Leeds design studio Robot Food has given its own Electric Ink brand a fresh look and new name, following a shift online as a direct-to-consumer tattoo skincare line.
Now called Stories & Ink, the company was founded on a "mass-niche opportunity", after asking the question, in an industry worth billions and with over 40% of the western world bearing ink – why are there no long-term skincare brands dedicated to tattooed skin?
Robot Food believed it had the answer and created a brand that quickly secured listings in retailers globally including Boots, Superdrug, Selfridges and Urban Outfitters. But three years on, it was clear the largest potential for growth was online – connecting directly with customers, "free from the constraints of retail".
From this shift, Electric Ink became Stories & Ink – a name "reflective of the brand's new mission to facilitate meaningful conversations around tattoos and create an inclusive space where tattoo enthusiasts could share their personal stories," according to the studio.
Creative Strategist Natalie Redford adds: "The decision to reposition the brand was inspired by the passion and creativity of people with tattoos. We wanted Stories & Ink to become a go-to source and credible commentator on the culture – sparking conversations and championing different voices, styles and experiences."
Without the need to shout "tattoo" from shelf, Robot Food's approach to the new design was more holistic. "Blending the pillars of skincare 'efficacy' and the 'credibility' of tattoos was still important, however now, the team was free to explore what these meant as part of a much broader brand world," explains the studio.
The packaging was evolved to feel more akin to contemporary health and beauty brands, stripping the original illustration right back to a single icon on each item for "clear range navigation". While the original flash sheet illustration now adds to the customer experience featuring as internal packaging print and on branded tissue inside shipping boxes.
Across everything, from a bespoke Shopify web platform to social channels and the unboxing experience, a newly developed tone of voice and photography style helps "build a more complete story of the brand".
Robot Food's founder Simon Forster says: "Now more than ever, to be truly successful, brands need a compelling purpose behind their design. We saw the move to DTC as a necessary business decision, an opportunity to cement our position as a global brand, but also to add depth to the identity to take it beyond the product into a lifestyle."
Since shifting, Stories & Ink has raised £300,000 to fund its strategy. It has also formed a partnership with one of the largest online health and beauty retailers across the United States and Canada. "Stories & Ink is just the start for the partnership and I can't wait to reveal other brands that will disrupt their categories," adds Simon.