Client: Windset Farms
Strategy: Tugboat Group / Chris Young
Creative Direction: Tugboat Group
Windset Farms Packaging Design
Client: Windset Farms
Art Direction: Tugboat Group / Chris Young
Design: Chris Young
Production: Chris Young
Work completed while employed at Tugboat Group.
Windset Farms is one of North America’s premier greenhouse growers, based out of Delta, BC. Windset is known as a leader in designer product labels and bags.
This next generation of products needed to continue the clean, slick look that has become synonymous with their premium products.
This redesign of Windset Farms’ entire product line was no small task– spanning seven products and 28 sub-brands, there were going to be endless combinations of these products in both English-only and Bilingual versions, and multiple weight/count versions.
Redesign considerations included different bag styles (resealable polycarbonate plastic bags, polyethylene bags), net-bag header cards, shipping cases and clamshell labels. All the packaging is designed with premium quality production in mind, and everything must look amazing on the shelf.
The old bag design had the label/print area right in the middle of the bag, making it difficult to showcase the product. You can see the new bag design side-by-side with the old bag further down the page.
Putting the Sub-Brands First
The idea behind the new package design was to create more shelf presence, with vibrant colours to make the product stand out beside its competitors and to push Windset’s sub-brand awareness front and centre. The other main requirement is to have as much show-through as possible to see the products.
All of Windset’s products are assigned a colour, with the sub-brands inside of that family also assigned their own colours; these colours are complementary to the product inside the package. Product lines like tomatoes have 11 sub-brands, and the peppers have seven, and so a complete family of hues along that master colour has been carefully considered and applied to create a common look. We allow these complementary colours to shift a few degrees in either direction to differentiate the product families; there are only so many complimentary colours for green and red produce, which many of their products are.
Packaging Redesign Concepts
I divided the bags into top and bottom fields, so the artwork could ‘slide’ up and down independently to allow maximum product show-through. Having the two artwork areas independent of each other helps the design department immensely once we get into the full roll-out of products because the top and bottom can slide into a comfortable position to contain all the artwork and showcase the produce inside.
The top dual-scoop design holds the key graphics in place, allowing the sub-brand area to be brought to the top, front and centre. This allows for optimum visibility on the shelf– think magazine cover. The graphics and information on the top of the bag are kept to a minimum to keep it clean and slick; the other information lives together in the bottom field. Secondary information such as the weight/count and country of origin are all together. The introduction of retail-friendly health claims (backed up by nutritional information on the back of the bag) and nutritional barrels help consumers make quick and informed healthy decisions when grocery shopping.
The thick white stripes bookend the produce on the top and bottom of this design for maximum pop of the product against its complementing colour, and the rich black base of every bag reinforces that strong pop of colour, and finishing off the bottom of the bag where it won’t always sit up perfectly.
Polycarbonate Resealable Bags
The resealable bags with built-in handles were the most common style of bag used for everything from cucumbers, tomatoes, some of the bell pepper and lettuce products. These bags are on a slightly thicker, more rigid plastic and have a premium printing quality which makes photos and text very crisp and legible; even printing country of origin flags very small maintain their legibility.
The back of the bags has lots of room for marketing messages as needed, as well as a recipe photo; an extension of Windset’s Friends in Freshness program that drives traffic to their website where hundreds of premium quality recipes with easy follow along with steps and video presentations reside.
Windset wanted to ensure that every product package is CFIA compliant for food labelling and nutritional claims. I was responsible for ensuring the new packages are compliant, and that they stay intact as we worked through the roll-out of the dozens of bags, labels, etc.
Many of the new designs were also applied to polyethylene bags, which are very common in much of the food packaging on grocery store shelves today. The print quality of these bags does vary; sometimes the registration holds up perfectly, but it’s also common to see your artwork shifting more than 1/16″ which can wreak havoc on your design.
Net-bag Header Cards
Some of the Tomato on the Vine products are shipped in net-bags, with card headers that are affixed to the top of the bag. The same scoop design is applied front and back of this smaller, longer format; paired down to the minimum elements to fit in the limited space.
Many of Windset’s products are shipped in custom-formed clamshells with an affixed label. The labels come in many sizes and configurations, so creating a design that works is no easy feat. The new design for the labels incorporates many elements on it such as the new Non-GMO certification graphic in addition to the required legal text. This new label design incorporates the same top/bottom concept, with the matching scoop appearance at the top, again pushing all the important branding info up into the top half of the label. This allows the secondary information like the weight/count, country of origin, UPC code, etc. to reside in the bottom half of the label.
DISCLOSURE | While I did design and produce almost all of the Windset Farms packaging shown here, I did not design it alone. I did the initial concepts and design of the resealable handle bags and developed the concept of the responsive top and bottom scoop elements which would help us significantly as we roll out the bag applications once finalized. I was well into finalizing the design of the front of the concept bag (Fresco® Cocktail Cucumbers) when the project was literally flipped on its end; the colour scheme of the produce categories was inverted to complementary colours and the bag artwork inverted to how you see it here. This is how it was originally designed to be anyway; initial explorations not shown to the client have the bags laid out as we see them today with all the branding work floating to the top of the bag. I was responsible for ensuring the text was CFIA compliant for Canada, and legal specs were followed for sale in the United States, Mexico and Japan. I was also tasked with overseeing that the text stays compliant and to ensure consistency throughout the production roll-out of Windset’s complete product line, which produced more than 30 bags, dozens of cases, vinyl bags, clamshell labels, and net bag headers.
At Tugboat Group, the design department works closely with each other, and design work on projects of this scope overlap each other, so I want to be clear that while I’m confident in claiming these designs as my own, there were countless design changes to the back of the bag (once the front was finalized), and the roll-out of the full product line was worked on by the creative department for months. As the roll-out of the bags was underway, I continued updating the new design to the polyethylene tomato bags, clamshell labels and net-bag header cards to our new look and colour scheme.
See also the Windset Farms Office Environmental and Wayfinding Design.