In 2017, the British branding agency Robot Food looked up from their regular work for clients like MTV, Uber and Pepsico, took stock of the market, and saw a gap.
As Robot Food details, “In an industry worth billions and with over 40% of the Western world bearing ink—why were there no long-term skincare brands dedicated to tattooed skin?”
Thus Electric Ink was born. Featuring a design paying homage to classic flash sheets (those galleries of ink ideas at tattoo parlors), the product launched and found success in Urban Outfitters, Boots, Selfridges and other global outlets, doing so with vegan, paraben- and cruelty-free production methods.
Now, after taking a look at the market once again, Robot Food has decided to shift to a direct-to-consumer model, and rebrand Electric Ink as 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.”
As Robot Food creative strategist Natalie Redford says, “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.”
With the move to DTC comes new design opportunity. Without needing to loudly broadcast the concept of all things “tattoo” on in-store packaging, the team took a nuanced approach to the design.
Robot Food moved the flash sheet to the interior of the packaging and the branded tissue in shipping boxes, and sought to blend the aesthetic of contemporary skincare and beauty products with their own. The result utilizes a clean icon system that honors the original design, with excellent deployment of color and contrast.
DTC has also given the team control of the total brand environment, from a new site to the photographic positioning, brand voice and more.
“Now more than ever, to be truly successful, brands need a compelling purpose behind their design,” says Simon Forster, Robot Food founder and Stories & Ink co-founder. “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.”
Check out the work below.