Hard to believe it’s been a whole year since the last experiment! Since then new doors have been opened, some old ones shut and some seem half closed, but Dzine Mafia is still alive, if a little dusty.


Bio Oil Range Packaging redesign by Dzine Mafia

Experiment #7

The health and beauty sector displays packaging from the luxury, pristine, considered and beautiful to the bad, overworked, plagiaristic and ugly. To me, it’s an area where style and personality are key to a good product. It needs to show confidence, exude trust and tell it’s story with a focussed approach. Something I feel the packaging for Bio Oil lacks.

Bio Oil

I’d heard of Bio Oil before, and knew it was a trusted product that worked well. It’s one of those discoveries that people tell their friends about and gets a lot of word of mouth attention. But it wasn’t until I saw an advert for it on TV that I was astonished by its packaging. There’s no doubt it’s built up a loyal customer base, but for its price point and quality, I felt it deserved a much better packaging design. The current pack feels cheap, unsophisticated and uses two horrible typefaces and just didn’t fill my expectations.

Bio Oil Packaging Design by Dzine Mafia

The redesign

For this experiment, I wanted to push the design. To give the Bio Oil packaging a more professional, styled feel, with a good helping of personality. I started by working on graphical reinterpretations of the existing pack, but these were lacking a human touch. So, to give the design the push I wanted, I  tried using the body. This is where the product is used, so why not show that. It immediately tells a story with no need for words and gives the pack a unique look and a strong personality.

The issue with using any person on packaging is the fear of alienating customers because of the skin colour, sex, or age depicted in the image. It’s a very tricky subject, and maybe one that has been given too much power by the worry of not being politically correct or offending someone. Although, when I have tried to use imagery that is more multi-cultural or even shows sexual orientation on some of my other packaging, it always ends up being amended to conform with the industry expectations. But if we’re all grown up about it, does it really matter about skin colour, age or sexual preference? It shouldn’t, should it?

This is no doubt a massive subject, of which packaging design is just a small part. And this is not the forum to discuss it. But luckily for me, a design concept, like this one, can power through that issue.

The result

The final design has retained some elements from the current packaging – the product title is in a hand written font, it has a bold use of orange and limited text. But now has a design that fits the products quality and price point a lot better. The pack has a human, contemporary feel with nice punch of personality. I’m pleased with the result, even if the choice of body image will cause issues.

Bio Oil Packaging Design by Dzine Mafia

Bio Oil Packaging Design by Dzine Mafia

Bio Oil Packaging Design by Dzine Mafia

The current Bio Oil packaging


Experiment #6

Gift shops and garden centres seem to be a place where both ends of the packaging design spectrum can easily be found. From the badly designed labels, wraps and cartons of the small cottage industry working to a virtually non-existent design budget, to the beautiful, original and unique packaging of the more design savvy brands. The idea for the latest experiment was discovered whilst browsing one of these gift shops at Poole’s Cavern in Buxton, Derbyshire.

The Bakewell Soap Company

A range of soaps and balms nicely displayed in little wicker baskets caught my eye as a range with a lot of design potential. The Bakewell Soap Company make handmade soaps in an old Victorian mill near Bakewell, Derbyshire where they are supplied to gift shops, for guest houses or sold in wholesale.

The products, beautifully coloured blocks of soap specially blended for different skin types, have a luxury gift or personal treat feel to them which should show in their packaging. Sadly the packaging I found didn’t really live up to this. Although the design was adequate, with a consistent approach across the range, it had a very homemade feel in its finish, especially the bad printing of the wrap around label which looked like it had been done on an inkjet at home.

The redesign

The balance of information on the existing packs didn’t feel right to me. Too much emphasis is put on the old mill logo, leaving little space for the variant type. For the DZINE MAFIA packaging I changed this by designing a new, simpler and more classic logo leaving lots of room for a prominent product title. A slab-serif font works with a handprinted look in two colours and is complimented by bespoke illustrations to create an overall artisan and individual feel, much more inline with the product.



The current Bakewell Soap Company packaging


ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

Experiment #5

Something different happened with this experiment – it found me! The guys at Clear Coat emailed me after reading the blog saying they liked the results of the first projects and wondered whether I’d consider taking on their packaging design as the next DZINE MAFIA experiment. Wow! The next project was set up.

Clear Coat

Clear Coat make scratch protective film coatings for mobiles, tablets, laptops, cameras, etc. It’s one of the best and strongest in the market, uniquely applied with the help of a liquid solution and squeegee. Even though they have a vast product range and sell throughout the world in-store and online they’ve always kept their packaging design in-house. In taking on the project and keeping to the DZINE MAFIA ethos, Clear Coat agreed to give me total freedom in the design process.

My brief

So, with a new project ready and one that was ‘real’ I felt I needed to define a clearer brief for myself – redesign the basic box packaging to give Clear Coat a stronger shelf presence, with a quality and premium feel whilst allowing the packaging to be tailored for different products. I also decided to drop everything from the existing design and start afresh. I wanted to try something different with the pack mechanics, something that would feel nice to open, and add an extra quality for the consumer.

Initially I went down a few routes, a lot that were obvious or tired or just seemed to be trying too hard. Until eventually landing on the concept of a shield. This started off as two stylised C’s (from Clear Coat) that formed a shield, and developed into a new brand logo and then further into the packaging concept. The current Clear Coat emblem includes a shield, so this felt like a good nod to that.

ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

The Shield

The shield really sums up what Clear Coat is all about – a strong, protective defence that will take all the cuts and scratches you can throw at it to safeguard your device. The packaging concept shows this in a contemporary graphic style, with two dynamically curved shapes overlapping to create a shield that encompasses and protects the illustration of the device. The information is kept minimal allowing the eye-catching green arrowhead to stand off the white background, creating a strong and daring brand look that jumps off the shelf.

ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

The packaging

The clear slipcase slides off to reveal the inner card pack, which is overprinted with the product title and illustration. Making the packaging customisable was a must, but I didn’t want to just add a label on the front face. Instead this helps to make the product feel bespoke rather than being a uniform pack with a barcode sticker for identification. It makes the consumer feel the product is specifically made for their device, not just a generic pack.

ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

The premium feel follows through the opening of the pack. A gatefold cover reveals a minimal inner declaring the product ‘Proudly made in Philadelphia, PA, USA’, something from Clear Coat’s mission statement. Two interlocking panels then open to show off a patterned inner with an instruction leaflet on display in a coloured Paperfoam tray.

ClearCoat packaging design by DZINE MAFIA

I wanted to keep the instruction leaflet clean, clear and simple. The instructions need to be easy to follow with enough breathing space around each point so as not to over complicate the process. To help the consumer even more I included a QR code linking to a video demonstration on the Clear Coat website.

A final touch to the overall concept was to create one last shield though the combined shapes of the bottle label and squeegee.

The result

The final packaging is very different from the existing Clear Coat pack. It’s freshened it up, given it a bold look on shelf and a premium feel in the unpacking process. Clear, bespoke instructions along with a QR code to an instruction video give the consumer a friendly and considered feel, instilling the thought that as the product is presented well, so it will act well.

Commercially, I’ve probably gone too far, but that’s what these experiments are about. Trying to push a piece of packaging beyond the normal, to make it something good and desirable. In that I think I’ve succeeded.

The current Clear Coat packaging

Don Simon Smoothie Dzine Mafia

Experiment #4

I see the Don Simon ‘my little smoothie’ cartons pretty much everyday as they seem to be a staple part of my son’s diet. In fact one whole shelf in our kitchen is devoted to them! And although the drink itself is delicious, the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. Ugly typography sits with very bad illustrations and a logo that is inconsistent with other Don Simon products. So this little range of fruit smoothies easily fitted the DZINE MAFIA principle.

The redesign

The basic elements of the packs were there already – logo, product name and fun illustration. The biggest problem was there execution. They just look cheap, unconsidered and rushed, like one of the many pieces of packaging that seem to have bypassed the actual designer.

The DZINE MAFIA redesign retains the fun feel, but with interesting and friendly typography, beautiful illustrations with bags more character and secondary copy with more personality. Plus the correct brand logo.

The result

The final design creates a colourful and cute range of drinks, directly aimed at kids with characters they can easily associate with, whilst keeping enough information for mum’s through the little fruit icons and ‘1 of your 5 a day’ text. Ultimately I think i’ve created something that I’d be proud of my son slurping out of.

Don Simon Tropical Smoothie Dzine MafiaDon Simon Fruity Smoothie Dzine MafiaDon Simon Berry Smoothie Dzine Mafia

The current Don Simon My Little Smoothie range.

Don Simon Smoothies

Alex James Cheese Packaging Redesign

Experiment #3

So here’s experiment #3 and the letter C for Cheese. This is kind of one I’d had in the back of my mind for a while. I can’t remember the first time I heard of the connection between Alex James and cheese, but it’s one of those great combinations that can allow a lot more creativity into the design of the packaging. It can let you break the rules of ‘commercial design’ and try something different, unique and bold in its field. You can let the character of the personality or brand stand in the foreground instead of rehashing what the leading product is doing. And that’s what I’d thought ever since hearing about Alex James’ cheese – a fantastic opportunity for whichever designer happened to get the brief.

Oh, if you don’t know, Alex James is the bass player from Blur, who now owns a farm in Oxfordshire which has allowed him to add award-winning cheesemaker to his list creative abilities. Alex has produced three cheeses, ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Farleigh Wallop’ and ‘Little Wallop’, and has now launched his first range of mainstream cheeses in Asda supermarket.

Alex James Cheese Packaging Design DZINE MAFIA

The packaging

I knew the job would be a good one to work on, so was surprised to see the design that made it to shelf. I was expecting something different either from a cool, understated, award-winning cheesemaker angle or an artistic, creative, rock musician feel. But the design that made it was, well, pretty bland. A clever-ish play on the initials AJ, but overall a big lack in oomph.

So the redesign was on

I wanted to keep the design quite simplistic and let the pack shout its message from the shelf with a fun and playful feel. A hand finished font was a must along with blasts of bright colour. The blue from the existing packaging still worked as a good consistent colour across the packs and created a nice contrast with the cheeses seen through the larger pack window. As Alex talks a lot about cheese I made this more of a feature using a bold, blocky speech bubble. Then to finish off a simple, little illustration to emphasise the flavour.

The design lets the packs stand out as something different to the usual cheeses. They allow some personality to show through and would appeal to an adult audience willing to try new flavours as well as kids who I’m sure would enjoy eating the ‘Real Cheese Rebel’ – Tomato Ketchup Cheddar.

Alex James Cheese Packaging Design Dzine Mafia

Alex James Mature Cheddar Packaging Design Dzine Mafia

Alex James Sweet Chilli Cheddar Packaging Design Dzine Mafia

Alex James Spring Onion Cheddar Packaging Design Dzine Mafia

Alex James Tomato Ketchup Cheddar Packaging Design Dzine Mafia

The current Alex James cheese packaging design in Asda.

Well, the second experiment has escaped like a victim from Final Destination. The project had been chosen, researched and started when I discover the packaging has just been given a design revamp, which actually looks pretty good. I’ve not seen the actual piece of packaging that was going to get the DZINE MAFIA treatment, so let’s say this one has been given a reprieve for now.

So onto the third experiment. It’s already been selected and redesigned and should be up for the world to see very soon.