snack packaging

Brand Packaging Features Tahoe Trail Bar’s Brand Refresh

who designed tahoe trail bar packaging

It’s true that we like to pat ourselves on the back. But when our work is recognized by the industry, we are not shy about sharing our success – and our client’s success – with our community.

In the August issue of Brand Packaging, John Kalkowski takes a look at the challenge Tahoe Trail Bar’s packaging faced in the crowded energy bar marketplace and how Perspective:Branding helped them emerge from the clutter:



THE CHALLENGE: When Tahoe Trail Bar decided to take the plunge into the new flavors its customers were requesting, King says, it seemed like a great time to take the brand “down to the studs” and really capture the brand’s essence – “who we are and what we are about.” King reached out to Perspective:Branding of San Francisco, CA, for the rebrand.

“The rebrand was mostly about authentically capturing in our packaging what our most loyal fans always knew us to be,” King writes. “It was about getting back to our roots.”

Read the full article in the August issue of Brand Packaging.

Perfecting the Single-Serve Snack Package Cup

snack brand packaging strategy

Where’s my yogurt lid? If the yogurt case at Safeway is any indication, today’s yogurt companies prefer peel-back foil lids rather than the re-sealable plastic lids of old.  (For contrarians, Noosa’s larger format, 8-ounce cup comes with a plastic lid and a resealable option. Said to be safe and more cost-effective, foil lids are becoming more commonplace as a single serve packaging option for yogurt.

Will Peel-Back Lead To Push Back?

Peel-back lids are a natural on single-serve, portion-sized yogurts, puddings and other spoonable snacks. In single-serve packaging, a resealable option can seem excessive. But for larger sizes, testing is essential before committing to a peel-back lid. A whopping 30% of the food packaging peeves and rants on TheKitchn mention protective film or peel-back lids, landing it at #4  on the list.

Larger formats may incentivize consumers to choose more efficient packaging. Food storage companies are making single-serve storage containers specifically for scooping bulk yogurt into reusable containers. Yogurt brands could seize the market opportunity by producing reusable, single-serve packaging. Eliminating the lid, however eco-friendly it seems, is a short-term fix.  Instead, source packaging that’s built to last.

A Single-Serve Example That’s Good For Everyone

Built to last, old school glass bottles, jars and cups are stockpiled by customers when they are not recycled. Great. But there are food companies out there breaking new ground. Nona Lim’s new soup containers reinvent the single-serve snack package.  Nona Lim, a broths and soup producer, spent over a year developing a microwaveable, dishwasher safe plastic “sippy cup” for grownups.

Any parent who has passed through the toddler years will recognize Nona Lim’s new soup package. Essentially a plastic cup sealed with a protective peel-back and a screw-on “sippy” lid, Nona Lim’s soup packages are single-handed and single-serve. Peel off the informational cardboard band and re-use the sippy cup for anything that is served in a cup – homemade soups, coffee, whatever. BPA-free, freezer grade, the benefits go on and on. It’s the opposite approach to packaging from a single use plastic yogurt cup – it’s something you buy to keep and reuse again and again.  And the embossed brand name on the lid keeps Nona Lim in front of customers for as long as they use the cup. The revolution, my friends, will not be televised.

Remember the Branding Opportunity

Just as using food waste has become an imperative in food production, consumer packaged goods and food brands should consider re-purposing when planning packaging.Every time a consumer returns a brand’s packaging to circulation, the brand gets positive impressions.  A few pennies spent on the packaging could pay off in ways only brand managers can imagine.


What Gamers have Wrought: TV Snack Brands

premade healthy meals are designed for watching TV and gaming

The TV dinner is so….last century. The very idea harks back to a time when Americans cherished sitting down at a table for three square meals a day. In that context, a TV dinner can be viewed as a step towards America’s current snack culture, a square meal designed for convenience as much as nutrition. As a community, Americans are moving through an epic moment when we snack as many as six times a day and eat smaller, less nutritionally complete meals. Snackers do not want a “considered meal,” something that requires a knife, fork and plate, to eat in front of a screen. Instead, they want a hand-held snack. A TV snack. A gaming snack. A texting snack. Food companies see the writing on the wall and are moving to create snacks that are not considered eats, that is, foods that do not involve utensils or plates or clean-up, but portable snacks that are as mess-free as they are stress-free.

TV Snack Brands

GO-GURT, known as Yoplait Tubes in Canada, was an early adapter to the one-handed eating phenomenon. Launched in 1999, just as cell phones became mobile devices with multiple functions, GO-GURT, a Yoplait Kids product, targeted the lunchbox crowd. A skinny tube filled with two ounces of yogurt was the perfect single-use snack size. Little kids, of course, manage to squeeze the yogurt onto themselves, but most adults are able to avoid this by not squeezing the tube too tightly.

Munk Pack’s new line of ready-to-eat Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze takes squeezable food out of the kiddie aisle. Perhaps inspired by the nutritional needs of backpackers, these are on-the-go snacks that are as easy to eat in the car, while toting a pack or using one hand to text. Remove the screw-top lid and squeeze. They even have a variegated bottom that allows the meal to stand on its own. Requiring no spoon to eat, this is a meal at its most convenient. A few squeezes are all that’s needed to eat. Fingers are kept clean. And there is no need to look down. Gamers can keep gaming. Texters can keep texting.

