Product Design/Branding/Graphic Design/Video/Web Design/Digital Marketing/Photography/PR
Solving a problem in style
When developing a product, proximity to the problem is key. You don’t want to solve a problem that no one actually has. In the case of Water Pooch, Roy Chong, the founder of Noodle Wave Media, and his wife, Helene, were creating a solution to a problem in their own lives: stinky dog collars. Living in the Pacific Northwest, they spend a lot of time outdoors with their golden retriever, Jolie. Since, like most collars, her collars were made of materials like leather and nylon, when they got wet, bacteria would build up on them, making them smell like a wet sock. Roy thought a waterproof collar would be the answer, but he couldn’t find one that had a lifestyle feel. That’s when the concept for Water Pooch was born: a line of waterproof dog collars that are the perfect hybrid of functionality and style.
Since Roy and his family were the target audience – people who spend time outside with their dog but want their pooch to wear something fashion-forward – the “Think” phase became figuring out exactly what they would want in a dog collar. With a solid idea in place, they entered the “Feel” stage of the process. Roy and Helene designed all of the collars themselves and obsessed over the details, including pattern, hardware and materials, considering everything from choosing metal that wouldn’t corrode when wet to the exact placement of the rivets. They designed the patterns from scratch and crafted the product to evoke a certain type of emotion. Having the opportunity to bring the analytical and creative side together was a really fun experience.
Once the collars were designed, Roy and Helene found a manufacturer in China. Since establishing a relationship is paramount when working with a manufacturer, they actually traveled to China to meet them in person, walk through the factory and gain an understanding of their process. You can do a lot via email and phone or video calls, but meeting face-to-face makes a more powerful statement. Even with an established level of the trust, quality control was still the dominant part of the “Do” phase. Roy and Helene performed quality control for every aspect of the collar, because no matter how great the product looks in pictures or how much marketing is done, if a product doesn’t stand up to what’s promised, the concept will fall flat.
When the final product was perfected and delivered, we took the photos and kicked off the marketing campaign. Part of the core strategy was to leverage Jolie’s Instagram account. Roy and Helene had slowly built up the account before launching the product and created relationships with influencers in the doggie world, amassing over 23,000 followers. They used the account as a launching pad for the campaign. The other part of the strategy was going directly to retailers and getting products into stores. Tapping into ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail proved to be successful.
Breaking the Third Wall of Design
We work mostly in a 2D environment at Noodle Wave. As a digital agency, creating something tangible that we could hold in our hands was a new experience and we loved the challenge of transitioning to a 3D product. We weren’t just designing for aesthetics, but also functionality, and there were so many factors in the commercial design process to consider that we don’t normally think about in a digital world. In the end, the feeling of seeing and touching those first Water Pooch collars was something we’ll never forget.
Thanks to the relationships we made through Jolie’s Instagram account, we were able to connect with a leading influencer in the dog community, @mywhiskeygirl. We collaborated to create a stunning brand video. We drove a little bit of PPC behind the video, distributed it through social media channels and used it as the lead piece to launch the campaign.
The goal was to create a product with a lifestyle component to it. The patterns Roy and Helene designed were inspired by everything from cherry blossoms to traditional Japanese depictions of mountains to a Louis Vuitton pattern. The nods to contemporary fashion, combined with the functionality that active dogs need, is what made Water Pooch collars so unique.
We took a ton of product shots and there was a definitive mood to each of them. Our aim was to exemplify a fashion-forward lifestyle vibe in the photography. We did photoshoots depicting style-conscious dog owners representing aspirational lifestyles and others representing an outdoor lifestyle. These were our two target audiences and we made sure our photography appealed to both of them.
The Water Pooch website was a huge component of the campaign. It was designed to be the platform where people would purchase the collars. We created an ecommerce-based site featuring beautiful, eye-catching product photography. We also put snapshots showcasing the features of the product front and center. This helped to really define the problem and highlight why the waterproof collars are the solution pet parents need.
Building an authentic community is important. We know the word “influencer” conjures up different feelings. But, for us, targeting influencers in the doggie community and developing meaningful, real relationships with them was crucial. We made true friendships and met up with people in person before we even launched the product. All of these interactions led to collaborations with powerful names in the dog world, ranging from @mensweardog, who has worked with major international fashion brands, to @mywhiskeygirl, who shares her two pup’s adventures in nature with nearly 150K followers.