BAKU Shochu Highball
Hypothetical Beverage Brand & Package Design Project
BAKU is more than just a drink. In Japan, the Baku is a mythological chimera or tapir that drinks nightmares.

With three refreshing flavors and a kick of barley shochu, join BAKU and transport yourself to the streets of Japan.

Enjoy BAKU’s exquisite flavors alone, or paired with ramen, yakitori, sushi, and more!

Showcased on The Dieline packaging blog.
The three-part label includes a middle clear-cast PVC layer with a grid printed with four color process digital printing and a white underprint.

When spun, different parts of the label are preferentially revealed for a scanimation effect.
Playful imagery and a soft, bright color palette make this mysterious Japanese beverage more welcoming for curious consumers in the US.
When sold in singles, a recyclable TOPSYL aluminum foil lid provides added protection, important in an age of consciousness for contagious diseases.

When sold in packs, BAKU is held together by a strong KeelClip™ holder, which is an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic rings that uses less material than traditional paperboard packaging.
Shōchū highball, or "chūhai" for short, is a Japanese alcoholic beverage consisting of barley shōchū (mugishōchū or 麦焼酎, a 25% abv distilled alcohol) mixed with carbonated flavored water, traditionally lemon.

The goal of this project is to introduce chūhai to the American market, riding on the popularity of hard seltzers.

Unlike many cheaper hard seltzers, this product will not target party/high-energy settings. Instead, this brand will offer a more premium experience, for picnics and beach days. It will also be offered in Japanese restaurants, with refined flavors that will pair well with the Japanese flavor palette.
target audience
The entry point into this market will be nostalgic Japanophiles who may be familiar with chūhai from study abroad experiences, anime, or tourism.

Since chūhai is uncommon in America, the anticipated market for this project, the primary competition is the hard seltzer market.

Hard seltzers have rapidly increased in popularity due to their approachability and health benefits (low-carb, low-sugar, gluten-free, etc.).
logo design
In Japan, children will ask the baku to eat their nightmares. But just as with alcohol, calling upon the baku too often can be dangerous.

The logo design seeks to incorporate traditional Japanese elements of wabi-sabi to honor and communicate its cultural origins, as well as portray a sense of whimsicality to connect with the baku's dreamy connotations.

However, in order to not deter American customers who may be unfamiliar with the baku or Japanese alcoholic beverages, the logo also leans on the side of playfulness over eeriness.
package design
BAKU Shochu Highball's package design introduces elements of illusion to further push the dream concept. These elements include both graphic components as well as physical components to take advantage of the package form. Materials were selected to maximize the handcrafted feel of Japanese paper and durability for both temperature and moisture.
final label
The final label base is a Biaxially Oriented PolyPropylene (BOPP) pressure-sensitive label with matte laminate finish for durability, temperature fluctuations, and moisture resistance. The label is printed with four color process digital printing.
final label
Clear cast PVC is used for transparency grid printed for the see-through scanimation grid. Four color process digital printing with white underprint is used for opaque color printing to maximize the ability for transparency grid to block graphics underneath gridlines. Finally, a gloss coating is applied for color vibrancy, maximum transparency, and durability.
final label
diecut label
The label holder is printed with four color process digital printing on Neenah Bella® White Vellum 60 lb Text Paper, which provides durability to hold scanimation grid. Neenah Bella® includes a wet strength additive to increase resistance to tearing or shriveling in moisture and to maximize adhesion.
final label
KeelClip™ is a paperboard beverage can holder that provides an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic rings, tops, and shrink wrap. This packaging solution is made from renewable resources and uses significantly less board than most other carton options.

When BAKU are not sold individually with a TOPSYL lid seal, the KeelClip offers protection by completely covering the top of the can. Finger holes make the product easy to transport, and the cans are easily removed. In addition, the lack of side covering allows the scanimation effect to be fully interactive on a shelf display.

BAKU's KeelClip will use a lithographic lamination print process with a soft touch on paperboard.
art direction
Due to pandemic restrictions, creating physical models and printing for this project was not possible. In lieu of physical models, I created 3D models for the cans, labels, TOPSYL lids, and the KeelClip™ holder using Blender. This process involved modeling each component, creating materials for each component, UV mapping graphics onto their respective models, and digital studio photography of the models.