May 20th, 2014

It was way back in 1864 when the McDougall brothers launched the first ever ‘yeast substitute’ for baking. This would be the starting point that would not only revolutionise home-baking but firmly position McDougall’s as a household name nationwide, especially for their self-raising flour, laying foundation for what would become one of Britain’s great brands.


For decades McDougall’s lead the industry – no kitchen (domestic or commercial) was complete without a bag of McDougall’s self-raising flour to hand.

Baking peaked in the 1930s in direct correlation with the great depression, but then tailed away in the 60s as homemade cakes and buns started to fade from everyday life, replaced by mass-produced goods such as breads and biscuits. But since the mid 90s, partly due to Delia Smith, baking has been on the rise.

Over the last five years we have seen a huge spike in a home baking. A ‘home-baking revival’ has occurred due to the hugely popular TV shows like ‘Masterchef’ and ‘The Great British Bake-off’. They have made baking ‘cool’, ‘hip’ and relevant, appealing to all ages, young and old. The industry today is worth £2 billion in the UK alone.

For the more established flour brands, like McDougall’s this huge ‘baking-explosion’ has brought new challenges. It has created a highly competitive market with many new flour brands jostling for a share of this ever-growing industry. There is competition like never before from younger, more dynamic brands with more aggressive marketing strategies. Heritage and history is no longer solely sufficient to lead the industry. It is more important than ever that brands like McDougall’s innovate and pioneer within the industry if they have any hope of holding onto the large market share they have worked so hard to build over the last 150 years.

Nowadays we live in a participative media environment where connection and engagement with brand’s consumers is vital. Brands like McDougall’s should seek to educate, entertain and engage to ensure a continued market grip within their industry.

That said, a new lease of life can sometimes come from small changes as well as big ones. Reinvigorating product design, brand positioning and focus can all lead to brand ‘stand-out’ across the marketplace.

This year marks McDougall’s 150th birthday, so we couldn’t resist having a crack at one small part of the current McDougall’s brand make-up – the packaging. (Current packaging below)


The first design looks to celebrate the McDougall’s heritage through the beautiful vintage design with retro typography and graphics. The design plays on nostalgia of a simpler era past. The design is based on an existing old brand graphic, but updated with the present colours and the well known McDougall’s ‘smile’ logo from current packaging. This results (in our view) in a stunningly striking but familiar product label which is bound to turn any avid baker’s head in the supermarket.



The second design attempts to simplify the current packs, distilling the content down to its most simplest form. It can be communicated clearly and confidently. Clean, simple in design with character and emotion being conveyed by interesting typography and bold flat colours.


This concept uses fine paint sprayed inspired backgrounds, paralleling the dust like consistency of quality flour. This could be a contemporary way of distinguishing the different flour types. We’ve also added a gold foil to bring gravitas to the 150th year milestone.


Maybe even a series of retro styled coloured backgrounds could help recreate the brand’s history. (You may notice the familiar placeholder within this picture from this campaign) We would envisage classic field scenes and countryside. The packs could be collectable, maybe making one big scene when placed together. Or like here on the right, simple graphic illustrations could convey the messaging.


McDougall’s is a prime example of a Great British brand. A brand that has been through 150 years of human endeavour, change and technological evolution. A brand that still stands proud on the shelves of our supermarkets and in the hearts of homes across our country. We hope the brand keeps progressing so it can maintain its place in our kitchens for another 150 years.