From the original recipe created and served locally in the Hot Gossip Lake Tahoe coffee shop in 1995, Tahoe Trail Bar had developed a reputation as the go-to snack for all kinds of outdoor sports and adventure.
When Wes King, owner and CEO, bought the recipe for the single-flavor bar and rights to make the product in 2010, the nutrition, health and wellness category was growing exponentially. He realized it was time to get Tahoe Trail Bar introduced to a wider audience.
King says that as the company grew and expanded distribution, “We were being placed into a sea of other energy bars on the shelf, it became apparent we needed to up our packaging game. As of 2015, we had been in the Northern California market with one flavor for two years, selling in natural and conventional grocery. Throughout that time, we struggled to be seen on the shelf because of muted colors. The packaging itself was awesome with the hiker and outdoors colors, but we weren’t converting sales because the features of the bar were not clear to customers.”
When Tahoe Trail Bar decided to take the plunge into the new flavors its customers were requesting, King says, it seemed like a great time to take the brand “down to the studs” and really capture the brand’s essence—“who we are and what we are about.” King reached out to Perspective: Branding of Emeryville, Calif., for the rebrand.
“The rebrand was mostly about authentically capturing in our packaging what our most loyal fans always knew us to be,” King writes. “It was about getting back to our roots. We were a true mountain brand, conceived by mountain people, celebrating an iconic destination in Lake Tahoe, but we had failed to really let that shine in our packaging and logo.”
“We were struggling to be seen in the set (because of muted colors), and finding it difficult to convert sales because the features of the bar were not clear and our brand identity didn’t have the weight and punch of a separate mark,” he says.
“Our main goal was to create a striking image for Tahoe Trail Bar that authentically captured the potential of the brand,” says Simon Thorneycroft, founder/CEO of Perspective: Branding. “The revolutionary brand redesign focuses on the positioning: ‘fuel for the journey,’ creating a vibrant visual identity that consumers across the country can identify with. We brought it to life with a pinecone mountain logo, along with a mountain trail, to illustrate the unique destination, thereby connecting it to the fuel that consumers need to complete the journey.”
After an extensive strategic visual audit of the bar category, Thorneycroft determined that the existing muted green color of the brand should be brightened to a rich, saturated green, allowing it to stand out in the crowded category and create a billboard effect. He also adapted the identifiable of the hiker from the previous version of the single package, making it smaller and more in harmony within the context of the new mountain background setting. Ingredient icons were added to increase appetite appeal and reinforce the health benefits of the products.
“Our expectations are to massively increase sales and shelf visibility, while encouraging better placements by having a world-class packaging design,” says King. “We are already seeing greater acceptance from retailers in not only carrying the original product (Peanut Butter Chocolate), but also taking the two additional flavors (Dark Chocolate Cherry and Mango Coconut). They are now seeing Tahoe Trail Bar as a brand and not just a random, one-off product, regardless of how good it was.”
“Perspective: Branding brought years of experience, fantastic design sense, and a hands-on collaborative process to the table; ultimately, they brought forth my brand and gave it a head start on achieving its true potential,” King says. “I could not be more enthusiastic and appreciative for the results and impact in the marketplace that this rebranding/packaging redesign had created.”
The new packaging and flavors are currently being shipped to Whole Foods, Safeway, Raley’s, Scolari’s, Sports Basement, and Nugget Markets and a growing list of other retailers and new distribution channels.