Vita Coco's streamlined redesign aims to bolster the brand as it grows

Brand worked with Interesting Development on new identity system

Published On
Oct 17, 2019

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In recent months, coconut water brand Vita Coco has pulled some gutsy moves when it comes to its marketing. First came the “Impossible to hate” campaign in which the harshest social media critics gave the brand lackluster reviews. Then, there was that jaw-dropping social post in which a Vita Coco staffer showed off her own pee in a jar (labeled with the brand’s logo). But according to Allison Finazzo, brand director at Vita Coco, what really does the heavy-lifting in communicating the brand is its packaging. That’s why, as part of a rethink of its overall brand strategy, Vita Coco has completely revamped the look of its product

“Our packaging is our #1 source of brand awareness,” says Finazzo. “That means it needs to work really hard for us.”

Vita Coco worked on the redesign with its agency Interesting Development, which also created the “reviews” campaign. The new look is apparent—on store shelves it reads fresher than the previous version, but without careful study or a photographic memory, it’s hard to say exactly what’s changed. That is, the changes don’t really rank at pee-jar level when it comes to making a statement. 

But in terms of packaging, a thoughtful, purposeful course of action was crucial, says Finazzo. 

“We didn’t want to make the mistake that a lot of brand people do—tweaking and tweaking to the point where the brand is unrecognizable,” she says. “We wanted to modernize, harmonize, increase our shelf impact, and create more distinctive assets. There is beauty in the nuance and subtlety.”

“It’s a well-established and well-loved brand and so there is a whole lot of equity that we did not want to abandon,” adds Interesting Development Head of Brand Development Nathan Frank. “Our challenge was to evolve the package, to give it a distinctive but consistent voice across its product lineup, while still being loyal enough to the original packaging that it passes a 'squint test.’”

The evolution included a simplification of the logo, which incorporates a sense of fun and confidence while being scalable,” says Phillip Nessen, head of design at Interesting Development. 

It also aims to underscore Vita Coco’s legacy of “craft.” Though it’s a mainstream brand, “our coconuts come from family farms and are handpicked,” Finazzo says. “We want people to understand that even though you can find Vita Coco in most stores around the country, a lot of integrity and care goes into every package.”

The pared-down illustrations help to communicate that idea. Previously featuring a mishmash of different styles and even photography—the illustrations are simpler, retaining texture and a slightly imperfect quality—“just like coconuts,” Finazzo explains. “A lot of brands in the beverage space have this same, same aesthetic–picture-perfect stylized fruit to drive taste appeal, with little personality or true realism. We want to create taste appeal, but do it in a way that feels true to our heritage and the product.”

The overall identity is also more “grown-up,” comprising a consistent system of typefaces, composition and assets that will be used across products established and new. Such a system is important as the brand’s portfolio grows, with new flavors such as Pressed Coconut and varieties like Vita Coco Sparkling. 

 “Previously, each new innovation was approached from scratch,” says Nessen. “That meant new typefaces, layouts and illustrations for each product to come out. With the system, all products benefit from each other and help build equity into the Vita Coco brand.”