Min Min

Naming, Positioning, Corporate Identity, Copywriting, Website UI/UX/Dev/Build, Packaging & POP for CBD gelato brand

MinMin is… well… weird. It is a brand of assorted flavors of CBD-infused gelato that were to be marketed in Hong Kong. The Chinese corporation who requested that we create the brand asked that it looks like a knowingly fake Japanese brand. In other words, it couldn’t look too authentic, as it is marketed in English and in Cantonese, but with just a little bit of Japanese for atmosphere.

CBD helps consumers relax. Ice cream is viewed as indulgent relaxation food, too. By infusing gelato, ice cream’s healthier Italian cousin, with CBD, perhaps we might have one of the most relaxing products ever.

The client — a large Chinese food and beverage corporation—wanted us to create a Japan-inspired product to take advantage of Hong King’s relaxed regulations around CBD, which had become illegal in mainland China. Our response was to create a little illustrated world filled with goofy and lovable characters that would reflect the client’s desires and would appeal to all of the senses.

The name of the brand had to appeal to Hong Kong consumers and be catchy in Cantonese, Japanese, and English at the same time. After exploring a few dozen names with members of our team in Hong Kong, the client was pleased with “眠眠” or “MinMin”.

The rationale: It is super-simple. Min-min translates into “Sleepy Sleep” or “Sleep Sleep” in both Japanese and Cantonese. It sounds like the name of an anime character, yet alludes to deep sleep and relaxation. Bonus: same kanji/hanzi for Japanese and Cantonese.

The brand was to debut with four flavors of gelato: matcha, yuzu, black sesame, and Hokkaido milk. We approached each flavor as if it was it’s own character: matcha is MinMin, an anthropomorphic kokeshi doll; black sesame is NinNin, a devious little misanthropic ninja; yuzu is ZuZu, an anthropomorphic yuzu fruit dressed very intentionally like the Japanese legend Momotaro the Peach Boy; and finally, Hokkaido milk is represented by Taru, a little sumo wrestler with an inferiority complex.

Ridiculous? Yes.

We executed the character design, ensuring that it didn’t look too authentic and created illustrated environments and color palettes for each character. The logotype is based on Edo-period “higemoji” lettering, often used for kakigori shaved ice banners by street vendors, matched with the head of the title character MinMin, the leading star of the fantasy ensemble.

We created utilitarian and friendly mini-ice cream cup packaging for all four flavors with eco-friendly approaches to materials that are rich with design details and really hold together as a series. Everything is sprinkled with bits of Japanese copywriting for flavor.

Additionally, we designed a variety of point-of-purchase materials such as ice cream freezer shelf runners, stickers, flyer templates, and poster templates.

The bilingual Cantonese/English MinMin website is an animated tour of the world of MinMin, showing the characters in their assorted Japanese environments, providing the backstory of each. The website also alludes to the beneficial properties of both CBD and gelato for consumers who may be unfamiliar with either, and includes a Store Locator section.

The site was built in Webflow and uses a mix of CSS animation throughout.

Additionally, we commissioned Nagoya-based band/sound designers Lullatone to create a 3-minute instrumental theme song for MinMin which users might play via an embedded an mp3 player in the head of the website.

The website is minimal, yet a visual powerhouse of goofy cuteness backed up by a refined mix of Latin, Japanese, and Chinese webfont-driven typography that is intentionally playful.

The site was designed, coded, and deployed by our in-house team here in Tokyo.

You can see the development version here: https://min-min.webflow.io/

The website initially launched, but the Hong Kong government has since banned the sale of CBD, so the entire MinMin project has been put on hold while waiting to see if laws will change. The product website was rolled up, thousands of tubs of gelato were disposed of, and the print materials were put into storage. MinMin may be reconfigured as a CBD-free product in the future. Only time will tell.

We continue to work with the corporation that commissioned us for this project on CBD-infused products for the Japanese market.