In this episode we are speaking with Fred Hart, the Creative Director @ Interact Boulder. Fred and Interact Boulder work with brands such as Boulder Canyon, Noble Made, Dogfish Head Brewing and a ton more. We talk package design, audience centric design, the COVID direct to consumer fire, as well as Fred offering lots of great advice for startup brands in the natural health and supplement categories.
You are listening to the ingredients for success podcast, where you can consume dietary supplement industry, best practices, trends, recent news, and other insights provided through interviews and discussions with members of the stratum team and seasoned industry. Yeah. Yeah. Welcome back to the ingredients for success podcast. I'm Andrew Rice and I'm Jackie Rizo. And today we have Fred Hart with us. Welcome Fred. Good to be here. Thanks for the excuse to put on pants today. Yes. Perfect. Or not, maybe you don't. It's a web call. So who knows? I have no idea. So Fred is the creative director and partner at interact Boulder. It's a branding and packaging design firm. Right in the heart of the natural foods movement. Um, Fred helps usher in good food revolution amongst the changing of the guards and CPG Fred's guilty pleasure is walking through the grocery stores like their museum, uh, his inability to grow a beard and lack of tattoos and not exist. It flannel collection. Isn't. Or hasn't held him back from making a dent in the beer industry where it's talking about that, I guess here in one second, so we can figure out what he means by that. Uh, someone who's notable inter at clients, there are Dogfish head brewery, uh, the fastest growing wine brand in the country, which is fit vine, the fastest growing jerky brand in the country, being Archer, the free from category creator, enjoy life foods, and many of the disruptive brands changing the landscape. Of big food. That's a lot, Fred. Uh, you've you've done a lot. Uh, love, interacts, love what you guys are doing there. Um, can we go back to the flannel shirt, beard, uh, what, making a dent in the Berry industry. Can you expand on that just a little bit? Yeah. I mean, they, they're not a lot of unbearded unflag annulled, untattooed men in the craft beer space making noise. So it's kind of a point of pride at this, at this stage. And, um, you know, as you noted, one of our notable clients is Dogfish head, which was bought up by Samuel Adams. Boston beer company maybe a year ago. Um, but we were the first agency to work with dog head in their 21 year existence at the time and, and did some really profound things for them. So it's something I'm very proud of along with the team. All right. Cool. Well, stick to your guns, man. I guess, I guess you're stereotyping I, before we get into the podcast, since we're stereotyping, I, I just want to say Jackie. You, you know, I love my stuff. I got a new belt, I got a new belt. So I was talking about golf with a buddy of mine. I was talking about golf belts and he's like, Hey, you're going to try this belt. So I'm like, all right, I trust you. So I ordered the belt. It is literally the greatest belt I've ever put on my waist. Um, you have to tell us why this is so important. So it's super stretchy. Like it it's a stretchy material, but still. It's really hard to explain. It's still very like wholesome, like jeggings, like women's jeggings around your waist. Is this a karate belt? I used to do jujitsu. If they made a jujitsu belt made out of this material, I probably would have won every tournament. It's so comfortable, but I will say so it's it's the brand is arcade. So Fred, I'm going to say it's like 29 bucks, the best thing you're ever going to do. And between now and ordering this belt is ordered about, and I'm going to tell you, it is a belt that belongs in Boulder, Colorado brand. The brand is called arcade. And since you don't have the flannel or the beard, I would say, go with the belt arcade belt. So anyway, Or the man bun, right. Don't you have to throw that in flannel beard. ManV bun well, you gotta have the pants on too, in order to wear a belt, I think, unless you just let it sit on the hips. That's true. Very true. Very true. Very true. Okay. So, okay. And one other thing real quick, I apologize. But the other day when we were talking Fred and we went through some of this stuff, some of the stuff that you're doing there, um, There at, at interact and kind of what you do or whatever, and then right behind you on the right. How on your right-hand side is the print I asked you about? So Jackie, you were on the call I think. And I did secretly nerd out a little bit because I do know what you meant by a variable variable printing. And I also meant what you meant by randomized. So I didn't say it out loud, but I was secretly. So it kind of like. Every time, these things happen. I've been out of the agency world now for like, I don't know, four or five years. And like, I just want to go back to my glory days. Like I want to have that with the, with the person from the agency and just like, like mad, mad, madman it up or whatever. Um, but yeah, so I just want to let you