Works Design Helps Launch New Organic Asian Food Brand

Water Lilies has been a longstanding Works Design client, and has seen great success in producing frozen Asian food products as a private label manufacturer. Last year they approached Works Design about an opportunity to sell a branded frozen line of organic/natural Asian frozen food into Costco. This category–frozen Asian food products–is populated by independent and/or lesser-known brands that attempt to assert credibility on the shelf through identities that look as though they were launched by large CPG parent companies.

When we kicked off the project, we first worked with the Water Lilies team to create a targeted creative brief, while digging into their understanding of the target consumer, short and long term sales strategy, industry/category outlook and design preferences, among other things. Our research process included multiple store visits to club store retailers, significant desktop research, and interviews of experts in a variety of areas (for instance, organic foods, club channel and frozen foods). We audited cross-category products that featured natural, organic and other health claims, and we took a close look at direct competitors. To that end, we conducted a detailed analysis of the all the competitive and cross-category designs, where we charted the variance in color usage, imagery/iconography, typography styles and packaging layouts (among other things).

Our research led us to a number of key strategic decisions that we identified for our client. For instance, should we follow a “me too” approach to the branding and packaging, or should we differentiate the offering with a new look that breaks from the typical polished yet generic identity sported by most competitors? How should the visual hierarchy represent the health claims (Costco prefers an emphasis on health claims) as compared to brand elements? Should the design focus on green and natural visual cues (as most cross-category natural products do), or should it focus on product photography and brand identity (as most direct competitors do)? Ultimately we honed in on these issues in our creative brief, and explored some of these and other matters by delivering over half a dozen mood boards prior to kicking off our design work.

Given all these open questions, we provided the client with an unusually large and diverse set of concepts during our initial design exploration. We wanted to get them thinking visually through many of the issues highlighted above, while honing in on a strategic direction that they supported from a fully-informed perspective. After a significant number of working sessions, we honed in on a design that followed the conventions in the Asian frozen food category. The client opted for a look that provided credibility for this fledgling brand, rather than a design that was an outlier in the category. The focus was on the product photography and variety, as well as the brand. Organic/natural communication, while important, became part of the variety lock up.

This project really allowed us to dig in with 360 degree involvement. We handled all branding, marketing and sales materials for the launch, and helped guide the client through the printing and packaging process for the initial run.  Its fun to spread your wings sometimes, even if you don’t get to do it every day.  

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Upgrading a Classic: French Market and Crown Usher in a New Generation of Coffee Packaging

Customers of French Market Coffee have always associated the brand with its signature red coffee can, which harkens back to the company’s original Coffee and Chicory label introduced in the late nineteenth century. Crown Food Packaging North America, a division of Crown Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CCK) (Crown), recently partnered with the brand, which has been expanding its business nationally, to refresh its packaging, bringing new life to the classic can design.

Founded in New Orleans in 1890, French Market Coffee takes its name from the iconic city landmark. Now a part of Reily Foods, which manufactures and markets a range of private label and specialty brands, French Market prides itself on creating the ‘quintessential New Orleans coffee.’ Famous for servicing the city’s oldest and finest restaurants, the brand offers six different coffee varietals, with both its Dark Roast and Dark Roast with Chicory blends offered in French Market’s ‘signature’ can.

Reily Foods chose Crown to help develop new cans for both varietals. After Reily worked with their creative agency to come up with a concept and a new design for the can branding, Crown’s expertise and support was integral in making the vision a reality.  This included scaling and balancing elements like a reflective gold crown and a subtle fencing background for the rounded surface of a metal container. The new 12 oz. coffee cans, which feature an easy-open end and a plastic overcap, retain the look and feel of French Market Coffee’s original red tins but with an enhanced design that keeps them in alignment with the brand’s current image.

“Given the complex nature of the new design, we felt it was essential to work with an experienced partner that could help us achieve the best results on metal packaging. Working with Crown on this project has been the right choice for us, thanks to the strength of its service and the quality of the final packaging that we receive,” said Meynard Pacris, operations business manager for coffee, mayo and sauces at Reily Foods. “Our customers have responded very positively to the new packaging–they really feel that it drives home the connection to New Orleans!”

