Strategies & Insights

Field Notes: June/July 2014 Issue

Posted: July 21, 2014 by
Linda Casey

Inspired by amazing family moonshine stories and recipes shared by friends who grew up in the Appalachian Mountains, Pat Dillingham and Sean Koffel debut American Born Moonshine.

The brand has a carefully considered yet handcrafted look, which starts with a custom molded mason jar with American Born heavily embossed across the shoulder. The closure is also custom, with a tee-top cork pour spout inserted into its center.

Does the brand attract attention on shelf or is the down-home look off mark? Our readers weigh in.


The custom jar and lid have terrific shelf appeal and captures the historical spirit behind the product line—and does so with a bit of whimsy, which is fun. I like the healthy tension between a premium product and very “low end” form factor (albeit elevated in execution). However, as with all premium packaging the quality of materials will be key to delivering an exceptional customer experience. I suppose I’ll have to pick up a jar to see for myself!
Kevin Marshall
Creative director of design, global packaging at Microsoft

With the custom cap and the embossed branding, the overall package form feels very distinctive and premium yet still true to the southern roots of the product. The bold, masculine brand identity feels rugged and authentic, with the torn paper, the numbered seal, muted color palette and the slanted placement of the messaging.

Differentiation in typography or additional icons or imagery could call out the flavors in a more distinctive way and also make the brand name more prominent and recognizable on shelf.
Jennifer Jones
Partner and director of design, Sterling-Rice Group

There is a lot to take in and enjoy about this packaging design. The collectable, value-added—and thus sustainable—custom mason jar is the ideal vehicle for the product. The typographic choices and hierarchy hit the mark. The antiqued, handmade and irregularly cut label add to the brand’s down home communication. The idea of homemade authenticity can be further supported by twisting the label on the jar so that they are less than perfectly applied.

The challenge for this brand is that the name American Born could be construed as a tag line and with its lack of uniquely ownable characteristics; the consumer may understand this to be a generic statement rather than the brand name. The XXX don’t add value to the name communication. Perhaps setting it apart in a different color or adding an ownable feature may be the answer. Think beyond the pack and consider how the brand identity would be unique in the social media marketplace as well.
Marianne Rosner Klimchuk
Professor, packaging design department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, a State University of New York college