When COVID-19 hit the UK and the nation went into lockdown in March 2020, the prospect of wearing face coverings for the British public was intimidating. At the time, the UK Government was not endorsing face coverings, despite masks being a key tool in the fight to reduce potential transmission of airborne droplets and the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses in the Far East.
Smug was established in May 2020 to combat intimidation of the ‘new norm’ and help people wear smiles. Smug’s aim was to create the perfect reusable face covering, at a price that was accessible to all, and promote the best of British design and manufacture. As a social enterprise, Smug also had sustainable values. The product designers were briefed to not over-engineer the mask with the inclusion of cheap nano-filter inserts that offered no real benefit and would end up in landfill. And each Smug was digitally printed using non-toxic dyes onto double-layered organic cotton fabric with all materials sourced in the UK. Smug was ethical too. For every qualifying Smug order, another face covering was donated to the community. And Smug employed an all-UK workforce, paying above the Living Wage. Every Smug that left the factory demanded the attention of at least seven people as it was printed, washed, cut, sewn, trimmed, picked and packed, with love.
We were commissioned to help position Smug and create a visual identity to communicate its purpose – a fun brand dedicated to helping people wear smiles. We created a logo, containing a valuable emoji asset, initially used as a mechanic that enabled Smug to ‘brand’ stock photography while the product was in development, and later to embody the positive face of face-coverings, for both B2C as designer face wear and B2B markets in the form of bespoke commercial masks as Smug moved to help the nation back to work when the first lockdown was lifted.
Smug celebrated the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine by closing its doors, but during its short spell in the sun, the social enterprise consistently maintained its position of ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot right up until close of business in December 2020 and donated over 2,000 Smugs to the community – its true mission.