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Now that the “jig” is up for Nespresso™ pods, we’ve been trying different coffees to fulfill our need for caffeine. Imagine my surprise when I saw a box full of these goodies sitting on my kitchen counter! I couldn’t wait to try the chocolate covered pretzels! Much to my dismay; albeit temporary, the bag was filled with espresso pods! What?!

Let’s take a closer look at this…

Designers are always looking for innovative ways to make their brands eye-catching and this is an interesting nice-looking concept, but it would be way too confusing in a larger store setting (we purchased this coffee online). These aren’t flavored coffees either, which was my second thought. The text on the back of each package hints certain flavor cues from the image on the front, reminiscent of the way wines are often described.

Package design confusion aside, we really like this HiLine Coffee a lot, in fact we’ve already placed a second order. It’s roasted and packed upon ordering, so when you open the bag, the aroma brings you straight to fresh coffee heaven. Brew a cup or two and the taste will do the same.


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Usually Xbox products aren’t on my Christmas list, but this year I was happy it was on my son’s list! I’ve always loved the use of spot varnish on their packaging , but it is what’s on the inside that intrigued me the most. The pressed cardboard insert design was so perfect that I initially thought it was constructed of plastic. As you can see in the pictures below, the controller box insert is elegantly clean and precise in its design. It is my hope that more companies will switch from plastic to this sustainable material for their inserts. As designers, we can always suggest this option and hope that our clients choose to be more eco-conscious.

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The next time you’re in Nittany Lion country (aka State College, PA), be sure to stop at Big Spring Spirits in Bellefonte, PA for “two-fingers” of spirits. It’s located in an old match factory building, which has been re-designed into a homey bar & lounge with a staff that makes you feel like they’ve known you for years. The bar is stunning and made out of two pieces of solid walnut seamlessly joined into a comfortable 36-foot long bar. The bar stools are mismatched but very comfy and it all works perfectly well together. As if this wasn’t enough, Big Spring Spirits is the first LEED certified distillery in the country, which recognizes advanced building strategies and practices that help preserve a healthy green planet.

I’ve always been drawn to small batch, hand crafted packaging that doesn’t have to adhere to the certain rules and red tape that the larger brands are subject to. It appears as though they’ve used stock bottles but the personalized touches of the die cut label, wood topped cork and seal over the top of the cork all make it feel custom. I love the whole brand line together but was surprised that one of their products; the Tallyrand Cream Bourbon, didn’t fit into the lineup. This “black sheep” happens occasionally, whether the marketing group changes the direction on a new product or a new designer departs from the brand look.

What makes Tallyrand the black sheep of the bunch?

The average bar crawler might not even notice, but as a packaging designer, I have to ask why they chose to separate this one from the rest? The front label is missing important cues from the rest of the line and more importantly, it’s missing the Big Spring Spirits logo, which they chose to print on the back label instead. It’s important to continue to build and strengthen your brand as you add new products to the line. I would suggest stealing a few subtle cues from the existing line, and definitely adding the Big Spring Spirits logo to the front label, even at a smaller scale. What do you think?

Labels (except for Talleyrand Cream Bourbon) designed by: Emily Burns

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