Review: Silverback

Posted: Apr 11, 2019 at 1:07 PM (Last Updated: Apr 12, 2019 at 11:10 AM)

Covers Products: Silverback - Harvest Gold African Tea

Silverback is a line of carbonated tea beverages that is being positioned as both a healthy energy drink and an alternative to alcohol. The product is currently available in two varieties, Harvest Gold and Classic Silver.

For the purposes of this review, we sampled only the Harvest Gold variety. It’s self-described as a “gently carbonated African tea.” Ingredients include carbonated water, organic black tea (from Rwanda), and organic apple juice concentrate.

With only 40 calories and 10 g of sugar per can, the product is surprisingly mellow but full of flavor. The base of tea that they’ve used has a stronger taste (perhaps from a stronger brew?) than what you’ll typically find in black tea based beverages and has almost an earthy flavor to it. The apple juice provides a slight note of sweetness, but there isn’t really any apple flavor to the product. The flavor profile definitely exceeded our expectations and is really quite enjoyable.

But as with many upstart brands, the branding and positioning need some work. This starts with the front panel, which is mostly dedicated to a large image of a silverback gorilla. It’s an intimidating and aggressive looking animal, which is maybe not the best starting point for a carbonated tea; we assumed it was an energy drink when we first saw it.

If you turn the can around to the back and read the copy, there’s a completely different image that they are trying to present, complete with an explanation of the product, the founder’s story, and the social causes that they are hoping to support. Unfortunately, this feels at odds with the front of the can.

There are also some other technical items that we’d clean up. This includes having the can manufacturer’s stamp on the front of the can (the label is misaligned), a broken URL in the back copy that goes to a parked domain page, and the lack of a precise disclosure of caffeine content.

Overall, Silverback Harvest Gold is a pretty enjoyable and innovative tasting product, but the packaging and execution are really rough around the edges. Refining this and getting the kinks out will be key to unlocking commercial success.


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