Black River’s packaging has remained more or less the same since the early ’80s, and after decades with the same look and no new product SKUs the juice company realized it was time to shake things up. A recent redesign shows the fruits of the company’s labours, in collaboration with Circus Strategic Communications and illustrator Anna Scetinina.
According to Black River general manager Jessica Praskey, the previous label design not only grew stale, with many retailers saying it “looked like it had been sitting on the shelf for a decade,” but the same bottle shape and overall aesthetic was being used by the company’s competitors. “We did not stand out on shelves at all,” Praskey said in an email interview.
The new labels are built around Scetinina’s illustrations of various fruit flavours–22 in all completed over the course of a year. Scetinina took cues from various influences, making use of her artistic background and past experience with a variety of forms including etching, wood cuts and lithography. She said the visual style reflects the brand’s “natural, ‘fresh from the farm’ look.”
One of her biggest challenges was producing vector art that would be printed on clear labels and applied to glass bottles filled with juices ranging in colour from bright yellow to near black. “That is why some of the illustrations are inverted in tones/colours,” Scetinina said, explaining how imagery was made to “pop” even over dark juice colours. “The most challenging ones have gone through print tests and multiple revisions to finally get the best look.”The focus on freshness was further amplified by a new bottle shape. Said Praskey: “We went with the old style milk glass bottle shape because we wanted to convey ‘fresh from the farm’ without actually having to use those words on the label… There is no packaging that better conveys this than the old dairy bottle.”
The logo received a slight makeover as well. The words “Black” and “River” are now stacked on top of each other, fitting better with increased readability without having to wrap around the bottles. “Many people recognize our logo [and] we did not want to lose that recognition or the heritage of the brand,” Praskey said. To help convey that heritage and history, labels now mark the company as “Est. 1979.”
[Images via Anna Scetinina unless otherwise noted]