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Botanic Illustrations, Wine Byproducts, and a Normcore Canned Cocktail

Beverage branding for the summer-minded

Depending on the day, the past year and a half feels like it’s been either a long summer or a long winter. This month’s picks have a proclivity towards the former — all three brands have recent Instagram posts that hit the core visuals of warm-weather marketing: picnics and pools. Sometimes I wonder, what will happen to summer-inspired beverage brands come winter? Will they go into hibernation? Maybe they’ll just get into other markets. After all, it’s always summer somewhere. 

Marcd.co: Rù

The packaging for (which means “to enter” in Chinese) was designed to be picked up and turned around. Founder Shuni Liu, who worked with Brooklyn agency Marcd.co to develop the ’s visual identity, says the can is meant to evoke “a passport-like feel.” Both on a surface and interactive level, that sense of exploration comes through. The can for each flavor — Lychee Green Tea, Thai Tea With Mint & Lime, and Chrysanthemum Tea With Ginger — features an offset photorealistic illustration of the key ingredients, which leads the eye to the other side, where the nutritional facts and other bonafides can be found. In saturated accent colors cued by those ingredients, the weighty but chiseled Cako typeface stands out against neutral backgrounds that convey the all-natural, no added sugar, better-for-you bend of the product.

Buddy Buddy: Ditto

Jake Schlessinger (formerly of non-alcoholic beverage company Kin Euphorics) and G.A. Vellios worked with Minneapolis-based agency Buddy Buddy on the design for Ditto, a piquette spritz brand that combines familiar flavors (raspberry, lemon, star anise) with a wine byproduct that’s seen a slow rise in visibility over the past five years. The connection between the crossbar of the two Ts in Ditto’s logotype refers to the name itself, as well as the practice behind piquette, which is made by combining winemaking leftovers — grapes, seeds, skin — with water, then letting it ferment. While describing piquette, a drink that’s existed for centuries, as a product made from “upcycled grapes,” might bristle some somms, it’s hard to argue with the effective signal boost of that phrase. The quickest way to reach a non-connoisseur consumer is to put a product into the lingua franca of DTC consumer packaged goods. On the visual side, Buddy Buddy says paper-cut illustrations provided inspiration and warmth for the central image, while also “setting a graphic illustrative system that works across different formats and can easily expand to new products as the brand’s assortment grows.” Today, a spritz. Tomorrow, the world. 

Michela Drago: Vosa

Vosa, a recently launched vodka “spirit soda” is refreshingly throwback. With its European-sounding name topped by a serpentine accent, limited color scheme, and tall, lightly outlined lettering, its can has more in common with 1990s bottled water design than it does with its canned cocktail peers. (See: Dasani, circa 1999.) This is a good thing. Despite its old-school aesthetics, the visual direction was driven by the concept of creating a “new classic,” rather than by nostalgia for a specific decade, says brand manager Michela Drago, who worked on the packaging with the brand’s graphic designer and founder. “We wanted our can to have a timeless, classic feel while still having connections to the ever-changing RTD [ready to drink] world we are a part of,” she says. That “timeless” positioning extends to flavor, too. In a more-than-crowded market awash with increasingly uncommon ingredients (lavender, elderflower, rose), Vosa launched with lemon and cranberry. Consciously or not, Vosa evokes the vibe of an endless ’90s summer — a trend that animates tongue-in-cheek brands like Poolsuite, but hasn’t yet reached the more earnest world of food and beverage. 

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