
Congratulations Arayuma! Canada loves your organic coconut milk!!!
Founders Katharine and Ivan had visions of ‘organic branding’, while working in the Natural Products industry in Vancouver, Canada. They saw a need in the marketplace, and the idea to combine their love of beautiful design with their years of experience in branding and natural health. The hope was to find themselves one day living sustainably, on an island in the Mediterranean, while working with clients (big and small) around the world. And so they packed up their lives in Vancouver, moved to Madrid in 2009 and began to work away at the dream.
Today, the Multibird Branding HQ (maybe we should say HQ-ette?..we’re a small team!) finds itself in a 150 year old former olive oil pressing house, in a small village on the island of Mallorca, Spain. Day-to-day, working with brands in Canada, the US, and Europe. With ‘obligatory’ mid-day breaks to hike amongst the sheep and donkeys, make our homemade almond milk lattes and breathe in the fresh sea air
What does Multibird mean? Multibird Branding was incorporated in 2010 on the premise that all brands are like different birds with unique stories to tell, and Multibird wants to help tell that story. The first identity work for Multibird focused on birds of every species and migratory patterns (being migratory creatures ourselves), until the talking boxes concept was presented and it became an instant favourite.
Our clients and the extended Multibird team span five time zones and four languages, but we are still true to the values we started with: work with brands that we believe in, and that make the world a better place; do only good work (or don’t do it at all); stay lean and agile; and always look to bring a fresh perspective.
Come join us, let’s have a chat. Almond lattes, anyone?