Four Branding Trends from Expo West 2017

Chris Burton, our Art Director, travelled all the way to Anaheim last week for Expo West 2017. The four-day event is the country’s largest natural foods show, and it gives industry professionals the opportunity to see what’s in store for the future of organic foods. Shifts in consumer tastes usually lead to major design shakeups, and here are four of the biggest packaging trends that we noticed.

HandmadeFotoJet Collage1

With consumers becoming increasingly interested in buying local small-batch products, branding is taking on a distinctly “handmade” look. Handwritten logos, drawings, and rough edges are all major trends, as brands are moving away from the overly polished “hipster” look of the last few years in favor of appearing wholesome and healthy.

ProteinFotoJet Collage2 Protein is in everything right now, from plant milk to pancakes (FlapJacked wins best name). As a result, we’re seeing categories looking a lot more diverse than they have in the past. For example, protein-packed cookie brand Bite Fuel is using a very heavy black font in all of its branding, which is unrecognizable from the bright colors and gentle script of more familiar players like Mrs. Fields and Famous Amos.

With this sudden interest in protein, we’re also seeing more artisanal varieties of meaty products like beef jerky. Duke’s came to Expo West with dried brisket and Cajun-style dried sausages, with elegant packaging that highlights the seasonings and flavor additives over the meat.

This protein phenomenon is manifesting itself in two ways – products that traditionally would not contain much protein are being set apart with strong, commanding designs, and products that have always been known to be great sources of protein are trying to appeal to new consumers.


Animal ImageryFotoJet Collage3

Consumers want to feel closer to the food that they eat, which means becoming more comfortable with the animals at the source. Meats, cheeses, and flavored snacks are all beginning to feature realistic depictions of livestock, sometimes using straight-up photographs.

Meat-and-dairy-free products are using images of animals as well. Los Angeles’s Kombucha Dog, for instance, puts photos of homeless dogs from local shelters on their labels, using store shelf space to help them find homes.

MascotsFotoJet Collage4

Mascots were all over the place this year, which is interesting for a natural foods show – mascots are most commonly associated with sugary cereals and fast food. Brands are now recognizing that mascots can help build relationships with consumers, who can feel personal and emotional connections to them. They can also considerably boost a brand’s recognition potential, which is especially attractive for new products in crowded categories.


Colors that Yell

With the trend of minimalist, stark packaging still going so strong, some brands are pushing back with designs that scream from the shelf. Hot pink, blood orange, teal – all are showing up in product categories that have never gone so bold. We know that color choices evoke different emotional responses for consumers, and playing with combinations can help shoppers connect with brands. Clashing colors are also usually more memorable and therefore are great for brand recall, especially when the colors are unique to the product.

Using loud, expressive colors is a way for brands to differentiate a special edition product, allowing them to break out of their standard molds and appeal to new groups. This can be highly effective for brands looking to target younger consumers, who are appreciative of companies that are willing to take on a little edginess and aesthetic risk. Large brands looking to emulate the look and feel of small brands should take note of how the following companies have successfully crafted exciting packages by taking chances with color.


Harper Macaw

Last spring, D.C. chocolatier Harper Macaw released a series of bars inspired by the election. Naturally, the wrappers use bold reds and blues, and the result is gorgeous and striking. Rather than feeling like political cartoons, the chocolates are elegant and find the beauty within the absurdity of our current political climate. For a time that has been so stressful and dividing, at least we got a little something sweet out of it.



Bud Light

Bud Light is now the official beer sponsor of South by Southwest, and the funky, psychedelic cans that they issued in limited release last year were such a hit that they are coming back for the 2017 festival. With bright blues, orange, yellow, red, purple, green, and a shock of black, the packaging perfectly captures the vibe of the festival and of the famously “weird” city of Austin.




Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP sticks out like a sore thumb among competitors, with a heavy fuchsia font that pops (pun intended) against solid feminine backgrounds. This is a great example of how color clashing can be used in a way that is playful without being childish – this design communicates maturity while remaining effectively eye-catching. The color choices here indicate that the snack is something indulgent and luxurious, a cut above all of the Orville Redenbachers and the Act IIs.


Wild Leaf

Most tea brands try to communicate the same themes: tranquility, peace, smoothness, etc. Wild Leaf has decided to take an entirely different approach, with wild colors that would be striking on their own and are even stronger when put together. Energetic and youthful, with a large callout for its specific properties, it’s certainly more fun than your grandma’s Lipton.


Ciao Bella

The bright, beautiful color palette that Ciao Bella used for their line of gelatos is a great example of risk paying off. Brands of ice cream and similar treats often struggle with how to clearly target adults, and the rainbow of color could have easily made it seem like it was a dessert for children. Instead, the careful color pairings elevate the packaging to a new level of sophistication, while still looking just as visually interesting and trendy as competitors like Ben & Jerry’s.


5 Emerging Packaging Design Trends

While each client and project are different, knowing what design trends are more popular can get you going in the right direction and will give you an idea of how consumers will interact with the product. Consider mobile-engaged packaging, personalized packaging, and digital print to create more personalized experiences for consumers. To engage consumers on a personal level and provide them with an experience through packaging, consider the following packaging design trends.


t-shirt-packaging-design-the-t-shirt-01Consumers are overwhelmed with the choices available to them, so sometimes, it’s best to just keep things simple. Clean, clear labeling and minimalist packaging can help to get the point across quickly, with no fluff. It also creates brand transparency and increases buyers’ confidence. When consumers are looking for products that can simplify their lives, they are attracted to minimal packaging that is simple (not boring) and instantly answers the questions they are asking. By identifying what the consumer needs and expressing how your product can fulfill that need (in no uncertain terms), your packaging will be more powerful and instill trust with your audience.

Geometric Shapes

jeannieburnside_meld_5Screen-Shot-2016-01-15-at-2.50.19-PM-768x321Geometric patterns and shapes are visually appealing and can fit nearly any product. Using familiar colors and shapes can provide a simplistic approach that reaches consumers in a nostalgic way.


038a433ff8e7485a5846c156265aea80static1.squarespace-2Old-fashioned packaging design focuses on the good ole’ days. Modernizing old design trends and presenting vintage packaging, with emphasis on calligraphy and letterpress, will relate your packaging to something of higher value.

Enhanced Shelf Life

05967f81b443a987d367f4763a7ba606Most designers believe in the standard that your packaging should be able to stay on the shelf for approximately three to five years. However, it can remain on your customer’s home shelves for just as long. That’s why it’s important to design unique packaging that looks good both in the store and at home. By accounting for how it will look on the shelves in the store, you can attract more new customers. By accounting for how it will look on the shelves at home, you can keep your current customers satisfied. It also encourages consumers to leave the packaging out on the counters more often (instead of hiding them in the cabinet), which results in free advertising for anyone who sees the item.

Sustainable Packaging

c8371dabd11828690cc7e2df6231717apd-19Sustainable packaging offers a more environmentally friendly option, which can still be functional and beautiful. It can also empower social consciousness overall. Choosing green, socially responsible packaging is good for your business, the environment, and your bottom dollar. Successful sustainable packaging needs to be less disposable and have the smallest possible impact on the environment. This can include using recycled materials to produce the packaging and/or encouraging customers to repurpose the packaging after the contents are gone.

Have you noticed other emerging design trends that we missed?

5 Designs We Love: Elegant Candy Packaging

In today’s edition of 5 Designs We Love, we will cover 5 of our favorite candy packaging designs. Each of these designs proves that sometimes, the packaging can be the sweetest thing.

