WhyNotDesign’s identity for The Tea Tips flips hot beverage branding on its head

With slanted type and colours inspired by sticky notes, the identity aims to create a brand that attracts a younger generation of tea drinkers.

6 February 2023


When The Tea Tips approached WhyNotDesign for a new identity, it had one specific goal in mind: to create a look that would attract a younger generation of tea drinkers. He Yuxuan, design director at WhyNotDesign therefore knew that he would have to eschew the “gentle, ethereal and nature” aesthetics popularised by large tea brands like Twinings and Lipton. Instead, He opted for an identity that swapped organic hues with vivid block colours, he switched ornate typography with something more experimental, and replaced pared back packaging with something much more slick and attention grabbing.

One of the aspects of the brand that He most wanted to highlight was its name, specifically its use of “The”. Identifying how ‘the’ can be a word that signifies something “important” and is often used to “emphasise”, He used it to prove how the brand could be an important player in the tea market. He summarises: “every bag deserves to be ‘The’ bag of tea”. This vision fits in with He’s new-found design direction. Working as design director at Design Lab from 2015 to 2022, where he worked with large brands like Snow Beer and Luckin Coffee, He started WhyNotDesign in Shenzhen in mid-2022 with the aim of working with newer brands, hoping to help them find a place in the market and allowing him to move away from more conservative design.


WhyNotDesign: The Tea Tips (Copyright @ WhyNotDesign, 2022)

While the typeface has a hint of classic references with pointed serifs – a fact He puts down to the importance of Swiss design history to his work – it’s been finished with contemporary flare. Its slanted perspective and elongated height gives a certain energy to the letting, as if it’s in motion or about to take flight. Below the main lettering, smaller text providing further information – like flavour and ingredients – is underlaid, the varying colours and placements offering a shading that the use of block colour lacks. The different colours throughout the identity – deep cobalt blue, neon turquoise and hot pink – take inspiration from the colours you might find on sticky notes. Alongside their grabby effect, the distinctive colours are used as a means of quick differentiation between the tea flavours.

All in all, He entered the The Tea Tips project with an understanding of how much design can influence consumable goods – dictating the “mood” of the product and making them a more “attractive and memorable” experience. By giving more consideration to strong visuals, and attending to a younger, more trend-focused audience, He was able to let transmit that tea can have more possibilities beyond being simply perceived as “a traditional and ancient Chinese traditional drink”.

GalleryWhyNotDesign: The Tea Tips (Copyright @ WhyNotDesign, 2022)

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WhyNotDesign: The Tea Tips (Copyright @ WhyNotDesign, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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