Monday, September 6, 2010

Can Berries be Sexy?

I often tell people that great design is one of those things that people know when they see but find difficult to explain in words.  That’s because, like great art, great design is appropriate and compelling and stimulating in ways that do not reside in rational thought.

When we were first talking about packaging for teraswhey, I had an image in my head of what I wanted.  It was inspired by a product I bought in London that was a series of cubes in a sleeve, each cube being a type of chocolate from another part of the world.  One side of the cube was white and had a picture of the particular single cacao bean on it.  It was so simply dramatic and seemed to align with the products I was making – clean, naturally formulated, few ingredients.

So we decided to include among a wide range of design approaches one that was white with nothing but a glamour shot of the relevant fruit or flavor on the front.  It was a radically different approach to packaging a protein product.  The industry has made whey protein, something that has been consumed as a medicinal food for centuries, into a scientifically re-engineered agglomeration, and as a result, the packaging has to list a plethora of data and claims and certifications about contents and manufacturing processes.  Alternatively, the body building community creates brands whose fundamental personality is physical power and narcissism:  pictures of guys with six packs and women with biceps and bulging veins in their arms.  My packaging designer, a person who I’ve worked with forever and trust implicitly, kept telling me that fruit pictures was a risky approach; my sales experts kept asking for more copy.  And what was this poem thing? It didn’t even line up…

In the end I decided to stick to my vision and my impossible to explain gut and create packaging that was beautiful and emotionally compelling in its simplicity.  The reception in the market has been phenomenal; everyone loves it and can’t explain why, which was my goal.

When I do events, 95% of men who buy something choose a berry over chocolate and vanilla.  95% of women do the opposite.  I told this to a male medical doctor and he laughed, lined up my berry canisters, and told me that when men look at my berry packaging, the primitive part of their brains are thinking its time to eat, hunt, or have sex.

Who knew berries were so sexy???

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