Crit* Sunnyside Farms

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03-19-12_Crit.jpg

This week Richard critiques the Sunnyside Farms Before & After feature.

Established in 1981 Sunnyside Farms, part of Super Store Industries, is a producer and distributor of fresh milk and fruit products to the states of California and Nevada. They approached San Francisco based design agency Murray Brand Communications to develop “a new look that communicates fresh, friendly and local without using a cliche farm scene.”

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“Seeking to redesign its packaging for more than 300 SKUs, Sunnyside Farms hired Murray Brand Communications to create a new look for its dairy portfolio of products. Following a comprehensive category audit, the Murray Brand team recommended a simple design approach that avoided the use of the seemingly obligatory and cliche farm scene found on so many dairy products. This suggestion led to the development of the "happy birds on a fence" design. Not only does the packaging architecture visually convey a message of friendly, fresh and local, but the engaging bird characters are iconic and contribute to heightening brand awareness in every category of the dairy section.”

- Murray Brand Communications

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The strength of this packaging lies in its simplicity and clear presentation of family, quality and health, delivered through a light, idyllic and two dimensional illustrative style that also manages to infer a purity of ingredients. This elemental approach has been given a bit more depth and detail through a well rendered wooden fence that utlises the side panels of the cartons to reveal the grassy landscape (and what looks like some form of narrative) on the other side, giving the farm an open and honest sensibility. A playful mother and chick add a lovely sense of family and care to the brand and introduces (alongside colour) a subtle distinction to the packaging as they move around the illustrations of each product. Unfortunately the photography appears a little lacklustre and conventional in comparison but is a significant improvement on the very dated compositions of the brand’s earlier packaging treatments.

The stamp and seal like aesthetic of the visual identity is very much on-trend for today’s provenance empowered consumer. Coupled with the slight agricultural undertone of a slab serif this device delivers a regional and localised sense of handmade quality. The logo-type of the original packaging has been suitably updated with a smoother set of characters while retaining the sweeping lower terminals that delivered a nice sense of motion and friendliness while loosing the superfluous stroke and shadow.

The lighter and more detailed components of the identity have been juxtaposed alongside the heavier weight of the product titles. These do feel a little sharp in places (most notably across the terminals of the ‘N’ ‘M’ and ‘A’ ) and perhaps a touch heavy for the reduced fat version but there is a solid consistency that appears filling but wholesome. This value is also reinforced by a natural and complimentary colour palette that neatly reflects the healthy benefits of milks and fresh juices.

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Each of these components have been well laid out throughout the three structural solutions and in conjunction with the secondary typographical content. The weight of the divider across the milk does appear quite weighty but works to place the information into a clear and structured hierarchy.

The result is a vast improvement that feels lighter and more genuine and while it does borrow from an increasingly illustrated fruit juice and smoothie sector it feels sufficiently distinctive and unique to this category.

Opinion by Richard Baird@richbaird

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