1. Petit Geste


Petit Plaisir is a type of Belgian chocolate sold in Barcelona and Madrid, which can’t be ignored. The pattern work for the Petit Geste line was created for the social initiative “5 Cellars, 5 Charity Projects”. It was designed by Barcelona design agency, Simple, using striking geometric shapes. The elaborate design is a work of art and provides yet another reason to buy a piece of chocolate.

2. Tingz


Peppersmith Tingz is a line of Xylitol-based chewing gum and mints that actually helps prevent tooth decay, especially in children. The unique product needed one-of-a-kind packaging and branding to help it further stand out in the marketplace. Designed by London-based design agency, B&B Studio, the new packaging for Tingz has resonated with children and adults alike. The branding is teethy and fun, allowing parents to easily sell their children on the idea of good-for-you candy. The fun branding also expands to shop counter displays, where the candy packets are taken out of the monsters’ mouths. The two hairy monsters have been named Bowie and Floyd and their stories can be tracked through an online storybook narrative, booklets, and other marketing campaigns.

3. Lapp & Fao Chocolate Books


Lapp & Fao created a series of chocolate books to better package their unique, adventurous flavors of chocolate. The packaging makes the set fun to eat and fun to gift. The line includes 15 different gourmet German chocolate bars, each wrapped in colorful card covers with intricate drawings and stories, making it more of a souvenir than a wrapper. The edges of the packaging are treated like a book spine, clearly displaying the brand’s logo in place of a book’s publisher. Each bar is designed to resemble a diary entry from Lapp and Fao’s travels around the world in search of the most delicious sweet delicacies. The effective packaging was designed by ONLYFORTHEFUTURE, with creative direction by Nils R. Zimmerman and illustrative detail by Andreas Klammt.

4. Coca Luxury Chocolates


Coca Luxury Chocolates features 12 unique chocolates, each with their own small boxes. Designed by Denmark design studio, Bessermachen, each chocolate features its own coloring, personality, appearance, branding, and character like “The Rebel”, “The King”, and “The Magician”. The packaging makes the chocolates more fun to eat and each one is designed to reflect your character and personality.

5. Cacao Monkey


The Cacao Monkey packaging features bright, colorful cutouts with the logo and type of chocolate spelled out in cutouts. The fictional brand of eco-conscious organic chocolate used the simplest graphic techniques, but created something unlike any other packaging designs. The bold packaging uses natural wrapping and minimal dyes to reduce its carbon footprint. The packaging was designed by Niamh Richardson, a visual communications student from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.

Creative Packaging and the Male Consumer

Just how far will creative packaging take a product?  Can it create a new market out of thin air?  Or is it simply just another arrow in the marketer’s quiver?  In our humble (or rather, biased) opinion, product packaging is somewhere in between.  A recent article by the Australian design agency Truly Deeply got us thinking about this issue (its well worth the read).

When it comes to gender roles and gender cues, packaging is very effective at targeting in not so subtle ways.  The Truly Deeply article noted above features a student project by Dutch design student Annemiek van der Beek.  The project is a package design concept for a male-oriented cosmetics line, as seen below.

Creative Packaging - Masculine Cosmetics

 Clearly this creative packaging crosses boundaries from a gender perspective and introduces masculine visual cues into a very feminine product category.  Would something like this work?  Depends on the category and the consumer profile.  Its not entirely clear that there is a market for very masculine cosmetics.  That said, this concept–while somewhat extreme–demonstrates how innovative and creative packaging can be effective at repositioning a product for an entirely new (perhaps shockingly so) consumer segment.

This masculine design makes us think of a couple of other creative packaging examples that we were recently struck by, per below.  Any interest in yogurt, gentlemen?

Creative Packaging - Masculine Yogurt

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5 Designs We Love: Cookie Packaging

Today we would like to kickoff a series of articles where we review 5 snack food packaging designs that we love, or at least really like.  Below are 5 examples of awesome package design in the cookie category, in no particular order.