know, it's kind of like the pigskin quarter mile type thing. I just, I always want to go to glory days. So I held back, um, And so you'll think me at some point, because I talk too much anyway. Okay. So we're going to get into it right away. We'd like to do an icebreaker speed round. Um, so I'm going to ask you, I'm just going to say a couple of a couple of words and I just want you to give me a, a short answer. Okay. Because I know you like traveling it's, it's in a bio somewhere. You like to, you know, you like going to other cities. I completely agree. I love, I love seeing other architecture and culture and whatever, so. All right. Favorite city Amsterdam, of course. Okay. Well, it's just think about that. The city bicycles, architecture and art. Okay. All right. Sorry, you're gonna say something else. So I'm glad we did. This is a family friendly show. Okay. Mean Colorado. We got that. Okay. True. Uh, favorite artist or designer? Michael Bay. Route from pentagram. Wow. Okay. Gonna have to look him up. Um, most recent mentor, Joel warrantee is the former CEO of enjoy life foods. Very cool. Pencil sketch or computer sketch. What's a computer. True. All right. All right. All right. Favorite recreational activity basketball. Okay, so now that, that little thing on LinkedIn makes sense. Okay. I got ya. Uh, biggest package, design challenge, complex systems, lots of stuff to design around several tiers of products, multiple products in a portfolio, all of it working together. Okay. I like it. Favorite supplement organic. That's a shameless plug for one of our clients. And then probably you theory tumeric pills. Okay. All right. Good job. He made it made all the way through quick answers. Good job. All right. Um, so pendular sketch. I agree. I just want to throw that in there. I was like asking other designers. I, I go to the, I go to the sketch. I don't, I can't do it on the computer. I have to have it on the paper, so. Amen. All right. Um, all right, so let's get into getting to know you just a little bit. Um, so starting my career on the branding side and you're like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard. Um, and, and, and kind of add heart just to a huge, a very Uber design nerd. Um, So I was, I was read, I read something that you had wrote, and I was super glad to know that I'm not the only one, but the fact that you do. Um, actually, we said that in the intro, but, uh, that you do kind of just peruse the, the grocery store aisles or store Isles. Like it's a museum. So I'm super glad, like for me, it's beer wine, and then like the natural products aisles. I, I always go to, especially if I'm in a new store, kind of a crafty grocery store, I always do that all as my wife knows I'm going to be over there for 15 minutes, just let it happen. And so, um, but I will have to admit. I judge really, really harshly. Sometimes they even take notes. Like I really do. That's how bad I am. So I will like, so for the natural product brands out there, I'm secretly judging, like they care, but I'm secretly judging the packaging. So let's, let's make sure. Okay. You do. Yeah. When you hired me about two years ago, that was one of the things that you said that you like to do. And so hearing Fred Hart, I don't think you're as a strange, as I once thought you were, Oh, you know, better. Yeah. You know, better. Okay. So with that said, what's your favorite pack design of all time? And then what about on the shelves right now? Um, of all time, I'd probably have to say Coke. I think there's just something about the longevity there, the consistency, and they have an iconic bottle silhouette. They have an iconic script and they have an iconic color. And with those three things, they can proliferate their marketing till the end of time. And it's pretty impressive. So the constraints that they've put on themselves, I think has made them one of the more creative brands throughout history. Well said, love it. Okay. Um, so that's of all time right now, we're going to plug somebody again. Yeah, it was definitely plug somebody. So, um, I'll say one of ours and then I'll say one of 'em that isn't our, so country Archer jerky, which is a redesign that we just did very proud of that work. And in terms of something that didn't come from our studio, that I'm a big admirer of, I'd have to say bonds, bonds, uh it's um, chickpea pasta brands. Bright orange box in a category filled with traditional Italian cues and old heritage stuff. And they just completely went in there and knocked people around with something totally different. And it's amazing. I love it. Knocked him, knocked around with the bright orange colors and differentiation there. I love it. So out of all of your, out of all the designs that you've done, what is it about country Archer that stands out to you? Well, it's one of the more recent things. So it's always like you, you love the most recent thing. You've done more. So what we can care about really at interact as we care less about design awards, um, and we care more about design effectiveness and country. Archer is one of those refreshes that we've done that