Find Your Package Designer

In an age of hundreds of cable channels and tens of thousands of websites, your best advertising dollars may be spent on the front of your can, bottle or case. Think of it as a miniature billboard – a way to set your brand apart from others on the same shelf.

There are some obvious success stories in this realm. Red Bull, for one, heralded the emergence of the energy drink category by showing up in coolers with the now-standard slim-can. Bawls and Bomba set themselves apart from the rest of the category with their distinctive glass bottles, and Fuze incorporated its bottle’s sleek curve into its brand image.But clever packaging ideas don’t pop out of the ether. They take time, energy and artistic talent. Enter the packaging designer. These professionals do nothing but help make products look better, and BevNET Innovation went into the field to learn more about them.

The Ransom Group

INTERVIEWEE: Tim Ransom, president of The Ransom Group

What facet of beverage packaging does your firm focus on?
We have extensive experience with designing full shrink sleeve packaging. A full shrink sleeve allows you to maximize the available real estate on shelf.We’ve also done a lot with aseptic packaging and Tetra Pak products which allow for a long stable shelf life.

Are you capable of taking products from design through manufacture?
We have a very strong forte in beverage branding, packaging and design, having created and launched dozens of name brand beverage products sold by the major distributors. Through this experience over the last decade or two, we have been fortunate to have worked with some of the best people in the business along the way. So yes, we have extensive experience and we know the right people to get things done.

What is changing in the beverage packaging business and what trend do you see coming in the next couple of years?
The three big TV stations I watched as a kid no longer dominate the US viewing audience. Media has fragmented into hundreds of tiny segments fighting for limited advertisers dollars. Today, cable stations, radio, magazines, newspapers, millions of internet sites and even now video games, own a share of the media pie. The bottom line is that even big ad dollars must narrowly target specific sub cultural groups to be heard.

The result of this is that your package on shelf has become the most important investment you will make. Your package is likely to be the sole representation of your entire marketing effort. The 20 square inches your bottle displaces on shelf must now must alert the customer, function as your sales team to deliver your pitch, and get into the shopping cart.

If you want to know where beverages are going, they will will always reflect needs and desires created by cultural trends around us. Our job is to identify the areas of maximum return within these constantly shifting trends and to create and place these products in front of the direct path of this cultural movement. At the same time, we want to avoid being too late to the party by placing products behind the cultural curve, such as creating yet another version of Red Bull.

What piece of beverage packaging has your company produced that you are particularly proud of? Why?
Our work developing the Florida’s Natural not-from-concentrate line of fresh juices is selling extremely well in airports across the country. Its a good product, with good solid packaging. People love it and it makes money for our client. In my book- that’s a good job.

How will you help beverage companies make their product stand out?
First the product must have a good reason to exist- comprised of a unique selling proposition. Then we utilize our proprietary “Pick and Stick “ branding method. A customer purchase is comprised of two parts: The “Pick” where a product is recognized and selected, followed by The “Stick,” where customers judge the product and place it into their cart. We work through a process to identify and forge both Pick and Stick factors into our designs.

What should beverage companies know before they hire you?
What customers don’t often know is that it is nearly impossible for a design form to add real value to a client with a one project job. The value comes from establishing a long-term relationship where the design firm is compensated over time and is allowed to think, eat and breath your brand and given the time to throughly know your target audience. Strong relationships will deliver real value to your brand over time. A “one night stand” project with a designer cannot yeild a great brand that will maximize your investment.INTERVIEWEE: Ron Hansen, creative director of Ron Hansen Strategic Branding Inc.

What facet of beverage packaging does your firm focus on?
We provide expert brand and package design for all beverages including energy drinks, teas, colas, enhanced waters, beer and wine. Our services include cans, plastic, glass, web design, e-commerce, trade show displays, sales materials, boxes, trays and dynamic vehicle wraps.

Are you capable of taking products from design through manufacture?
We can take the customer from formula development to co-packing and on to the shelf.

What is changing in the beverage packaging business and what trend do you see coming in the next couple of years?
The changes are in what is inside the drink. Consumers are tired of just sugar and caffeine. More creative designs ideas are coming from other industries. No longer do we use make the brand bigger strategy.

What piece of beverage packaging has your company produced that you are particularly proud of? Why?
Wired Energy Drink. The use of strong metallic colors with the well drawn flames wrapping around the cans give it motion and really created a powerful can. We offer a full line of sizes. Around 20 SKUs. When the cans are all in a row the colors really pop out and do attract the young adult consumer. The Wired brand is easy to read. It is a full panel allowing the brand to be read from far and near. It’s dynamic. Outstanding can design and pops off the shelf. Great sales results.

How will you help beverage companies make their product stand out?
We help the beverage company stand out by defining the product better than they can. Making sure the consumer gets it. Giving them great design. Design they can afford. Our job is making products that sell everyday.

What should beverage companies know before they hire you?
Our best features are our creative, attentive services, expert production skills and our proven sales results. See ronhansen.com

INTERVIEWEE: Dan Matauch, owner and creative director of Flow Design

What facet of beverage packaging does your firm focus on?
Naming, Brand Identity, Label Graphics, Structural Design & Engineering, Supplier Consulting

Are you capable of taking products from design through manufacture?
Yes… we have been very successful at helping clients (start-up to Fortune 500) take concepts through to final production. We work close with our clients and vendors to ensure that the design we create is printed, engineered, manufactured and assembled as close to our original concepts as possible.

