Echo has worked with the brand for more than four years, and this latest project saw the agency create 100% compostable packaging which, when unfolded, reveals the stories behind the production of each tea in Sri Lanka.
The idea is to allow the consumer to "connect to the lives of the farmers and producers that grow and farm the tea," says Echo. It adds that its collaboration with English Tea Shop "was key to the success of the range, with Echo establishing the design principles for the range and the core team in Sri Lanka implementing these."
The main challenge was to create packaging designs that build on the premium brand identity for the English Tea Shop, which Echo had previously created. The team opted to re-appropriate the mandala motif throughout its design "to work in harmony with the master visual identity," says Echo Brand Design creative director Nigel Ritchie. He adds that the designs for the physical packaging aimed to create "an engaging, tactile experience that builds on the brand's unique farm-to-cup story. The everyday experience of opening a carton of tea bags is very different from the classic ritual of making, brewing and drinking whole leaf tea, a distinction we wanted to embrace theatrically and playfully through the packaging."
The range of 80g whole leaf tea packs includes 18 different blends, including English Breakfast, Turmeric and Ginger & Lemongrass. Inspired by the ingredients and the vibrant colour palette of Sri Lanka, and looking to reflect the organic ingredients, each pack features bold colour combinations and draw from Echo's design principles laid out when previously working on the master brand identity. The new designs' main goal was to bring the brand's story to life, while also enhancing the perceptions around the credentials of the ingredients and flavours of the tea.
The redesigned boxes use cardboard fastened with a seal and lid, which when broken and removed see the box open up and unfurl "like the petals of a budding flower to reveal uniquely constructed mandalas that celebrate the ingredients and contents within," says Echo. The packs are free from glue, staples and tape, and the lid is sealed by resealable tamper tabs which transform the product into a reusable tea caddy to "sit proudly on a shelf, despite being 100% home compostable," says Echo. This contributes to English Tea Shop's green goal that aims for all of its packaging to be 100% biodegradable, with zero waste sent to landfill by 2025.
The agency's junior account manager Lily Kowalik adds that to highlight English Tea Shop's "celebration of the farmers, employees and organic produce behind their brand, we wanted to create a packaging which would unfold to unveil the brand's sustainable narrative inside. Centred around the signature mandala motif, each box reveals the stories behind the ingredients of each tea, the lives of those who helped create it and the history of English Tea Shop's sustainable and ethical business model. To celebrate their brand transparency from farm to cup, we positioned these stories right at the centre of our design rather than hiding them away in the small print."
The organic ingredients are held in a pouch made from GMO-free cellulose fibre and reusable scoop in line with the brand's environmentally-minded funding principles, "Creating Shared Value (CSV)". These have also guided its commitments to sustainable working practices for itself and its partners that contribute to adding value to businesses, communities and global society more broadly – values that according to Kowalik, align with those of the studio.