When they were little boys, Ben Gerlis, Sean Hogan and Ben Austin probably never imagined they’d get paid to create an entire world out of Twinings tea bag tags -- you know, the tiny pieces of paper attached to the end of the tea bag string.
But that’s exactly what their production design company, Stripeland, did for Twinings, one of the world’s largest tea brands. Check it out, and keep in mind that everything in this commercial, female model aside, is constructed from tea bag tags.
This is just one of many colorful projects that this trio of thirty-somethings has produced as Stripeland, the company they co-founded in 2014. Friends since college, they bring a collective expertise in theater, opera and television set design to the UK-based company, and this creativity extends to the domain name they chose for the business: www.Stripe.land.
Gerlis got the idea to switch from Stripeland.co.uk to a shorter ‘dot-land’ (.land) domain after seeing advertisements for a play called "Wonder.land," a 21st-century adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland" for the stage. It was a title that also doubled as the production’s website URL. Gerlis liked the simplicity of the one-word domain, and says it was easy to convince his co-founders to make a domain switch.
“If people are hiring you to design their production, they want to see that you have good taste and interesting approaches to things,” he says “So in a small way, Stripe.land might come across as slightly more forward-thinking.”
Gerlis says ditching the ‘dot-co-UK’ (.co.uk) suffix also better positions them for global growth, as the company has been tackling projects outside of the UK market. Also, the business has been expanding into experiential event production, which Gerlis considers the next frontier in reaching audiences with brand messages.
“We're just responding really to what's happening in the industry at large because budgets are getting smaller for TV commercials because less people are watching them,” he says. “People want to experience something live and immediately.”
For example, the Twinings campaign also involved an experiential component: Stripeland dressed up a Twinings shop in thousands of tea bag tags. The scene generated buzz and social media shares to further catapult the brand into public consciousness in a fun and memorable way.
Dreaming up such creative scenarios and sets was not unlike the artistic challenge of coming up with the company name, Stripeland. That, too, took several months.
“I'm sure every company agonizes over what it’s going to be called,” says Gerlis. “We finally landed on Stripeland, which we liked the sound of. It also sounded quite confident. And if you look at the Hollywood sign [which once read ‘Hollywoodland’] and Disneyland – it’s like an announcement.”
The trio also liked the story behind the name. They uncovered it while doing research on their original work neighborhood, Boundary Estate, a social housing development famous for its striped brick architecture. When it was established at the turn of the 20th century, the upper class criticized the British government for adding decorative flair to architecture meant for poor people and gave it the nickname “Stripeland.” However, residents turned the derogatory nickname on its head and wore it like a badge of honor.
“We liked the message that it conveyed – that beautiful design could improve people’s quality of life,” says Gerlis.
For Stripeland the company, great design is what brings ideas to life, so having a name that evokes this was critical to overall business branding -- in the real world and online.
“Like most creative businesses, our website is our portfolio, and we try to keep our website very clean and minimalist to allow the work to speak for itself,” Gerlis says. “We like the simplicity of the domain name Stripe.land. I’m sure it confuses some people who might not have heard of ‘dot-land’ [.land], but we feel that presenting ourselves as new and innovative is important. The domain name is one small step towards distinguishing ourselves.”
For more information about this business, visit www.Stripe.land.