Thorndown Delivers Paint, West Country Style

By: Casha Doemland

You’ve crafted a lovely wooden, outdoor table set for your home and the only step left is to paint it. You cruise over to the hardware store and rummage through an endless sea of the same, tired looking paint cans. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see something unique. Not only is this can shorter and fatter, but the designs are playful and feature a collection of animals.

You’ve stumbled upon Thorndown, a paint manufacturer from West Country who specializes in water-based wood paints and peelable glass paints.

Founded by husband and wife duo, Ben and Caroline Thornborough used their combined skills and passions as a scientist and designer/marketer to build a brand that had both functionality and flair.

To help take the project from dream to reality, they called in design and consulting agency, Brown&co. “We are unwaveringly collaborative in every aspect of design," says Troy Wade, Co-Founder and Strategy Head, "we have to be if we are able to operate effectively as a virtual collective. We have nurtured a wonderful relationship with the Thornboroughs by involving them in all our of thinking, on-boarding their opinions and suggestions, and earning their trust."

"It is their brand after all," he adds.

The first step of the collaboration began with the name.  Lucky for the Thornboroughs, Wade has a background in advertising copywriting so he had a blast brainstorming and narrowing down names. "We wanted something that would feel like it came from West Country and be distinct from the industrial competition – Ronseal, Cuprinol, Protek, etc.," starts Wade. "We also wanted to at least allude to a part of what the brand stood for, we explore all kinds of angles through our design pillars – country chic, cheeky humor, courageously colorful, crafted and wisdom through experience."

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Thorndown hit the name lottery, as it resonated with Ben and Caroline and had a subtle nod back to the Thornborough family name while maintaining an outdoorsy feel.

Once the name was established, they developed the packaging and design. “On a tight budget, we were always walking a tightrope between wanting to create a feeling of distinctive quality and being realistically affordable,” adds Wade. “Personally, I love that kind of challenge because there are far more interesting ways to stand out than to simply throw money at things. Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Together, they produced a brand that stands out amongst the rest while also staying true to West Country.  Each aspect of the product, from the icon inspired by historical symbols and typography influenced by old British rail posters to the colors of the paints inspired by West Country tones, it all adds up to a direct reflection of the region.

Outside of the labels, Brown&co elected to change the style of the pot after discovering how easy it was to cut metal cylinders of various diameters. "We wondered by nobody ever deviated from the standard 750 mL pot," begins Wade. "Why not use a wider diameter cylinder, one typically used for a larger volume of paint, but cut it a shorter length?"

Curious, Wade sought out the manufacturer and learned there was no real reason or even an added cost to do so. To help achieve the right packaging heights for each volume, they reached out to a physicist friend and the shorter, fatter pot was born. In their own small way, they disrupted the paint aisle simply by making the can stand out on the shelf at no additional cost to consumers.

"Fundamentally, the Thorndown philosophy is to make the best possible products in the least harmful way," states Wade. "The best products, with the longest-lasting pigments, mean you need to use it less often, which is one of the best ways to protect the environment."

Incidentally, Thorndown's glass paint is made from completely recycled material and the paint for the wood is water-based, thus only releasing water vapor into the air when drying.

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To keep up with green trend, all of Throndown’s packaging is recyclable – the aluminum tin, the cardboard shipping container and even the fittings are printed on a recyclable card. The fill, another version of packing peanuts, is made of starch and completely compostable.

When it comes down to it, Thorndown is more than just paint—it tells the story of a region. But all brand-related storytelling aside, the products themselves are incredibly useful. Their eco paints offer long-lasting pigments that only require 1 to 2 coats and the aluminum tins make your job easier and even a little cleaner. Not bad for a new player in the hardware store.