How Design Army Turned Mocktail Club into a Chic No-Booze Beverage

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 12/11/2018 | 4 Minute Read

No alcohol doesn’t mean “no fun.” A few years ago, if you went out to a bar and didn’t want to imbibe, you were stuck with ice water, a soda, or sugar-packed virgin cocktails. Now, alcohol-free spirits and beverages have elevated the drinking experience with thoughtful ingredients, stellar branding, and swoon-worthy packaging design—getting right on par with the types of things we love from the booze biz.

We’ve seen more and more non-alcoholic spirits in recent years, from Seedlip to Bud Prohibition to Rocktails. There’s a reason for it, too: the younger generation is more health conscious about what they consume, and they’re willing to pay for it. Sales of non-alcoholic spirits (along with other low- or no-alcohol beverages of their type) from AB InBev are set to double by 2025. Additionally, Advanced Beverage Technologies recently announced BevZero which will focus on wine and beer with 0% alcohol to keep up with the trend.

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“People love to monitor themselves now. We are living in a world of optimized-self,” explains Pum Lefebure, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Design Army. The agency recently rebranded Mumtails premium product line of non-alcoholic beverages, Mocktail Club.

“With the growth of technology you can pretty much monitor your life on the go, like calorie count, how many steps you take, and how much sleep you get,” Pum continued. “There’s no surprise here that people want to monitor themselves.

"With a hangover in full effect, it makes you very unproductive.”

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But it’s not merely about avoiding a hangover or keeping those calories at bay. The idea that a beverage has to have booze in it to be interesting doesn’t resonate with the reality of today’s health-conscious consumer. Plenty of people choose not to drink it, whether it’s for personal reasons or because you're the designated driver for your friend's birthday bar crawl. In fact, Pauline Idogho founded Mumtails when she was pregnant and struggled to find healthy non-alcoholic drinks with exciting flavor profiles.

At the time Mumtails approached Design Army, their label, logo, and branding didn’t align with their values. While Pum saw the potential for a premium line of drinks, she confessed, “We needed to change it. All of it.” 

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Design Army referred to Mocktail Club’s clean ingredients for initial direction, envisioning a simple, fresh design which could convey the blend of fruits and herbs inside. “We looked to many resources and inspiration during the design process, like the cosmos, mother earth, and destinations, but we kept coming back to infusions and abstract art as the territories to drive the design solution,” Pum explained. “We wanted to create a bold artistic statement yet also make something pure with color and whitespace in harmony.”

But art is subjective, she pointed out, so they struggled to perfect color shapes and blends and experimented with when to add more of one hue and less of another. They even took bottles of the liquids, poured them onto a surface, and observed how they reacted together when mixed. Eventually, they agreed on abstract circle forms of the colors because they tell consumers a lot about the beverage even without additional illustrations or graphics.

“While we focused on color to communicate the ingredients and taste visual cues, like two overlapping greens for cucumber and lime, we also used clean sans serif typography in simple black,” added Pum. “It allows it to float within the color blends and also pop off the label. It’s modern art in a bottle.”

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Mocktail Club looks fun like La Croix, flavorful like a fresh juice, and yet doesn’t seem out of place in a bar. Design Army specifically chose to not go down the design path of the spirits world with embellishments, embossing, or foil work and instead leveraged the brand’s health aspect.

“We kept it clean and natural,” Pum mentioned. “The Mocktail Club name sums it up best that it’s an alcohol-free drink and you can enjoy the party.”

For the design aspect, Pum advised to achieve a trifecta of form, function, and feeling, and to remain faithful to the brand's story. The taste of the beverage can provide a lot of direction for designers, helping them to craft an honest story which aligns with brand values. “Draw inspiration from within in order to be different,” she said. “The worst thing a brand can do is repeat others’ successes.”

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Furthermore, people who don’t drink alcohol aren’t having a lesser experience or sitting around wishing their drink was boozy—beverages like Mocktail Club give them a broader range of flavorful, well-designed products to choose from.

“People are proud and stand tall at the party even if they don’t consume alcohol,” Pum added. “So don’t try to be alcohol. Be a proud non-alcohol!”


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