The story:

When Tribe Mediterranean Foods was founded in 1993, most Americans had no idea what hummus was. Twenty-five years later, the chickpea-based dip has become a household staple. In fact, the U.S. counts for more than 35 percent of the global consumption of hummus.

In late 2016, Tribe made the switch to non-GMO canola oil, a change that gave Tribe the ability to become an SGS-certified hummus containing no GMO ingredients. The brand’s more recent decision to remove artificial preservatives, specifically potassium sorbate, meant an updated clean design was necessary to coincide with the clean label. “We saw an opportunity for a hummus brand to own ‘all natural’ clean label,” says Alan Graham, vice president of marketing for Tribe Mediterranean Foods. “Our core primary research showed that consumer’s purchase decisions are most influenced by ingredients (30 percent) and flavor (34 percent), and those ingredients focused on all natural or no artificial preservatives.”


The challenge:

Although Tribe was one of the first companies to successfully promote hummus as a healthy snack, a rebranding was necessary to stay relevant in an aggressively competitive and growing market. New York-based branding agency Pause for Thought was brought on to communicate what research showed consumers wanted: clean, recognizable ingredients.

As is often the case in packaging design, there is a small space to communicate a number of product attributes. “We had to find a way to organize the communication and simplify the design to essential elements so that consumers could quickly find their flavor and understand the benefits,” explains Janice Pedley, founder and creative director at Pause for Thought.

The timing of the project also proved to be a challenge as the positioning research was happening concurrently with the initial design process. “We had to develop design solutions in a few different strategic directions and marry strategy and design once we had a confirmed brand positioning. Thankfully, the client team were fast decision makers which helped the efficiency of the process.” Pedley and her team managed to roll out the redesign is less than nine months.


The solution:

The most noticeable changes include a switch in background color from black to white, which Graham said consumers reported liking more because it was easier to read without picking up the tubs. With a range of sixteen varieties, it was important to balance brand blocking and color coding, so each flavor has a pared down color palette of black, white and a flavor color, which is also featured in the illustration. Each illustrated “flavor” has a handcrafted appeal that was created to reflect the enhanced position of the most important product attributes at the core of the brand: simple, quality ingredients.

The redesign also enables consumers to quickly find their flavor or discover something new. “The distinctive logo and the color black are key equities for the Tribe brand,” notes Pedley. “By retaining the black rim but reversing the label colors (black logo on white background), we maintained familiarity while shifting to a fresh and healthy look.”

The “Share Real Taste” message was added alongside the brand name—reflecting its enhanced positioning and capturing the idea of community and emphasizing the great taste that comes from natural ingredients. It also helps to differentiate Tribe from other leading brands with artificial preservatives and GMO ingredients.

“Pause for Thought played an integral part in the development of the packaging design using the consumer insights developed from our primary and secondary research. Their ability to remain nimble and quick played a key role in the brand re-launch occurring within nine months,” adds Graham. In additional to the redesign and reformulation, the packaging is also BPA free and recyclable.



Pause for Thought