Just Bee shows the power of pack design

An interesting bit of pack design caught my eye at the gym today – see below. Side by side were two designs for Just Bee, a refreshing, low sugar drink with the antioxidant properties of honey. To my eyes, the new design (right) is both more impactful, more attractive and also suggests a better quality product. I would wager a bit of quant design testing would say the same thing.

It got me thinking about the power of pack design, especially for a relatively new brands like Just Bee.


1. The power of pack design

We spend on average only 30-60 seconds choosing what to buy in a given category, when standing on front of the supermarket shelf. Distinctive pack design is key to creating impact on shelf for your brand at this moment of truth. Distinctive brand properties tap into the intuitive, auto-pilot, "system 1 thinking" we use to make decisions, as I posted on here. And this is an area where Just Bee's design was letting the brand down. "Just Bee’s original packaging didn’t have the brand personality to stand out on shelf," as this article pointed out.

2. Identify the "visual essence" of your brand

A key step in creating impactful packaging is to identity the "visual essence" of your brand. What is the visual brand property that can help create distinctive memory structure for your brand? This property can, over time, play two roles. First, it helps people find your brand at the moment of truth. Second, it can become the "key" to unlock brand meaning in a split second. Examples of this would be Johnnie Walker's walking man, Bacardi's bat symbol and Felix's cat, that I recently posted on here.

Looking at the Just Bee packaging, the old pack lacked a distinctive brand property. You could argue that the typography of the brand name looked like it has been hand drawn with a marker pen, but that's about it. In contrast, at the heart of the new design is a geometric bee icon. This cues naturalness, but with a distinctive style. “The bee quickly became our hero," comments Shaun Bowen of Just Bee's design agency B&B studio. "But we also had to ensure that the bee image was not reminiscent of bee designs found on honey jars. Our final bee icon is modern and crisp, but there’s a touch of warmth and friendliness to it"

3. Make navigation intuitive

Just Bee and B&B Studio have also struck a good balance between a making the brand identity stronger and more iconic, whilst keeping ease of navigation for the consumer. The colours of the bee's body changes with each variant, along with the clear hand-written name at the bottom of the pack.

4. Create a distinctive descriptor

The other positive change in the new design is the way the product is described. In the old pack the product descriptor was "Refreshingly infused spring water", which is a bit of a mouthful and not easy to turn into memory structure. The new design uses the product descriptor of "Honey Water", which is much easier to remember, and to tell your friends about.  

5. Design for digital media

The new design works better on shelf but also in the digital space. The little bee icon works perfectly as a Twitter icon, for example, as shown below. In today's digital age its important to look at any design "in situ", both on pack but also in different digital media.

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In conclusion, the Just Bee re-design shows how to identity and amplify the visual essence of your brand to create impact at the moment of truth, both on shelf and in the digital space. I'll watch out for news of how the new design helps Just Bee's brand and business growth.