Omse champions British wildlife in identity for budding honey brand

Named after Britain’s native bee, Black Bee Honey is a small beekeeping collective that wants to disrupt the country’s craft honey industry, which is reflected in its branding

According to London-based design studio Omse, honey is the “third most faked food product in the world”. Which is why, in its recent identity for challenger brand Black Bee Honey, the team sought to showcase its purity and origins.

Black Bee Honey was founded in 2017 by former graphic designers Paul Webb and Chris Barnes, who, after taking beekeeping lessons and beginning their own beehive rental business, were inspired to start selling the honey they were producing as a byproduct.

It quickly became clear that the selling point for Black Bee Honey was its traceable, single origins (it’s made by beekeepers in London, the Cotswolds, and Exmoor) and its natural collection process, which sees the honey go straight into the jar from the hive, without anything added or taken away, to ensure maximum flavour.

However, Webb and Barnes were equally keen to champion the bees themselves, as well as the British landscapes and seasons that contribute to the creation of their product, and as such they reached out to Omse to help them build an identity with this in mind.

“We wanted the Black Bee Honey brand to be a creative celebration of British wilderness,” says Pedro Messias, creative director at Omse. “To stand out from other craft honey brands that often go for a more serious, medicinal, type-only vibe.”

Looking for something brighter, bolder, and more in-keeping with Black Bee Honey’s values, the design team brought in illustration and typography that could communicate the zest Webb and Barnes have for the practice of beekeeping.

Omse commissioned New York-based illustrator Cari Vander Yacht to create a range of primary brand illustrations that capture the life of a bee and the world it inhabits. These include illustrations of bees waking up in spring, holding a ‘Glastonbee’ festival in summer, snuggling up in autumn, and finally going back to sleep in winter. “She did a beautiful job of depicting the seasons when the honey is harvested,” comments Messias.

Other illustrations and designs for the brand were produced by London-based artists Inga Ziemele and Florence Poppy Redmore, who worked on special edition jars and merchandise, including T-shirts and tote bags. Messias adds that they introduced “loads of personality and depth to the brand” through their work.

Along with the illustrations, the other focal point for the identity is its typography, which Messias says was designed “to be fun and full of character”. Three bespoke typefaces can be seen across the branding, nodding to the bees and their honey through details such as wing-shaped letterforms.

“The primary typeface, Drip, has distinctive inktraps to subtly reference honey dripping. It’s a harder working typeface that serves as the foundation for the rest of the family,” explains Messias.

“The secondary typeface, Waggle, represents the waggle dance bees do to tell the rest of the hive they just found pollen, [while] the tertiary typeface, Runny, is the most illustrative of them all and is based on runny honey.”

Finally, the colour palette, which was carefully developed by the Omse team, ties all of the graphic and type elements together with a bright selection of hues that reflect British flora, and is accompanied by art direction that “captures a bee’s ultraviolet vision”.