What is changing in the beverage packaging business and what trend do you see coming in the next couple of years?
I see more use of non-traditional containers such as aluminum bottles and new package delivery systems for supplement/energy drinks. I predict a heightened emphasis towards sustainable package materials. What piece of beverage packaging has your company produced that you are particularly proud of? Why?
I’m particularly proud of all the designs my company produces. But if I’m forced to choose one, I would probably say that the Bawls Guarana project stands out. Hoby Buppert, CEO of Bawls, had just graduated from college when he came to me with his brand idea. He was open to fresh ideas and we worked together to develop a simple yet unique brand design that has stood the test of time. While many other energy drinks have come and gone, Bawls is still a prominent product.

How will you help beverage companies make their product stand out?
First, we analyze the product’s shelf competition. Second, we conceive a design plan which establishes a unique brand identity; that is to say, we ensure that the packaging communicates to the consumer what the produce is and why they need it. Third, we develop graphics, colors and structure that differentiate it from its competitors.

What should beverage companies know before they hire you?
This question can be spun in several different directions. From a practical nuts-and-bolts perspective, a beverage company interested in our services should have information relative to its competitive set, its target market, its price point, and its timeline for introduction. From a conceptual perspective, beverage companies interested in Flowdesign’s services should know that we excel in “start to finish” projects. We find nothing more rewarding than knowing we were part of a project that resulted in a product that flies from the stores shelves.

INTERVIEWEE: Will Burke, CEO and creative director of Brand Engine?

What facet of beverage packaging does your firm focus on?
Brand Engine begins every project with a discovery phase, conducting market and competitive research and identifying a company’s opportunities. That leads to the strategy phase, establishing the brand platform and developing a creative brief. The design phase communicates the strategy visually and verbally including the identity, the name, the look and feel, and package structure(s). After design, the brand is applied and implemented.

Are you capable of taking products from design through manufacture?
Yes. We are involved in the complete product cycle to ensure that the design is properly executed, meeting both the expectations of our client and their audiences.

What is changing in the beverage packaging business and what trend do you see coming in the next couple of years?
Consumers are interested in more than just satisfying a thirst. They are becoming more open to new taste experiences, unique flavors, healthier options, and more environmentally friendly products and packaging. We also see a trend in companies that are connecting with and contributing to causes that are important to their consumers. We believe consumers will be increasingly interested in brands that represent their core values and act upon them in a conscientious way.

What piece of beverage packaging has your company produced that you are particularly proud of? Why?
We have designed several beverage packaging projects that exemplify our company’s innovation and success in connecting with consumers. Our design of Kid Fuel, a healthy children’s beverage, appeals to children through its unique and fun packaging. The contoured bottles are squeezable, reusable and fit perfectly in a child’s small hand. The label demonstrates the clarity of the product and introduces an illustrated cast of four school kids and their professor, telling an educational story that further unfolds on the Web site.

How will you help beverage companies make their product stand out?
Each company is unique, and their consumers are different. By helping companies truly understand their core business, target customers and why their product is compelling, we are able to create a brand strategy and design system that sets their product apart and engages their audience.

What should beverage companies know before they hire you?
We find that our most successful clients have these three characteristics in common: 1. A desire to become leaders in their category. 2. A drive to grow their business substantially. 3. A willingness to develop a consultative and trusting relationship with us.INTERVIEWEE: John Kica, president and creative director of Designer Graphx Inc.

What facet of beverage packaging does your firm focus on?
We focus primarily on the creation, design and printing of point-of-sale, marketing materials and packaging. These items include custom bottle and can-shaped decals; 2-way window push/pull decals; shelf talkers (which are designed to snap directly into the shelf with no adhesive strip needed); bottle neck tags for on-pack promotions; product informational brochures and sell sheets, as well as pressure sensitive labels; glue applied label; shrink sleeves and folding cartons and carriers.

Are you capable of taking products from design through manufacture?
Yes. We offer a turn-key service, from creative design and branding, straight through print production. Additionally, for product labeling, we work hand in hand with co-packers to ensure our labels, shrink sleeves and packaging are designed for maximum efficiency upon application.

What is changing in the beverage packaging business and what trend do you see coming in the next couple of years?
With the influx of new beverage companies continually opening, we see a very unique opportunity for our clients to set themselves apart from the competition by maximizing their marketing and advertising budget with a strong presence and identity in their packaging, point-of-sale and promotional advertising.

What piece of beverage packaging has your company produced that you are particularly proud of? Why?
Our clients include existing as well as start-up operations. For example, we worked with a start-up beverage company on design, branding and printing and guided them through each process including co-packaging. Existing companies take advantage of our expertise specifically in point-of-sale, packaging and marketing materials that we customize individually.

How will you help beverage companies make their product stand out?
We approach each client’s project based on their specific needs and requirements. As designers, we gravitate towards a modern, clean and sharp look. As printers we utilize our knowledge of first grade materials and an array of matte and high gloss coatings, unique die-cuts and constructions. We are therefore able to fit the correct printing process to each application for maximum quality and functionality.

What should beverage companies know before they hire you?
Designer Graphx treats each client individually. Because every client is unique, we cater to each of their specialized needs. Our knowledge and versatility in creating and customizing point-of-sale and packaging materials allows our customers to feel reassured in the fact that they are receiving personalized attention rather than cookie-cutter technology. We are excited to be a part of and grow with our customers in this unique and challenging market.

Ron Hansen Strategic Branding Inc

Flow Design

Brand Engine

Designer Graphx Inc.