Colour Me Delicious
Why finding the right colours for a new grab and go packaging range is anything but black and white

Botanical Plus has been on the cards since 2016, we wanted a colourful stock packaging and labelling range to sit alongside our more monochromatic existing branded collections: Gastro, Street Food, Natural and Ecoco. Back in 2016, trend forming eateries were just beginning to introduce more colour into their branding and interior(s) which we knew would filter out to the wider industry over the coming years – even then, some of the top high street operators were starting to make moves in this direction. However, finding the perfect palette (not to mention the design as a whole) was no short order.

We needed colours that supported a dynamic, forward thinking brand while at the same time offering broad appeal. Colours that struck the right balance between classic and contemporary, drawing people in (and not scaring anyone away). Most importantly, we needed colours that always make the food look good. Our original brief called for a more rustic presentation with a muted yet complementary colour scheme that partnered colours with specific food groups (i.e. red for meat, blue for fish and so on). We also originally envisaged that the natural kraft-finish material (used to produce most of our compostable packaging products) would take centre stage while any colours used would be in a more supportive role.

We stock a comprehensive range of colourful label designs, many of which come in a choice of colours, and this gives us an invaluable insight into which colours are the most popular in a grab and go setting, as well as where trends are heading. As mentioned above, much of any colour’s success in a catering setting hinges on whether it makes the food look good, this said some food-friendly shades just don’t translate to a grab and go setting. Blues – especially cool blues – are a prime example. They are great on a plate, serving dish and other tableware items (such as tablecloth), Portuguese and Middle Eastern serving platters especially are currently very much on trend and are seen anywhere and everywhere from high end delis and restaurants, to domestic dining settings. They make everything from salads to stews look good. Apply Moroccan blue to a sandwich pack however and it doesn’t sit so well, it feels cold, clinical and out of context and, while it might suggest seafood-based produce, it rarely says premium. Not all blues of course, are a no fly zone, our new Christmas collection - Festive Favourites - features a lovely shade of teal but this not only steers clear of the more clinical end of the spectrum, it balances out blues with warmer hues. Likewise too much purple or bright red can be an unpopular pairing with food. It’s worth noting that in the past 2 years we’ve sold 130 times more green coloured labels than yellow ones but given the current surge in ‘Millennial yellow’ clothing, we suspect this may change.

Having decided to keep away from certain colours – though at that stage still working with a more muted palette - we began experimenting with pattern. One of our designers created a concept that looked very similar to our final products but essentially reversed-out so that we had a similar symbol-based colour pattern on a white background. When the designs were presented to customers the general feedback was ‘it’s close but we want to see more colour (and less white)’ so we flipped it the other way round and started experimenting with much brighter hues for the base colour. At this stage we were still intending to sell products in single colour packs but we soon realised that while, in many ways, this offered the block colour look we’d been imagining, we needed something brighter, we needed colours that popped. Our latest cup offering – Botanical – had been doing very well in schools and universities, the same market we wanted to target with our colourful new range so we nearly ditched the whole thing and expanded this range as is. However, the new pattern was really popular with our customers - many of whom commented that their own customers would like the level of detail within the design and would take the time to read the pack while choosing and / or eating their food. So we decided to take the new pattern and rework it into the existing Botanical colours – mango, berry and lime – to start a complementary new collection. 

We soft launched Botanical Plus at the end of 2018 and were pleasantly surprised at how quickly sales took off, new products often take three months minimum to bed in before we see sales take off in any meaningful way. But by the end of December we’d seen 168K units out the door.

The Botanical Plus Collection – as it currently stands – includes five eco packaging items - two wedges (deep-fill and standard-fill), two salad packs (large and small) and a dazzling deli paper - plus two sheet label designs (12 and 15-per-sheet) and a matching ‘delicious’ sticker. However, we plan to expand the range over the next few years so let us know what you’d like to see added.

View the Botanical Plus collection at our online shop. 

This article featured in the February issue of Sandwich and Food to Go News