I admit my sense of humor is different – I’m very definitely attracted to quirky humor. As I was moving through the dairy section of the store, I actually stopped and couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the unusual Left Field Farms coffee creamer packaging. It did more than beckon me to the shelf; it entertained me and made me happy, a rarity in contemporary packaging.
Why was it so engaging? It wasn’t the physical container but the humble black and white image of a slightly knot-kneed cow wearing an unlikely upside down cup “cap”. It immediately transported me back to the days when my sisters and I would dress up the family dog and take her on wagon trips around the neighborhood. Who could not love this quizzical bovine looking pleadingly off the package directly at you and quietly begging you to give this creamer a try? Simple and direct as it was, the image drew me into the full package to discover more about this exciting new product.
In a category overwhelmed by iced coffees and a variety of associated additives swimming in mocha, beige and blue, the white design of this package stood apart from the surrounding competitors simply because of its clean, basic look. To me, this was ultimately a reflection of the product itself – a straightforward mix of milk, cream, sugar, and in some cases a flavor. The design was the only package that put the concept of dairy prominently back in the category as a “natural” choice. Who better than the cow, the provider of the product to represent a coffee creamer? Complementing the unconventionally capped cow, the Left Field logo was a primitive blend of print and handwriting, playing directly off the notion of something being slightly unconventional or out in left field. Coupled with the happy cow, the package design simply radiated happiness.
Color is used minimally to highlight and differentiate flavor variations at the top of the package and repeated again in the color-coded “cup cap” the cows wear. With the balance of the graphic design based on an overall white color field, the small but effectively used amounts of color quickly reinforce flavor variations in the product line. Color is not diluted (no pun intended), appearing in multiple locations on the package, so it becomes purposeful in guiding consumers in choosing their preferred product. The package is relatively void of copy or decoration, but there is the required nutrition copy, which to their credit is large enough to be legible.
I was hard-pressed to find something that didn’t work. If I could change one thing, it would be the flavor copy in the color banding. The use of a naïve-style handwritten script made it harder than necessary for the average person to read. This was especially evident on the caramel package, where the copy reversed out of an ochre color, and the color contrast wasn’t strong enough to be as present visually as it was on the vanilla and sweet cream varieties. A color change or deepening of the color value would solve this problem in a flash.
I applaud Left Field for daring to be truly different and not focusing so much time on creating patterns and embellishments that easily distract from the overall brand message, look and feel. I hope the packaging is as effective in catching the attention of other consumers. One last point: often people will open a refrigerator (or cupboard) and ask where something is when it is right in front of them. Left Field simplifies my life by making it so easy to say, “look for the funny cow with a cup on its head”.
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The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold, delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.