How we created the brand identity for a cleaning product that wants to save the environment
Coco Custo is an eco-friendly, natural laundry detergent. It is 100% non-toxic and biodegradable, and it is not tested on animals.
The brand’s founder, Shaan Lalwani, came to us right at the start — before the brand even had a name. We at Bokaap Design worked with her to create the brand identity — the name, logo, and product packaging. Our goal was to create a brand that:
- conveys a feeling of calm, clean, and fresh
- evokes nature and the ocean
- stands out amongst competitors as a non-toxic, eco-friendly, biodegradable product
“I don’t want this to look like just any other cleaning product.” — Shaan Lalwani, Founder
The idea for creating an eco-friendly laundry detergent came to Shaan 30 metres underwater off the coast of a tropical island amid bright coral and vibrant marine life. Her diving instructors had said something earlier that day that bothered her — how the runoff from cleaning products affects the coral and marine life in shallower waters. She took a risk and quit her job, adopted a sustainable lifestyle, and set to work on creating a line of eco-friendly cleaning products. The laundry detergent is the first product to market.
The brand’s founder and origins influenced every aspect of this project. They gave the brand a personality that helps it stand out as a fresh, new entrant in a market with existing competitors.
Building the Brand
Shaan wants to make a tangible contribution to saving the environment. Her passion for diving and sustainable living stood out to us in every meeting. We combined these passions and her willingness to take risks to create brand Coco Custo.
The brand was born in the ocean, so it’s only natural that we pay homage to the ocean while building the brand. As we tied in the brand’s origins to its identity, we also had to highlight its fundamental nature — it is a non-toxic, biodegradable product meant to clean without harming the environment.
We conducted 8 to 10 workshop-style sessions with Shaan during the naming process. We began with an attribute exercise to understand the elements we want to convey with the brand.
We then brainstormed many names that would convey pure and refreshed — things associated with cleanliness. We conducted market research surveys to determine what types of words and names our target audience responded positively to.
After several iterations, we arrived at Coco Custo, a name both Shaan and we were happy with.
- ‘Coco’ comes from coconut, the detergent’s core ingredient. It speaks to the natural ingredients used to create the detergent and integrates eco-friendliness in the brand name.
- ‘Custo’ is a nod to the brand’s oceanic beginnings. It is inspired by Jacques Cousteau, a French naval officer who was an avid marine conservationist and researcher.
We had started thinking of ideas for the visual elements of the logo as we worked on the name. Because the brand’s goal is to save marine life and protect the ocean, we incorporated both a wave and a coconut tree within the letter C. We worked with negative spaces to create a subtle nod to the brand story.
We created a brand style where the packaging comprises different shades of a single colour. The laundry detergent is the first in a proposed range of Coco Custo products, which will be differentiated by their colour while being connected by the illustration style. We used blue for laundry detergent to introduce the brand and its connection to the ocean to potential customers.
Before we start designing, we share references with the client of different illustration styles. For this project, the style we had in mind was a flat illustration style. We didn’t want to make any object look 3D. The challenge was then to show depth, so it didn’t look like shallow ocean waters. It was an iterative process with many sketches.
Once we got the depth right, we had to address continuity — how do you expand this sketch to the entire label and show continuity without repeating elements? We created underwater hills, coral, and fish. We deliberately used marine life that is small so it complements the message and doesn’t overpower it.
Another challenge was zeroing in on the exact shade of blue needed to convey cleanliness — that perfect moment of the day when the sun’s rays hit the ocean and make the water look crystal clear. We looked at a lot of underwater photography and photos of the ocean taken at different times of the day. We even looked at images from The Little Mermaid! We didn’t want to show early in the day or night time, because the water colour is different at those times. Shaan’s involvement was helpful at this stage. She gave us feedback to help us identify exactly what she was looking for based on her experiences diving.
We’d found the perfect combination of blue and marine life, but the design still didn’t convey that the product is a laundry detergent. That’s when we added an island with a washing machine on it. Conceptually, the story behind the packaging is that you can use Coco Custo to wash your clothes even if you’re on an island in the middle of the ocean — it’s eco-friendly so you won’t have to worry about it polluting the ocean and affecting marine life.
To be successful as a brand, there should be cohesion in every single element of the brand identity. The brand name and visual identity must complement each other.
The different elements of brand identity are equally important, and we give them the time they need to tell the brand story. The naming and logo design took about 1.5 months each. Packaging took up another 3 to 6 months. We designed the package label and were also involved in helping Shaan decide the packaging material. She was clear from the outset that she didn’t want to use plastic and wanted to have a round box. We settled on having a cardboard box and helped her source a manufacturer in Surat.
Coco Custo has a mission, a brand identity, and plans to make more cleaning products eco-friendly. We’re excited to carry forward Shaan’s vision and bring the colours of marine life into our homes, one new product at a time.
Coco Custo is handmade in India — you can buy their products here!