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Production Diary

Weekly Updates on progress of the Challenger Brand Brief in collaboration with Mr B & Friends.


Week One - 26/04/24
Mr B. & Friends briefing session. Whitefriars Business Centre, Bristol.
Key contacts: Nathan Crosby and Kieran Hawes.


Briefing session - create a challenger brand that upends and industry by doing something that hasn’t been done before, hasn’t been done that way before, 

addresses or improves an existing issue. 

Nathan talked us through the presentation, highlighting to us successful challenger brands, for example Uber, revolutionisation of how we use mini cabs, improving safety and convenience with their app. Oddbox who saw a need the reduce food waste and marketed the veg discarded at source purely because of it’s shape.

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We undertook a 10 minute group task of Value Mapping some well established big brands against the value pyramid, this was to get us to think about how brand and it’s potential to offer more than just a functional benefit. Successful brands can have an emotional impact on us, but the higher up the pyramid there is the potential to have a life changing impact and right at the top is social impact. That is where we want to aim our brand. 

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In my notes, I jotted down a few take aways:

  • Once decided on a purpose or USP for our brand we should confirm with research that our claim is the only one being made  - confirm uniqueness.

  • Don’t be afraid to use AI, for example Chat GPT is a great way to help show bias – ‘Show me instances to prove me right/wrong’

  • Idea for brand – Curated digital content for kids. Like YouTube and TikTok, but quality and content controlled but utilising aspects that make it addictive.

  • Nathan’s idea – Decaf coffee brand, solely decaf coffee, focused on taste.


Tasks for the week:

Come up with multiple ideas for challenger brands.

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Week Two - 03/05/24
Research and Ideation.


With only 6 weeks to complete the brief, there wasn’t any time to waste. After compiling a list of 12 ideas, drawing on my research of challenger brands and their strategies, I had to make a swift decision on which idea to move forward with. I don’t have another meeting with Mr B until the 8th of May so I don’t have the benefit of their wisdom as to which might be best to pursue. I did some cursory research for each of the ideas, about a quarter of them already existed in some format. A few more that didn’t have the science yet, which narrowed things down and some were too broad or complex for the time scale.  Leaving me with few of my concepts that I felt I could do something with; however, I chose Nathan’s Decaf coffee brand, primarily because I felt a genuine excitement for it when he initially suggested it. I am a decaf coffee drinker. I gave it up when pregnant and underwent great improvement physically and mentally from taking caffeine out of my diet. I am passionate about it, also, having experienced snarky remarks and ostracisation for choosing decaf saw scope to develop the idea, elevating this group of marginalised midlifers to a status of cool outliers, similarly to Oatly, who took hippy vegan milk alternative to the mainstream making it a choice of taste as well as lifestyle.

I researched caffeine and decaf with regards to health and found that decaf coffee had all the health benefits of caffeinated but none of the downside. Admittedly you don’t get the same buzz from decaf, it’s the mellow alternative and that buzz comes at a cost. The only real benefit being that it keeps you awake when you need to be awake, if you have a long drive for example, it can prove useful, so will always have a place in the market, Decaf won’t be a replacement, but there is definitely a good chunk available for the taking. 

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Idea development notes

Week Three - 10/05/24
Idea Development.


I had a video call catch up with the Mr B team on the Wednesday, which was a great help in refocusing my efforts. 

They had really liked my Reimagined Scouts Idea, Broom handle phone concept, although we discussed Google had failed to launch a modular phone a while back, and my baby clothes rental idea (which also has already been put into practice). By this point though, I had to run with an idea, so had already set the wheels in motion for the decaf. There is no other brand currently doing this, so I felt it was the right choice.


I had lots of ideas for what I can do with the brand to share – 

  • Name ideas – I wanted a verb so it may become synonymous with drinking decaf (like Hoover is to Vacuuming, Xerox to photocopying, Zoom to video chat and Googling to web searches). Ideas included: Decoy; Tranquila, Epicure, but we all agreed the Freak, which had arisen from my investigation of the word Connoisseur, was by far the best as it was edgy and memorable.

  • A variety of strengths/roasts represented by personalities such as celebrities in a humorous way, puns on their names perhaps, with my token caffeinated coffee being the Trump and called Covfefe – which would be a call back to my 50 things project last year. Other character ideas included Dorothy, Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man and Toto.

  • I also had a range of launch activation ideas to share with them including Wine tasting style coffee tasting, blind taste test and a give up coffee month (Decafember/Nocafember) which would have a supporting app to log physical and mental symptoms.

  • I had also started thinking about straplines.   

