ZAK Designs The Perfect Dairy-Free Ice Cream

by Casha Doemland on 11/20/2018 | 4 Minute Read

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For the lactose intolerant and those with other dairy allergies, finding an ice cream to fill your sad mouth hole post-break-up while watching RomComs with your best friends is a daunting task. While you love sorbets, you'd kill to dig your spoon into a carton of Mint Chip.

Well, get your spoon ready, because now you can with Nora's Dairy-Free Ice Cream. Each flavor has a base house-made cashew milk that delivers the magic.But the founders of Nora’s needed the perfect packaging to encapsulate the fun, playful and indulgent spirit of their ice cream. So, they reached out to ZAK, a graphic design and branding studio based in Vancouver, British Columbia to spearhead the production of packaging. Together, they created a unique visual identity and brand voice for Nora’s that stays true their spirit and gets them ready to take on the world one carton of ice cream at a time.

We spoke with co-founders and designers, Kristian Hay, Zia Somjee and Arvin Paelmo to dive deeper into the design process and uncover the magic behind building the brand.

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Walk us through the design process. How did you go from start to finish on this project?

Kristian Hay: In general, our approach to design projects is methodical and process driven. We aim to take steps to consider the best approach and design strategy before even getting into the design of it all. For Nora’s, we worked to help them more clearly identify how they were positioned in the emerging dairy-free ice cream market as well as what their core audience would resonate with.

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Editorial photograph

From there, we devised a few concepts and worked iteratively with them to narrow down the best solution. In the end, working with Tyler and Katherine was super collaborative – something we try and keep alive in every project we work on.

Did each flavor cultivate the creativity for each of the designs?

Zia Somjee: Each flavor influenced the color palette that we ended up going with. Because the ice cream is all made from natural ingredients and no artificial flavors or coloring, it was important to have each package reflect what the consumers might think of first when reading the flavor profile.

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What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with the packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Arvin Paelmo: As Nora’s is lining up partnerships with large grocery store chains throughout Canada, one of the biggest goals that we always came back to throughout the process was figuring out how to make Nora’s stand out on shelves next to typical grocery store dairy-free ice cream packaging.

Most of the packaging for dairy-free, natural, or organic ice creams used earthy tones, busy imagery, and lots of images of ingredients. We found that to stand out on shelves, Nora’s needed to go back to basics and embrace the simplicity and shameless enjoyment of ice-cream.

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What was the most challenging part of this project?

Kristian Hay: Restraining from diving into the fun packaging design concepts before going through a methodical strategy. It's tempting to want to bypass that and get right into the design (especially with an ice-cream brand), but having those strategic pillars and taking the time to build a clear approach with the client made decision making easy down the line. What’s great about having a strategy that the client is stoked on, is it gives them the ability to judge the design based on a set of criteria rather than subjectively.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Zia Somjee: Definitely the wordmark. It took a while to get there, but when it started to take shape, we knew it was the one. It feels like a true representation of the brand, and the people who run it. It's organic and doesn’t take itself too seriously. At the end of the day, it’s ice cream, and it’s meant to be indulgent and fun!

What was it like working with Nora’s?

Arvin Paelmo: Working with Nora’s was like working with what you imagine the perfect client would be. They were very collaborative, open, and easy-going throughout the whole project. It honestly felt more like jamming on a project with friends than anything, which made everything a lot of fun to do.

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