Debuting the lighthearted design of Rumble’s nutritional supplement shake to the Canadian market was a special milestone for us. As a young startup operating off the west coast of Vancouver, we were proud to rally behind and launch the preliminary design, developed by a boutique New York agency, to Canadians in 2012.

The consumer response to the brand was positively overwhelming and our all-natural, protein-packed supershake quickly found its way to store shelves in more than 600 locations across Canada.

But would the same design appeal to our U.S. neighbors? Would the existing brand survive the transition from a product originally meant for natural grocery stores into one for more conventional grocery stores?

The move to the U.S. market came with many brand positioning variables to consider. The decision to do a brand refresh, for a product that already had a strong brand, did not come easy. Would spending considerable time and effort redesigning a brand that was less than two years old ultimately be worth the cost, or would it prove to be an unnecessary endeavor? Finally, we made the decision to go ahead with the redesign. Our choice to move forward was made based on our belief that disruptive branding pops in a sea of sameness – and who doesn’t want their product to stand apart from the rest? It seemed like a no-brainer.

Due to the highly competitive and saturated U.S. beverage market, the time, cost, and energy we put into the brand refresh was two-fold: To make a strong first impression upon entering the States, and to position Rumble as a stand-out product in the crowd. We had the benefit of launching in Canada first, where the diversity in customer interactions gave us the insight we needed to determine what both our new and existing consumers were responding to.

Bottle Backstory
From the start, we knew there were some basic changes to the design that had to be incorporated. Unlike Canada, the U.S. does not require bilingual labeling, which freed up a significant amount of packaging real estate. We flagged this as an opportunity to include Rumble’s backstory – a strong differentiator that we weren’t able to incorporate in the initial Canadian design.

The story of Paul Underhill, his battle with cystic fibrosis and determination to create Rumble is a compelling aspect, since we position ourselves as an aspirational brand. By putting the story right on the bottle, we’re able to communicate our core values; rather than being perceived as a product from one of the big brands, we could now communicate that we are a small team dedicated to promoting healthy living, and standing for something more than just drinks.

We anticipate the story will resonate with our existing and new customers. The feedback we’ve heard from customers is that Paul’s perseverance and positive attitude is a strong factor in connecting our customers to our products.

Up the Engagement
Brands today can’t rely on a well-designed logo to facilitate engagement between customer and product, so it is important to recognize all opportunities to increase customer engagement. We were excited to exploit the top of our cap for this. Our decision to add graphics to the cap was based on additional brand visibility if Rumble was merchandised on a lower shelf, as well as calling out instructions on how best to enjoy Rumble: Shake gently and open slowly, because the bottle is pressurized. The resealable cap is another consumer connection point that allows our customers to engage with those same graphics each time they take a drink.

We believe this extra layer of interaction is fun, on brand, and creates another point of packaging differentiation from the competition.

Stand Out
We found that with our old design, the product descriptor and flavor differentiation weren’t clear enough. The packaging lacked a pop of color which decreased its shopability and overall shelf appeal. After several rounds of informal market research and numerous preliminary drafts, we decided to move to blue for our logo, due to its gender neutrality, and a milky shade for the background to properly reflect the shake-like product inside. We specifically chose to venture away from black and white to avoid a sterile feeling – we wanted to add some warmth and brightness.

In terms of the narrative on the front of the bottle, we wanted to expand on the playful design we established initially, while communicating the important health aspects of Rumble. From our informal consumer research, we found the most important and relevant health claims for this group to be non-GMO, gluten-free, and the amount of Omega 3s (with labeling to reflect this). In addition, we wanted to communicate the protein dosage to consumers, given that Rumble, at its core, is a protein drink.

Design Lifespan
It’s critical to continually evolve and breathe new life into branding, especially before entering new markets. In the case of start-ups, closely monitoring the relationship between a new customer base and a brand is critical as it can determine long-term success.

Refining a brand is an ongoing process that takes valuable time and resources, but with our anticipated entry into the ultra-competitive U.S. market, we knew we needed to act quickly and be strategic about the changes we were making. Operating on a limited budget and a strong connection to our existing branding, we recognized that being selective in how we refreshed the Rumble branding would determine the success of our launch into the U.S. marketplace. The added benefit of not committing to a large-scale rebrand means we’re able to adjust aspects of the branding and design in the future.

I’m a strong advocate that brands should consider a brand refresh, no matter how small, before entering new markets. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and that impression could last a lifetime. That’s why we confidently hit the reset button with Rumble.