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Packaging Design Takes IKU’s Mouth-Watering Plant-Based Meals To The Next Level

by Chloe Gordon on 01/14/2022 | 4 Minute Read

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Background Since opening one of Sydney’s first plant-based eateries more than 35 years ago, IKU has nourished and healed their customers with simple plant-based meals. Thanks to their innovative vision, delicious vegan dishes, and the support of their community, they’ve now stepped beyond the storefront to offer an online delivery and retail service that brings a whole new level of ease and accessibility to IKU.

Insights Research shows that while more and more people are coining onto the environmental and physical health benefits, “vegan” is still a term more strongly associated with activism than lifestyle and vegan (or even just “healthy”) food is often considered boring and limited. And, despite IKU’s rich history in Sydney, the healthy, DTC meal space is a monotonous blur of forgettable brands.

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Challenge How to create a visually arresting food packaging design solution that speaks to IKU’s mouth-watering plant-based meals while also conveying its unique heritage brand story?

Solution Everything IKU does — from the food they make to the way they run their business — is about keeping things in balance. It made sense for the visual identity to speak to something so inherent to the way they operate.

Each letter of the custom wordmark is perfectly balanced and sits vertically as a nod to their Japanese name. The stacked bowls reference the nutritionally-balanced meals they create, while complementing the wordmark and also giving the brand a flexible visual element to be used as a graphic or image container.

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As a sustainable brand, it was important that the packaging was as recyclable and compostable as currently possible. IKU is continuously looking for ways to improve the way they operate and reduce their impact.

Packaging was also an opportunity to celebrate IKU’s exceptional ingredients and use the extended colour palette to visually categorise IKU’s extensive menu, making it easy for the customer to distinguish between curries, savoury snacks, desserts etc.

In a category that’s quite literally greenwashed, the colour palette is a deliberate divergence from the muted, “natural” and green tones the audience has come to expect of plant-based brands. It feels delicious, exciting and celebrates the colours of some of IKU’s favourite ingredients.

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Photography was also key to the packaging — showcasing the IKU experience in a way that would entice people to try it. With Benito Martin working his photographic magic and Jessica Johnson slaying the styling, we produced a suite of images that not only celebrate the food itself, but the beautiful moments created by shared meals at a homely kitchen table. Having noticed that much of the photography in the category felt humanless, stark and uninviting, we wanted to give IKU a clear point of difference that strayed away from the “perfect” overhead meal shot.

Ensuring the IKU story and belief in balance isn’t lost when it comes to their products, the back of each pack gives an insight into their history, while the mailer box stacks to mimic the logo.

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“Unlike some other recent plant-based foods that have appeared on Brand New using bright, vivid, and perhaps jarring colors — Exhibit A, Exhibit B — this one takes a more traditional approach with deep and earthy colors that are more likely to get those glands salivating. The huge logo on the boxes looks pretty great.” UnderConsideration - https://www.underconsideration...

“We spent months sourcing compostable, reusable or recycled packaging, as many of these solutions were new to market or hadn’t even been created yet. The film our meals trays are sealed with is compostable, the meal trays are plant-based or made of bagasse, a by-product of the sugarcane industry. Our ‘plastic’ film, which wraps the burgers, is made from plants and is 100 per cent compostable; the tape we seal our boxes with is biodegradable and the insulation we use within our boxes has won sustainability awards.” Russell Johnson, IKU’s Managing Director for B&T -

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