Reily Food’s relationship with Crown dates back over fifteen years. The two companies have partnered on a number of metal packaging ventures, including new lithographic designs for Reily Food’s private label customers. When the company consolidating its coffee operations, it selected Crown as the exclusive supplier for all of its coffee cans, including for the French Market brand. Crown also supports the company by providing mechanical seaming services.

In Crown’s experience, cans have long proven the ideal format to engage coffee consumers. The company works with coffee brands around the world, including the British icon Fortnum & Mason, who recently launched two elegant new tin designs that included aluminum peelable ends to help preserve the aroma of the coffee. “Metal packaging is very effective platform to help a brand convey a high-quality look and feel,” explained Hella Gourven, marketing manager, Crown Food Packaging North America. “With coffee being an extremely mature market, brands are turning to back to the traditional metal can to present a premium image for their high-end and specialty blends, which are growing in popularity among quality-conscious consumers.”

Cans are also ideal for meeting demand from brand owners for packaging solutions that are both cost-effective and environmentally responsible. One hundred percent recyclable, steel can be reused repeatedly without loss in performance or quality. In the U.S. in 2012, more than 1.3 million tons of tinplate steel were recycled–the equivalent to 21 billion steel cans. A package made of recycled steel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 75% over a package made with new steel, with each ton of recycled steel saving 2,500-lbs. of iron ore, 1,400-lbs. of coal and 120-lbs. of limestone.                               

About Crown Holdings, Inc.
Crown Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is a leading supplier of packaging products to consumer marketing companies around the world. World headquarters are located in Philadelphia, PA.

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Diamond Packaging Wins Five Awards in 28th Annual Excellence Awards Competition

Diamond Packaging won five awards in the 28th annual packagePRINTING Excellence Awards, the industry’s only competition recognizing the highest level of printing quality and technical achievement across the full range of packaging segments–tags and labels, flexible packaging, folding cartons, and corrugated cartons. Winners were chosen from hundreds of entries submitted in over 40 different categories. Entries were judged on print quality, functionality, and secondary converting and finishing attributes.

Diamond won first place in the “Sustainability–Folding Cartons” category for Elizabeth Arden’s John Varvatos Artisan Acqua carton. The packaging features tightly registered offset printing with intricate embossing accents, creating a singular presentation that resurrects the lost art of craftsmanship but with a modern edge.

The carton was converted utilizing Clearwater Candesce SBS paperboard and offset printed with four color process, metallic copper, teal, and brown inks, inline with Liquid Metal silver specialty UV coating, UV matte, and UV gloss spot coating. All paperboard components were manufactured using 100% wind energy.

Liquid Metal was applied on the top closure, front, rear, and side panels (under the teal and metallic copper inks), as an alternative to foil stamping. UV matte coating was applied over the embossed ‘sand’ pattern, contributing to the natural aesthetic of the Artisan Acqua carton. The UV gloss spot coating on the top panel and over the bottle on the rear panel provides a striking contrast to the overall matte finish surrounding it.

The multi-level embossed pattern is inspired by Mediterranean beaches and perfectly complements the flask-like fragrance bottle, housed in handwoven rattan.

Diamond won second place in the “Sustainability” and “Specialty Category: Technical Achievement” categories for its 2014 calendar. The apple-themed calendar represents a natural evolution of Diamond’s greenbox initiative and is a fitting tribute to New York, one of the nation’s largest apple producing states.

The vivid presentation features inline green technologies (e.g., soft touch, specialty effects coatings), UV gloss spot coating, foil stamping, multi-level embossing, debossing, and intricate die cutting. The innovative structural design allows the calendar to be hung with one lower panel or unfolded to reveal apple blossoms on the middle panels.

The calendar was converted utilizing Clearwater Candesce SBS paperboard and offset printed with four color process inks, inline with an overall aqueous gloss coating, UV gloss spot coating, specialty effects pigmented coating, and DiamondTouch soft touch coating. Metal Magic provided all of the embossing dies.

Multi-level embossing and debossing the header creates a dramatic sense of texture and depth, while UV gloss spot coating (water droplets) and pearlized coating (leaves) provide contrast to the finish surrounding it.

