March 2012 Snapshots department

Posted: March 26, 2012 by
Ben P. Rosenfield

Too Pretty to Pitch
Mood Garden aims to redefine the tea-time routine.Mood Garden ( is an online tea retailer with a lofty mission: to change the way you drink your tea. The company wanted to combine high-grade tea, the use of which is often associated with separate infusers and other tools, with the convenience of a tea bag—all the while preserving the ritualistic nature of the tea-brewing process. The solution? Modern packaging.

“We wanted the package to be colorful, inviting, portable, delightful, ridiculously unique and respectful of ritual. The stick shape has a comfortable hold and fits in purses, books and folders,” says company co-founder Alexander Chin, who also designed, engineered and illustrated the packaging. Each pack is composed of an outer sleeve and an inner stick. The pointed top acts as the pull tab to access the tea bags. Each stick contains five tea bags that cover the floral illustrations.

Each tea blend is associated with a unique color and flower. The flower is intended to give the consumer a way to visualize the company’s mood concept. The back of the stick shows the specific flower growing taller as more of the illustration is revealed each time the drinker accesses the next tea bag.
The flowers were illustrated by hand in an attempt to create packaging too beautiful to discard. Chin thinks drinkers will find a variety of ways to repurpose the packaging sticks. He suggests the sticks’ vertical orientation makes them great for use as bookmarks.

Green Thumbs Up
Growing mixtures sport packages that inspire urban gardeners.
Sun Gro Horticulture aimed its Grower’s Gold brand at a burgeoning segment of younger, health-conscious individuals and families and to those making a commitment to grow their own herbs and vegetables. The soil formula was developed to optimize the gardening experience for novices and pros who use small spaces, containers and raised beds to cultivate plants hydroponically indoors and outdoors.

The company turned to kenCreative (Emeryville, CA) to deliver a package design that conveys an alternative concept to conventional container and raised-bed gardening.

“We wanted to design a package that was appealing to the urban gardener, somewhat edgy and clearly formulated for growing herbs, vegetables and other edibles in containers,” says Ken Monnens, the company’s executive creative director. “This goal needed to be balanced by the fact that the products are sold in big-box chains and that the packaging needed to fit the traditional garden category.”

Deconstructed fonts in the logo and product name are meant to suggest that the consumer is looking through a forest of healthy greenery, and a beige scatter-pattern in the background helps the packages stand out on the shelf and acts as a mask to prevent product show-through.

Prominent photography—a home gardener with raised-bed plantings of healthy vegetables and herbs, or seedling propagation indoors—provides clear visual cues about the product’s purpose. The two products, Indoor Growing Mix and Outdoor Growing Mix, are differentiated by color coding and location-specific imagery.

“Urban gardening is similar in soil formulations to hydroponic gardening, so we studied packaging for traditional, bagged gardening soils and products as well as packaging for specialty soils, fertilizers and lighting systems found in the hydroponics stores,” Monnens says. “Our initial client presentation involved a dozen design concepts that spanned a spectrum of alternative packaging to the more traditional. The chosen design positions the product squarely with the target consumer.”

Clarity of Vision
Repackaged glass cleaner opens windows of opportunity.
Orus concentrated glass cleaner was once confined to a plain, PP container with a single-color label and marketed solely as a business-to-business product. But that all changed when brand owner CAF Environmental Solutions (Maple Valley, WA) decided to commoditize other B2B products for direct sale to consumers and to create a packaging platform capable of supporting additional sub-brands.

J. Logan Design (Seattle, WA) developed a new brand badge for Orus and a package concept that would bolster sales at gas stations, car-care stores and other places where vehicles are serviced—and, as graphic designer Landon Fisher puts it, that would draw interest to “a previously unseen industrial product that had been sold in a boring white jug.”

Printed in seven colors, the new package is an 11 x 12-in. zipper pouch with a 3.5-in. gusset. Fisher says the pouch represents a huge cost savings compared to the jug and gives the product life with what he describes as a graphic language and system—a brand badge and icons—that could be translated to other product lines.

