Studio Look At That

London, UK

Agency: Studio Look At That
Creative Director & Founder: Finlay Brazier
Photographer: Sam Mahayni
Location: United Kingdom
Project Type: Produced
Client: Sandringham Salsa & Sauce
Product Launch Location: Global
Packaging Contents: Salsa & Sauce
Packaging Substrate / Materials: Plastic Container
Printing Process: Digital Printing

The client Sandra grew up in America and came to adore Mexican flavours as they crossed the border — the type Trump’s wall is trying to stop.

Multicultural societies allow us to learn from the best. You learn that salsa should have hearty heirlooms, controversial coriander, heat-packed habaneros, all sliced, diced and spiced. Salsa shouldn’t be a chemically-made maroon paste, like current offerings. This is the problem Sandra wanted to solve.

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The designers wanted to move beyond the trend of making Mexican products appear ‘festive’ or ‘shouty’. They wanted to differentiate themselves from the type of brands where if a kid suggests flat bottom tacos he’s hailed in the street as a town hero. Mexican products are dense with anthropomorphic cacti, sombreros, chillies, skulls and phoney textures. These tricks may have lost their illusion or could even be a ruse to cover up unauthentic ingredients.

It’s time Mexican got a makeover.

The answer was to be mature, premium and let the salsa do all of the screaming. Think Mexican cuisine, not street food. The sophisticated black and white packaging contrasts the bright tomato reds, habanero oranges and coriander greens peeking through the lid. They say the first bite is with the eye; giving people a sensory tease of the intense and uplifting salsa is a good start. SSS didn’t want to lose Mexico’s personality by being too serious. It’s a balancing act. The quirky lower case “g” in the brand name, curvy typography, and the snake’s smirk all preserve the personality.

When Sandra pitched the name Sandringham Salsa & Sauce, character length created initial panic. What a mouthful. However, the designers did find intrigue in the name’s sibilance. The repeated “S” created a snake-like hissing sound. Snakes feature on the Mexican flag because they hold symbolic significance to the Aztec people. Aztec art, specifically the Double-Headed Serpent and Calendar influenced SSS’s pattern, structure and typography.

The typography curves around the packaging, reflecting a snake’s lateral undulation. Tapered letters create even tracking. This is drawn and set by hand, which adds to the premium feeling. It’s not kit set, it’s crafted.

A character gives a brand character. The SSS snake is full of charisma. Sandra says, “He’s a representation of texture and spice. When customers finally see him, they get an aha moment, he’s a surprising serpent full of satisfaction.” He has an affable smirk, but can you trust him? He is a snake after all, with a protruding fang. He could be waiting to bite with the full force of the Scoville Scale.

Being a farmers market start-up, SSS had a few constraints. They required one label that could show different salsa varieties and fit a bioplastic container. But the brief also offered freedom. The designers could be alluring with the top of the container and not be diluted by the legal requirements of being sold in-store. “People love the design; they’re drawn to it. It’s so above and beyond what else I’ve seen at the markets in terms of looking professional. It’s a brand people believe in just by looking at it” says Sandra.

The Clevedon Market Manager probably best sums up SSS’s impact. “I usually test every product before it’s a sold at the market, but I will make an exception for SSS because I’m so sold on the brand. It’s Aztec, timeless, classic, zen and cutting edge all at once”.