Refreshing brand Di Lella, historic Swiss fresh pasta makers
At the end of last year we announced that we’d just put a new website online for historic fresh pasta makers Di Lella, located in Bellinzona, Canton Ticino, Switzerland. It was one of the final steps in a months-long Di Lella brand refresh project that’s included both digital communication and fresh new packaging for their classic product lines.
Soon after the site launch I called up new Di Lella director and owner Yaël Nessi to find out what drove her and her family to buy the company and transform it.
“I decided to buy the company when I saw that there was Moskito Design,” she laughed. “It’s true! I said from the beginning that we could only make this work if we found a communication agency that understood us and could carry this project forward. Not an easy task ― but we did it.”
Ready to run a company
Back up to 2016. In the midst of a successful career working as a consultant in mergers and acquisitions, Yaël, originally from near Lausanne, was itching to try running a company herself. “I’d overseen a lot of company sales,” she said, but now I wanted to mettere le mani in pasta” ― literally, get her hands in the dough, or try it for herself.
And she wasn’t alone. Future partners in her enterprise included Yaël’s husband, as well as her brother, Jeremy Gehring. Jeremy had given up a career in international trading to spend the last five years studying cooking in Peru, Argentina and at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Switzerland. All three were ready to make their next business venture a family-run company.
Pasta company for sale
When they saw an ad in the paper saying pasta company for sale in Canton Ticino, Yaël began to investigate.
Founded in 1968, Di Lella had always been a family company but was now, just short of its 50th anniversary, without an heir. The company had a strong history and a number of long-running contracts with clients like Swiss supermarket powerhouse Migros.
In recent years the pasta makers had suffered a potentially serious PR crisis: in March of 2014 a single metal brush bristle found in a pack of gnocchi led to a recall of 4600 packages. But the company had rebounded by investing in better hygiene technology, metal detectors and new facilities. And they’d managed to retain all their historic clients. “As a result of this incident,” said Yaël, “they turned themselves into experts in hygiene engineering. It was a mistake that led to some very positive improvements.”
With a strong company history, strong clients, and recent investment in modernized production, Di Lella added up to a very attractive offer. But the company also had a lot of unrealized potential. And in Yaël’s view it would need some energy and dynamism to grow at a national ― and, in a possible future, international ― level. With her and her family’s work experience and business networks throughout not just Switzerland and beyond, Yaël was confident that she and her partners could provide just that.
The right ingredients for the Di Lella brand refresh
Before the deal hit the table, Yaël began the diligent search for an agency to communicate her vision for the company. And she found us at Moskito Design.
And the first step in reimagining the brand was listening: letting Yaël tell her story, in order to understand her vision.
According to Yaël, Di Lella didn’t have a very strong brand identity. “That was the first thing we wanted to change,” she said. “But the trick was getting the balance right between who we are and what we aspire to be.”
The new Di Lella brand refresh would show off the company’s historic values, like Italian creativity and Swiss product quality. But there’s a new spirit as well: with a 10-person team all under 40, bright elements in the new design emphasize joy and freshness and youth.
And in some cases, what’s old had become a new-found source of vitality in today’s market.
“One of Di Lella’s strengths is that we source products locally ― most of our raw materials come from the local area, and we even work with a number of small producers, like our milk suppliers. Of course, this has always been true, but 30 years ago you could take it for granted,” said Yaël. “Now we want to advertise it.”
The new look, in pixels and print
From this combination of old and new, tradition and innovation, we developed packaging for the main Di Lella gnocchi lines and for their sub-brand La Pasta del Castello (and packaging for Di Lella’s ravioli brand is still in progress at the time of writing). We also created an identity for a new food truck, business cards and built a new website.
And the results were just what Di Lella was looking for.
“It’s hard to find an agency you can really work with, because they’ve got to be good at translating your ideas into design,” she said. “It really is that: an act of translation, and not just about saying just what they want to say.”
“Working with Moskito Design was great because they’re big enough to have the capabilities to handle all our various needs, including digital and print work. But they’re small enough that I was never passed around between people I didn’t know. Consistency was essential to our project. I’m happy I worked with the same small team to develop a consistent message from start to finish.”
What’s next for Di Lella
Di Lella is a growth business, and with a new contract signed with Germany-based supermarket chain Lidl, they’re already planning expand their facilities in the coming months.
Yaël said she wouldn’t rule out international expansion in the future, but “for now we’re happy growing the company in Switzerland and concentrating on the variety of tastes and markets you find here.”
At home or abroad, the future is still wide open for Di Lella. But with new management, new direction and newly revamped communication, they’re ready to prove what they’re made of.
At Moskito Design we love to help people refresh their brand identity for who they are, and who they aspire to be.