Tea Runners

Too many startups take the future-forward, clean modern aesthetic. Tea Runners, a high-end tea subscription program, hired me to not only build a brand, but help create a story around the delivery of exotic teas around the world. So I knew a straightforward modern asethetic wasn't going to work hard enough to properly tell the  whole story. First I zeroed in on the brand values.

Tea Runners offered an astounding variety — from tea leaves to flowers to special compressed pucks used in Chinese teas were part of the program. Nearly all tea growing nations were respresented.

Secondly, the quality was top shelf. Tea leaves are often whole leaf, and flower-based varieties were vibrant and aromatic.

The teas speak to a great legacy of goods traveling the seven seas for centuries. But Tea Runners was whole-heartedly modern. It was a monthly service with a lot of customization around how often, and how many times you wanted to be surprised by a new selection of premium quality, whole leaf tea selections. It was all the benefits of a tall ship from India showing up in your harbour, without the stale teas succumbed to the long time on the ocean.

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The brand mark

As with many brands, I started with the identity. The questions we would ask around it helped shape it along the way - like "where is this going to be printed?" and "how much do we want to harken to a 17th century company that once ruled the seas?"

The resulting mark system incorporates typefaces at home in the story of tea - from the brand-forged marks on tea barrels on tall ships to tea shop mastheads in London.

The ship mark itself was inspired by a 300-year old Dutch mark, but evolved to work better within the context we needed. For example, the generous line gaps in the ship are needed for proper rendering on a kraft mailer. They have the second benefit of helping small size rendering. 

 

FINAL MILE DESIGN

The mailer itself became a cornerstone element of the brand system. Not only did it have to follow strict postal service rules around size and material, it had to really resonate with the consumer since it was their main interaction with the brand.

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I developed a multi-layered unboxing experience inspired by 18th Century dossiers that slowly unvieled the surprises within.

Downstream Design

Often with startups, the business plan gets designed along with the brand. It can definitely be difficult to set a course for where the design should evolve to as the business grows.

One technique I love to do is to predicate what the brand might look like 5 years down the road to stretch the context. 

I guage the client's reaction to these ideas to help inform how to design the brand today for where it might go tomorrow.

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Customization

With so many tea varietals on tap, there was opportunity for different tea drinkers to carve out an identity within the offering. So Tea Runners needed four tracks, with potential for more, to help those customers navigate the choices and feel like the product was better catering to them.

I used a jewel-tone inspired colour palette and nautical symbols to create a base system for the different tea tracks - Original, Pure, Black, and Herbal. 

Secondly, Tea Runners launched Country Boxes - product groupings that gave drinkers an introductory journey to that countries' most seminal varieties. For these instances, I created a map and story element to help guide the tea conniseur through their journey.

Customization

With so many tea varietals on tap, there was opportunity for different tea drinkers to carve out an identity within the offering. So Tea Runners needed four tracks, with potential for more, to help those customers navigate the choices and feel like the product was better catering to them.

I used a jewel-tone inspired colour palette and nautical symbols to create a base system for the different tea tracks - Original, Pure, Black, and Herbal. 

Secondly, Tea Runners launched Country Boxes - product groupings that gave drinkers an introductory journey to that countries' most seminal varieties. For these instances, I created a map and story element to help guide the tea conniseur through their journey.

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IMPACT

 

4 months

go-to-market timeline

4 months

go-to-market timeline

150,000

boxes shipped

150,000

boxes shipped

Selected Works

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Red Eye Tekbrand and ecomm

DaartBrand Identity

Tea RunnersBrand Identity