Hopefully they won't notice me having a quiet snooze on the sofa?
The Formula K story
It was 9pm, Saturday evening. Clifford the labrador was asleep on the living room carpet.
Kit's partner Madeleine was looking at the dog with a quizzical eye. "He's overweight, you know," she said.
"Yes," said Kit.
"Why don't they make a diet dog food?" she frowned. "If ever a dog needed to go on a diet, it 's that Clifford."
Clifford stirred at the sound of his name, and went back to sleep.
They looked at the dog.
"Well," said Kit, "they sell 'light' varieties. But they don't seem to do much good."
"There should be a weight-loss dog food - one that was specially designed to make fat dogs lose weight," said Madeleine. "It would contain things that would make him feel full, but wasn't calorific or fatty."
"Well," said Kit. "I don't think there's anything like that on the market."
The next morning they went shopping. And they noticed that there was no weight-loss dog food in the shops.
True, there were products mysteriously labelled 'Light' or 'Maintenance'. But nothing that really seemed to say, 'Buy me, I'll get that dog's weight down'.
So Kit bought lots of books, spent time on the internet, and chewed his pencil a lot.
Then he did some market research among dog owners, and found that they had the same view as him. Many had overweight dogs, and the existing dog foods didn't seem to work.
Kit rang up some dog food manufacturers, read lots of technical journals, and spoke to vets. And he spent a lot of time talking about dog food to anyone who would listen.
Eventually, Kit talked to people called 'companion animal nutritionists', who are a rare breed. Not many people know how to make dog food. And most of those work for the big pet food companies.
So Kit wrote a long document specifying how the dog food ought to work, and what it ought to contain.
More importantly, he told them what the product should not include. He was emphatic that the product should not contain preservatives, artificial additives or colours.
And the nutritionists went away to create a special weight-loss recipe.
Getting a name for the dog food
The product still didn't have a name. So everyone came up with names. There was Kit, Madeline, their friends and family, and the kids, and all the people at Kit's work, and the people in the design agency, and all their friends and relatives, plus the people down the pub. Everyone thought up some names.
Eventually, the agency came up with what they thought were the six best names. But which should they chose?
There was an Open Day coming up at the local animal sanctuary, Heaven's Gate. So Kit took a stall at the Open Day at Heaven's Gate animal sanctuary, and asked all the dog owners which name they thought was best. Kit donated £1 to the charity for every completed questionnaire.
And the name the dog owners liked most was (fanfare, please) Formula K.
What shall we call it? Spot the red dog food boxes on the tables. To make the test fair, all the boxes look alike - only the name was changed. You might just be able to make out the first few letters of the word 'Formula K' on the furthest box to the left.
Behind the counters are Kerry (left) and Kate (right) with three people writing down their comments.
Designing the pack
So the nutritionists were working on the recipe. And we had a name. But what about designing a nice pack to put the dog food in?
Kit interviewed some design agencies. Some already worked for big pet food companies. Others wanted a lot of money. And we mean, a LOT of money.
Eventually, Kit found a nice agency in Exeter (hello, Red Rocket!) where everyone was friendly. And more importantly they understood about both packaging and food. Lots of agencies, Kit learnt, were good at logos, but couldn't get their brain around a six-sided object that had to fit on a production line, contain all the right images and words, and meet government regulations. It was a pretty complicated task.
The agency came up with lots of pack designs. And Kit asked dog owners which one they though best summed up the idea of a weight-loss dog food. The dog owners rejected some really cool, minimalist designs, and also some funky chunky designs. Instead they liked a fresh looking one that was full of sunshine and green grass.
Want to know what happened next? Continue the story by clicking here.