Suki Tea are a brilliant tea brand based right here in Belfast.
Founded in 2005 by Oscar and Annie, Suki has stayed true to its roots while growing steadily over the years. When we met, Suki was selling into 1700 coffee shops across the UK and Ireland. They’d worked with lots of good designers over the years, so when they asked us to help them shape the future of their brand, we knew we had our work cut out for us.
Suki Tea had dipped its toe in the water with Retail Sales, but never quite had the time, energy or production capacity to pursue it properly. But that was changing. Suki were in the process of dramatically expanding their premises, and scaling up their production to over 5× their previous capacity. It was time to start taking retail seriously.
We started by collecting every last piece of printed material that Suki had ever had produced. We interviewed Oscar and his team for hours (sorry Oscar!) about their history, and mapped out who their customers had been in the past, and their hopes for the future.
We interviewed a handful of loose leaf tea drinkers about their conversion to proper tea, and their buying experiences. It’s incredible how quickly patterns emerge from interviewing a small amount of people using the right methods. We used analytics to challenge our assumptions, and unearth a few interesting insights.
Anyway, we worked hard to get to the core of what Suki cared about, what their customers cared about. Suki’s best self was adventurous, interesting and ethical. And when Suki was adventurous, interesting and ethical, its consumers were proud to buy it and, more importantly, talk about it.
We presented it to the team. Suki were excited. We were onto something.
Once we had a focus, we worked on key messaging, a tone of voice and key visuals for the Suki Tea brand. We introduced an illustration style, a revised colour palette and typography that reflects Suki’s values and ambition, in line with what their customers love about the brand.
We designed a packaging system that could accommodate either pyramid bags or loose leaf tea, bringing common themes to 40+ tea varieties that Suki sells. Since their tea varieties sell in very different volumes, the system was designed to accommodate different production techniques while maintaining consistency across the range.
Suki Tea entered retail with a bang. From high-end retailers like Harrods, to farm shops and delis across the UK and Ireland, Suki took more orders and inquiries than they could have hoped for.
A few months later, after stepping through a 7-gate quality process, Suki proudly announced that Marks & Spencers had secured UK supermarket exclusivity — especially remarkable, given that 95% of M&S’s food is own-brand.
We’re proud to maintain a great relationship with the Suki team. We’ve helped them on campaigns, designed their subscription model and packaging and designed and built an online Tea Menu Generator for their coffee shop customers. We’re proud to continue to work with them as they grow their business.
And right now, we’re building an iPhone app together. It’s pretty.
Maybe we could make something great together? Tell us about your thing.