Crit* Before and After: Bolthouse Farms

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Bolthouse Farms Established in 1915, Bolthouse Farms is a grower and manufacturer of food products for the US market.

In a bid to meet increasing consumer demand for low fat natural products, Fairfield, Connecticut based brand and packaging development firm HMSDesign was commissioned to redesign their range of seven, yoghurt based dressings."HMSDesign refreshed Bolthouse Farms' entire line of all natural Yogurt Dressings, encompassing 7 flavors, further leveraging the brand's iconic visual equities as it continues to lead the category. The design challenge was to increase brand presence, appetite appeal, and meet consumer demand for all natural products that have low fat and low calories, all with great taste!"- HMS Design

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The original design’s mix of photography, uppercase old style serif type, ribbon and date detail set across a clear label established a familiar gourmet tone that competently but conventionally communicated product quality and brand heritage. The script delivered a locality and regional aesthetic which was also captured and reinforced through a typical ‘quality-seal’ device around the neck. A simple photographic resolution of cut and whole veg was well composed but, due to the clear substrate, fairly bland in colour. The vertical hierarchical resolution placed the visual identity (Bolthouse Farms) and product descriptor (Creamy Yogurt Dressing) together in a content heavy scenario that struggled to divide the two but remained largely clear in its proposition.

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The redesign does away with the clear label in favour of an opaque white solution that significantly improves the brightness and liveliness of the colours. The photography is far richer and more appealing, reshot with a nice mix of finely cut, sliced, diced and whole vegetables that delivers more texture and placed further up the label’s hierarchy to create a smarter division between brand and product.

The label’s white background, as well as boosting the print quality, introduces a sharper contrast between the images inside and the dressing outside making each appear far lighter. The curve along its top mirrors that of the logo-mark and the broad shoulders of the bottle neatly tying the label, visual identity and structural design together. Its tapered die cut design is more distinctive, proprietary and infuses the wide structural design with a flattering slender sensibility, a detail that is also reflected through the removal of the horizontal lines and emphasis of the vertical around the neck label.

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A thicker silver foil detail around the neck counters the absence of the premium aesthetic achieved by the clear label but neatly emphasises quality alongside a confident and more communicative mix of language, illustration and a contemporary sans serif typeface set within the seal. This sans serif choice (and occasional lowercase format) replaces the formality (and conventionality) of the uppercase serif and appears friendlier and more family orientated. It does draw away, along with the absence of the ribbon, some of the traditional values achieved by the original design but the fine line details, extracted from the visual identity, used to underscore and frame the ‘Classic Ranch’ and ‘Dressing’ are far subtler. 

The new design offers little in the way of innovation, it relies heavily on the communicative conventions of the category and retain many of the cues of the original design but it is a significant improvement and reflective of its new low fat positioning. The slight trade-off between gourmet and shelf impact seems appropriate for the expanding health conscious market and offers a contemporary update to the fusion of high quality and heritage.

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