Repositioning the Milford Tee brand – design diary

Milford Tee, a tea brand belonging to the Ostfriesische Tee Gesellschaft, has undergone a rebranding in recent months. As part of the repositioning and communication aimed more at a young female target group, the reach was greatly reduced.

At the beginning of the year, several new types of tea were launched under the Milford tea brand. The “lifestyle” and Ayurvedic-style varieties, advertised under the motto “Bliss of Taste,” aim to “bring positivity and zest for life into the cup sip by sip,” according to the press release. At the same time, the website at milford.de was relaunched. While almost 50 different types of tea were listed there before, there are only 14 after the relaunch. The categories were also reduced from five (fruit tea, herbal tea, children’s tea, winter tea, cool & delicious) to three (happy, Ayurvedic). , cool and delicious).

The company has so far neither communicated the severely limited range nor the changed brand design. Because during the repositioning, the brand’s logo has also changed. Both the lettering and the crown, characteristic of the Milford Tee brand, have been redesigned. In recent years, the form has changed several times.

Milford Tee Logo Evolution, image source: Ostfriesische Tee Gesellschaft, image montage: dt

The profile images used for the brand in connection with social media illustrate the shift from a classic, traditional look to a more simple design. A few years ago, the serifs were removed from the letters. The letters in the new wordmark are narrower and have rounded edges. The crown has been simplified and reduced in form; still placed above the letter M, their position is now slightly oblique.

Since the repositioning of the brand affects the entire range, the changes in the packaging design can only be shown using the “cool & delicious” variants, an example below:

Milford Cool & Tasty Orange Peach - before and after
Milford cool & tasty orange peach – before and after, image source: Ostfriesische Tee Gesellschaft, image montage: dt

The brand logo, the typography used and the shape of the packaging were changed – the basic structure, on the other hand, has not changed, as has the style of the renderings (glasses, tea bags, meadows, sky). The design of the packaging for the new “Happy” variants differs in that red is used throughout as a background color.

The East Frisian Tea Society (OTG) was founded in 1907. Today, OTG is a fourth-generation family business and a subsidiary of Laurens Spethmann Holding (Seevetal, Lower Saxony).

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A redesign that takes place more or less quietly and – so far – largely unnoticed in the background, and about which the manufacturer does not say a word. Which is also understandable in light of the result. Because it is a rather drastic step-down treatment that the Milford tea brand was prescribed here, both on the visual level, the product level and probably also on the sales level. On social media, customers complain that certain varieties or brands are generally no longer available in their local supermarket. My impression is the same. In the local Rewe store, only three of the seven new varieties in red packaging are on the shelves. Next door at Edeka you will only find packaging from the “Cool & Delicious” series. You look in vain for previous varieties such as fruit dream, cherry-banana, etc.

When you stand in front of the supermarket shelves, one thing is clear: the competition is greater than ever. In addition to the classic tea brands such as Teekanne and Meßmer, many other brands have appeared or become more prominent in recent years: Yogi-Tea, Pukka, Cupper, Alnatura, Sonnentor. All brands positioned in the wellness/organic tea segment. Sonnentor had already launched a “Happiness is…” series in 2018 (“pure lightness”, “freshly in love”). One of the big trends of recent years: instead of simply describing the product and its supposed benefits, the communication and packaging design were aimed at consumer needs: the right product for every mood, according to the concept. The more emotionally appealing a product is, the more likely people will buy it.

Milford seems to have missed the connection with a contemporary approach and communication, at least that’s how I would interpret the recent rebranding. Lars Wagener, CEO of Laurens Spethmann Holding (LSH), told Handelsblatt that the Milford brand had been “a problem child for a long time”. Apparently she still is. Because the rebranding describes a brand that has been concentrated on just a few products or cut back in an economic environment that has become increasingly tense due to the pandemic and the war. And the changed brand design – the logo and packaging appear loveless, unimaginative, even downright helpless – is a reflection of this. Once upon a time, the Milford brand lettering exuded class and excellence. It is over. The new brand logo, with a crooked crown stripped of its gems, looks confused. Perhaps a last attempt to align the brand with wellness/organic and a young target group? Before the brand possibly completely disappears from the market. Especially since an own organic tea brand with “Yasashi” was only launched in 2020.

It is interesting in this context that communication in the course of emotionalization and adaptation to consumer moods tends, but not necessarily, to open up gender-specific distinctions. Some examples: “Happiness is … to be a woman” (Sonnentor), “Kvinde-te”/”Måndste” (Yogi-te).

Noteworthy: in the beauty/grooming industry, the development in terms of gender design, as illustrated by the rebrandings at 8×4 or Schauma, takes place in opposite direction! From this we can see that markets, like design processes and changes, cannot always be explained logically and rationally. In any case, when it comes to deodorants and shampoos, manufacturers have for some time tried to eliminate gender-specific differences, probably so as not to give any excuse to use stereotypical role models. It is therefore important to avoid brand bashing and shitstorms, such as those that easily occur on Instagram, Facebook & Co.

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