Game-changing is one of the most overused terms around. So what do you do when branding a product that actually does change the game ?
This was the case with Sure Chill – a cooling technology with the potential to transform refrigeration across the world, especially in developing countries. It was invented by True Energy – sustainable energy technology innovators based in a small village in Wales, UK but with ambitions to change how the world powered things.
We’d worked with True Energy a few years earlier on a comprehensive brand identity project. At that point, True Energy made a number of different products from solar panels to wind turbines, of which Sure Chill was just one. Their focus was not just on making energy technologies more sustainable but making them more attainable for people living in developing countries. Why should the essentials – street lighting, refrigeration – be the preserve of developed nations?
As the brand bedded in and the business matured, it became clear that amongst True Energy’s product range there was one superstar – Sure Chill.
Sure Chill is an entirely different approach to cooling technology – not just improved refrigeration, but a new breed that breaks reliance on grid energy. It keeps medical supplies and perishable food at the perfect temperature for days on end after being charged for just a few hours. It’s potential to change the way the world kept things cool was such that True Energy made the strategic decision to change the company name to Sure Chill and focus solely on marketing Sure Chill to leading organisations in the humanitarian field, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as multinational food and beverage retailers.
This single-minded and astute business decision presented us, as creators of brands, with an interesting challenge – how do you turn a product brand into a company brand? This wasn’t the only challenge. Sure Chill is not made from wires and bolts. It’s just a scientific principle – the fact that water has a unique ability to maintain a constant temperature of 4 degree – that powers Sure Chill. How do you brand a scientific principle?
Challenges, yes. But these are also the questions that excite us. The answers, as always, began with finding the single most powerful truth about the product.
Sure Chill’s freedom from the grid doesn’t just mean it makes refrigeration more reliable in those areas prone to power cuts. It actually makes refrigeration possible where it simply was not possible before – the remote African village, the mountains of North India. Keeping food and drink chilled, yes. But also keeping life-saving vaccines in perfect condition – when vaccines become too warm or too cold, they quickly lose potency. Reliable refrigeration is not then a luxury. It’s a life saver.
It was this almost magical property of Sure Chill – its ability to make what should be impossible cooling, possible – that inspired our creative thinking. This was a new kind of cold, cold reinvented. So we set about creating a visual identity that told this story of a new cool.
Visualising cool was not easy we discovered. It’s a feeling, not an image. We also had to avoid any visual references to ice — freezing temperatures are just as damaging as warmer temperatures to F&B and medical goods alike. Initial ideas and visual representations of cool met with resistance from the client who was all too aware of the damage that any association with ice would incur.
Inspiration instead came, perhaps counter intuitively for a product so future-focused, on old mythological representations of cold. The swirling faced gods from Nordic mythology who represented the awesome power of the natural elements — wind, cold. We took these and reinterpreted these icons of natural power for a modern age. More angular, more stripped back, more intriguing. This minimalist, unusual logo was the beginning of a story of an entirely new kind of cold that works in an entirely new way.
The logo and visual identity was just one part of the telling of the story. One of the greatest barriers to people buying into Sure Chill was explaining how the technology worked. People simply could not believe that a technology as seemingly simple as Sure Chill was worth the investment. How do you convince the Head of Procurement at Coca Cola that their stock is going to be kept perfectly chilled by a water-powered refrigerator?
Yet when you spoke to the inventor of the technology, an unassuming but brilliant engineer, you were left in no doubt of the simple genius of Sure Chill. He spoke eloquently about how inspiration for the cooling technology came from a walk by a frozen lake. He was struck by the fact that, that even though the top of the lake was frozen, fish could still swim underneath.
It was the physics of water that meant this could happen. Water above or below 4 degrees C always rises to the top, forming ice on the top of lake or, conversely, creating the bubbles that rise to the top of a boiling pan of water. It means that all the water beneath is 4 degrees C – the perfect temperature to store food, beverages and life-saving vaccines. We decided to turn this charming story into an animation that showed that the law of physics that powered Sure Chill was simple. The brilliance lay in applying it to a cooling technology.
This was a brand project that stretched us. We had to work to understand the technology and then find ways of communicating this with clarity and simplicity but without ever making the technology seem simple. Not easy. But it worked. The client was happy. We were happy. And in the year following the brand re-launch, Sure Chill was awarded $1.4 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to use its ground-breaking technology to develop a life saving vaccine cooler. Its results like that we like.
“The new identity and the website are stunning. Your branding expertise and creativity helped us bring everything together to make something very special. We did it! And it feels good.”
– Peter Saunders OBE, Chairman, Sure Chill