What are locusts?
Locusts are essentially a special type of grasshopper, but what makes them different is that they exist in two behavioral states, whereas grasshoppers do not. When locusts are in their solidarity behavioral state, they act like grasshoppers do. However, what makes them special is that when certain environmental conditions are met, such as when there is rain or moisture, they undergo a behavioral change called polyphenism. During this state, they also go under a physiological transformation in which their brain functions and their coloration changes. This results in an attraction of locusts together, creating a swarm of coordinated locusts often seen across Africa and Asia.
For my logo and product ideas, I took some inspiration from the wings of the locusts. After doing a few sketches, I gravitated towards the idea of doing a more sophisticated design, which led me to think of more luxurious food ideas. China was one of the countries that faced a locust problem earlier this year, which is what inspired me to perhaps do a take on an Asian snack or food.
After researching different types of locusts, the color of the red locust particularly caught my attention. The bright red color reminded me of the Mid Autumn Festival that had just recently occurred, as red is considered to be a lucky color in Asian cultures. Similar to how locusts are seen and behave in swarms, mooncakes symbolize togetherness and union for a family during the festival. Mooncakes are only given out during the Mid Autumn Festival, so its limited seasonality creates a high demand and is a delicacy in Asian culture.
During this stage, I did not yet have a clear idea of what product I wanted to do. I was torn between doing something more sophisticated and expensive, or creating a product that would be more playful. I was juggling the ideas of either doing a type of chip or expensive chocolate, but I wasn't too confident in either idea. I thought of different design elements I could experiment with, which included the locusts' wing details, or play around with the Chinese character of "fly" (pronounced "fēi"). I struggled quite a bit with my initial ideas, but it wasn't until my second round of sketches that I felt more confident in my product idea.
Quick thumbnail sketches of potential logo
At this point, I knew that I wanted to use the locust in a mooncake and go for an elegant concept to fit with the theme of this Chinese delicacy. I played around with some line work, but still felt as if there was something missing in these iterations. After feedback and critique from peers, I still felt myself struggling with the logo mark. I knew that I needed to do some more exploration, and even though I was in a better place compared to my last sketches, I was not pleased with any ideas in this iteration either.
Final Logo Design
During this round of sketching, I experimented with the stamp-like logo mark that I created during round two. After creating three different iterations of it, I still was not set on the design. As a last minute addition, I decided to go back to the idea of creating a logo out of line work, which eventually translated into my final logo mark.
I made the decision to not go with a more traditional Chinese design, as I wanted my product to appeal to a more American audience. The logo is a clean design of straight and curved lines to create a locust. Both the logo and the pattern I created to go along with it have strong symmetry to keep the design looking orderly. The simple logo embodies the modernity of the brand, while the intricate patterns pay homage to traditional geometric Chinese patterns.
To go along with the logo, I was also tasked with creating a pattern that took inspiration from the biomimicry of the insect. This pattern would be used across both the packaging and the business system. I used the logo mark, which had taken inspiration from the form of the locust, as well as inspiration from traditional, geometric Chinese patterns.
Within the packaging pattern itself, there is also symbolism behind the shapes used. A perfect circle is nearly impossible to draw just with bare hands, which is why it is highly valued. The circle represents unity and perfection, which is why the Mid-Autumn festival is so important in Chinese culture, as it’s a celebration of the moon at its fullest. The squares in the pattern have straight lines and sharp corners, representing laws and regulations. Like the circle, perfect squares are hard to accomplish with just bare hands, and also represent perfection in a way.
Black and white pattern
To further solidify the brand identity, I was also tasked with creating a business system for this quarter long project. To stay consistent with the elegance and simplicity of the brand, I decided to go minimal with my design with lots of white space. The business system includes: a letterhead, envelope, and business card.
Currently, mooncakes are marketed towards a pretty traditional Asian audience. These include Asian immigrants and those who are familiar with the mooncakes and the custom associated with it during the mid-autumn festival. However, the packaging for these products carry heavy Asian influences, with often the use of Chinese and Vietnamese characters/words that strictly appeal to those audiences. Many of these packages, again, are often just simple boxes that do not really add much onto the experience of opening up a mooncake.
The box I designed includes 4 hexagonal compartments that swing open and fit within each other, with lids that secure both the top and the bottom and the compartments in place. With my packaging, I take on a more modern and Americanized approach to the design in order to appeal to a wider audience through a more geometrical and sophisticated approach.
Hexagonal compartments of the packaging
As most mooncakes are packaged in tins, it can often be hard to open the box because the metals often get stuck on each other. The box is constructed with a paperboard material, making it easily recyclable. Mooncakes are often individually wrapped with layers of plastic material, so by wrapping them in biodegradable parchment paper with a wax seal, it will reduce waste while preventing tampering. To further amplify the luxurious experience, each compartment is lined with organic silk, which is produced more ethically by letting the silk worms die naturally, and is readily biodegradable.
The goal is to appeal to an audience beyond the typical Asian market, specifically towards first generation Asian Americans and those who are not familiar with mooncakes.
Completed packaging (front)
Completed packaging (back)