The middle backers feature multi-level embossed apple blossoms enhanced with soft touch coating, contributing to a unique visual and tactile presentation. The subtle concave die cut pattern on each side conveys an apple core.

The calendar is delivered in its own recyclable shipper that faithfully simulates a wooden apple crate, right down to the stencil typography.

Diamond won third place in the “Folding Cartons–Offset” category for Five Star Fragrance Company’s Michael Jordan Legend Gift Set.

The QuikSet carton was converted utilizing metallized polyester film on FSC-certified SBS paperboard and offset printed with transparent gold, dense black, and opaque white inks, in-line with UV matte and UV high gloss coating. The multi-level, pebble-embossed basketball on the lid reinforces the Michael Jordan brand.

The QuikSet design provides an attractive and economical alternative to rigid set-up boxes, featuring a reinforced base and lid, direct application of graphics and stamping or embossing, flat shipping and storage, and easy set-up. With crisp, clean lines and outstanding strength, QuikSet is a perfect choice for gift sets or promotional items.

Diamond won honorable mention in the “Folding Cartons–Offset” category for Elizabeth Arden’s White Diamonds Gift Set (Mother’s Day 2014).

The QuikSet carton was converted utilizing metallized polyester board and offset printed with transparent gold, transparent purple, transparent lavender, dense black, and opaque white inks, in-line with UV matte and UV high gloss coating. Exquisite dome-embossed round and pear diamonds add beauty and reinforce the White Diamonds brand.

Diamond Contract Packaging (DCP) provided fulfillment services, including adding pad stiffeners to the base and lid, fully assembling the vacuum form trays, and polybagging the units. The proximity of DCP, adjacent to its folding carton plant, helped minimize shipping costs and reduce turnaround times.

About Diamond Packaging
Founded in 1911, Diamond Packaging is a WBENC-certified woman-owned business specializing in developing innovative and sustainable packaging solutions. Utilizing state of-the-art technologies, Diamond designs and manufactures paperboard and plastic folding cartons, and provides comprehensive contract packaging services for the personal care (cosmetics, hair care, skin care, fragrance, oral care, and shaving), health care, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and food and confectionery industries. Its client portfolio includes Bausch & Lomb, Beiersdorf, Coty, Elizabeth Arden, Estée Lauder, Godiva Chocolatier, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, and Procter & Gamble. As part of the Global Packaging Alliance (GPA), Diamond and its alliance members offer packaging solutions to companies operating on an international scale. Customers receive responsive, localized service, award-winning creative designs, identical product specifications and consistent brand recognition, resulting in unparalleled worldwide packaging support.

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FiberChoice Rebrands with Food-centric Design

Newly redesigned FiberChoice is popping up on store shelves, with a fresh fruit and vegetable visual story and simplified, strengthened brand architecture. Prestige Brands, FiberChoice’s parent company, tapped brand design partner Little Big Brands (LBB) for the strategy work and package design.

“FiberChoice has a significant ingredient advantage over competitors in the marketplace. It is made from 100% Natural Fiber found in fruits and vegetables, which is highly meaningful to consumers.  But the brand clearly needed packaging that communicated that truth,” said Erin Kanter, LBB’s strategy director.

The project included ethnographic, qualitative and quantitative strategic work to better understand the consumer mindset and brand equities, as well as serving to validate and enhance the creative design process. With that knowledge guiding the creative work, each element was reimagined and optimized to embody the natural fiber promise.

The design was stripped of dark greens and multiple levels of color coding, and given an ingredient overhaul with photorealistic fruits and vegetables taking a much more graphic role in the overall design. Each label features a different mix of cascading fruits and vegetables based on the formula. Strong color-coding anchors the bottom of the label and helps clearly differentiate the SKUs. A light wood wash lightens and brightens the overall look and provides a canvas for the new FiberChoice hand-drawn logo.

“The redesign was really successful in bringing a lightness to the brand, which let’s face it, is ultimately what you hope to feel after taking it,” said John Nunziato, LBB’s chief creative officer. “The idea of fresh fruits and veggies are much stronger now, as is flavor appeal. This is as close to food in the produce aisle that you can get with a fiber supplement, and now the branding clearly reflects that.”