already is having a huge impact on their business and bottom line. And that means a lot to us, not just because we're helping the business out, but the only way a business. Grows it's um, you know, velocities and other things is if it connected with the consumer. Definitely. Okay. So Fred, how do you go about understanding an audience and then applying that to design, it starts with listening. And knowing that we need an audience in the first place. Um, we're an agency that typically does not focus on design awards, it's design effectiveness. So the only way to be effective is to understand your audience. We've got a great strategist on our team that uses a lot of social listening tools that allows us to really kind of like, you know, peer in, on people's lives and what they have to stay without them being asked in the interview and post rationalizing and all of these other things. So we use tools like that, and then we really. Do a deep dive into the category and figure out okay. Of all of our competitors and all of these brands, who are they trying to talk to? And is there anyone that isn't being spoken to? So early on in my career, I was working for an agency and they were the ones that built monster energy drink. And it was pretty remarkable because they stumbled onto this. Kind of forgotten consumer, which is this like alternative exports, uh, adventurous type individual, which is very different from your red bull consumer and very different from your rockstar consumer. So we're always looking for that gap. We did a project recently in the hydration space and our uncovering there was that there's hardcore hydration, Gatorades, and Powerades of the world's you're working the hardest. You're trying to be a max athlete. And then on the other end of the spectrum, there's kind of this like really soft, like perfect yoga lifestyle type of consumer. Um, but most people really don't identify with either one of those. And so we developed a target persona called the alt this alternative type of individual that needs daily hydration because most, I think 70% of Americans are dehydrated on a day-to-day basis. And they're also not, you know, winning an NBA championship or, you know, Loving their yoga mats every single morning then. So like how could we learn a little bit more about their lifestyle, what they care about and then build a visual world that they could identify with. I love that. I think that your alt persona, I think that's the majority of the consumers that are out there right now in our industry. Um, I actually hadn't heard of that term, Andrew, have you heard of that term? Like alternate persona? Yeah. But love that because it's not just trying to fit everybody in a box. And it's the majority of the consumer, for sure. Yup. Yeah. Um, as Andrew mentioned earlier, um, you know, your company is branding the branding and packaging firm at the heart of the natural foods movement. Um, can you share with us, what are the biggest mistakes you see companies make in designing branding? So one of our core principles is this notion of challenge the category, not the consumer. And oftentimes because we're in the natural food space, we're working with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs. Oftentimes don't understand that one of their biggest assets is bravery. Um, there's a great quote that the opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity. So conformity, I'd say at the end of the day is what we fight a lot. People come to us with an expectation that it should look like this, or it looked like that, but oftentimes they're just kind of mimicking something else or they're taking conventional thinking that someone else has brought into the marketplace and identifying with that as best practice. So we always pause them and say, let's figure out what we can challenge here, because you have to chance to stand out, but let's not be different for different sake. It has to come with meaning. So for instance, if we're talking craft beer, if I've got a male audience and I really want to stand out in, you know, huge shelves of craft beer, these days I could make my brand magenta and it would stand out, but it would probably simultaneously alienate. My male demographic. So it just goes to say that, you know, figure out what to challenge first and then go one step further. One of my, one of the easiest kind of like a examples to point to is Boomchickapop so Boomchickapop pop popcorn. Everyone's probably had it at this point, a lot of brands, even to today, focus on showing you product who doesn't know what popcorn looks like. Who's popcorn looks different from another brands, popcorn. So, you know, I would say that they're like, okay, everyone knows what popcorn looks like and why do we need to waste precious real estate on that? Instead let's focus on personality, on attitude, on a color palette that really speaks to flavor and fun without having to do all the typical tropes. And, um, I think that's one example among many other things that led to some of their success. Yeah. I like that. Fred, I think. Asking the questions and challenging and those