Responses by Dana Lytle, founder/CEO/executive creative director, Planet Propaganda
Background: We’ve worked with Madison, Wisconsion–based craft brewery Ale Asylum before, and we were invited as partners on craft hard seltzer Stray Forth’s launch. Our positioning focused on a mindset more than a demographic: mindful drinkers who think a little differently, who appreciate an elevated beverage that lets them savor the moment and who are always looking forward. The beauty is that the people working on the project fell right into that mindset, and it’s always a nice treat to create something that’s meant to appeal to you.
Reasoning: Since this is an elevated product aimed at a discerning drinker, design-wise we wanted to stray—if you will—from the often-formulaic seltzer packaging seen on the shelves. For each flavor, collage is used to craft a surrealist world to stray within—to evoke a sense of mystery, playfulness, sophistication and the unexpected, to integrate visual cues for each flavor in a way that underscores the care and attention to detail that goes into the seltzer itself.
Challenges: With the enormous growth in the craft beer and spirits market, it’s becoming hard to find a great name that isn’t already trademarked. After a few close calls, we needed to expand our range, and were lucky to land on a name everyone loved that was miraculously still unclaimed.
Favorite details: How everything is integrated into the can design. The flavor profile, along with the branding, is all tucked into a dense collage that feels cohesive, mysterious and playful, yet nothing gets lost in the mix.
Visual influences: Surrealist collage, botanical illustrations and summertime. These aspects formed a perfect intersection that represents the playful and exploratory elements of the brand, the use of unusual and elevated ingredients and the sense of a carefree summer day.
Time constraints: Warm weather is peak season for hard seltzer, and since we were launching this in Wisconsin, that window was pretty tight. We had to get this on shelves this summer and make hay while the sun was literally shining. The flavor decisions were happening at the same time we were designing the cans, so we needed to be flexible and accommodating of those changes, but conscious of meeting the production deadlines once everything was in place.
Specific demands: We wanted to steer clear of anything too familiar or overplayed. Avoiding the expected moves was super important, especially because the Stray Forth brand is all about exploration, and that pushed us to experiment with the can design, giving each flavor a unique but cohesive logo badge, and hiding Easter eggs that pay off for the curious and observant drinker.