The proverb “The eyes are the window to the soul,” offers a guidepost of sorts about human nature. Look deep enough, and you’ll find a person’s true essence, or at a minimum, intention. It’s like that in branding, where the package and label together create the window to the soul of the brand.
For Aquaçai Natural Artesian Water, quality and purity make up its soul, the origins of which date back 3 million years to when the artesian aquifer that is its source began forming. The aquifer, which lies deep beneath 1,400 acres of the Panamanian Açai Rainforest, along the Continental Divide, naturally filters and purifies Aquaçai water, giving it a consistent balance of minerals and a refreshingly smooth taste. The water is infused with naturally occurring calcium, potassium, and silica. Naturally sustaining, the aquifer is recharged by more than 125 sources of natural spring water that flow from the surrounding mountains and rainforest.
As a point of brand exclusivity, Aquaçai is produced, bottled, and shipped directly from the aquifer at a 100,000-sq-ft facility located 41 miles southwest of Panama City, Republic of Panama. The facility was commissioned in 2009 and houses state-of-the-art packaging equipment that allows the company to execute the eye-catching packaging that supports its brand identity.
Packaging reflects purity, premium position
The Aquaçai name comes from combining the word aqua and the name of the açai palm, which is known for its fruit. When brand owner Eurofusion prepared to launch the Aquaçai brand, it turned to international brand and package design firm Moxie TM to create the brand identity and leverage the value of purity.
“For millions of years, Aquaçai water has been filtered, collected, and preserved in this vast artesian aquifer,” says Eurofusion CEO Michael Horth. “The quality and purity of our water is the heart of what the brand is all about. We needed the brand design to reflect this. But we also wanted to establish a premium positioning that would be accepted by high-end consumers.”
Tammy Vaserstein, creative principal of Moxie TM, says that the company chose design elements that cross cultural borders to meet Eurofusion’s goals. “The brand design connects the purity of the water source and premium quality of the brand, making it attractive to a global audience,” she says. Currently the product is on shelves in Panama, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, and in the U.S., in Florida and Georgia.
The natural artesian water is available in three sizes of PET bottles—354 and 591 mL, and 1 L—that continue the brand identity with a molded relief of a Panamanian mountain in the rainforest at the base. Each bottle has pressure-sensitive prime and back labels that are clear and white, respectively. This two-part label format is a departure from the wraparound or the cut-and-stack labels used by the vast majority of competitors.
Eurofusion also wanted the package to allow for high-speed bottling capabilities and a level of brand protection. To meet all of their label material requirements, they turned to Fasson® pressure-sensitive film from Avery Dennison. “We chose pressure-sensitive labels as the best option due to their high print and graphics capabilities,” says Eurofusion plant manager Lino Vásquez. “The complex graphics of our Aquaçai labels make them somewhat more difficult to imitate, which is especially important in markets where pirating of brands is perceived as common practice.”
The labels were produced by Brook & Whittle Ltd., using Fasson Global Co-Ex™, a 2-mil matte, clear polyolefin film. The prime label is UV-flexo and screen-printed in four-color process, plus a white screen, two spot blues, silver, and silver foil. The back label is UV-flexo and screen-printed with four-color process inside, and printed outside with four-color process, plus two whites, and spot blue.
Silver foil accents on the white serif logotype on the prime label prompt a sense of reflecting water, and they add an element of strong dimensional highlights that work in conjunction with the drop-shadows of each letter to create visual depth. The logotype floats in a gradient sea of blue. A single, silver rule line at the top and bottom of the blue field draws attention to the Aquaçai name. A signature green-butterfly icon at the top right side appears to flutter into the visual frame, half over the blue field.
Additional visual depth of the prime label comes from the inside of the back label, which holds an image of a waterfall. The outside of the back label contains brand identity and positioning copy, the UPC, and minerals content information.
“Aquaçai is truly a high-end product, and Eurofusion wanted a complete package that would firmly establish the brand above and beyond the competition,” says Steve Stewart, president of Brook & Whittle. “The clear-on-clear pressure-sensitive film and the brand design work together to deliver differentiation at the shelf in a way that really sets the product apart.”
Equipment delivers desired quality
In addition to delivering shelf impact, the polyolefin film labels allow for higher processing speeds compared to other labeling technologies. The fully automated Aquaçai bottling facility, equipped primarily by Krones AG, currently operates one packaging line at 600 bottles/min, with the capacity to produce 240 million bottles/year. The plant was designed to house up to three bottling lines. Stainless-steel pipelines carry the water from the artesian aquifer directly to the plant where it is immediately bottled, capped, and sealed under environmentally controlled conditions without any human intervention.
Housed in a Class 7 clean room within the facility, a Krones Contiform 250 stretch blow molder manufactures the three PET bottle sizes in real time, feeding a 60-valve Krones VODM-PET volumetric filler at speeds to 36,000 bottles/hr. After being filled, the bottles are capped and sent to a labeling station—a Krones SOLOMODUL—with two p-s label application modules.
According to Eurofusion’s Vásquez, the Krones labeler was selected for the application due to a number of its machine features: a camera-driven orientation system that precisely locates labels side-to-side; the ability to apply different labels on front and back bottle panels; an integrated camera system that discharges bottles with missing labels; and a flexible labeler module that allows for different types of labels to be run, including cold-glue, hot-melt, and p-s.
As the bottles arrive at the labeler, they are still slightly warm, making them dimensionally unstable. “Basically, the bottles change shape slightly as they fully cool after filling and labeling,” says Stewart of Brook & Whittle. “So, we had to make sure the label and adhesive would move with the bottle as it cooled. The Fasson Global Co-Ex [label material] is flexible enough to move without wrinkling, curling, or lifting. And the adhesive is a key part of the solution as well.”
According to Vásquez, Eurofusion’s packaging suppliers fully supported the company in finding the best substrate and adhesive alternatives for the project. “Avery Dennison and Brook & Whittle worked with us in trialing different substrates and adhesives to find the right combination for our application,” he says. “And because Aquaçai has a two-year shelf life, it was imperative the labels remain intact for at least this amount of time. Accelerated age tests at Avery Dennison’s labs in Mentor, Ohio, confirmed the label life-cycle durability.”
Brand strategy evident in operations
The commitment of Eurofusion to protect the natural resources that help define the Aquaçai brand are evident throughout the entire operation. The bottling facility conducts real-time monitoring of the aquifer level. And its quality assurance program exceeds all internationally recognized standards established by the International Bottled Water Association and the World Health Organization.
“Our commitment and reverence for the natural resources of the Panamanian Açai Rainforest encompass everything we do at each step in taking our product to the global market,” says marketing manager Shani Gerschfeld. “It’s reflected in our brand identity and overall label quality. It can even be found in our bottle.” —Anne Marie Mohan