1. Sweet Loren’s Cookie Dough

Snack Food Packaging

Sweet Loren’s Cookie Dough

While not quite ready-to-eat cookies, Sweet Loren’s makes frozen cookie and brownie dough that is sold at select Whole Foods stores and a number of other specialty retailers.  What we love most about this package design is the use of varied typography (with an engaging layout), bold colors, and product photography that has a ton of appetite appeal.  While the front of the package is a bit cluttered, its contemporary design is a far cry from what you would expect to see in the frozen dessert section.

2. Fruute Gourmet Cookies

Snack Food Packaging

Fruute Gourmet Cookies

Fruute Gourmet Cookies and Gift Baskets is a Los Angeles-based company that makes very high end cookies and gift baskets.  They have an amazing website with a simple and clean interface and incredibly appetizing photography… definitely worth a visit.  That said, it was their package design that really impressed us.  It features a clear plastic bag with minimal yet witty copy on the front of the package.  Presumably these are not sold on store shelves, but in any case the packaging screams super premium and of course emphasizes the products themselves.  They are almost like little works of art.

3. Tate’s Bake Shop

Snack Food Packaging

Tate’s Bake Shop

An oldie but goodie, Tate’s Bake Shop is a gourmet cookie company that sells crispy cookies in high-end specialty shops.  We have loved their cookies for quite some time, and their packaging has always intrigued us.  The simple and prominently displayed brand name coupled with the light green background really tends to distinguish itself on the shelf.  Its not the most exciting and modern brand, but its very distinctive and functional.  While you might not have tried Tate’s cookies before, you may recall seeing them on store shelves.

4. Botanical Bakery

Snack Food Packaging

Botanical Bakery

We love the package designs for Botanical Bakery’s line of shortbread cookies, which feature a number of unique herbs and spices (cardamom, lavender, etc).  Each package has a leaf positioned to depict a set of feminine lips, and the varieties are color coded and represented by large illustrated typography.  The packaging contains no product photography, presumably because the products themselves (shortbread cookies) are not visually appealing.  That said, the packaging has an irreverent feel that complements the product’s exotic flavor profiles, and we’re into it.

5. Bla Bla Cookies (a student project)

Snack Food Packaging

Bla Bla Cookies (student work)

This last design is not a snack food packaging item that you will find on store shelves, but rather its a conceptual work from a group of Russian students from Moscow.  We love the fun and cheeky theme (shutting up cartoon characters by stuffing their mouths with cookies), and how the packaging functionally ties in to the theme (by opening and closing the package).  We have seen many versions of stacked cookie packaging (mostly from Europe), but we’ve never seen anything like this.  Pretty cool, and worth sharing in any case.

The “New” Factor

We’ve been doing our research. We’ve found that more and more brands are calling attention to their new look or variety by using the word “new” in various ways in their retail packaging design – in a bar, across a box, in a circle, you name it. Sure, it seems like the oldest trick in the book, but what we are finding is that some brands are creating their entire design around this word that they deem so important, or even going a step further and telling consumers what’s new about it on the design. So, the next time you are at the grocery store, see if you’re more likely to buy a product because it has the world “new “on it. But before you do that, take a look below at the different ways and places you’ll see this word used on a product design.



Some brands, like Pepperidge Farm and Fiber One are using what are called “basic interrupters” in their retail packaging design.  This means that the word “new” is not affecting the whole layout and design on a product, but is just a small call-out on the front.


Here are more examples of basic interrupters:

Here are examples of design altering call-outs. As you can see, the word “new” takes up the entire top portion of the boxes below, and utilize a completely different color than the rest of designed box.

Often times, when brands are creating a line extension or a new variety, they also want this called out by using the word “new.” Fiber One did this on the box design when they created their Nutty Clusters & Almonds variety.


Still, many brands want consumers to know exactly what is new or different about their product, so they make sure to explicitly state it on the design of the bag, box or package.

Quaker wanted consumers to know that even though the look of their bag changed, it’s still the same great taste of the mini rice cakes.



