Package Design Innovation: Genius in a Bottle

Food and beverage packagers are choosing bottle designs that pull out the stops.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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B Honey-Cachaça name and logo are screen-printed on the bottle in a single color. Product information such as alcohol content is printed on the back of the bottle, but this text is invisible when the bottles are on-shelf, thanks to the visual distortion created by the product inside the glass bottle. Pereira & O'Dell, San Francisco, designed the package.

The design uses a "kind of Japanese minimalism," says P.J. Pereira, chief creative officer and co-founder of Pereira & O'Dell. And because it's so restrained, it's a very cost-effective design. With the money saved via single-color printing and streamlined graphics, "The little things that we did, we could do very well. We could spend money on a great bottle and great printing, which is very simple but very well done."

The product itself -- specifically its color -- plays a pivotal role in the B Honey-Cachaça package. If the bottle were opaque or covered with a large label, some color variability between batches wouldn't matter. But the B Honey-Cachaça bottle puts the product on display, making it part of the package design. So "the liquid has to have that [same] color every time," Pereira says. If the colors of the product and the printing don't match, "everything looks bad."

The designers worked closely with the brand owner to synchronize the color of the product and the ink on the bottle and capsule. "We did some tweaking on the color of the product to match the printing, and we did some tweaking on the color of the printing to match the product," Pereira says. With "the right kind of cachaça and right kind of honey in the right levels, you can … dial up or down the color" of the product.

The quality and taste of the liquor ultimately determined how far the formulation could be adjusted. "At the end of the day, the taste of the product is the most important thing. If we were interfering with that, then the most beautiful packaging in the world wouldn't make any difference at all," Pereira says.

In contrast to other cachaças on the market, the B Honey-Cachaça brand targets women -- thus the sleek graphics on the bottle and an equally sophisticated secondary package. The latter is a discreet black box; the sole decoration on the box is the brand's logo, which is printed in gold. Pereira describes the box, which resembles a jewelry or perfume package, as "simple, stunning, minimal, precise, elegant."

Fashion-forward Diet Coke

The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, took a very different direction with its limited-edition Night and Day bottles for Diet Coke in Europe last year. The package graphics dress a contoured glass bottle in either a lacy corset or a Breton-striped shirt.

The stripes are the signature style of the packages' creator, fashion designer and Diet Coke creative director Jean Paul Gaultier, who designed Madonna's iconic cone-bra costume in the early 1990s. For those who prefer to drink from a can, Coca-Cola introduced Night and Day Diet Coke cans emblazoned with Gaultier's name over a pattern of either black lace or Breton stripes.

Augmenting his Night and Day designs, Gaultier created the Diet Coke Tattoo bottle. Like the other packages, Tattoo uses the pink contoured bottle as a stand-in for the human body. But instead of clothing, this bottle depicts a fully tattooed torso. Though edgy, the design steers clear of putting the "graphic" in "package graphics" by using plenty of ink to cover the pink.

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Food Processing Magazine.

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