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Ulee’s craft cider packaging design odyssey

Ulee’s craft cider packaging design odyssey
With a name derived from legendary Greek Ulysses, Ulee’s simplistically distinct packaging characterizes a quest for quick identification.

Ulee’s Light Cider chooses packaging that’s vibrant and appealing to consumers interested in healthier adult beverages.

Claimed as America’s first and only craft light cider, Ulee’s Light Cider (Portland, OR) launched in July with two products, Ulee’s Light Cider Dry and Ulee’s Light Cider Citra. Boasting only 99 calories per 12oz slim can, the products are sold at retail in 6-count packs at a suggested price of $10.99.

“Craft light cider is a new category that appeals to consumers looking for all-natural alcohol beverages made with local ingredients that are also lower in calories and alcohol,” says Scott Gallagher, president, who responds to Packaging Digest’s questions.

What’s the story behind the look and design?

Gallagher: We wanted to create a package that would be easy to spot from a distance and find in a crowded cooler. That led us to a simple, mostly white can with bright colors that would make it "pop" on a shelf. We also created a logo that would be easily recognizable with multiple applications.

In addition to being easy to find, we wanted to create a package that was bright, vibrant, energizing and appealing to consumers interested in healthier products. The colors also make it easy to describe the product to others even if they can't remember the exact flavor. We often have people tell us "I love the blue one" or "When will the green be available near me?"

 Ulee's Light Cider cofounders/owners (left to right): Matt Thompson, Scott Gallagher and Don Forsythe.

Who’s the bearded character?

Gallagher: Our bearded guy's name is Ulee. It's short for Ulysses, a hero in ancient Greek literature who went on a long odyssey. After many years, he eventually made it back home. Cider, and those in America who make it, have also been on an odyssey of sorts. Once it was America's alcoholic beverage: our forefathers made and drank it. Then it pretty much disappeared in the 1900's. 100 years later cider is on the rise in America—cider, like Ulysses, has come home.

Ulee's to us represents the Northwest—natural and a little wild.

Who’s your target consumer?

Gallagher: Our products are ciders, but they transcend the category and appeal to consumers who are looking for healthier options. Many cider drinkers don't like overly sweet products and ours are all on the dry side. And those who are looking for a craft product but without all the calories—really for anyone who loves cider or wants a refreshing alcoholic beverage that is all natural and low in calories.

Also, the products are vegan.

What does the slim can say about the product?

Gallagher: The slim can indirectly highlights the lower calories, but we also chose it because it helps set our products apart from others, is more appealing to C-stores who sell single cans and, frankly, fits more comfortably in your hand. The can is from Crown.

What was the toughest decision to make? What was the easiest?

Gallagher: Toughest: How much to emphasize the 99 calories. Yes, our products are very low in calories, but they're also locally produced in small batches from fresh-pressed apples with nothing added but water, yeast, and hops for our Citra flavor. We're a craft cider that happens to be light rather than the other way around.

The easiest was having the six-pack holder match the color of the cans. We love the symmetry.

It was important to us to highlight the can color using the PakTech and we chose to not put the six-pack in a box. We think our cans look great and we don't want to hide them. 

[Note: The multipack handles are made of 96% post-consumer recycled content, specifically from high-density polyethylene milk jugs.]

Can you credit the graphics design firm?

Gallagher: A Novel Design. The owner is a friend of mine and great to work with. 

Anything notable about your secondary packaging?

Gallagher: We're working on new 24-count corrugated case trays that hold four six-packs. In retrospect we wish we would have done it from the beginning. 

What’s been the response?

Gallagher: Usually the first thing we hear from distributors and retailers is how much they love our packaging and the Ulee's Logo. We also hear how folks are always surprised by how flavorful our cider is despite it being so low in calories and all natural. At tastings and festivals people ask where they can buy our shirts and hats. Never fear, we'll have them for sale online in a couple of weeks!

What’s next?

Gallagher: We're currently experimenting on our third product that will be out early next year. It will also be on the dry side and only 99 calories, but above all it has to taste great.


Got a thirst for fresh ideas in beverage packaging and more? Join other attendees at MinnPack in Minneapolis November 8-9 that’s part of a comprehensive all-in-one 6-event plastics and advanced manufacturing exhibition. For more information, visit MinnPack.


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