Lookin’ sharp

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Lookin’ sharp

By Michal Christine Escobar, Store Brands magazine - 09/02/2016

To make it off the shelf and into shopping carts, store brand packaging must first catch consumers’ attention. Packaging that offers a great design and obvious functional benefits while communicating the brand’s message in a clear, easy-to-understand way has the best chance to succeed. In our fifth annual Store Brand Packaging Awards competition, Store Brands is delighted to honor 11 different retail companies and their respective packaging-design partners for store brand packaging that exceeds expectations here. This year, we received more than 180 entries representing approximately 50 different retail companies and packaging design firms. To avoid any potential for bias, we asked three experts representing packaging materials and packaging design publications, as well as one packaging consultant, to serve on our judging panel. Our judges included Lisa Pierce, executive editor of Packaging Digest; Rick Lingle, technical editor of Packaging Digest; Linda Casey, editor in chief of Package Design; and Ben Miyares, president of The Packaging Management Institute, Bay Village, Ohio.

We divided the entries into five categories: Non-Foods, Beverages, Refrigerated and Frozen Foods, Shelf-Stable Foods, and New Line or Line Extension Across Multiple Categories. We then instructed the judges to evaluate each entry on three criteria: overall appearance, functionality and communication of the brand/product message.

In the end, the judges selected a Gold, Silver and Bronze Award winner within each category (with a few ties). They also honored one outstanding product with the “Best of the Bunch” Award (and gave out one honorable mention in the Shelf-Stable Foods category).

BEST OF THE BUNCH AWARD

Wild Harvest Pet Food

RETAIL COMPANY: Supervalu Inc., Minneapolis

DESIGN COMPANY: Southern Graphics Systems Inc.

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

LINDA CASEY: The judges were so impressed by the multi-sensorial design used for the Wild Harvest Pet Food brand. The soft-touch material, the vibrant colors and the matte finish appeal to consumers in so many ways. It also borrows from the deconstructed food imagery approach used in human food presentation … and in other environments such as restaurants that emphasizes the product’s natural ingredients and appeals to shoppers looking for the healthier food options for everyone in their families, including their pets.

LISA PIERCE: I love, love, love this product. It’s fantastic photography. The way that it’s matte but there is shine underneath it. The elegance of this package elevates the product beyond mere “premium” status. The high quality of the ingredients shown in the foreground, along with the soothing background image and rich color schemes, appeals to any discerning pet parent. This design stimulates different senses: taste, touch (with the matte printing) and sight.

BEN MIYARES: Outstanding graphics, print quality and pouch structure make this product a standout on the shelf. It makes a better shelf impression that any branded pet food in Cleveland.

BEVERAGES

GOLD AWARD

7-Select Go!Smart Coconut Water

RETAIL COMPANY: 7-Eleven Inc., Dallas

DESIGN COMPANY: Brandimage

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: The judges really loved the Go!Smart Coconut Water for a variety of reasons. First of all, structure. The TetraPak format is definitely a differentiator on shelf. The violater works well within the design. It has great bold color coding. It feels really good in your hand. The spout is resealable and also optimally placed for drinking or pouring. We thought it was a real standout.

MIYARES: From a functionality perspective, the Go!Smart package is really a standout. The closure has a non-drip aspect. The shape is unique in that it takes advantage of the square footprint so you have cube efficiency, but it’s also round and that provides good grip ability. It’s a good size. It is a differentiator on the shelf.

RICK LINGLE: We also liked that it has callouts on the back to explain the product. It brings it back to the source, which is a popular driver these days. Also, there is a positive balance of the health benefits.

SILVER AWARD

Clear American Ice Sparkling Water

RETAIL COMPANY: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark.

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

PIERCE: The silver and the metallic in the label really pop out, especially when you’re looking at the colors side by side. The way the bottle is so tall and narrow also makes it stand out, and it still has stability. The caps are all the same, a transparent white cap, so [the retailer saves] money there and spends more money on the metallic aspects. Overall, it’s a nicely designed and affordable package. The way the color of the beverage inside the bottle both matches and complements the color coding on the label helps identify the flavor of the product. It’s nicely done not only in the color bar behind the word “Clear,” but also in the background color of the metallic label.

