When it comes down to it, most energy drinks do the same thing: deliver a caffeine-powered jolt of stamina. But the way brands truly stand out in the crowded energy drink market is by promoting a lifestyle.
If all you want is a rush of adrenaline to get you through a night of studying or a long-haul drive, you can get it from a cup of coffee. Energy drinks promise something else: individuality, a break from the ordinary, adventure, extreme sports, creativity, and fun.
Leading energy drink brands spread their messages through high-octane advertising, marketing stunts, and sponsorships. But in the battle for attention on the shelves of convenience stores and gas stations, it’s up to packaging to tell the story.
Take inspiration from some of the ways energy drink brands use design to carve out a unique niche in a highly competitive market.
Most Americans hadn’t heard of energy drinks until Red Bull came along. The now-iconic brand Red Bull almost single-handedly established a new product category in 1997 with the North American launch of its Asian-inspired, European-conceived beverage. In contrast to the standard 12-ounce soda can size, Red Bull originally came packaged in a sleek 8.3-ounce can that spoke to the drink’s potency and functionality. Although the can doesn’t sport a label, the packaging itself shouts loud and clear: “Red Bull isn’t just another soft drink. It’s fuel!”
If consumers believe an 8.3-ounce can is chock-full of vitality-enhancing ingredients, what would they think of a 2-ounce bottle? That’s the idea behind 5-hour Energy. Not only is the tiny bottle just the right size for promoting near cash registers, its compact design suggests a no-frills shot of pure energy. The label is shrink-wrapped around the bottle, with bright red-orange hues that say, “Get up. Down a shot. And get going.”
Nitrous oxide gives racing cars a burst of speed. Can it do the same for humans? Well, no. But the NOS brand – the biggest name in nitrous oxide injection – does stand for performance on demand. It’s a natural fit for the energy drink market. The NOS logo graces one of the top-selling energy drinks in America. It’s the first performance automotive product branding ever licensed to a consumable product.
Deserved or not, energy drinks have a reputation for containing synthetic ingredients of questionable health value. As American consumers become more conscious of what they put in their bodies, as well as the environmental impact of their choices, natural and organic energy drinks are on the rise. One example is Guayaki’s Yerba Mate shots. The packaging reflects the brand’s commitment to sustainable agriculture, vibrant communities, and natural nutrition. Unlike most energy shots, Guayaki’s come in glass bottles – another nod to the environment.
Before there was Red Bull and all the rest, there was Jolt Cola. It may not have been called an energy drink when it launched back in 1985, but the idea was the same: maximum alertness. Jolt Cola was popular with video gamers and all-night partiers, but it receded from the market in the 2000s. Now it’s back, sporting the exact same branding and retro tagline: “All the sugar and twice the caffeine.” The vintage look is a major trend now in label design.
Energize Your Custom Label
You don’t need to be an adrenaline junky to get a thrill from these high-energy labels and logos. Bold styling (and bolder attitude) is one way to get your brand noticed. Looking for more custom label inspiration? Check out our rundowns of iconic beauty products, hot sauces, and Chicago-area favorites.