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The Stockholm-based studio has crafted branding full of bacteria, litmus test-looking textures and, naturally, delicious fruit for Swee Kombucha.
In food and drink branding, there are two approaches which are often perceived as contradictory: scientific brands and “all-natural” brands, both with their own set of fairly overused visual motifs. Stockholm-based design studio Bedow is throwing all that in the bin with the branding for Swee, a kombucha brewery in Tbilisi. Proving that natural ingredients are still chemicals and that bacteria is as organic as an apple, Bedow wanted to show “‘100 per cent natural’ in a super rational way”, knowing one thing will always come out of approaching branding differently: “It will probably stand out on the shelf,” Perniclas Bedow, creative director and CEO of the studio, tells us.
To bring this approach to the fore, the Swee wordmark has been drawn using hundreds of oscillating shapes, inspired by yeast and bacteria forming in a petri dish. The kombucha itself is another core visual element of the identity, but taken in the most literal sense; the ingredient list has been turned into an infographic system. Perniclas explains: “we designed a grid system with one hundred squares where each square is filled with a colour representing one percentage of an ingredient.” Each ingredient has been colourised according to its real-life counterpart – water is blue, pomegranate is red, ginger is yellow, and so on – meaning the front label also functions as an informational chart. These visuals actually derived from another fascinating reference point: the Windows 95 defrag process. “I remembered the 90s when I was defragging my first PC, waiting and waiting for these squares to fill up to 100 per cent,” says Perniclas.
Bedow: Swee (Copyright © Swee, 2022)
Bedow then gave the idea further depth for the label. “When we had designed the grid system and filled them with colours we felt that the whole design became a bit flat. That flat look didn’t match a product filled with living bacterias so we interpreted each ingredient in the form of a pattern.” Alongside these patterns, Bedow wanted to use a rational sans serif for branding “with decent legibility in smaller sizes”. The studio turned to Untitled Sans by Klim Type Foundry for the English labels and Helvetica Neue for the Georgian labels, a decision which Perniclas states the studio arrived on due to a limitation as “not all fonts cover the Georgian alphabet”.
While Perniclas describes the typographic and infographic elements of the identity as more “rational”, the wordmark motion design is where the studio brings organic visuals into the mix. “The wordmark is totally different from the rest of the identity”, confirms Perniclas. At first, Bedow began sketching the “S” logo by hand to contrast the packaging. “The hand-drawn bacteria S’s that we tried were cute, but we felt that we had to do something digital that works better for motion graphics.” Instead, the studio developed a wordmark out of bacteria coming together to form one letter in the wordmark. “Easy to animate and fun to experiment with,” adds Perniclas. And, we might add, a joy to watch to boot.
Bedow: Swee (Copyright © Swee, 2022)
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.
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