LINGLE: The callout of the fruit is very clear; when you see these on shelf, you know it’s about fruit. The word “Clear” points to the ingredient list and how they’ve minimized that. But I think the complementary use of the color schemes is extremely attractive on shelf.

BRONZE AWARD (TIE)

Irresistibles Caffe Espresso Ground Coffee

RETAIL COMPANY: Metro Inc., Montreal

DESIGN COMPANY: St. Joseph Communications

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: We loved the back panel. That’s unusual when thinking of packaging design, but we loved that the back panel promoted the product as multi-functional. Similar to beauty products that are two-in-one, this product reminds consumers it can be used to make an espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, mocha, affogato or a café au lait. It’s a wonderful way to communicate to the customer about the value of the product, which in my mind would lead to more retail sales.

PIERCE: Usually when you talk about the trend toward customization, you’re talking about the packaging. But in this aspect, the packaging is clearly explaining how the product can be customized, and it explains that customization very well with illustrations, as well as written instructions.

BRONZE AWARD (TIE)

Food Lion/Hannaford Ground Coffee

RETAIL COMPANY: Delhaize America, Salisbury, N.C.

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

MIYARES: There is some very interesting copy here that is both educational and entertaining. It’s a very sophisticated package with its military crease on the pouch; very functional.

LINGLE: I was very impressed by the overall silver look. The smoke/steam of the coffee rising out of the coffee cup is very pleasing to the eye. And I was so impressed by the balance of the copy on this package. It’s not too much; it’s not too little. If you want to know how to brew a perfect cup of coffee, it’s right there. It has storytelling, and it tells you how to preserve your coffee and keep it fresh.

REFRIGERATED & FROZEN FOODS

GOLD AWARD

Red Button Vintage Creamery Ice Cream

RETAIL COMPANY: Associated Food Stores

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: The retailer got the branding so right with Red Button Ice Cream, from the bold logo treatment on the top and front panels of the ice cream tubs to the bold brand name treatment on the left-hand side. The judges were confident that the memorable design would help build brand awareness and loyalty.

PIERCE: The flavor-specific names on the edge of the lids make the flavors easy to find in the freezer — at the store and at home. The bracket-style box on the front panel, along with the stripes and the red button logo, look vintage. But the contemporary fonts, front-panel nutrition callouts and the ingredient props around the ice cream scoops address today’s package design trends.

SILVER AWARD

Ahold World Menu Chicken Asada

RETAIL COMPANY: Ahold USA, Carlisle, Pa.

DESIGN COMPANY: Group360 Worldwide

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

LINGLE: The brand skillfully balances a wealth of information and elements — product line, product name, description, preparation instructs and more — on the paperboard sleeve without overcrowding. I also like how the World Menu emblem coordinates with the “Flavors Inspired by Mexico” box that appears with more detail on the back panel.

CASEY: The product’s strong taste appeal in a packaging format that is ready to serve made the Ahold Chicken Asada package stand out.

BRONZE AWARD

Sprouts Organic Gelato and Ice Cream

RETAIL COMPANY: Sprouts Farmers Market Inc., Phoenix

DESIGN COMPANY: Eighty Twenty

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: The packages visually transport shoppers to more nostalgic times and evoke memories and stories of simpler times.

LINGLE: Sprouts’ tastefully designed parallel product lines are distinguished as organic by strong green color cues (including the plastic lids) for the ice creams and simply the word Organic on the more subtly-colored gelato line. I also liked the ice creams’ flavor-coded “sun ray” bursts on the front panel and the gelato’s scenic illustration that points to its made-in-Italy origins.

LINE OR LINE EXTENSION ACROSS MULTIPLE CATEGORIES

GOLD AWARD

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Natural Range

RETAIL COMPANY: Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Downers Grove, Ill.

DESIGN COMPANY: The Creative Pack LLC

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

LINGLE: A farming vibe is spread across the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market family of products, with an unusual dirt-brown field set against an assorted rainbow of product-specific colorful skylines — whether on label, bags or cartons — and with a tractor in silhouette. The tractor is picked up in the brand logo as well.

CASEY: One thing I really liked about Fresh Thyme was that it uses this cloth pattern element as part of the branding element throughout the line. Whether it’s popcorn or applesauce or pizza, everything looks like it’s painted on a distressed board. In general, I thought the packaging was easy to read on the shelf. You could shop the store quickly, find your favorites and move on. The color blocking is awesome. I love the color blocking.

