Palate Meets Palette In Snack-Packaging Design

Intense color and sophisticated graphics are taking snacks by storm.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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Burt's British Potato ChipsSnack food processors on both sides of the Atlantic are turning to color and graphic design to grab shoppers' attention in the crowded snack aisle. For premium, artisanal and natural snack packaging in particular, distinctive artwork and bold colors are popping up more frequently.

Burt's British Potato Chips, Roborough, England, recently relaunched its product line with new packaging and enhanced flavors. The company prides itself on its hand-crafted chips, which are made in small batches using natural seasonings and include no artificial ingredients.

"We wanted to give Burts a personality that conveyed craft, passion and know-how," as well as a sense of pride, says Paul Mitchell, creative director at The Entertainment Agency (TEA), London. TEA designed Burts' new packaging and also refreshed the brand's look and messaging for digital media, promotions and other marketing vehicles.

"Our search for a solution guided us to something that we knew was in front of all our consumers' eyes and is popular and captures the Burts brand very well," Mitchell says. "Our key inspiration came from cookbooks. Great food, well made: That's what a cookbook conveys. Celebrity chefs were all over the place. We wanted Burts to have the personality a chef can convey from a book cover."

Consequently, the redesigned Burts bag is printed to look like a chef wearing an apron over a checkered shirt and standing with hands on hips. For each of the new flavors, the shirt and apron colors coordinate, and each flavor carries a unique color combination. The aprons sport badges that tout product attributes like "High Oleic" oil and freedom from gluten, MSG and artificial flavors and colors.

The chef theme continues in the brand tagline, "Hand Cooked with Care," which appears under the brand name on the front of the bag. In addition, "They printed the cook's name on the back of every pack," Mitchell says. "It even told you what time of day they had done it. Knowing someone had been up at 3 a.m. making your bag of crisps was a lovely touch. It made it personal."

Burts' new flavors are: Sea Salt, Sea Salt and Malted Vinegar, Sea Salt and Crushed Peppercorns, Vintage Cheddar and Spring Onion, Pesto, Firecracker Lobster and Thai Sweet Chilli. Two additional flavors, Jalapeno Red Pepper and Spicy Chorizo, are scheduled to launch this spring.

The form-fill-seal bags are made from oriented polypropylene (OPP) laminated to metallized OPP and flexographically reverse-printed. (That is, the printing is sealed inside the top film layer, which protects the graphics from scuffing and other damage.) The film converter and printer is Amcor, Ledbury, England.

"The pack, at the end of the day, was our key collateral for conveying [the brand] message and tone of voice," Mitchell concludes. The new packaging started appearing in U.K. stores in January.

Calling the Kettle colorful

Kettle Tortilla ChipsFor Kettle Tortilla Chips, which launched last summer in the United Kingdom, Kettle Foods Ltd., Bowthorpe, England, used dramatic colors as the backdrop for package graphics. Each flavor in the product line — Sweet Chilli Salsa, Nacho Cheese, Sea Salted and Cool Sour Cream — is packed in its own distinctively colored bag.

In designing the packaging, "the challenge was to keep the quality and the premium feel of Kettle … [and] appeal to a more youthful market," says Clem Halpin, design director at Turner Duckworth, whose London office created the U.K. Kettle Tortilla Chips package design.

The strong package colors and streamlined visuals were chosen to appeal to teens and young adults, while accenting the product's Mexican heritage and supporting the line's flavors. "If you put those things together — youthful target market, influenced by Mexico and really vibrant flavors — then logically you get to those really bright, vivid colors," Halpin says.

Although Kettle has established a following here in the U.S., it remains a fairly small brand in the United Kingdom, with limited advertising support. "So the packs need to work really hard in the supermarket or the grocery shop to attract attention," he adds.

That they do. The large front panel of each 160g bag is dominated by the brand name and a central image related to the flavor, like a group of chile peppers or a wedge of cheese. The rotogravure-printed bags are made from metallized film, and a matte finish is used to reinforce the brand's premium positioning.

Way bolder bags

Back in the U.S., a different type of tortilla chip is leveraging package graphics to stand out in the better-for-you section of the snack aisle. Way Better Snacks Tortilla Chips are made from premium ingredients, are preservative- and filler-free and carry several third-party certifications (for example, non-GMO and gluten-free). They are also made using sprouted grains, beans and seeds.

For the Way Better Snacks package design, brand owner Live Better Brands LLC, Islandia, N.Y., focused on the ingredients. Dominating the front of the bag for each of the six flavors is a striking photo of a key ingredient set against a pristine, white background.

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