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AWSM Sauce Makes Dinner Dipping More Sustainable With Powdered Sauces

by Rudy Sanchez on 07/07/2022 | 5 Minute Read

Lots of people like to get saucy with their food. 

For some, eating french fries is unfathomable without something to dip them into, whether it’s ketchup, BBQ sauce, or even mayonnaise. According to analysts at KBV Research, the global market size for ketchup alone could reach $24.1 billion by 2028.

Unfortunately, our love of sauces comes at a steep environmental price. Most come in plastic bottles or, worse, unrecyclable single-serve sachets. Moreover, condiments like ketchup take up weeks of space in the refrigerator, getting gnarly until ultimately tossed out, adding to food waste. Condiments like BBQ and hot sauce are nearly all liquid, meaning that heavy bottles containing mostly water get shipped all over the globe, consuming fuel and adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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AWSM Sauce co-founders and self-described “dadtrepreneurs” Carl Starkey and Paul Lehmann love cooking and grilling, but they also saw an opportunity to reduce food and packaging waste while dishing up tasty sauces. The duo decided to create powdered versions of saucy favorites, like ketchup, BBQ sauce, and a spicy, Maryland-inspired “Chesapeake Fire Sauce.” Just add water, mix well, and boom—ready to serve.

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Looking to capture the attention of sustainably-minded consumers, the AWSM team turned to Brooklyn/Honolulu-based Herefor studio for brand strategy, brand identity, packaging, copywriting, and a custom illustration library. The result is a fun, approachable, and casual identity befit for a dad brand.

“Carl and Paul came to us when their product was in innovation mode. They landed on three different recipes for ketchup, fire sauce, and honey barbecue sauce and asked us to help them launch their product across DTC (direct to consumer),” said Jena Garlinghouse, co-founder and director of client services for Herefor. "AWSM had started generating some B2B business but wanted to land on a brand identity and packaging design system that would help them make a bigger splash in the DTC space," she added. "We partnered with them to build their brand identity from the ground up and their packaging design system in a way that educates what the product is since it's such a new kind of idea in the category." 

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"We aimed to bring to life their mission of using AWSM’s super powders for good, all while ridding the kitchen of single-use plastic,” she added.

Round shapes are used throughout the packaging, lending a friendly attitude straightaway while also being reminiscent of the occasional errant drip or splash of sauce. Typography has a classic, timeless feel, and the packaging system is clearly laid out, inspired by AWSM's trio of sauces.

“The product itself requires interaction, and there's this process to using and creating the sauces that can be a little messy, and sometimes you're going get some ketchup on the table,” said Ryan Hammond, co-founder and creative director for Herefor. “We used that as inspiration and created saucy shapes that aren't perfect." They used those shapes in playful ways, creating a visual foundation they could start to build off of for the brand. On pack, they use the same dollop-like shapes as a container, a veritable window frame to house photography on the website.

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Inspired by classic diners, AWSM’s visual identity looks to the graphic elements of those classic, stereotypical Guy Fieri haunts to give them a fair dose of familiarity and comfort. And it's a critical element, as it makes this new delivery system for our favorite sauces more accessible to the consumer.

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“We looked at old diner menus that use different types of typography and saucy colors,” Jena said. “Early on, we felt that diner menus are a super fun point of inspiration for us as we start to build out the brand because it feels of that category. Ultimately, AWSM is making the same sauces that we know and love but stripping away the water and the plastic usage. It's not like the flavors are outrageous or culinarily inspired; it's classic ketchup, barbecue sauce, and fire sauce. So we felt the taste cues start to really come to life in that diner menu aesthetic. That comes through in the packaging, but also in the illustration library and icon system with fun little ways of bringing to life the product's benefits, like a little lightning bolt for ‘Super Powder.’ The little touches you might find in a diner menu started to reveal themselves as we built out the system.”

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“The design aesthetic we wanted to hone in on is that this is a sauce, even though it gets shipped in a powder," adds Cory Uehara, co-founder and creative director for Herefor. "AWSM was like introducing a new category but still trying to take cues from what's happening in similar, existing categories, so you're not completely alienating what has already been established and is working." To do that, they stuck to more traditional colors for ketchup and fire sauce. It's a balanced approach, using what consumers already associate with the category but bringing in a fresh take from an educational standpoint.

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The biggest lesson for AWSM customers is in the format and packaging of the sauces. Unlike a typical ketchup or BBQ sauce bottle, AWSM ships in boxes of three sachets that make about 3.5 to 5 ounces of condiments, depending on the flavor. One-third of a cup of water gets added to one packet of powder and then well-shaken. AWSM uses 95% less plastic than a traditional 16oz sauce bottle. By not shipping water readily available in a customer's home, AWSM also trims greenhouse gases from the final product. The brand also plans to replace the current plastic sachets with a paper-based metabolized film that's industrially compostable. Sure, it’s not plastic-free, but it's certainly an improvement over current offerings in a typical grocery store.

Many consumers are shopping more conscientiously, opting for more environmentally-friendly products. Some brands respond with fancy concepts and products inspired by haute cuisine. But, sometimes, folks also want a better-for-the-planet alternative to comfort classics, like chicken nuggets

AWSM follows suit, with the end result being a trio of saucy staples with less nasty stuff like climate change and plastic pollution.


Images courtesy of Herefor.

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