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Handsome Brook Farms' New Carton Design Focuses On Values And Emotion

by Rudy Sanchez on 09/02/2020 | 4 Minute Read

Eggs are one of the most popular sources of food in America; per capita, Yanks eat about 279 eggs a year, and consumption has been on the rise. However, a fog of confusion exists surrounding how the hens that lay those eggs live and what they eat. Feel-good sounding labels such as “farm-raised” can imply an idyllic, bucolic life, but is also unregulated, and there’s no barrier to usage. Other terms, such as “free-range,” might be regulated but is a lot laxer than consumers might assume.

One of the goals of Handsome Brook Farms’ latest visual refresh is to communicate the difference between eggs labeled cage-free, free-range, and its own eggs, which are all pasture-raised and organic, as well as hormone and antibiotic-free. Handsome Brook Farms believes that optimal eggs come from hens that are happy, healthy, well-treated, and free to roam and graze and that consumers should know what they are buying in a transparent way.

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“The reality is that cage-free hens spend their entire lives indoors and in barns with anywhere from 40 to 250,000 of their closest friends. And it's very competitive, and not especially nice,” says Matthew Sherman, CMO of Handsome Brook Farm, continuing, “and then you have things like free-range, which sounds even better than cage-free, but doesn’t mean all that much. The majority of cage-free standards are two square feet per hen. It's not a lot of space, and it means that they still have pretty large barns. And then you have pasture-raised at the top, which is 108.9 square feet per hen, about 400 hens to an acre. So it is really a nice life [for the hens].”

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Handsome Brook Farms’ new packaging, created with agency Redscout, has an easy-to-understand graphic inside, explaining the range of terms from caged to pasture-raised, on a “not-cute to handsome” scale. At a glance, a consumer can see where a vague term lands on the brand’s handsome scale. To its left, some copy describing how Handsome operates, instead of using hazy and ill-defined labels. 

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It isn’t unusual to see a lot of hens roosting upon egg cartons in the supermarket cooler, something Handsome Brook Farm’s refresh actively avoids. Instead, the carton aims to invoke a mood, electing to abstractly represent that small, organic farm life. For the company, the small scale of the farms they work with is the optimal environment for pasture-raised and organic eggs. Additionally, farms at this size mean that those that tend to the hens have a closer connection to the land and their egg layers.

“It seems ridiculous, but we made a very big decision to have neither a farmer nor a hen on our package,"  Matthew said. "That was really to communicate an emotion. When you look at our package, we want you to see the feeling of a bright sunrise or sunset over the hills or a beautiful verdant pasture, to communicate that positive feeling that frankly is at the heart of the company and what it means to be handsome, which is taking care of your neighbor, taking care of your flock, and taking care of the planet."

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Since working for Handsome Brook Farm, Sherman has come to see the significance eggs have for people, while also acknowledging that most Americans want to eat local ingredients produced with values and ethics that are meaningful to them, realizations that went into the brand’s refresh and new packaging, which communicates Handsome’s ethos and quality.

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“My daughter thinks it’s weird, but when I tell people I work for an egg company, most will say something like, ‘oh, let me tell you about these backyard chickens I had growing up,’ or ‘let me tell you about my grandma, or ‘I eat eggs every day,'" Matthew says. "Everybody has a close emotional connection to this product strangely. I think that also goes to this idea that you should know what you're getting, and you should know that it aligns with your values.

"You should be able to figure out what that is without having to read a manual," he adds.

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