Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee packaging transforms its look

November 10, 2016

6 Min Read
Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee packaging transforms its look
A metallized label and a redesign enhance the bottled coffee's branding and shelf appeal.

Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee’s dramatic mosaic-themed redesign relies on new metallized labels to add shelf impact and position the brand for wider distribution.

Chameleons, like packaging, can change their look as appropriate, so it’s doubly proper when Chameleon Cold-Brew made a dramatic revision of its coffee label and look to better position the brand for wider distribution through a redesign and rebranding by Bex Brands. The label graphics design increases the products’ shelf impact and ties deeply and directly to a prominent mosaic-style vibe that’s part of the history, art and culture of the company’s Austin, TX, location.

The new labels are converted by DWS Printing & Packaging. DWS supplied the labels on a fast-track timeline to meet the CBB’s needs aligned with major launch at a prominent West Coast organic products tradeshow.

The substrate is 2.6-mil metallized biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) supplied by Avery Dennison that’s flexo-printed by DWS in six colors on an 8-color Nilpeter press.

The previous label was a white BOPP.

“The metallized substrate and matte lamination got the brand’s attention as reflective of the premium look and feel they desired,” says Andy Staib, DWS owner.

“We tweaked some of the custom colors we had created for them on one of the SKUs [stock-keeping units],” explains John Gulino, DWS technical director. “Once we dialed in the colors we proceeded to the other products.” One color is “Chameleon beige.”

“It was critical that each color was consistent across the sizes,” adds Staib.

Chameleon Cold-Brew CEO Chris Campbell responds to our questions in this Q&A.

Provide a brief background about the company and name.
Campbell: Chameleon Cold-Brew was born in 2010 in Austin, TX, when its co-founders experimented for months until they felt they had brewed the perfect cup of coffee. Chameleon Cold-Brew is a revolutionary way to drink and enjoy coffee. It’s brewed at carefully controlled temperatures for over 16 hours, using only filtered Texas Hill Country water. The result is a super smooth, less acidic, highly caffeinated coffee, which can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Chameleon is committed to operating as a socially-responsible company and uses only 100% organic, fair trade Arabica coffee beans. Chameleon was chosen as the name because it changes color, just like how you drink your Chameleon Cold-Brew is a customizable experience. "How do you color your coffee," was an original tagline. Our mascot, The Dude, was inspired by the Big Lebowski.

What’s the current product lineup and pricing?

Campbell: There are five ready-to-drink varieties in 10-oz recyclable glass bottles including Black, Mocha, Vanilla, Mexican, Chicory and Espresso. Chameleon Cold-Brew also offers six concentrates in 8-serving 32-oz varieties in Caramel, Black, Mocha, Vanilla and new Texas Pecan and 4-serving 16-oz sizes for Black, Mocha and Vanilla. The ready-to-drink cold-brews are $3.99 MSRP [manufacturer's suggested retail price], the 16-oz concentrates are $5.99 MSRP and 32-oz concentrates are $10.99 MSRP.

What’s the reasoning behind the redesign?  
Campbell: The new design and look of Chameleon’s logo is a tribute to our Austin roots. We wanted to pay homage to our native city by revealing an updated brand look and feel inspired by the signage, murals and artisan spirit of the unique town. We added a new design with a holographic mosaic of our brand’s chameleon, “Dude,” to emphasize the customization of our cold-brews—enjoy them hot or cold, sweet or not, creamy or black, and even boozy. We did want it done by Expo West, but it was done on time and wasn't rushed.

This closeup shows the metallized labels' detailed mosaic that makes up "The Dude," the brand's nickname for its signature lizard.

What were the basic design goals?

Campbell: We wanted to help make Chameleon an iconic Austin Brand, emphasize organic and more clearly differentiate the line of RTDs from concentrates. The more prominent placement of Organic on the bottle and the holographic mosaic really helped to accomplish this. There are very few products with that effect on the labels, which brings a whole new vibrancy to the product and brand.

I heard the design also makes the look less masculine and more unisex?

Campbell: It wasn't intentional, but we did feel as the brand grew, we wanted to make it appealing to a wider audience, versus focusing on a particular gender.

What’s the major differences of old label vs. new labels?

Campbell: We're using a completely different and innovative printing process that uses metalized ink. There aren't any functional differences in the new labels, but the bag-in-box product [photo on the next page] was redone in form and function to improve ease of storage and pouring.

Do the new labels carry a price premium vs. before?

Campbell: The prices are actually the same as before; however, we do feel that the new labels have more of a premium look.

Next: More on the design, hurdles and what's next.

Besides ready-to-drink bottled coffees, Chameleon Cold-Brew also markets 8-serving glass-bottled concentrates and a 32-serving BIB format.

Do you do your own packaging or are the products contract packaged?

Campbell: We do have a co-packer.

Why was Bex Brands selected for the design?

Campbell: Bex offers such a new and exciting perspective. They're dedicated, passionate and willing to take risks. No one out there had a metalized label in the coffee space, and we wanted something that would completely shine. Becky Nelson and Jeremy Dahl were so excited about it and willing to go on that journey. We selected them because we wanted some new energy that would really take us to the next level, and they did just that. Metallized print ink was their best suggestions, but they also did come up with the idea of turning the Dude into a mosaic pattern.

Please comment on the significance of the mosaic motif.

Campbell: The mosaic represents both the diverse culture of Austin as well as the ability to customize the beverage and make it your own. The holographic design is more eye catching, allowing the bottle to stand out, and literally shine, on the shelves.

Are any further packaging changes in the works?

Campbell: We're exploring some different glass options and molds to make the experience even more unique, but are just in the investigative stages at this point.

What can you say about DWS?

Campbell: They really brought our vision to life with the holographic effect. It was a challenge to find a printer to recreate this effect, but they were able to do it perfectly, and were really hands-on throughout the whole process.

What was the biggest packaging design hurdle?

Campbell: Finding the right printer was the biggest challenge. Thankfully, we had been talking to Andy for quite some time, and once we saw the test runs, we knew his team was the right fit.

What has the feedback been?

Campbell: We've only heard really positive feedback! Wherever we see the entire new set at retail, it literally sparkles on the shelf and is the only bottle you see. Many cold-brew brands also have a very dark look that looks more like spirits or beer, so the holographic effect differentiates us that much more.

What’s next?

Campbell: We just launched our new Texas Pecan concentrate and have some other innovations in the works. Stay tuned!

Chameleon Cold-Brew is available at and at Whole Foods Markets nationwide, Publix nationwide, select Target and SuperTarget outlets, Safeway (Texas, Safeway East, Northern California and Seattle), Kroger, H-E-B, Meijer, Dierberg’s and Sheetz. Chameleon Cold-Brew is also available via online grocery delivery services Fresh Direct and Amazon Fresh.

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