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Congratulations to our client Sidekick Soda, the sparkling shrub brand from New Zealand, currently making strong forays into Uber-chic grocers in the US, including west coasts Erewhon and New York’s Pop Up Grocer

Our work with Sidekick Soda began as a consulting piece around a year ago. They had a brand identity but their packaging wasn’t yet shelf-ready, requiring clearer information hierarchies and more compelling messages. Even the original colourway was wrong, suggesting artificiality rather than the all-natural ingredient base that makes Sidekick Soda so different. 

A starting-point was for us to help them define what the product should actually be called. The word ‘shrub’ is derived from the Arabic sharab (‘to drink’). It refers to a vinegar-based fruit infusion that was once popular across Turkey, Persia and further afield. However, shrub drinks remain largely unknown to Western consumers. 

We considered whether to call the product an ‘apple cider vinegar’ drink, hoping that customers wouldn’t be alarmed. Or use the acronym, ACV. (Don’t get us started on how much we dislike acronyms). Looking at similar products already in market, it’s clear that other brands have struggled with this, too – there’s no single approach. 

Our solution was to place a simple, clear hierarchy of points on the front of the labels: brand name (Sidekick Soda), plus fruit name (mango, plum or plum-strawberry), plus the words ‘splash of apple cider vinegar’. The storytelling gets deeper on the back, where we expand on the brand promise and product description. 

The writing is supported by our original system of icons, for attributes such as the honey content and real fruit base. We also created an original typeface of hand-drawn letters to convey the product’s natural and additive-free composition. We chose a bold red for the logo to maximise shelf presence, paired against fruit-based colours to guide clearer product selection. 

We’ve since expanded on the packaging designs, providing the writing and design for several trade fairs and an instore retail campaign for WHSmith. We’re looking forward to hearing where this great little brand ends up next. 

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