The story: In 2010, Cason and Curtis Thorsby, brothers from Davison, Mich., founded Party Armor, a company offering a dietary supplement that protects against common hangover symptoms.
After taking part in “typical college activities,” Cason and Curtis, who weren’t big imbibers to begin with, would drink half the amount as their peers and wake up feeling worse than their friends did the next morning. The brothers were curious why, and Curtis began researching the cause of hangovers to determine if there was any way to drastically minimize their effects. He found that when the liver tries to break down alcohol, acetaldehyde is formed and remains in the body, causing hangover symptoms.
He began to develop a formula with active ingredients that would attack acetaldehyde and replenish key nutrients lost during alcohol consumption. The concoction was tested on numerous skeptical participants, and the results were strong. Even Cason had his doubts, but after a night of using his brother’s product, he knew that this seemingly magical elixir needed to be available to the masses.
The challenge: However, the work for Party Armor was far from over. The Thorsby brothers then began consulting with doctors and pharmacists to improve their product and help provide validity to their claims.
The discussions with health professionals also led to the development of the mixture in a 2oz liquid form — more convenient than the homemade version consisting of several different pills, powders and liquids. A Hangover Protection shot aids people in stopping hangovers before they start, and the Hangover Recovery shot helps repair and re-energize the body the morning after in less than 30 minutes.
The brand started out with a small Boston round bottle housing the product and graphics displaying a party atmosphere. But as the business took off, the brothers decided to update both the bottle and the art.
“The goal for the new packaging was to create something professional: something that when people see it, they can trust our brand and believe our products are legit,” says Cason. “You have to understand, the anti-hangover category has been plagued by gimmicky products for dozens of years, so customers are very skeptical. When Apple comes out with a new iPad or Nike comes out with a new pair of shoes, people don’t question those products. They do, however, question ours.”
The solution: Party Armor’s customers “range from college students to soccer moms and businessmen,” says Cason. “But, in general, we find age isn’t the most important factor, it’s the buyer’s lifestyle. It’s the working professional who is on the go but enjoys letting loose over a few adult beverages and can’t afford to be sidelined the next day.”
Party Armor’s purpose is a reflection of its founders’ lifestyles. Cason, a workaholic and serial entrepreneur, works hard and plays harder, while Curtis, a fitness fanatic, lives by the saying “good health is true wealth.” Health, fitness and success are important to them, and they believe the products help others achieve those same things.
“People are looking for healthier options, especially for ‘recovery’ type products, and we believe we’ve created a great product to meet their needs,” says Cason.
The Thorsby brothers have worked hard at taking that mission and building Party Armor into a brand: Cason and Curtis actively connect with consumers on social media and blog health tips and drinking facts at their site, www.drinkpartyarmor.com. Cason has also appeared on multiple news channels for interviews, and both brothers understand the importance of using packaging to represent the brand.
“Party Armor switched to the new design and bottle because we wanted to create our own identity, not piggyback off of energy shots,” says Cason. “We wanted a unique design that portrays a professional and credible look. When we were using the 2oz Boston round bottle, everyone thought we were an energy shot, especially because our graphic design was busy. That was a major problem that we needed to fix, so we knew we had to change if we wanted to grow.
“We spent a lot of time researching and trying to find different bottles from multiple sources. It was very difficult, because once we found a bottle we liked, we had to work with several bottling companies, showing them specs of the bottle and cap, asking them if their equipment would work for that particular bottle. I’m sure some companies were sick and tired of our emails.
“The bottle was the toughest part of the design because of the manufacturing economics,” he continues. “Just about any bottling company can produce a 2oz Boston round … not so true with our new bottle, as change parts can get crazy expensive.”
The entrepreneurs not only sourced the structure on their own but also created the design.
“The graphics are a team effort from my brother and me,” says Cason. “My brother designed the shield, which before we didn’t have. We both felt that if our brand name is Party Armor, it’d be ridiculous not to incorporate a shield. The color concept was my idea. It’s current and appeals to our target market. We wanted to make sure that our look was uncluttered yet efficient at getting the point across that we help with hangovers. Even with our shield logo and the bullet points, we use + to signify health.
“Our packaging is sleek, modern and professional, which are adjectives that our buyers would use to describe themselves.”