The Healthy Food Revolution: How Nurture Life Makes Good-for-You Meals Appeal to Babies and Kids of All Ages
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 06/01/2021 | 4 Minute Read
As a kid, you’re told not to play with your food. But Nurture Life's redesign proves it’s okay to get creative at the dinner table.
Working parents Jennifer Chow and Steve Minisini founded Nurture Life to make healthy meals for babies and kids of all ages readily available and easy to enjoy. As they look to expand from a direct-to-consumer kids food brand to claiming some shelf space in grocery stores and amplifying the appeal of their packaging to kids, they wanted to upgrade their packaging.
Independent branding agency Moxie Sozo needed to take their packaging from what was essentially a sticker and a transparent film to something that would get consumers to take note, as they started as a direct-to-consumer brand. “Nurture Life has this wonderful story to tell, and they're doing something that not a lot of food companies for kids are doing,” said Mike Bowman, senior account director at Moxie Sozo. “They’re for all ages, from babies all the way up to older kids, and their packaging and identity needed to tell that story better.”
Kids might have the reputation of being picky eaters, but Nurture Life believes they can be excited about more than just macaroni and cheese or hot dogs. For children especially, it’s a matter of making newer foods less scary and showing how delicious those different ingredients can be—yes, even spinach or broccoli. The brand needed a design that was accessible and would put ingredients at the forefront.
“Rather than trying to hide that they’re getting healthy foods, it’s more about highlighting those real ingredients,” Mike said. “Health food doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to be tasteless either it can be both delicious and healthy for kids.”
Qian Liu, senior designer and illustrator, and Nate Dyer, one of the creative directors and principals at Moxie Sozo, designed the packs not to look too childlike—after all, it’s parents and guardians that are making the buying decisions. It needed to capture the attention of both kids and adults while also clearly conveying the ingredients and health benefits of what’s inside.
“When kids go to the store and see something that looks good, the adult they’re with will often take a look and decide whether to buy it,” said Mike. “And if kids are at the school lunch table and pull out something exciting, other kids are going to ask, ‘What’s that? That looks cool.’ That was a lot of our momentum behind the design, was getting that excitement for kids, but when the parent picks it up, it looks healthy, too.”
Nurture Life also posed a unique challenge because—unlike other kids’ food brands that focus on a specific age group—they offer meals for babies, toddlers, and kids. The Moxie Sozo team mapped out the different segments and age groups, determining what they needed from the brand at each phase, as the design shifts to something slightly more sophisticated as the age progresses.
"What we’ve really valued about the Moxie Sozo team is that they’re great strategists and creators,” said Nurture Life’s Jennifer Chow. “They’ve done a fantastic job of really understanding our customer and value proposition, what we want to accomplish as a brand and company, and brought that to life with our new branding and packaging.”
The redesigned packs feature fun illustrations that reflect what’s in each meal, with the proteins cleverly comprising the other ingredients. A chicken, for example, has a cauliflower body and a carrot for a beak, while the cow has a potato body and a mushroom nose. “We wanted to have fun with the concept of building these worlds out of the ingredients,” said Nate. “Imagine a kid sitting at a table and playing with their food. What could they make? But we still kept it more sophisticated and premium with the rendering style we chose.”
The packs don’t only tell the story of what’s inside; they incorporate the kind of whimsy and creativity kids love. Since each meal has a distinct design, the Moxie Sozo team designed multiple chickens, cows, and fish—but each proved to be an enjoyable challenge.
“The biggest challenge for me was how to brainstorm the story that would work for the kids’ side and also for the parents' side,” Qian added. “You have to find a perfect balance between visually interesting and also very readable for our audience.”
The work that Qian and Nate put into the illustrations paid off, and the admirable results aren't necessarily easy for other brands to replicate. With over forty unique SKUs, each meal has its own illustration—something harder to achieve if Moxie Sozo had instead opted to use studio photography or lean into some of the design trends that often get utilized in this space.
“This is the benefit of embracing illustration and art for your brand,” said Evan Faber, CEO and chief strategist at Moxie Sozo. “We’ve designed a custom font, custom illustrations, and this is now ownable for Nurture Life. Having a really distinct visual brand language, even if it bucks the trends or doesn’t seem to match where things are going, can become ownable. That’s the benefit of having high art in brand design.”