Api’s Chocolate: A sweet rebrand

“Our goal was to make unique, authentic packaging for the Api’s Chocolate brand without costing too much money in production and materials.” NCAD Visual Communication R&D team

Api’s Chocolate Ltd, a small family-operated enterprise, was set up by Maria and Andre Lukacova in 2010 with their son, Api, the brand’s namesake. The Lukacovas started the business in their home in Errill, County Laois, before opening a café in Portlaoise in 2014. With products inspired by the Lukacova’s experience of the chocolatier industry in Belgium and Paris, Api’s Chocolate soon garnered the custom of locals and visitors to the town. However, in 2017, the Lukacovas announced the closure of their café, aiming instead to focus on supplying shops nationwide.

That same year, as recipients of an Enterprise Ireland “Artisan Food Innovation” voucher, the Lukacovas approached NCAD with a view to developing a new brand identity and range of packaging solutions for their products. NCAD assigned a team of Visual Communication students to the project. The Lukacova family had a clear understanding of their customer base, as well as the new market sectors they wished to reach and so, working collaboratively with the students, they helped to direct the research process. Extensive market research and competition analysis was carried out by the students with one key finding demonstrating that their current branding for Api’s Chocolate was far too similar to that of one of their biggest competitors.

Following this in-depth phase of research, the students developed a range of brand concepts and selected two to present to the Lukacovas. The two options each explored distinct packaging solutions for a range of seven Api’s Chocolate products. The first concept used labels incorporating the new brand identity and logo as an inexpensive, flexible solution. The second concentrated on developing luxury packaging, targeting gourmet foods retailers such as the Food Academy at Irish retail chain Supervalu. The Lukacovas opted for this second, luxury option with a view to rolling out their new packaging in August 2017.

True to the maxim that less is more, the selected design opts for a muted colour palette of subtle hues, lending the product a fresh and contemporary appearance. Cool grey labels and lettering compliment the brown paper packaging while simple line drawings illustrate the range of flavours available. As stated by students involved in the rebrand: “We aimed to give the product a homemade, family-orientated look, while reminding the customer of its luxury quality and delicious taste. The use of brown paper bags and boxes with a limited colour scheme makes the product simple, cost effective and easy to produce.”