Package FINDINGS: AHA sparkling water’s simplicity “sparkles” on shelf

Posted on Aug 3, 2021 by

I think it was Archimedes who shouted “Eureka!” when he discovered the concept of water displacement. My discovery was not quite as important as Archimedes but it did involve the displacement of water. I recently came across an end-aisle display for AHA sparkling water. The idea of sparkling water is not new but how it is offered to the consumer is constantly changing as the category becomes bogged down in excessive variety – there is so much overflow that you oftentimes find water and “health” oriented beverages in unrelated areas of the store (I recently found an extensive display of waters chilled in the deli section and in the beverage aisle).

The first thing that grabbed my attention about the AHA package was its simplicity. As part of an end-cap display leading into the beverage aisle, the fun almost celebratory package sets the pace for relaxing, cooling beverages. The package design almost elicits the “aha” response. At last, a simple package with simple but unique flavor combinations for non-sweetened sparkling water. The colors of the cartons and cans provide direct cues to the flavor pairings and are accompanied by simple icons representing the flavorings. Copy is kept to an absolute minimum but it is uniform in its intensity, echoing the intensity of the flavoring in the product.

There is only one issue I can find with the packaging concept. On the cartons where solid colors can be laid down, if the copy is large enough the AHA stands out and off of the package. In the case of the citrus-green tea carton, a simple outline is added to the name to increase contrast, however, it is not uniformly done this way. In some cases, the background color of the packages lacks the intensity to provide contrast with the AHA copy. In addition, copy legibility overall could use a little attention especially with regards to the addition of caffeine to the beverage.

This particular issue is primarily evident on the can graphics. Achieving color saturation and intensity in the printing on a can is far more difficult than printing on cartons. On a can, you can often lay down support colors in multiple layers making them richer and bolder from which to reverse copy out of or print over with a darker tone. You can also elect to print copy, especially smaller copy, in a dark color that overprints a lighter tone of color. These decisions are critically important for consumers who are cautious about what they ingest or serve to others where flavor or content could be an issue.

I cannot emphasize enough the need to be scrupulously critical about aligning print methods, color selections, graphic design, and production objectives to present the very best possible image to the consumer. It’s the “little” things that escalate a fair package design into an excellent design–one that is genuinely legible, uses color powerfully, and uses graphic design consistently and with continuity across your product lines – most of all, it makes your packaging graphics worth the investment.


If you’re planning for your next packaging rollout and need help with the structure, graphic design, and marketing that will ensure your product’s success, we invite you to start a conversation with us by contacting us at

The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold and delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.



Leave a Reply