sayings and it is, it is one of those. Um, in fact, this is kind of in a question on a podcast we're going to have, but, um, we like the monkey see monkey do's or the copy cats that are out there. You can see them on Amazon. So. I'm a huge fan of ghost. Uh, I love what they've done with it. I love what they do with their messaging. They do some really great social stuff. Their influencer stuff has been, I think really just top level since they launched. And I, it was like two weeks after, um, we, I don't know, had been talking about ghost or whatever. Uh, and I go to Amazon and bam, there's this company who completely ripped now. I don't think it's on there anymore, but. They completely rip ghost pack design off, but what didn't they? What did they not have? They didn't have the messaging. The, it was, it was, it was like subpar ghosts, right? It's like. Yes, it was completely soulless, you know, and I think that's what you're talking about. Just like, you know, I love that. Um, and, and totally agree that more brands just be you and find somebody like your agency. Those are going to allow you to be, you ask the questions to really find out. How your customer is going to resonate with you as a company, do that stand out. Yeah, but don't like you said, don't, don't throw out, don't slap on magenta and somebody else's logo ish and throw it on the, in the aisle at the local store because us, us guys. Yeah. You know, you, you, with your non beard and non flannel shirt going in to get your craft beer and me. Who would just me going in to get my craft beer, you know, it's, it's completely different. We're not going after magenta. So thanks. Thanks for sharing that, man. Yup. Recently you spoke at the consumer VC summits on how COVID is affecting our industry. Um, I think it goes without saying that, uh, it has to start industry to become more digital. In what ways would you describe COVID has affected the natural products industry? Number of ways. Um, and we're still figuring out how it's affecting everything. But a couple of key ones that we talked about at the summit were a time back actually to your original question about kind of audiences. It's helping brands get to know their consumer a lot better because they have a lot more touch points that they're working with now because e-commerce and DDC is on fire. The other thing that COVID has done to affect small grants, especially in natural and emerging is it's deprioritized innovation. Um, a lot of stores and retailers are changing all of their category resets and category reviews to 2021, which means they're not, uh, facilitating this amazing world of innovation that has really been pushing a natural and organic forward. So with that, Brands have to figure out how to sell that innovation online. But I think it's actually a good thing because they're now having to hyper-focus on an audience and they're getting a bunch of direct feedback on how they're working. So there's a lot of wins in general, although certainly, you know, talk to any real entrepreneur and they'll tell you some of them it's, it's been an absolute nightmare. Even if the brand's on fire, logistics, fulfillment, all of that stuff. That's a whole nother headache. Um, so I'll kind of stop there. Yeah, and almost seems like it's a good reset button. If I can find the silver lining of COVID. Like a good reset button to where we can actually look within and see what is our product doing and what does it look like? Because when you said D prioritize innovation, I've never thought of that because it's innovate, innovate, innovate. We hear that all the time, but now it's. Hold up, we gotta reset and see what our design look clicks online. It's actually forced us to be more online, more digital. Yeah. Your point about reset is, is spot on. And we've actually seen that in terms of our own business. So because we only work with the food and beverage industry, we have a pretty good pulse on what's happening, you know, COVID happens and all projects stop. Everyone's unsure. And then this last month, we probably had the best month of business in five years. And it's because people are suddenly reinvesting in their brands. Um, making sure that they're well-suited for acceleration that if they do turn on the innovation pipeline, That now these new products that they're launching makes sense with the core portfolio that they have and how to manage all of that stuff. Or, um, they're making another push into retail because there are some good signs in retail right now. It's not just only online grocery shop and what a great time to do that. I think while consumers are more in tuned with their health, more than ever. And so actually I feel like that's kind of a hand and glove combination there that actually helps the brand while consumers are looking. And that's why our industry growth the market. You know, when you look at the numbers, it's just huge. Yeah. So Fred, once talking to more startups, the entrepreneurs or the, or the, or the younger companies, you know, once, once they, they go online and, and. And enter and, or enter the competitive kind of retail