Recently I found myself visiting Nashville, Tennesse for a really lovely wedding. It had been years since I visited last and it's grown exponentially in size. It's still gorgeous and it's still greener than anything my dry Southern Californian life can imagine being possible. Being the diligent little packaging lover that I am, I decided to take the opportunity to check out the Nashville scene.
Based on what I saw, the south seems to be quite passionate about their alcoholic drinks and their sweets. I saw an overall trend in the local design style, a "Nashville aesthetic." There was a lot of vintage love being shown, retro, retro, retro. A heavy Americana color palette - red, white and blue baby. And, there was a lot of awesome and intricate display typography going on. I had fun checking it all out, hope you enjoy the Nashville packaging love too!
Eli Mason Cocktail Mixers
Great Cockatails, Made Easy. That's the tagline for Eli Mason Cocktail mixers and syrups. "Easy on the eyes" is what I have to say about their striking packaging design.
Eli Mason stands for the classics when it comes to alcohol — whiskey, gin, aged rum — mixed with spirits to create a concoction your grandfather would have enjoyed at the end of a long day. You can see this brand personality in the vintage art direction on their packaging. Just like the flashy country stars Nashville is known to be home to, there is nothing demure about the Eli Mason brand. Lined up in a row the bottle labels are a work of art in their own right. Swishy, swervy & curvy, with hand drawn lettering for their signature name. Eli Mason is looking pretty fancy.
Goo Goo Cluster
Invented in Nashville back in 1912, Goo Goo Clusters are the "Original Southern Confection." Goo Goo Cluster altered what was possible in the world of candy by combining more than one element. They were the world's first candy bar, made of real milk chocolate, caramel, peanuts and marshmallow nougat.
The Goo Goo Cluster packaging design doesn't feel like it's changed a bit since 1912. It has an Americana color palette of red, white, blue and chocolate! A decorative pattern is being used sparingly on the product boxes, but the overall packaging is quite straightforward. A simple, vintage type treatment with a stylized illustration of the candy and that's about it. I think Goo Goo Cluster is such an iconic candy bar that it's packaging doesn't need too much flash. As the old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, then don't fix it."
Walker Feed & Co. Cocktail Mixers
Walker Feed Co. is a brand of premium cocktail mixers and "accoutrements" created by a Nashville local whose obsession with the perfect Bloody Mary lead her to creating her own product line. The flagship Southern Bloody Mary mix eight months to perfect with the All Natural Honeysuckle Sour Mix being created shortly after.
The packaging for Walker's products isn't overly complicated, it's a typography based solution that has a nice balance of contemporary design combined with a bit of vintage type styling. That word "Walker's" is getting some serious height on the front and center of the label. The color palettes aren't overly bright, but compliment each flavor perfectly with red & orange tones for the Bloody Mary mix and greens & yellows to represent the Honeysuckle. Looking good to me, I'd be open to giving the products a taste test.
Olive & Sinclair Artisan Sweets
Handcrafted in Nashville, Olive & Sinclair is Tennessee's 1st & only bean-to-bar chocolate company. Known as Southern Artisan Chocolate™ this sweet is created using a combination of both traditional methods and modern European technique. Although their packaging designs seem to lean much heavier towards the "traditional" being shown through their vintage art direction.
What I found interesting about Olive & Sinclair is the consistency they have managed to maintain with their brand packaging, even with the different products having quite a range of design independence. As we've seen with many of these Nashville products, the trend of very decorative with vintage typography as a prominent aspect of the design. An all natural color palette of dusty browns combined with a font salad of fun, and with each word rarely sticking to a straight horizontal plane. I'm sure these were fun packaging products for the graphic designers to work on. It's not every day you see Duck Fat Caramels.
TruBee Honey keeps it simple. Their packaging doesn't have the serious "flash" many of their Nashville neighbors do, and that's pretty unique in itself. TruBee Honey has such an interesting and strong brand story behind the product that I think they've been able to ride on those coat tails in order to stand out in the market. And, with a Martha Stewart stamp of approval, I'm sure it's selling just fine.
Many honeys on the market are made from a popular singular source of plants, such as orange blossom. TruBee honey don't confine their bees to a single-source diet. Instead they are "free-range" bees and they forage a variety of different fruit blossoms, herbs and clovers. And, TruBee honey's packaging is as minimal as it gets. A one color, two fonts treatment. The typography is reversed out of a black rectangular shape allowing the honey color to peek through. They get straight to the point!
Fat Bottom Brewery
Fat Bottom Brewery - Bolder, Sexier Beer. And, those are some pretty sexy pin-up girl illustrations that their beers boast. The owner of Fat Bottom Brewery was born and raised in Nashville and turned his home brewing hobby into a career after a decade spent mastering the craft. I'm sure the brews are excellent, made with only the finest ingredients and the boldest of hops ... but let's be real - the girls are upstaging the flavors.
Once again, an Americana color palette is being used in the designs, this is quite a trend in Nashville design. Red, white, blue and soft browns and yellows to tie in the beer's natural coloring. The pinup girls are just ADORABLE, with their fat bottoms sitting comfortably into the curve of the letter "F" on the label (I love the trucker hat on Ruby). The illustrations seem to be straight from another era. With decorative fonts stacked up in playful ways and vintage car details that make these look like they could be an actual car hood ornament. Lots of personality over here at Fat Bottoms!
Soberdough Brew Bread
Soberdough Brew Bread, established in 2012, is a new Nashville company that's out there making artisan bread kits. Their tagline "Just Add Beer" really gave me a laugh! They've put together all the dry ingredients needed to create a batch of beer bread, packaged them up in "vintage" flour sacks and then boom, "just add beer!"
Soberdough has some solid packaging design that really hits the nail on the head. The brand logo is a large red crest with the company name spelled out boldly. In addition to the vintage nod to the flour sack packaging, the overall art direction is full of nostalgia and the simplicity of another era. And, Soberdough Bread Brew keeps it simple by only having one package design and then using color-coded label tags to differentiate the flavors. I just love this brand's whole aesthetic.
The Bang Candy Company
The Bang Candy Company is a glimpse ixnto my fantasy world – bright, colorful and SO MUCH candy! This Nashville company built their reputation on handmade gourmet marshmallows, with flavors like chocolate chili and blackcurrant absinthe. The marshmallows come packaged in brown craft paper boxes with their icionic brandmark – pink, antique handguns (Bang! Bang!). At once you can see the retro vibe this brand has going on, combined with some serious girl energy.
It didn't take too long before other sugary delights were coming out of their kitchen, such as barks, caramels and simple syrups. And, all the packaging continued to be creative, playful and infused with a retro spirit. A variety of typography, the color palette of a pack of jelly beans, it's an entire candy collection of cuteness.
Written by Jenifer Tracy
Jenifer Tracy is the owner and Creative Director of JENCO CREATIVE, a boutique graphic design studio founded in 2007 in sunny Los Angeles. Jenifer’s work has been recognized as smart, effective and inspired and has won multiple awards. Having worked with a diverse range of clients from the Got MILK campaign to Mary J. Blige, Jenifer has a relentless desire to create quality work that expresses her client’s personality and vision.
On a personal note, Jenifer splits her time between Los Angeles and London, is a French Bulldog enthusiast and a “cute shit” collector. As a designer with a deep love for pretty packaging, Jenifer is thrilled to be blogging for The Dieline, a site she’s been a fan of for years. Jenifer spends her spare time dog walking her frenchie Pippin, getting her nails done and napping. She’s also known for being a big loud talker and laughing a lot.