Upper-crust Design
High-end housing for pizza plays well with others. Consumers of upscale frozen pizza aren’t the ones who typically focus on the four-for-$10 specials. Instead, they’re at ease with spending $5 or more for one frozen pie.

Orv’s Pizza (Kaukauna, WI) decided to use product packaging to communicate the upscale sensibility of its Borbello’s line of frozen pizzas. The company brought The Gunter Agency (New Glarus, WI) on board to execute a design that would make the premium pizza stand out in grocery freezers and inspire consumers to put it in their carts.

“Our first goal was to create an anticipated quality statement with the design itself. We needed to have people feel like this was a quality pizza—better pizza—worth a little bit more money,” says Randy Gunter, partner at The Gunter Agency. “We also wanted to show that the pizza is a good value. We couldn’t use the word value, because in frozen pizza, value is associated with cheap, so we created design elements that showcased the amount of food you get in the box. This was done by emphasizing the weight and also showing the cutaway view.”

The design firm’s color studies revealed that black tends to be associated with high-quality, upscale foods. Using that color as the background, Gunter focused on securing product photography that would cause buyers to imagine the product’s great taste and then developing compelling individual packages that could be integrated into a larger in-store presence.

“When working on a design that fits together, like these puzzle boxes, the issue is making sure the sides line up. We played around with the idea that all the ingredients on the pizza boxes would actually line up, too, but with eight designs that became impractical,” Gunter explains. “We wanted the individual box to look as appetizing as possible, and making them all fit together would have tied our hands on how they looked. The puzzle-box design really does work. When they’re on display in the store, and the merchandiser sets it up correctly, they stand out among all the other pizzas.”

Message on a Bottle
Limited-edition labels create interest in established products.
Many of the personal-care products from Kiehl’s are packaged in an understated style: simple containers, simple labels and simple dispensers. Sure, the company could argue that its epo-nymous, 160-year-old brand is powerful enough to continue to grow without dramatic product delivery. But instead, Kiehl’s partners with designers to develop limited-edition packages for its Creme de Corps body moisturizer, and each offering provides a feast for eyes that are accustomed to the company’s otherwise austere identifiers.

One limited-edition release involved a partnership between Kiehl’s and Ilovedust (U.K.), a design group that not only came up with a bold design for the package’s label, but also created an engaging experience for shoppers. The label illustration, which featured lots of colors and action, surrounded a customizable speech bubble into which consumers could type their own messages at select Kiehl’s stores.
“The fact that you can adapt it and change it and interact with it to a certain degree is a nice touch, and something we’re keen to work more and more into our design processes,” says Mark Graham, creative director at Ilovedust.

Winter Welcome
Amber Brewery cracks open a fresh design to introduce a seasonal beer.
Brand loyalty is strong when it comes to beer. Amber Brewery (Poland) banked on that dedication when it introduced Winter Amber, a seasonal offering, to a market that values constancy.

“Our primary objective when initiating the project was to start a line of seasonal beers in Poland. Amber Brewery was the first to launch seasonal beers in the Polish market and offer them throughout the year in limited editions,” says Marek Skretny, marketing director for Amber Brewery.

The beer maker initially targeted the seasonal suds to existing customers who were keen to try a limited-edition variation on a recognized style of beer. It then expanded its focus to include a segment of consumers who enjoy trying new or novel beers.

Amber Brewery designed the packaging in house. “The idea is that the packaging should unambiguously indicate the seasonal character of the product and make it stand out on the shelf,” Skretny says.
A cool-blue color scheme with an informal, winter-themed design does just that. In addition, two recipes for mulled beer prepared with Winter Amber are printed on the can, reinforcing the product’s seasonal availability and appeal.

“Given how traditional the Polish market is, the bold design of the packaging was received exceptionally well,” he says.