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Going Over the Spoon with Robot Food | #BehindTheIdea

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This may be the most colourful and lovely identity you'll see today. Once known as Freaks of Nature, dairy-free dessert range Over the Spoon has recently relaunched with a new identity by strategic branding agency Robot Food – and we're loving the final result.

With the rise of dairy-free and flexitarian options on the market, it appears that Freaks of Nature just had all the elements for being perfectly placed as a brand – except they weren't. The new identity is meant to reconceive the brand strategy, by focusing on what Daisy the cow might be doing if she wasn’t being milked all day. A delightful, playful and inspired identity with a tangible touch of humanity – which never hurts.

Today we are getting Behind the Idea following a chat with Natalie Redford, Creative Strategist at Robot Food.

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What was the brief?

Freaks of Nature, as it was, should have been in an excellent position. With the rise in popularity of flexitarian, veggie and vegan lifestyles and the market for plant-based products becoming increasingly more mainstream, Freaks ticked all the boxes. In theory. The reality was the brand was lacking penetration and failing to engage with consumers. Our task was to rebrand but the opportunity as we saw it was to establish its relevance to a much broader audience.

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

We kick off the majority of our projects with a collaborative workshop with the project team and the client. In this we look to question and challenge our clients in order to uncover what that all important hook could be for the consumer.  There were three key nuggets that came out of our discussion. The first being the changing role of food in our lives. Post-pandemic, it’s much more emotional, with many looking at eating occasions as a source of entertainment, socialising and comfort. 

The second came from looking at the adjacent category of milk alternatives. The term ‘plant-based’ felt more aligned to sausages than dessert and so we challenged shifting the product position to ‘dairy-free’ instead.

Finally, the name. Could ‘Freaks of Nature’ deliver against these two key considerations? Getting that right would be the key to unlocking a big, sticky brand idea for consumers to get behind.

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Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

The concept for Over The Spoon is all about the fun of dessert underpinned by a strong, purposeful message around sustainability and animal welfare. We had four really strong concepts. Each answered our objectives in their own way but we saw this balance as the most effective approach to turn a free-from alternative into a mainstream dairy-free contender that could go pot to pot with its dairy counterparts. 

At the end of the day it’s dessert. We wanted it to be playful and tasty rather than something that felt like a compromise, and through the brand’s colour palette, illustration, tone of voice and food photography – I think we smashed it! 

Personally, the idea behind Over The Spoon really came to life in the naming process. The question ‘What would cows do if they weren’t being milked all day?” was raised and snowballed into our movement for cow liberation. Realising that ’dairy-free’ could then be ‘dairy free-d’ was one of those lightbulb moments where I felt the narrative all clicked into place. 

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What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge for us was being able to give our client complete confidence in such a radical strategic overhaul. Freaks of Nature had been in market for years and had already undergone a recent rebrand. There had been a lot of investment in the brand, so naturally there was hesitancy when we suggested changing the name. 

The client had asked that a version of “Freaks of Nature” remain as a concept, which we developed, and actually, I think we progressed quite successfully. But there was still too much energy going in to justifying its meaning – clarifying what was meant by ‘Freak’ rather than focussing on what was really important. The puds!

Over The Spoon was definitely the concept that pushed the furthest but our gut told us that the potential the idea held made it the most compelling direction to take. Thankfully, after testing each concept on Instagram to see what drove the most engagement, consumers agreed. Over The Spoon was the clear winner.

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What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the identity?

This whole project was fun. As a team we had a good laugh brainstorming the world of Daisy. Thinking of her adventures and what she could be up to, creating that narrative and of course all the cow puns! Credit where credit is due to our Senior Designer Julia for the cracker that was “I’m Freeeesian”. 

What’s the main message of the identity and why does it matter?

While the new brand world is light hearted and accessible, it also communicates cause-driven implications around sustainability and animal welfare. When creating the narrative around Daisy, it was all about focussing on and encouraging positive choices. She’s freed herself from the expectations and label of ‘dairy cow’ to go after what she wants. It’s very much tongue in cheek but there was a nice parallel between this character’s story and a growing consumer base that couldn’t be pinned to one particular label. It’s for anyone to enjoy!

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What is one unique aspect of the identity?

I think having a playful character like Daisy the cow (illustrated by our Junior Designer, Ryley Devine) gives the brand an edge and the power to break out of the free-from niche and stand alongside dairy desserts as an exciting, fun alternative. It’s something that consumers can really engage with – she’s an icon. 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

We had to move quickly in order to meet the retailers’ deadline of early July. From start to product landing in store, I believe it was just over four months.

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What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

Of course, for our client, I hope we’ve delivered a brand that can finally unlock the full potential of this market opportunity and beyond. But for me personally, I’d love for Over The Spoon to put more smiles on faces and hope that we’ve created a brand that any consumer – regardless of dietary requirement or lifestyle choice – can fall head over spoon with.   

Credit list for the campaign?

Brand Creation: Robot Food (robot-food.com)

Simon Forster – Founder and Executive Creative Director
Dave Timothy – Client Service Director
Emma Shakeshaft – Senior Account Manager 
Emma Collingswood – Senior Account Manager
Martin Widdowfield – Creative Director
Ben Brears – Creative Director
Stephanie Oglesby – Design Director
Natalie Redford – Creative Strategist 
Julia Allan – Senior Designer 
Ryley Devine – Junior Designer 
Lizzie de Jong – Copywriter
Matt Reid – Production Manager 
Rich Fraser – Creative Retoucher

Food and Lifestyle Photography: Chris Leah (chrisleah.com)

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