FiberChoice is available at major drug and grocery retailers across the country. The portfolio includes: Assorted fruit, Orange, Strawberry Weight Management, Heart Health Berry Pomegranate, Bone Health Assorted Berry, and Fruity Bite gummies.

Little Big Brands specializes in strategic brand design–including brand strategy, consumer research, innovation, structural design, graphic design, and print production. LBB is also a leader in sustainable packaging.

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Wine-by-the-Glass Taps New Profits

Wine-by-the-glass is a financial balancing act in a restaurant’s beverage business.  Popular by-the-glass sales let customers sample wines and enjoy them without the expense of purchasing a bottle. However, when the restaurateur opens a bottle, he speculates that it will not spoil before other customers finish it. 

Wine kegs offer a way to drain off a great deal of such uncertainty.

“In a standard wine-by-the-glass program, restaurants keep an opened bottle around for hours or days, increasing the threat of oxidation, but that’s not a concern with kegs.  By taking the bottle out of the equation, you also eliminate concerns about bottle variation, bottle shock and faulty corks,” according to  MaryAnn Worobiec, senior editor of Wine Spectator (Tapped In: Wine in Kegs ).

“In addition to enhancing on-premise profitability, kegs are also far more economical for wineries than bottles,”  according to Thomas Deegan, PhD,  manager of business development for TricorBraun WinePak, North America’s largest supplier of rigid packaging to the wine industry.

The keg eliminates the spoilage caused by oxygen because when wine is withdrawn from a stainless steel keg, it is replaced by an inert gas, such as nitrogen or argon.  Oxygen does not come in contact with the wine, extending its “life” from a matter of hours to as much as six months.

A keg holds the equivalent of 26 bottles, requires less storage space and eliminates problems associated with breakage. 

Installing a keg wine system is very similar to installing a beer draft system and typically costs the restaurateur between $1,000 to $1,500 per wine selection. The targeted retail price is $8.00 to $15.00 per glass for wine served through a keg system.

For wineries, kegs are more economical than bottles.  The cost of wine bottles depends upon their country of origin and weight. They range from $5.50 per case to $18.00 per case.   

On the other hand, a wine keg is a onetime expense of between $80 and $100. It holds the equivalent of 2.5 cases of wine. It is not unusual for a keg pay for itself in within three uses, and it can be reused for 30 years.  Keg leasing programs are also available for wineries.

Wine shipping costs, which are determined by weight, are reduced with kegs. Each full keg holds the equivalent 2.5 cases of wine and typically weighs 58-lbs. On the other hand 2.5 traditional cases of wine typically weigh 75 to 87-lbs.

Wineries may either fill their own kegs or use an independent filler, who could lease them kegs to fill or fill the kegs for them which costs between $14 to $17 per keg.

In writing about kegs’ reduction in costs, the Wine Spectator reported that  “…many keg wines are sold at a discount by as much as 25% off the wholesale bottle price, discounts which are passed on to the consumer,”  according to Worobiec.

The final judges of wine-by-the glass served from a keg are restaurant customers who can be assured their wine has not been spoiled by oxidation, had a bad cork, or experienced bottle shock or bottle variation.  

According to Wine Spectator columnist Ask Dr. Vinny, “I’m becoming a big fan of the emerging wine-on-tap programs which provide consistently fresh glasses of wine.”

“When kegged wine is served at the correct cellar temperature it is uniformly comparable to the first glass served from the bottle that has been properly stored,” Deegan said. 

Kegs also represent an important step in reducing the carbon footprint by reducing the cost of transportation and avoiding the recycling associated with bottles.  

TricorBraun WinePak is North America’s largest supplier of wine packaging. The firm has offices in Northern and Southern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.  It has been serving the wine industry since 1982.

The company’s facilities include a $2 million repacking system that automatically transfers wine bottles from eight-foot high stacks of pallets to individual wineries’ custom, printed cartons.

It also offers WinePak Direct, which provides individualized service for boutique wineries and wineries with exclusive bottlings.

TricorBraun WinePak is a unit of TricorBraun, one of North America’s largest providers of bottles, jars, and other rigid packaging components.

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Joseph Gallo Farms Cheese Package Redesign by Murray Brand Communications