Gold, silver, and bronze: A winning design for an athlete’s beverage

First RTD energy coffee aimed at ‘Ath-lifers’ and those ages 18 to 40 gets rebranding with packaging designs that draw on sporting symbology such as athlete’s jerseys and medals.

The shelf-stable coffee line is made up of four 12-oz RTD coffees.
The shelf-stable coffee line is made up of four 12-oz RTD coffees.

In February 2018, brothers Jordan, Jim, and Jake DeCicco appeared before ABC’s Shark Tank judges seeking investment money in exchange for a stake in their beverage, Super Coffee—the first enhanced RTD, shelf-stable energy beverage that combines 150 mL of caffeine with 10 g protein and 5 g of MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oils. While they didn’t go home with a deal, they did see a nice bump in sales and interest.

Super Coffee was originally created in Jordan DiCicco’s dorm room at Philadelphia University in 2015 under the brand name Sunniva (gift from the sun). The student athlete wanted a healthier alternative to bottled coffee and energy drinks loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients.

As the brothers geared up for a national launch, they enlisted brand development and design firm Tigre to help them take their original vision and grow it. Tigre guided them in understanding that with business growth and additional product lines, they needed a master brand strategy, clear messaging, and a visual language and design. Tigre developed a strategy for the business based on the passion of the brothers and their authentic beliefs, identified their target consumer, and created messaging to translate their beliefs internally and externally. The core message, “Change Your Energy, Change Your World,” came out of this strategy.

The DeCicco brothers decided to rename the brand Kitu, referencing both “key to life” and a nod to the Keto-type diet.Then Tigre turned its focus on redesigning the Super Coffee line and introducing the new Super Creamers sub brand. “We needed to clearly communicate the proposition, point of difference, and benefits in a consumer-friendly ‘digestible’ format,” says Tammy Vaserstein, Creative Principle, Tigre. “We did this through the use of color and a strong communication hierarchy that stands out on shelf and in someone’s hand.”

The original wave lines evolved into a bold stripe, reminiscent of an athlete’s jersey or a flag, providing a sense of identity and performance. When viewed standing together on shelf, they create an upward motion, further communicating positive energy.

The evolutionary design retains the white background that stands out on a crowded and dark shelf and leverages the flavor colors of gold, silver, and bronze. The wave lines are also evident in the new Kitu brandmark, designed to communicate smooth energy and to serve as a badge or seal of approval identifying better-for-you energy products. “It’s incredibly important, especially for an emerging brand, that the design is ‘noticed’ when someone is carrying it. This badge identifies them as part of a team,” notes Vaserstein. A tear-off label around the cap also includes the “Positive Energy” message.

The modern, san serif typeface was retained, but with a more premium approach in font and spacing. A bolder “Super” contributes to the brand’s point of difference and reason to believe.The shelf-stable coffee line is made up of four 12-oz RTD coffees—Maple Hazelnut, Vanilla Bean, Cream Black, and Smooth Mocha—in plastic bottles with a shrink wrap label.

Considering that not all consumers drink coffee, but all do need energy, a sub brand of Super Creamers is being introduced in three flavors: Original, Vanilla, and Hazelnut in a 32-oz format. Super Creamers allow anyone to enhance their coffee, tea, or smoothie experience with zero sugar, lactose-free protein, and healthy fats from coconut oil.

The package design echoes the Super Coffee packaging, but with script typography for the word Creamer. This overall design system allows the sub brand Super to remain consistent while the descriptors, Coffee and Creamer, are uniquely suited to their respective categories.

Primarily targeted to male “Ath-lifers” who live a healthy and active lifestyle and approach life with an athlete’s mindset, the rebrand is also designed to appeal to a secondary audience of men and women ages 18 to 40.

“Our goal with Kitu is to be America’s healthy energy alternative to all of the sugary options that exist today. While our original packaging did a good job of articulating the functional benefits of the product, it didn’t tell the story of what the brand stands for,” says Jim DeCicco, CEO, Kitu Life. “Tigre was able to take three years of brand building and communicate it succinctly in an attractive visual design and a messaging hierarchy that captures our culture in a concise platform. They saw how we bring our positive energy to everything we do as we build our brand, our team, our business partners, and our consumers. We include the positives and eliminate the negatives in everything we do.”

Super Coffee and now Super Creamer are sold in grocery stores, convenience stores, and fitness locations. To drive trial, the company plans large-scale field marketing and in-store sampling.

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