Crit* Stretch Island Fruit Chews

by Richard Baird on 04/15/2013 | 5 Minute Read

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The Stretch Island Fruit Co. have been providing ‘tasty, all-natural fruit snacks to people on the go’ since 1976 from its Washington base on Stretch Island. 

The packaging for their latest product, a three flavour range of fruit chews, developed by multidisciplinary design agency Ptarmak, utilises a bold paper-craft aesthetic and a typographical intensity to mix fun, fact and natural authenticity - blurring the line between the bold flavour associated with sweets and the health of fruit - to appeal to both adults and children. 

“Stretch Island Fruit Company has an extensive line of fruit snacks. They came to us looking for a brand refresh and packaging overhaul that would bare fruit. We responded with a concept that truly focuses on the benefits of real fruit in a fun and playful way, appealing to both kids and kids at heart. We used a gloss coating to add depth to the design in a unique way for each sku, and created a truly versatile design system.”

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Glossy retouched photography of the past has made way to a wealth of illustrative approaches in the dried fruit and confectionery market. While familiar and perhaps close to saturation it is an approach that is clear in its honest rejection of artificial sweetners and preservatives.

Ptmark’s work for Stretch Island follows a similar direction but adds a rough, irregular, scissor-cut aesthetic to over-sized fruit illustrations in conjunction with finer chalk, pencil crayon-like shading and paper texture, to convey big flavour, natural ingredients and - through the wholesome craft activity undertaken by children - an open brand proposition.

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Like the fruit, the typography delivers a child-like quality in its utilisation of uneven line thicknesses, a mix of both broad and slim characters, inconsistent spacing, some playful letter extensions, square, sharp and rounded terminals and the rubbed out detailing you might expect to get when kids lean over their work without thought. It has a playful enthusiasm also resonates through ‘loud’ uppercase characters - which are appropriately matched by emotive language choices that mix fun and fact - energetic sparks that eminent from the fruit and the use of exclamation marks.

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The detail and density, loose hierarchical structure, contrast of stroke weights, solid colour fills and pockets of white space, dividing each piece of communication, creates an unusual and hard to achieve ‘non-format’ format. Its busy but not unintelligibly cluttered. Is clear in its brand priority, through the use of a brighter, near-neon, slightly synthetic green - allowing it to stand out amongst the intense typographical detail - and its presentation of natural fruit flavour from a distance with large image.

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The angular forms of the fruit, enthusiastic language and loud typography are tempered by a limited colour palette that is distinctly more earthy compared to the vibrancy common to the category. What looks like brown strawberries and cherries are a little odd compared to the pink of the raspberry, although their impact is suitably amplified with an contemporary use of white as a background.

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Inside the individual packs share a similar aesthetic to the box but with the introduction of simple puzzles. These are a nice idea, the berry maze neatly integrates game and fruit form while the word-search strawberry is a little more straightforward. But, limited to just two of the three packs, the concept comes up a little short as a consistent and expandable element.

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The paper-craft aesthetic is an inventive twist on a familiar illustrative solution, delivering strong communicative impact from a distance and following this up with, and giving the same value to, layers of typographic fact for adults and fun for kids.

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Richard Baird

Richard is a British freelance design consultant and writer who specialises in logos, branding and packaging. He has written for Brand New and Design Week, featured in Computer Arts magazine, Logology, Los Logos, Logolounge, The Big Book of Packaging and runs the blogs BP&O and Design Survival.

Twitter:@richbaird

Blog: BP&O

Portfolio:richardbaird.co.uk

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