SILVER AWARD

Kings Brand

RETAIL COMPANY: Kings Food Markets, Parsippany, N.J.

DESIGN COMPANY: Eighty Twenty

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

LINGLE: It works. I love the artistic swash. Kings’ product packaging design starts with a white packaging canvas and builds on that, but the creative stroke is the revealing of the central product photo in brush-like fashion across the center of the package. The implication is that these products are a work of culinary art, and this was a graphically clever way to show that.

PIERCE: From the “foodie’”whisk in the logo and high-end “painted on” photography to the clean white background and color-coded bars at the bottom, the packaging tells consumers that a lot of care went into making these products.

CASEY: A consistent visual identity ties the product lines together across categories, while the background border treatment delivers a sense of discovery — visually depicting a scene that is scratched off, that’s to be discovered.

BRONZE AWARD

Cha-Ching Brand

RETAIL COMPANY: Delhaize America

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

PIERCE: The piggy bank logo is a clever way of saying this is a value brand that will save you money. I also like the irreverent font they use for the name of the products — the lowercase “i” is different enough that it makes you take more time to read the packaging. The bright orange color scheme also works to connect the full family of products.

MIYARES: Shouting “value,” the packaging of the Cha-Ching line leverages easy-to-identify color and humor.

SHELF-STABLE FOODS

GOLD AWARD

Tangled Tree Dried Fruit and Nut Snacks

RETAIL COMPANY: SpartanNash, Grand Rapids, Mich.

DESIGN COMPANY: Capsule

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

PIERCE: Even though there are only two pouch sizes, the retailer was able to customize the pouches for a wide variety of products. The pouch itself is beautifully generically printed. You have the tangled tree logo along the side in gloss, the Tangled Tree image in the background and the Tangled Tree circle logo on the left. You have a window so that you can see the product in the package.

LINGLE: Tangled Tree customizes a generic package with an oh-so-very tasteful design scheme for use with a range of snacks. The secret is a front-panel-applied label using colored label stock printed with product basics; a no-frills black-on-white label applied to the pouch back contains Nutrition Facts and related copy. I love the tan color, vertical branding and the colorful little logo beneath the spreading tree as the background that’s softly illustrated. A final touch is the product view window at the base of the tree. This “natural” meshing of complementary elements unifies the look.

SILVER AWARD [TIE]

Sam’s Choice Soup

RETAIL COMPANY: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

DESIGN COMPANY: Anthem Worldwide

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

LINGLE: Sam’s Choice microwave soup cups provide literal product transparency in a simple, yet simply effective design scheme that is pleasing.

CASEY: This is another example of using stock packaging well. The Sam’s Choice soups have an upscale shelf presence that emphasizes the natural ingredients, which amps up the taste appeal. From the ingredient photography such as the red, ripe tomatoes for the creamy tomato bisque to the creamy product visible through the transparent packaging, the soup gets shoppers salivating at first sight.

SILVER AWARD [TIE]

7-Select Flavored Jumbo Peanuts

RETAILER COMPANY: 7-Eleven Inc.

DESIGN COMPANY: Brandimage

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

MIYARES: Even if you removed all the copy from this pouch, you’d know what it held: the power of packaging to communicate not just nuts, but JUMBO nuts!

CASEY: Bold colors, amazing ingredient photography and excellent communication of the brand promise are all reasons the judges loved the 7-Eleven Jumbo Peanuts packaging. We especially loved the fact that the product was photographed at actual size, which emphasized that the product was more than your typical peanut. The packaging form factor also was a contributing factor to the win, as the form/fill/seal bag was easier to hold and dispense product directly from the package in a variety of on-the-go consumption scenarios.

BRONZE AWARD

Ahold Ready to Bake Chocolate Lava Cake

RETAIL COMPANY: Ahold USA

DESIGN COMPANY: Group360 Worldwide

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

MIYARES: The Lava Cake standup pouch communicates to consumers: “You can do this!” via vivid graphics and simple 1-2-3 iconography.