  • I shared my first mood boards.

Meeting notes  from 08/05/24

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The main take away from my meeting with them was to come back to the crux of the idea, which in essence was to make decaf cool. Focus on what might appeal to my target audience.


I had considered who my target audience might be at this point. While I felt it was very much inclusive of all adults who enjoy the taste of coffee, including pregnant and feeding mothers, young people, old people, those with medical conditions and anyone after 4pm who wants to sleep that night. I guess the ‘cool club’ aspect would be focused at 35–55-year-olds, probably more male, who seemed ripe for the conversion to decaf from caffeinated as the onset of health and stress issues set in and lifestyle choices are reassessed.


Task to focus on for the week:

Cool visual branding development.

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Week Four - 17/05/24
Visual Development.


A lot of progress happened this week with the visual elements, I had taken inspiration after my Mr B catch up from a mosaic wall of an 8-bit Godzilla in my coffee shop culture research, this was the vibe I want for my brand. This led me towards vaporwave as a style initially but a tutorial with Alastair had encouraged me to use that but make it more current and edgier. 

Changed Freak to Freek, I decided that there could be negative connotations to Freak, associations to the physically deformed exploited in 'Freak shows' popular in the 1800's, vulnerable people whose genetic mutations marginalised them from a ignorant society. I wanted Freek to stand for those whose chose to be different. People standing up and standing out for what they believe, reclaiming their uniqueness and differences. 

In a happy coincidence, in a quick google, I found that the word Freek was associated with very little currently, only a rapper in the UAE, so little to no conflict on the brand name.

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The suggestion of using AI came back to me at this point. Having never used a text to image application before I found it quite a frustrating experience. I had expected a basic ability for it to follow instructions. Using Adobe’s Firefly to assist in creating some mock up logo ideas, I found it would not consistently include the word correctly in the design as requested. It was glitchy and unreliable. However, it’s inability to do as requested did cause some hilarity with the misspelt text and lasers coming from elbows and bottoms instead of eyes. It won't be taking my job just yet!!

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I abandoned the AI for logo generation deciding I could do better without it but did find success eventually for it helping me to create some crazy ‘synthwave’ animal freeks. After many iterations, varying commands to find the perfect style and structure references, I have a reasonably reliable process to generate my characters. Had the project afforded more time I may have done more to make these artworks more from my own hand, although they are very much my creations from my ideas, this new technology very much raises question of creative authenticity, as it does each time new tools are engineered. As a designer though, I feel it is my role as visionary to curate and conduct the assets, not necessarily create them, although I would very much like to be able to. 

Week Five - 24/05/24
Brand Guidelines.


Made a start on brand guides and grappling with mission statements. Had a bit of a false start with the brand guides but restarted and found my flow.  

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Week Six - 31/05/24
Mr B & Friends final catch up


Shared my progress with the team, had a lot of issues with the call connection and enabling the screen share function which I found somewhat discombobulating. This wrong footed me and I didn’t articulate ideas as clearly as I might normally do so. My notes from the meeting are a little bit jumbled but here they are:

  • Draw on Freek – Uniqueness, different, quirky.

  • Who embodies this? Godzilla is a Freek, who else? Mothra? Daleks?

  • Look at comics

  • Doing things differently – not normal

  • Liquid Death is a good example.

  • Don’t follow convention.

  • ‘Not coffee for normal people’

  • ‘Coffee for Freeks’

  • Relate back to central idea - Why?

  • Celebration of Freek

  • Freeks in pop culture – who?

  • ToV = Punky

  • Retro celebration

  • Not for everyone (Think Yorkie Bar – not for girls)

  • Activation – coffee vans too safe and conventional – Roller-skating Godzillas?

  • Who would make a good collaboration with Freek? Marmite/Liquid Death (research where LD show up? Which events do they sponsor?) 

  • Freek is a decaf coffee – but the branding says full of energy

  • Logo lettering – Schizophrenic and jumbled – dynamic/glitches – multiple logo formats

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A great deal to think about here, much to divert me from the main goals. 

Did a few mood boards to focus on who are my Freeks. The misfits, geeks and trailblazers. Thinking about Nespresso, they are represented by George Clooney, who is Freek’s celebrity pairing? My initial thought was Grayson Perry/Claire, an artist keen on subverting expectation and dissecting prejudice. Then, with less intellectual reasoning, Andre Benjamin (André 3000) who is the more recognisable half of Outkast – An outcast being a type of freak or outlier, shunned for being different.

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Completion - 07/06/24


Link to finished work here. 

And here for my evaluation.

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