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Humble Warrior’s Redesign Was a Hands-On Approach

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 09/04/2019 | 4 Minute Read

It’s no easy feat for a plant-based food or drink to stand out on the shelves. Consumers care more and more about what they put into their bodies, opting for booze-free beverages or more nutritious versions of beloved foods. Health-conscious buyers look for items which are organic, sustainable, or made only with natural fruits and veggies, and the options only continue to multiply. Yes, the product has to be delicious, but first, it has to catch their attention.

Luckily, Humble Warrior sparkling tonics do both. These invigorating drinks find inspiration in Eastern leaves and spices, ancient Ayurveda, and one of the brand founder’s childhood trips to Sri Lanka. The flavors, like turmeric and mango or tulsi and pomegranate, make these exotic ingredients more accessible. 

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But as delicious as the drinks are, they did not have the shelf appeal to match.

“It was a bit washed out, a bit dusty, and it had this sort of old-school hippie vibe,” said Alex Stewart, Creative Partner at creative consultancy Derek&Eric, which worked in collaboration with Silas Amos for the update. “It didn’t have a contemporary, vibrant, tasty feel to it. Because ultimately, it’s a drink, so it needs to look tasty.” 

It’s easy to take something like this and revamp it with some bright colors and simple shapes—for some, going full-on minimal like that equals modern. But the problem there, Alex pointed out, is then the brand lacks a sense of real identity or soul. They wanted to find the sweet spot where the heart of the brand could shine through while catching the eye of contemporary consumers.

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The star of Humble Warrior’s redesign is the mudra hand, a universally calming symbol and a gesture which supposedly helps guide energy flow and can produce joy and happiness. 

“When we first chatted with Humble Warrior, it was one of the first things they explained to us, how it is this powerful symbol in Eastern religions,” said Alex. “That was a great thing to get a hold of because so much gets baked into it. And we didn’t even realize it at the time, but just having a palm like that evokes a lot. It has a kind of power to it.” 

Humble Warrior’s packaging already featured a mudra hand since the symbol perfectly embodies much of what the brand brings to consumers. But the original design felt stiffer, more geometric, and appeared almost computer-created. For the redesign, they developed a more tactile look with elongated fingers, gentle curves, and an irregular shape. Because, after all, people aren’t perfectly symmetrical, so the mudra hand had to embrace that genuine soulfulness, too.

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The packaging wasn’t the only thing to change—Humble Warrior used to be a still beverage, and now it’s lightly sparkling—so it also made sense to give each drink a new name. Before, consumers would choose between flavors like Luna Nectar or Divine Oasis, which don’t tell them much about the real, amazing ingredients. “The market is growing for herbal drinks like this,” explained Alex. “Maybe you could have gotten away with calling something ‘Tiger Spring’ five years ago before it exploded, but now people have a lot of choices and want to know what it is exactly.”

Bottles now feature the main ingredients as the name—and while you might not know what reishi is, it feels less intimidating when paired with pineapple. Based on the layout of the bottle, it’s clearly an ingredient, but it also has a bit of a mysterious and almost spiritual vibe to it. 

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Humble Warrior also gave Alex and the team a chance to do something they don’t get to do every day. “Within the brand, we wanted texture in our colors, and we didn’t want anything to feel flat,” he said. “So we just picked up a paintbrush. We’re in a smaller environment and not a big agency, so we were thinking about how we can get this done in an interesting, exciting way. And how often does a designer get to pick up a paintbrush and create these things?

“Picking up the paintbrush and a camera was a challenge, but it was also incredibly rewarding to be involved in all stages of the process like that. Ultimately, having a hand in everything is great.” 

Puns aside, it all ties into what Derek&Eric and Silas wanted to accomplish; for Humble Warrior not to look like another trendy, plant-based drink to sip on, but to have an honest-to-goodness heart at the center of the brand. 

“The brief was ‘to delight mind, body, and tongue,’” Alex added. “We wanted Humble Warrior to feel like they have human craft and human soul.”