In-house creative project
Summary: We transformed a set of quirky bedtime stories in a commercial product. As always with a new offering, everything was a challenge: from format to medium and distribution channel.
Zâmburi is an ultra-short type of content, offering illustrated fictional stories for grown-ups in the form of collectible greeting cards. We created this product for the active, educated and discerning urban audience in 2013, as an in-house initiative. The starting point for the project were the quirky bedtime stories Stefan told Adriana at home.
We are not aware of any direct competitor to Zâmburi, with standard illustrated greeting cards being the closest (yet clearly remote) alternative.
We wanted Zâmburi to be a flexible, multi-part and polymorphic product, that would also play a multi-functional role: it had to work well for individual reading, as well as for gifting and interior decoration of home and office spaces. This multiple functionality would make the product unique, but also more challenging to explain and communicate.
The name Zâmburi uses a wordplay that means kernels of smile and we opted to develop it into an umbrella brand that would allow for the largest degree of artistic freedom. The hand-drawn logotype has the shape of a smile, but it is discrete enough to let the story illustrations stand out and grab the viewer’s attention.
The Zâmburi design style originated in comics, and is a hybrid between illustration, caricature, and comic strips. Although we have opted for a simple line, each drawing highlights a few story details that require a few moments of focus to decode. There are no hatches, shadows or volumes. Everything is intently two-dimensional, to let the imagination fly.
The story titles, which are also hand-drawn, are inspired by the respective lead characters. For example, this story is about a guitar called Mara. Each story has its own visual identity.
The accordion-shaped box has 8 pockets, each holding 5 stories. Because it is vividly coloured and easy to configure in various shapes, it has a decorative role, too. It can enliven a nightstand, a coffee table, a bookshelf, and even a dentist’s waiting room.
At the beginning, the offering consisted of 40 ultra-short stories written on illustrated cards and gathered in an accordion-shaped display. They addressed topics such as love, gadgets, weight, envy, corporate life, friendship, mobile apps, stupidity, parenthood, laziness, and creativity.
New individual stories gradually joined the collection, among which a custom story written for the popular and charismatic Electric Castle festival.
This story is about a coffee expert, so we launched it in a bookstore’s coffee shop along with a new, pink coffee that was added to the menu (pomegranate juice did the trick!)
Illustrated T-shirts and a toy inspired by one of the stories completed the offering. Cameleo (a website for quality framed prints) started to sell our illustrations as well.
We developed and launched Zâmburi in partnership with hip bookstore chain Cărturești. A successful series of launch events in their bookstores in three cities introduced the new brand to its target audience of active and educated urban dwellers.
This poster used for the launch campaign inspired the dressing of the bookshop windows.