Walker’s UK Tear and Share bag riffs on the very British tradition of sharing a pint and a bag of potato chips with friends at the local pub. Simon Thorneycroft, Founder and CEO of Perspective : Branding, grew up in the UK and noted that “the chip bag becomes a sort of napkin at the pub. You tear back the front and use the inside as a sort of makeshift plate for sharing. Everyone does this.” Walker’s new bag has a creased bottom, that when “popped,” creates a little bowl. Structurally, versus a traditional chip bag, the Tear and Share bag stands up. It makes the snack share that much easier. You might need an actual napkin, though. And a beer to go with the chips.

Mobile Meals

These snacks all offer convenience, portability and portion control. They can be mobile meals or part of a larger meal. While TV Dinners offered more complete nutrition, today’s snacks have taken TV snack brands into the 21st century. Who needs a pre-made healthy meal with so many snacks to choose from?


Bananas: the Perfect Brand Package Design

banana's as nature's perfect package design

If any branded package design could be considered perfect, what would it be? For exhibit number two, I offer the banana. America’s third most popular fruit in total sales after berries and apples, bananas comes with their own wrapper, a wrapper that is 100% compostable. Bananas are merchandised in high traffic areas and cross-promoted almost everywhere, from the cereal aisle to the deli department to the front door and check-out aisles. Though the banana is not top in fresh fruit sales, it sells everywhere. Looking for an edge in banana sales, the top three banana producers worldwide – Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte – developed a simple, enduring strategy to differentiate their commodity agricultural product: add a sticker.

What do you think of when you think of a banana? If you are of a certain age, you likely easily recall Miss Chiquita. Developed in 1944, a drawing of Miss Chiquita along with the name Chiquita adorned every hand-placed sticker on every banana shipped by the United Fruit Company since 1963. Miss Chiquita as a brand image continued to ascend and the company renamed itself Chiquita Brands International in 1990.

a bunch of bananas with a Chiquita sticker

Perhaps better known for pineapples than bananas, Dole works hard to differentiate its bananas in the European marketplace through a dedicated effort to share its transparent farming practices of both its organic and conventional bananas. Its brand image, a sun radiating out of the “O” in DOLE, is on the sticker but, perhaps more importantly in the European market, so is a five-digit code. Enter the code on their website to find out which farm the fruit came from its farming practices.

Del Monte, the third largest banana distributor in the US by sales, grew up along with the California fresh produce industry. Though the name Del Monte was originally used for packaging coffee sold to the Del Monte Hotel in Monterey, California, the company soon used the brand name to adorn canned peaches. Its brand, a red, heart-shaped seal surrounded by bands of green and gold, now includes the word “Quality.” Though Del Monte does not appear to offer organic bananas, the company has taken significant steps to reduce its environmental footprint.

The banana does not need a retail package – its sunny color and ease of use  (it even has its own handle) market themselves. But saavy marketers at top American banana distributors have effectively used a small sticker to communicate brand values and generate awareness that has endured for over a century. This tiny piece of fruit-based real estate effectively delivers the brand message. As an element of branded package design, this one is a beauty.

Is the Apple Nature’s Perfect Package?


If any branded package design could be considered perfect, what would it be? For exhibit number one, I offer the apple. Typically merchandised in high traffic areas in a wide basket to best display their natural beauty, apples seem to have been plucked straight out of central casting. The fruit ranges in color from yellow dipped in sunshine to pale green with rosy cheeks. Their gentle curves hint of lusciousness within.  The unspoken message clearly conveyed is a clean, fresh ready to eat snack. Is it any wonder that the apple was chosen by artists to depict the forbidden fruit that got Eve thrown out of Eden?

Powerful Apples

Apples have long been seen as temptresses and given mythical powers. Though the Bible does not depict the actual fruit, the famous biblical story of Eve being tempted by an apple gained currency after artists (brand designers?) in the 15th century portrayed Eve holding an apple. In Norse mythology, Thor, god of thunder, gained immortality after eating a golden apple picked by a goddess. And an apple seed-sowing, barefoot journeyman named Johnny Appleseed ferried apple seeds west, bringing a fruit then widely used for making applejack and alcoholic cider to the frontier (quickly followed by temperance activists who demanded that the morally upright burn their apple trees).

Apple’s Health Halo and Next Gen Packaging

Snack retailers purchase apples to boost their own health halo, using the comely fruit to convey a fresh-picked snack experience. The reality, however, is much of the fruit is tossed, unsold. “I’ve seen them throwing out 11 and selling one,” said Kevin Lozier, VP of Business Development for Aero-Cos International, the exclusive representative of a new company on the market, TreeCrisp2Go. “And that one’s mealy.” Enter TreeCrisp2Go. Recognizing the inherent push-back from customers who viewed fresh apple displays as dirty as well as the indeterminate age of the apple (diminishing the apple’s nutritional value), TreeCrisp2Go improved nature’s perfect package. They developed a “patented process and bag, which uses inert gases [to] extend shelf life while preserving crispness and flavor.” The apples are triple-washed, dried and packed within hours of harvest. Oxygen degradation, fresh produce’s main enemy, is limited because of the bag’s design.

TreeCrisp2Go places a limit on shelf life, too, defining their product as saleable for 35 days in ambient temperature or 75 days if refrigerated. ”We want to ensure that the consumer’s experience of the apple is pristine and clean, like it is right off the tree,” said Lozier. And the package changes the perception of the retailer, who now has a saleable product rather than one used only for display. That’s packaging that’s win-win for the retailer and the consumer. TreeCrisp2Go’s bag is not a panacea but the apple inside “meets the minimum expectation of what an apple should be,” said Lozier.

Improving the perfect brand package design.

Improving the perfect brand package design.

The original healthy snack, apples, just got a bit healthier. And, like those artists of long ago, the apple is still developing its own, unique branded package design.