Sussex-based bakery, Prosperity Brownies, invested in the Design Council’s coaching programme back in 2008. National and international market growth and major retail chain distribution followed as a result of a project that significantly boosted the future of the business.

Paul and Jane Hatcher knew that to expand their business, two things needed to be addressed: greater brand recognition and longer product shelf life. To do this, new packaging was needed that would also reflect both the premium quality of the brownies and the company’s ethical philosophy. The breakthrough came when owner Paul heard about the Design Leadership Programme – the Design Council’s national coaching programme – that promotes the value of design in commercial performance, guiding businesses through the process in a practical hands-on way.

Working with Gavin Pryke, one of the Design Council’s Design Associates, Paul and Jane reviewed every aspect of their business and its marketplace, identifying more clearly what they wanted their brand to stand for and exploring future market opportunities. “It was the most thorough examination of the business we had done up until that point,” says Paul.

The result was packaging that reinforced the premium, ethical and fun nature of the Prosperity Brownies brand while delivering on the commercial need for longer shelf life and heightened brand awareness. By extending the shelf life of its products and underlining the brand’s premium positioning, Prosperity Brownies created a solid platform for growth. Sales rose and the company secured a raft of new contracts, including Waitrose, Co-op, Budgens and National Trust shops.

“The design we ended up with was strong – far more so than if we’d been left to our own devices to develop it, and less rustic and homespun than the initial ideas we’d had at the beginning,” says Jane. “The packaging also changed the perception of the product. A Brighton retailer who’d been selling our brownies for some time saw sales increase five-fold, with some customers saying the brownies are even better than before despite being assured they are identical!”