Brilliant makeover the nation’s favourite gherkin matriarch

Dec Connolly Editor

Email business@thebusinessjournal.co.uk

Leeds-based Brilliant, a creative marketing and branding agency specialising in food and drink, has given the UK’s number one gherkin brand, Mrs Elswood its first brand refresh since the 90s.  

To celebrate 75 years of Mrs Elswood, Brilliant were brought on board to evolve the brand look and feel and its iconic matriarch across all SKUs. 

Mrs Elswood first appeared on jars of gherkins as far back as the 1970s as a smiling young woman, she was later replaced by an illustration and has stayed relatively unchanged since.

The Mrs Elswood team wanted to modernise the brand, emphasising its versatility as well as the humbleness of the product itself, while still retaining the familiarity and dependability of the Mrs Elswood character that consumers had bought into. 

The smiling brunette, emblematic of gherkins and pickled vegetables, was developed by the creative team at Brilliant supported by illustrator Myles Talbot who has previously worked on projects for Pringles, Minute Maid and Asda.  

In a bold move, Brilliant swapped the white lid for red to give more shelf presence, with the red paying homage to the red ribbon of the Mrs Elswood logo.

Creative Director at Brilliant, Laurra Davis said:This was a brand evolution with a core character at the heart of it. Ensuring we keep the distinctive elements the brand has built up over decades  – the green, the red ribbon and of course, Mrs Elswood herself. Making over such an iconic on-pack character was a huge responsibility, so for us we wanted to retain her warmth, and her motherly qualities whilst bringing her up to date.

Throughout the work we felt it was important to retain the brand’s heritage and recognisable cues, whilst also creating a new naming and colour convention so that each product would be much easier to identify on shelf. The vibrant red lid was introduced to give the jars real shelf stand out and to pay homage to the red ribbon that has become synonymous with the Mrs Elswood logo.” 

Brilliant’s creative refresh has helped to consolidate the brand with a new look that feels more up to date and is more relatable to today’s consumer. The new face of Mrs Elswood is now also equipped for the brand to use for digital purposes as the previous illustration couldn’t be used on social media and online. 

When they had a design to test it was put to a research group of 600 category consumers who actively buy gherkins in UK supermarkets, allowing us to compare the existing jar vs the new jar on 20+ different metrics.  It also allowed the team at Mrs Elswood to test aspects such as brand recall and identify hotspots and brand cues on the existing and new packaging which people liked and didn’t like. The result was a positive skew towards the new design across all metrics. 

Mat Moyes, Senior Brand Manager at Mrs Elswood said: 

“Mrs Elswood has been growing consistently in recent years, and we felt the time was right to evolve, and to modernise the brand. 

“Brilliant took time to understand every element of our business from the category to the consumer, usage occasions as well as our heritage – in order to retain all of the core Mrs Elswood values.  We’re incredibly proud of the modernisation work across our brand – and we can’t wait to hear what shoppers have to say!”