Research

Brain Power in a Can With Smart Packaging

Posted: September 29, 2009 by

"Out of the mouths of babes..." is an idiom that every parent is well acquainted with. Even so, it can still surprise you when it's your child that is mouthing that darnedest thing. Such was the case for me in a recent exchange with my seven-year-old boy when he asked me how come I wasn't as smart as him.

More startling is that I didn't have a ready comeback, so I left the house in search of something—a boost to my brain power perhaps? Luckily for me—and for you if you get similar questions from your children—there are some new products on the market that can help us in our plight.

Upping your IQ

A favorite new entry of mine is Brain TonIQ. It's in limited but growing distribution and comes in a sleek, award-winning paperboard sleeve that is both eye-catching and functional. Brain TonIQ claims to be "The Smart Antidote to Head Fog." It is organic, caffeine-free and "nootropic"—a term I have learned indicates a class of drugs that are believed to improve cognitive abilities.

Scott Ohlgren, Brain TonIQ's owner and creator, came up with the idea two years ago when a chance encounter with a broken ATM forced him to go into a 7-Eleven store. As he walked down an aisle laden with energy drinks, he was intrigued and closely scrutinized their ingredients. Having a background in health, he knew that something better could be made and that it could succeed in the marketplace.

The next day Ohlgren coined Brain TonIQ and found a numbers guy to be his partner. His eureka moment took 18 months to perfect as a formula and another six months to package it and bring it to market. As a bootstrap startup, Brain TonIQ's partnership did not have the financial resources to develop a new primary package. They elevated a stock can with a great design and rethought the presentation of the standard four-pack carrier that was common to the category and was the focal point to the consumer.

Instead of using a two-by-two configuration for the sleeve, they choose to bring life to a stick rendering came from Huc Ambrose, son of Paul Ambrose whose design firm, desert dolphin, developed the can design. The sleeve idea revolved around the idea of a single line of four cans with round ends on either side. This gives the illusion that the cans are actually sticking out of both ends, inviting consumers to actually tug on the end. Moreover, because the width of a single can is fairly thin, the filled sleeve fits nicely into consumers' hands without the need of a physical handle or hole punch.

Overall, it was sleek, different and took not only the inspiration from the Ambroses, but some brilliant contributions from Gene Malowany at Malowany Associates and John Chaisson at Denver's All Packaging Co., who managed the structural work. They added an opening tab on the top that allows for product indexing, a die-cut IQ on the face panel that echoes the double-entendre in the product name, and two tab closures on the back panel to complete the rounded edges.

A shot of O2

Another brain-boosting product that is emerging in the U.S. market is canned oxygen. Big Ox is the brand that strikes me the most when I come across their bright cans in the energy boosting aisles at truck stops and convenience stores. The graphics are bold and fun, which is enough to make consumers pick up the product to see what it really is. Upon closer inspection, one realizes that the dispenser on the top is not for the user to press, but rather to put in the mouth in order to suck in 89% pure oxygen. (Normal air has 21% oxygen.)

For those of you who know about oxygen bars, it's the same concept in an aerosol variation for personal consumption with four flavors in two different can sizes. Each can sports a patented new age dispenser that gives a visual twist to the typical aerosol look.

Being that the human body needs oxygen in order to convert the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in our diet into heat, energy and life, it follows that a boost in oxygen levels may offer a host of benefits to a variety of users.

Big Ox is about four years old as a brand with a growing presence in the U.S. since its introduction six months ago. A new ad campaign is just about ready to launch, so I expect you'll soon be seeing it appear on local retail shelves.

That said, I'm taking a shot of Brain TonIQ and a hit of Big Ox and heading home to challenge Jude, my seven-year-old wunderkind, to what I know will be a competitive game of checkers. And thanks to these new products, I plan to last longer than five minutes in the game this time.

Bill Wynkoop is the lead creative with Lazer Design Services, a premedia firm specializing in branding and identity as well as package and structural design. He is also an adjunct professor in the packaging department at RIT. He can be reached at billw@lazerinc.com or bxwmet@rit.edu.

SUBSCRIBE

To our print and digital magazine, e-newsletter and more...