When you walk down the beverage aisle of the grocery store, dozens of colorful brands and sports drinks clamor for your attention on the shelf.
Sports drinks are intended to increase athletic performance, and they typically include ingredients like water, electrolytes, vitamins, and sometimes added colors and flavorings. While a few sports drink brands like Gatorade and Powerade have a high level of brand awareness, many startup beverage companies have successfully entered the market in recent years.
If you’re launching a beverage product, the visual design of your drink label should be an absolute top priority. The label is the element that will grab the attention of a potential customer within the first few seconds and compel them to pick up your product. If your drink label is confusing, generic, or does not reflect your brand attributes, that customer is likely to ignore your product and gravitate towards the sports drinks they already know and trust.
We have curated this list of sport drink labels and packaging for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to make sure their product label attracts their target audience. This list is also helpful for entrepreneurs who already have a product in the beverage industry but would like to rebrand and are looking for inspiration from successful brands and companies.
Gatorade accounts for the majority of the market share in the sports drink industry and is extremely popular with a wide range of consumers, from its famous athlete spokespeople to its ubiquitous presence at recreational sporting leagues.
Gatorade was founded in 1965, but even if your beverage brand doesn’t have 50 years under its belt, here are some interesting concepts about Gatorade’s branding that you can take note of:
First, notice that the drinks are fluorescent-colored and each label matches the associated drink color. Some flavors like Green Apple are self-explanatory, but other creative flavors like Glacier evoke feelings of adventure, risk, and refreshment.
By using a white “G” is on the label instead of the word “Gatorade,” the company both saves space and makes the brand feel iconic – like customers only need to see one letter in order to know the drink was made by Gatorade. The logo is pictured in white, and the label uses horizontal typography which is stylish and easy for the eye to follow.
The labels for individual drink flavors and product lines change slightly, but the Gatorade brand maintains consistency even with these variations. For example, many flavors have a transparent lightning bolt in negative space as part of their packaging, but others (like Gatorade Zero) don’t use this design element and instead opt for simple white labels.
Gatorade’s visual branding has changed over time as the company added new products and experimented with shapes, grips, and labels of its bottles:
When you compare the photos of Gatorade’s current versus past label design, you will notice that the orange lighting bolt used to take up more space on the drink label but has now shrunk. With this design change, the newer Gatorade labels look sleek and modern while still including the orange lightning bolt as a design detail – just not as the main focal point of the label.
Notice this image on the BODYARMOR website that immediately mentions Gatorade and differentiates what sets BODYARMOR apart by declaring itself the “more natural sports drink”:
While this claim may be open for debate, it attracts the attention of potential customers who may be seeking a sports beverage with natural ingredients and compels them to stay on the site and learn more.
Athletes are the target audience for BODYARMOR, and their visual branding and label design reflects that in several ways:
The black Y shape on the drink label may look like a cool stripe at first, but if you look closer you can see the shape is actually a person with open arms. The packaging uses energetic colors and busy designs with multiple fruits which shows the energy and excitement associated with the brand. Having fruits on the bottle also subconsciously reminds customers to think of BODYARMOR as a natural alternative to traditional sports drinks.
The first four letters of the BODYARMOR logo on each bottle are customized to match the color associated with that flavor, and the design uses vertical typography. Another interesting design element of BODYARMOR products is the label completely covers the bottle rather than leaving some of the sports drink visible.
From these first two branding examples, you can see there is no right or wrong way to brand your sports drink packaging – both BODYARMOR and Gatorade have memorable and unique packaging even though they use different design elements. The key to effective visual branding is to ensure all design elements align with the brand strategy for your beverage business.
To learn how to identify your company’s unique brand attributes, develop a brand strategy, and build a memorable visual brand, you can download our free workbook here:
3. DEFY Performance Drink
DEFY is a sports performance drink that includes hemp extract. The DEFY brand was founded by Terrell Davis, a former NFL running back who used hemp extract after his workouts to improve his health, recovery time, longevity, and athletic performance and experienced positive results.
The DEFY brand uses modern and vector-like designs on their labels that are creative and definitely different than anything else on the shelves. The company logo is a lettermark, which means it’s a unique design made from a letter. Lettermark are recognizable symbols that are usually created from the first letter of a company’s name.
The packaging design uses diagonal lines and plays with positive and negative space to indicate DEFY is a dynamic, cutting-edge, and technological brand. The bottles are easily recognizable and noticeable with a minimalistic look, and each label is black paired with a specific color depending on the fruit – lemon is yellow, mixed berry is magenta, etc.
When it comes to color psychology, not many sports drink brands use black in their branding – most companies opt for bright colors instead. By using black as a main color on its labels and website, DEFY carves out a niche for itself and visually stands out from its competitors.
DEFY also uses words like “electric,” “supercharge,” “fuel,” and “neurotransmitters” in its content to attract a target audience that is interested in performance and state-of-the-art wellness products:
DEFY does a fantastic job of keeping all of its external branding elements consistent, from their website to their labels and packaging to their social media messaging – it’s all on brand and works together to establish them as a unique sports drink option.
4. NOOMA Organic Electrolyte Sports Drink
NOOMA is a natural sports drink that is certified organic and gluten-free as well as paleo, keto, and vegan friendly. By having all these certifications listed prominently on the home page of their website, NOOMA speaks directly to its target audience who wants the piece of mind of knowing their sports drink fits with their lifestyle or dietary restrictions.
Unlike many of its competitors, NOOMA does not come in plastic bottles. NOOMA is sold in Tetra Pak cartons with 6 layers which were specifically chosen to showcase the simple, organic, plant-based culture of the NOOMA brand:
The packaging is straightforward and colorful, and each flavor has a bright color associated with it. The label design uses has sans serif typography which stands out and aligns with the brand attributes of clean and natural.
The NOOMA logo design has an amazing style where the O and O create an infinity sign which is simple and recognizable. According to the NOOMA website, the infinity symbol “represents the continuous journey of self-improvement we’re all on” – a statement that sets the brand apart from other sports drink companies who focus on winning, performance, and competition.
The NOOMA messaging includes the phrase “Real-Ingredient” in its product names and includes natural ingredients like filtered water, Himalayan pink salt, coconut water, and organic stevia and flavorings. When it comes to wellness branding, NOOMA is an example of a company that knows its target audience and attracts them through its content, brand positioning, packaging, and visual design.
Rather than marketing itself as a sports drink, the popular beverage brand vitaminwater describes itself as “electrolyte enhanced water.” Unlike previous examples, its target audience doesn’t consist of sports and health-minded customers; rather, vitaminwater targets consumers who are looking for a flavored alternative to water and not an athletic performance drink.
The vitaminwater liquid itself is colorful, and the label only covers a portion of each clear plastic bottle which showcases the bright colors of each flavor. The logo is simple and uses a clean and readable sans serif font, and the “vitamin” portion of the company name is highlighted in bold text. This has the effect of drawing attention to the word “vitamin” and breaking up the two words within the logo.
vitaminwater has set itself apart from the competition by the way it uses content and creative writing to capture the attention of its audience. Each vitaminwater label has a paragraph written in all-lowercase letters using the brand’s a distinctive casual and tongue-in-cheek brand voice:
You can also see the company’s brand voice at play on its popular Twitter account.
Aventive Studio can help your CPG, sports drink, or beverage company create a brand your customers will remember. We are a full-service branding agency that helps health and wellness product brands connect with their customers and scale their businesses through brand strategy and visual design.
Whether your beverage company needs a new website design, rebranding, packaging design, or logo design, we can create a strategy and visual identity that will help your business make a stunning first impression. Contact the Aventive Studio team here to learn more and get started.