Branding for Thick Pickle by Studyhall — BP&O


Branding concept by Study Hall for Thick Pickle, including motion graphics, logotype and packaging design

The place to start with Thick Pickle? This conceptual model started in 2023 as a self-initiated ‘studio aspect undertaking’ for California-based studio Studyhall. Because it blew up although, Studyhall started to surprise if the model had legs – actually, as demonstrated by the disconcertingly buff, aviator-shade-sporting animated pickle (gherkin or pickled cucumber for the Brits) mascot who strides throughout pop-up home windows at Studyhall now describes the undertaking as ‘basically a pre-kickstarter effort’. The studio claims to have had ‘numerous conferences with meals scientists, Michelin cooks, knowledgeable picklers’, and attests that the web site is ‘a testing floor to validate the collective want for big, juicy large boys’.

It’s troublesome to understand how critically to take these statements – the place do you apply for the job of ‘knowledgeable pickler’? The write-up has whispers of a very dedicated April-Fools bit, a suspicion strengthened by studio founder Matt Yerman’s description of Thick Pickle as ‘one thing provocative… one thing youthful and helpful’. Provocative? OK. Youthful? Effective. Helpful..?

I’m unconvinced that what our more and more risky (and hungry) world wants is one other cheap-to-produce however expensively branded, virally commodified, trend-driven snack model. If Thick Pickle does ever change into a fully-fledged spin-off, striding out from the realm of idea and onto our cabinets, the model will unquestionably want an moral angle (some proportion of donated earnings) to maintain it from drifting into the unflattering territory occupied by such cynical and vacuous endeavours as Prime Vitality drinks. Regardless of the CTA accompanied by a teasing trace that the studio is ‘truly half severe about this complete endeavour’, one assumes that Yerman et al are nonetheless in on their very own joke, and stay conscious of the important superfluousness of Thick Pickle, whether or not or not they now suppose they will earn cash from it.

As an commercial for Studyhall, Thick Pickle has undoubtedly been a run-away success, using waves of viral humour to carry consideration from corners of the web {that a} design studio would by no means usually be more likely to attain. Whereas self-initiated conceptual branding tasks are undoubtedly huge enjoyable to create, they will even have an off-putting whiff of self-involvement. Thick Pickle’s in the end innocent lightheartedness solely partially exonerates itself from this cost. When designers additionally get to play the consumer it places one in thoughts of the egotistical actor who writes, directs and stars in their very own film.

Branding concept by Study Hall for Thick Pickle, including motion graphics, logotype and packaging design
Branding concept by Study Hall for Thick Pickle, including motion graphics, logotype and packaging design

As my colleague Eleanor Robertson wrote in her article final yr reviewing self-initiated undertaking .Oddity Perfume by .Oddity Studio, ‘in the end it boils all the way down to the query of whether or not or not design is artwork’. As Robertson observes, whereas designers resembling Michael Bierut consider that ‘artists create that means, designers create options’, others, like Bruno Munari, write that ‘designing for business means prostituting oneself to materialism, to the “financial miracle” of the second, to the coverage of the merchandise’. When a studio units off on a self-initiated undertaking that’s deeply private, creative, political, unimaginable as a commercially viable entity, then a unique algorithm essentially should apply. Nonetheless Thick Pickle is just not this. It possibly imagines a very agreeable consumer, and the humour (and possibly the finances) go additional than a typical consumer or strategist could be more likely to allow, nevertheless it’s basically a viable business concept, working in an already well-established product class, as a provocateur, however hardly as a wildcard innovator past the bounds of actuality. It makes it difficult to know the motivation to embark on a undertaking like this, that continues to be so trend-driven and commercially minded. If not some lofty goal like Munari’s, then maybe merely self-amusement? Or to cannily showcase the studio’s capability to work in a sector it’s eager to interrupt into. 

After all, the query that lies on the coronary heart of (and in the end justifies) a undertaking like this should be: does it look good? Fortunately, Thick Pickle is a visible feast. A maximalist, all the things however the kitchen sink strategy reveals Studyhall making an attempt out new concepts with out restraint, and there’s a joyfulness to the experimentation.

