Congratulations to all of the Natural Products Expo East NEXTY Awards finalists, it's great to see the pre-show online energy and excitement! It will be interesting to see which brands actually win, based on all of the NEXTY measures and standards. Good luck to all the finalists!

Looking at the slideshow I started thinking about what makes a well designed package. Natural food packaging has come a long way, but still has a ways to go in my opinion. By definition the category is functionally driven, so the focus for years has been on unique product ingredients, attributes and health benefits (we wrote about this in 2015 here). A good brand story and package are essential at the grocery store or online, very different environments from a farmer's market where purity and transparency matter most.

I've spent years researching packaging with consumers on the design agency side, so brands with a clear voice are easy to spot. I tend to walk the shows quickly to see what packaging "pops". Distinctive brand personalities reach out, as well as brands that offer something new to discover. Brands that are clear are easily shoppable, as well as brands that are authentic and feel true to their origins.

1. Personality

Questions I've asked qualitative research respondents through the years:, "If this brand walked into the room and sat down here with us how would you describe its personality? Do they make a big entrance with a swagger? Are they more reserved with quiet confidence? How do they dress? Do you find them intriguing? Are they a person you could imagine developing a regular relationship with? Do you trust them?

Brands that have a distinctive voice and style stand out. I met SOLELY (One ingredient) Organic Fruit Jerky a few years back and love the hand-held, human touch of their brand identity.
2. Clarity

It's clear what you're buying here...couscous! Remember, shoppers make a split decision when at the shelf or online, so in addition to making an emotional connection, package copy should clearly state what the product is. This is really important as product ingredient names are becoming more and exotic (camu camu, ashwagandha, etc).
3. Discovery

Let's face it-life over the past few years in and out of quarantine has been sobering. Cooks looked to foodie accessories for inspiration and entertainment. With passports dusty, consumers escaped to exotic flavors, exploring new food territories like the Philippines. This package entices, welcoming you into a whole new world of Filipino Adobe Sauces and Marinades.
4. Authenticity
Good brands feel true and authentic, with their own signature style. Whether that style is modern or classic doesn't matter, as long as the brand feels real. No wonder Ethel's receives consumer comments like "Ethel's is like having your family bake - the best comfort food ever!". The packaging feels special and welcoming, named after the founder's grandmother who inspired her to bake as a child.

Here are a few other brands that feel "pro" to me, thanks to good naming, typography, hierarchy of information and overall "presence".
We'd be delighted to share our point of view on your package and design strategy. Please schedule a 30-minute brand check up here.

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