environment. What are some of the things that, that brand that company needs to think about differently? Yeah, that's a good question. So obviously, if you exist online, the shopping behavior and path to purchase is totally different. I've got all the information at my fingertips, even if I'm on Amazon, I've got like all the texts right there. So it puts. Less reliance on the packaging to do all the heavy lifting, but what we're seeing. And we've got a couple of clients right now, like for instance, we're working with the men's body care skincare brand. That's doing 70 million online and they've never even entered retail before, but they're about to unlock retail and we've seen this time and time again. So whether that's online, Darlene's like Soylent. Uh, that's now in seven Eleven's around the world, or it's Casper, the mattress company, which is now has some of their own, um, popups inside of, um, other stores and things of that name like West Elm and stuff. I'm going eventually goes to brick and mortar. And when you get to brick and mortar, it gets competitive. So what we're helping this men's skincare brand understand is one good design matters. They've existed with mediocre design online, but they've spoken to their audience really well. So they've kind of look past that, but once you have to compete with other well-crafted brands, you need to up your game. So that's one and then two, you need to really focus on what does a consumer care about. That's going to make them want to purchase now. This shouldn't be an arms race of, who's got more claims on their pack. This is not a NASCAR event where I want all my sponsorship deals all over my package. Um, but it is understanding what matters most to them. And also, is there anything that you can talk about that differentiates you from the other brands and then, you know, managing a portfolio of product on shelf, if you have. Several different soaps with different scrub levels, with different moisturizing levels. If you have, um, shampoos and conditioners, as well as body soaps, like how do you differentiate all those things? So once I've identified this as my brand, it's not easy to shop. And understand the differences. So I don't, I don't grab one thing thinking it's another, no one wants to wash their body with hand soap. No, I need the eggs. And like I do all of the, all of it. Yeah. Give me the sandpaper. Yeah. I secretly use my wife's soap and shampoo just because I feel like it works better. I thought it was good through the zoom. Yeah. Thanks man, man. I'm glad somebody noticed. Thanks, Jackie, your skin is glowing. Is that, is that helpful? I don't know. Yeah. Well, I feel like, well, my camera's not working very well. It's all fuzzy. And then I got this light coming in, so it probably is glowing, but it's not because of the soap I can imagine. Anyway, so, all right, Fred, it's been awesome hearing and learning from your experience and what you all do at interact and, and. The amazing things and that you do for your customers and, and quite frankly, the links that you go to your, for your customers, you guys know the category well, um, just really, really love having you on and hearing from you. So we'll just wrap it up and in order to do so, if you had three things that you wanted, a finished product brand and the natural product space to know. Right now, or to gain, or to remember from this podcast, what are those? So for Starbucks, the opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity. And so the second one will be challenged. The category, not the consumer biggest thing that an entrepreneur has is the ability to take risk. And that means creative risk as well. Um, and then finally, I think the third thing would be. A mantra that we recite daily. Like it's the pledge of allegiance in the side of our studio, which is people don't read, they recognize and that's profound. And, and you really have to think about, and understand that for a second. If you gave me a newspaper or if I was in a class and you gave me the syllabus for the year or I'm driving around and there are billboards out, I have to make a conscious decision to read something I can choose to ignore it. But if I flash the Batman symbol up into this guy, you can't choose to ignore that. You immediately recognize it. And of best brands in the world have something recognizable. It could be a color. It could be a brand marker icon. Think about the golden arches. The color could be Coke. Red could be Tiffany blue, teal, whatever it is, or it could be structure that gives the method, soap bottle, this very elegant, beautiful thing or anything that's going on in the spirits category. Um, those are three assets that every brand should consider how they can leverage within their own company to create recognition. Well said my man, well said, okay, well again, We're going to get off. Um, we're going to close this thing down, but we really appreciate your time and you coming on and sharing, sharing your insights. Fred, my pleasure. Thanks for giving me an excuse to dress up. All right, we'll talk to you. All right, guys. Have a great one. Bye