CASEY: This is a great example of leveraging consumer insights to develop product and packaging. The Ahold Lava Cake uses an easy-to-use product format — the standup pouch — for easy pouring and complete product evacuation, and smart iconography to get shoppers imagining themselves using the product before they’ve even left the store.

PIERCE: Beautiful photography and a black background scream decadent deliciousness. The standup pouch — which should stand out amid all the square boxes in the category — aids in pouring and lets bakers (can we really call them bakers?!) dispense every chocolatey drop of batter.

HONORABLE MENTION

Ahold Pot-Sized Thin Spaghetti

RETAILER COMPANY: Ahold USA

DESIGN COMPANY: Group360 Worldwide

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: The judges were impressed by the clever window design that communicates the product’s primary benefit, pot-sized pasta, quickly and with an element of whimsy.

PIERCE: The innovation here is more about the product than the package. How convenient is pre-broken spaghetti, boldly called out on the packaging. And the smaller carton immediately gains attention on shelf and screams “This is something new and different!” And seeing the product through a window that makes it seem like the product is in a pot on the stove is clever.

NON-FOODS

GOLD AWARD

Connect by 7-Eleven

RETAIL COMPANY: 7-Eleven Inc.

DESIGN COMPANY: Brandimage

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

LINGLE: It’s good branding. I really like the dots. [The packaging design] speaks electronics and music to me. It’s color coded, and they have windows on all the products. I like that the window is at an angle, so that gives it a little bit of a difference.

PIERCE: It’s a soft-touch carton, which I really like. Who would have thought that store brand electronic accessories could compete with established brands? The 7-Eleven Connect line demands attention on shelf with a packaging design that is simple yet informative and also lets shoppers see the product. It’s clever to have dots at the bottom that subtly mimic audio blips from high-end stereo systems.

CASEY: The tech-forward design in a windowed paperboard carton versus a clamshell encourages shoppers to rethink the 7-Eleven brand as a destination for their consumer electronic needs.

SILVER AWARD [TIE]

Liquid Hand Soap

RETAILER COMPANY: CVS Health, Woonsocket, R.I.

DESIGN COMPANY: Southern Graphics Systems Inc.

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: This holistic product and package design takes advantage of the soap’s color to create a strong billboarding effect on-shelf while delivering a premium, modern overall look. The judges especially appreciated how the design choices enabled the retailer to keep costs low by using a stock package shape, but deliver a differentiated visual identity via the labeling.

PIERCE: The complementary colors of the product work across the whole line. The pump is a little unusual. It is slightly elongated, so it has, to me, a European style. The shape of the container, even though it may be stock, is unusual, I believe, in this particular category. The rounded corners, the swash of white cutting the label, the color coding, all of it worked for me. There is a little bit of pearlessence in the background of the label. That may get lost on shelf, but at home I think it would really add to the décor.

SILVER AWARD [TIE]

Beauty 360 Facial Cleansing Cloths

RETAILER COMPANY: CVS Health

DESIGN COMPANY: Southern Graphics Systems Inc.

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: The Beauty 360 Facial Cleansing Cloths are another example of how stores are leveraging a multi-sensorial approach to design as a way of delivering a superior brand experience. The soft-touch pouches make them a pleasure to hold and use, while the design with its feminine patterns delivers a modern look. Additionally, the color bars on the side of the packages, as well as the colored type, help shoppers quickly identify their favorite cleansing treatment quickly and accurately.

PIERCE: I love this line. Even before I picked up one of the packages, I knew it was going to be soft touch because of the way it looked. This product could easily stay out on your counter and not interfere with your bathroom decor.

BRONZE AWARD

CVS Health Vitamins

RETAIL COMPANY: CVS Health

DESIGN COMPANY: Southern Graphics Systems Inc.

THE JUDGES WEIGH IN:

CASEY: Consumer insights show that consumers are shopping the perimeter of the store. Supplements are not where [these consumers] usually want to get their vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and supplements cross that barrier and make supplements attractive. These supplements would be attractive to the perimeter shopper.

PIERCE: I love the color coding. I thought that was unique and extremely eye-catching. Photography of healthful foods on a clean, white background reinforces the natural origin of vitamins and nutrients, which are delivered here in convenient capsules. CVS Health boldly uses color bands to help aid shopability of a crowded and confusing category. The sans-serif font also has a clean, no-frills look that is easy to read.