Schar however wanted consumers to know that they in fact did make the actual product better – it’s a new recipe this time that they are using to create softer rolls. And Ensure uses two tactics. Peach is a new variety, but they still want to reiterate to consumers that the Ensure brand in general is a good source of protein.

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Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift – Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design

Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design

Ta Da!

If you weren’t lucky enough to have received our 2012 Holiday Package, here is a glimpse of what our clients received in the mail or by hand delivery.  Amazing product, brand new brand and unique packaging design.

These all-natural carrot cakes were baked in 4 mini jars, and placed in a carefully designed package—complete with individual wooden spoons (for sharing) and a hand-stamped logo on the lid of each of the jars.

Nestled in an embossed box and wrapped in a letterpress belly-band, these cakes are as much a joy to open as they are to eat.

We’re proud to show off this latest brand identity and packaging design we created for The Cake & Carrot Company (C&C) ….and yet, our clients and friends were equally (if not more) thrilled to have received them!

Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


We had a very short timeline in which to have this packaging completed. We’re very grateful to the vendors that we worked with to get each element produced with such time constraints. A Quick Cut, of Maple Shade, NJ was able to turn our custom dieline into a functioning and beautiful box, stamped from Neenah Classic Crest stock and then embossed with the Cake & Carrot Co. logo and crest.


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


The belly-band was produced by Colleen at Cleanwash Letterpress on Frankford Ave. in Philadelphia. Printed on French Paper’s 100 lb. Construction Line stock, she was able to achieve a nice impression that really brings the branding to life. On the day the cakes were baked, we hand-stamped the date on the bands, adding a personal touch.


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


The holiday card and production notes contained within the box were digitally printed by our friends over at Garrison Printing. We were kept plenty busy while these elements were turned around to us. Debossing the C&C crest into each steel jar lid proved to be quite a challenge. Using a custom ordered aircraft-grade steel stamp, we found that we needed 12 tons of pressure to get a clear imprint. With each lid needing to be stamped individually while operating a modified hydraulic press by hand, Eric’s weekend was pretty much spent in his garage.


Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Packaging Design


We were relieved when all elements merged seamlessly to create the finished product! As we work to expand upon the Cake & Carrot Co.’s brand, and to help get these treats to market, be sure to visit to sign up for updates, or visit the brand’s Facebook page.

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The Making of Our 2012 Holiday Gift – Brand & Package Design

For our 2012 holiday gift to our clients, we decided to design and deliver mini carrot cakes by the dozens. From creating the logo, to drawing up the box and making sure each color blended perfectly, to even photographing the freshly baked treats, we left no detail untouched.  End of the day, we created our very own brand and package design.  And if you weren’t lucky enough to receive one of these all-natural packages, keep an eye out for our next post where we’ll unveil the finished product.

Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Package Design

Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Package Design

Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Package Design

Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Package Design

Works Design 2012 Holiday Gift - Our Very Own Brand & Package Design

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Nestle is Naturally good

If you read our blog, you can see that there are a lot of current trends between green packaging design, clean packaging, promoting healthy habits and so on. With that said, this new product from Nestle fits right in. A healthy habit that Nestle is pushing is natural tastes, without preservatives and food coloring.

Their product Beltè with Infused Fruit is just that. The infusion is a natural process that allows lemon and peach to free all of their flavors, giving freshness and goodness to iced tea.

So the challenge was, how to get this brand message across in a liter and a half package and how to make it recognizable on the shelves? Take a look–its tall and slender bottle with a square section, completely stands out among the array of short bottles with round sections. The result, also from a visual point of view, puts together marketing goals with aesthetics. The label transmits a sense of genuineness and goodness and exudes a lightness and fresh feeling. Furthermore the label, simply attached to the wide grip area, allows a constant physical contact between the brand and the consumer.

The stylized tea leaves on the shoulder and on the lower part of the bottle are a key element that gives graphical continuity to the spirit of the brand.

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