Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2010: A Box Oddessy

Our 4 pack box is a real piece of work. I mean this both literally and figuratively. I think it is a wonderful thing; enviro-cool, full of actually useful stuff, aesthetically awesome, and now very functional as well. But holy-schmolly, what a big piece of work to make this right. The whole process nearly destroyed Jordan, our designer, who had to keep pushing this project forward, despite a billion setbacks, production issues, registration complications and supplier issues.

Ok, lets start with the bottle. We prototyped the design for about 6 months - everything from the thickness of the glass to the amount of etching on the tractor became an issue. First the letters of Beau's were crooked and the typing at the bottom was the wrong font. Then it was too small. Then it was too low on the neck...took forever to get it right.

Then the labels. We had our minds set on a really out-there shape with a custom die-cut and a really slick graphic presentation. But then we discovered these enviro-cool, tree-free labels and had to completely redesign the entire graphics, because this paper was really absorbent and would look horrible in anything trying to look to slick. So, we went for a real old-timey two-colour look so that any defects in the printing would look intentional. I'm incredibly glad we did, because the labels look so much cooler now.

Then there was the problem of finding a supplier willing to print on the stuff. Basically there were no printers locally who had ever worked with this paper, or were willing to do the R&D work necessary to make sure it actually printed properly. We spent about 6 weeks in a holding pattern with 3 different companies - each of them refusing to do any testing for us. Then, Jordan found a 4th company, Claboro, who were like "sure, we'll test it right away". They got the job.

Then the box. Oh my, the box sucked. We went through so many re-designs, so many test runs, so many production issues it is truly unbelievable. Jordan was about ready to kill someone, I'm sure of it. Then after we finally put the job to bed and get our first shipment in we discover, to our horror, that the notches where the string go were place too high and the box was too thin, so the handles would break.

We tried to resolve this with our supplier, but their only solution was to charge us more to make a box that fit around the box to protect the handle slightly better. We felt we had to change suppliers and did so. The new supplier came up with modifications that made the box very, very durable, which was great - but then they had a whole host of printing issues that required dies to be remade, several more re-works to get a box that is now both durable and properly printed.

A million other things went wonky during the process and Jordan and I kept joking that this must be the reason that most breweries use a standard bottle in a standard 6-pack. But, after taking about a year and a half, watching the crazy demand for this package, and needing to hire not 1, not 2, but 3 more brewers to meet the demand that this package has created; well, it was worth it.


One of Ottawa's Real Foodies said...

Loved the story. Thanks for sharing!

Ryan said...

Dude, just got one of these new packs from my sister and it rocks. The first for me since you switched from the white bottle; I was disappointed at first, but as I got looking at the new packaging, it rocks! So many tiny little things that you can see; the tractor is subtle but tactile, the brewed in description is cool because it's different on the bottle and on the pack.

Great job!

Anonymous said...

Show us the final product - a photo please - so that we know what to look for at the LCBO!!!