Branding concept by Study Hall for Thick Pickle, including motion graphics, logotype and packaging design
Branding concept by Study Hall for Thick Pickle, including motion graphics, logotype and packaging design

Sharp Grotesk from Sharp Sort is utilized in black weight, variable widths and massive sizes to create a brash, dense, cacophonous typographic strategy. A vibrant neon inexperienced is juxtaposed with ‘earthy olivean tones’. Distinction/Exclusion layer mixing results add additional vivid tones to the palette when typography is used over picture and video content material, maybe inadvisably on the expense of legibility (which is already impinged on by the extraordinarily dense, heavy typography and vertiginous scrolling results on the web site).

The inexperienced palette is enlivened by foil stamping, choosing up on the product design of the ‘pocket pickler’ – a comically svelte metallic test-tube designed to make pickles moveable for the roaming snacker.

3D design has been deployed to indicate the pickles rotating and floating round in comical style, in addition to ‘spice balls’, densely packed clouds of swirling garlic, dill, chillies and bay leaves that coalesce like time-lapses of area rocks condensing into planets. Much less profitable is the animation to accompany the ‘probiotic pickle juice’, exhibiting, presumably, intestine microbes being turned vivid inexperienced by a microscopic probiotic pickle cell. The snag is that the intestine microbes look uncannily just like the cross part of pickles, which is a reasonably revolting cognitive affiliation for snack branding.

Branding concept by Study Hall for Thick Pickle, including motion graphics, logotype and packaging design

Among the copywriting may be very humorous. On the pickle jar labels, a tagline reads: ‘These are the thickest pickles on the town. Don’t let no one inform you in any other case. If you’re finished, drink the juice up. It’ll make you smarter’. This surreal and barely garrulous voice feels distinctive, and occupies the territory {that a} paying consumer could be much less more likely to log off on, thus fulfilling the cardinal functions of self-initiated work: to understand the attention-grabbing issues that may’t be realised when dullards and cowards get to meddle. The remainder of the copywriting achieves this with various ranges of success. ‘Vinegar for the Winegar’ is cute. The CBD-laced ‘soothe-chips’ (singly packaged slices of crinkle-cut cucumber) ‘to assist clean out your inner ridges’ are very humorous. ‘Respecc the thiccness’ and the bevy of penis innuendos come up a little bit brief (pun meant), feeling each laddish and a little bit dated by the lightning-fast requirements of web humour that the Thick Pickle model goals to be judged by.

There’s an impressed use of unidentified archival black and white film footage, exhibiting a lady decorously crunching a pickle, after which instantly flying right into a delightfully unhinged rampage of violence. God is aware of the place StudyHall discovered such a celluloid curio, nevertheless it affords a splendidly camp, timelessly humorous counterpoint to the marginally badgering, laddish comedic tone that prevails elsewhere within the model.

This leads us on to the second existential query that should be confronted by a self-initiated undertaking that’s so self-consciously unserious: is that this truly humorous? On this level, I can’t assist however surprise if the entire joke isn’t a little bit bit… 2017? The yr through which Pickle-Rick memes went viral and joined (together with Pepe the frog, Dat Boi, Shrek and Kermit) the late-2010s pantheon of omnipresent, ostensibly amusing inexperienced meme entities. You could possibly in fact argue that pickles have all the time been an inherently comical comestible. Partly attributable to their suggestively phallic affiliation, partly because of the euphonic mixture of plosive ‘p’ and clicking ‘ck’ digraph renders the phrase each satisfying and expressive (as Neil Simon observes in his play The Sunshine Boys, ‘phrases with a “okay” are humorous, “pickle” is humorous… “cockroach” is humorous… “lettuce” is just not humorous!’).

Maybe there is one thing everlasting within the comedian potential of those humble brined cucumbers. Maybe it’s a matter of style as as to whether you discover this undertaking lovably, fabulously ‘dumb’, or truly simply dumb. Maybe it’s a North-America particular factor, the place pickled cucumbers simply occupy an even bigger, thicker, funnier area within the collective cultural psyche.

Branding concept by Study Hall for Thick Pickle, including motion graphics, logotype and packaging design



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