The Makeover Challenge returns with a spirited new brand and three diverse creative competitors

The Makeover Challenge, sponsored by Sun Chemical and co-sponsored by Caps57, returns for its 14th year. The blue-sky contest that re-imagines a real-world brand is one of our community’s most beloved editorial projects, and it was something that we could not leave behind in our evolution to Brand Experience magazine.

 We’re proud to be working with longtime reader Ellie Thomas of Huber Winery for this year’s contest. She will be exploring the design and branding possibilities for Huber’s spirits line and sub-brand Starlight Distillery with three competing design teams—Bear Rabbit Design Studios, COHO Creative and BrandDirections.

We are excited to get to know Huber Winery, Starlight Distillery and Thomas better in the upcoming months of the competition, but first let’s meet the agency competitors.


Bear Rabbit Design Studio


Bear Rabbit Design Studio (BRDS) is a concept-driven creative design group founded on the guiding principle of innovation through smart design. We’ve combined expertise in the fields of design, branding and marketing to create successful, out-of-the-box solutions for every client. From concept to completion, we are a comprehensive source for every design need.

We work with a diverse client list, including pet care, major manufacturers, beauty industry leaders and large retail clients such as T.J.Maxx.bear rabbit


Stage 1: Unravel the brand

We find out the client’s issues, dreams and expectations. What makes this brand unique from the competition, and what makes it stand out from the rest.

Stage 2: Dig deep

We look at traditional variables like trending, competitive research, brand lineage and customer expectations. You have to dig deeper and wider.

Stage 3: Divide and conquer

We allow everyone the opportunity to express how they have interpreted the information before we regroup as a team.

Stage 4: Regroup

At the regroup stage, we come together as a team and discuss what works and what doesn’t, and through the process of conversation and creative input, we come up with unique and inspiring designs.

Stage 5: The wow factor

What makes BRDS unique is our ability to go beyond conceptualization and actually show clients exactly what they will see on the shelf—the finished product.


 SHED-X has been a staple SynergyLabs brand for years, and BRDS was tasked with refreshing the look and feel of the design. The project objective was to update the existing 32-, 16- and 8-oz SKUs and develop a single-dose application for pet parents, keeping in mind overall materials and cost.

We always start simple, with broad-stroke design elements: shape, color and basic typography. From there, we work with manufacturers, develop cost structures and source the components. Working hand in hand with SynergyLabs, we came up with a distinctive solution for SHED-X Daily Dose.

Taking vibrant imagery, trending color and eye catching typography elements, we have taken the SynergyLabs and SHED-X brands to the next level. Showcasing the brand at the Global Pet Expo 2017 was met with extremely positive feedback and high sales commitments from major pet retailers.


Coho Creative


We’re Coho Creative, an independent brand strategy, innovation and design company, located in Cincinnati, OH, and founded in 2002. Our sole purpose is to help our clients bring out the best in their brands. From Fortune 500 giants that influence globally, to nimble startups that do just one little thing to make a person’s day brighter, we challenge all brands to unite with those they touch and help change the world for the better. In fact, we’ve made it our trademark: Better Brands to Better the World.


cohoAt the heart of it, all we do is really about people. That’s why for more than 15 years we’ve carefully built a team of talented professionals who really understand and care about people, and what it takes to achieve together. Our team of 35-plus, passionately apply their expertise and experience in brand strategy, insights, naming, brand-centric innovation, project management, client leadership, graphic design, fashion design and industrial design to your project’s successful outcome.

We partner, every step of the way, to help our clients find that common ground where business objectives and people’s needs meet. It’s a place where brand strategy, innovation and design come together in a better way: a world where the needs of both business and people are met. It’s where we thrive, brands win, and life gets better for everyone.


How do you take an iconic brand like 3M, a new global identity and new product formulas, and reconcile them all with very real needs of marine finishing professionals? Not an easy task, but those are the kind of projects Coho takes on every day.

Coho collaborated with the 3M team from initial category assessment, to getting out onto the docks and job sites with expert users, to creative design and verbal development, regulatory copy challenges, qualitative insights, to final design artwork and implementation.

The result is a versioning and communication system that makes shopping for the novice easy, while also speaking to the marine professional in their own language. Whether that’s talking about strength of “cut” or making it intuitive to quickly identify and grab the correct bottle while looking down on their bucket.




Throughout our 60-plus years, BrandDirections has worked with consumer brands large and small to connect their products to consumers. We apply our experience and expertise to the entire packaging process, and our collaborative approach creates efficient and effective solutions. Our love of packaging can’t help but spill over into branding and marketing; it’s all water from the same stream. We are brand sensitive and brand sensible. Our tight-knit team of experienced professionals know the best tools, and most effective visuals and messaging to make your brand not only stand out but win in the marketplace.brand direction


Our BrandContinuum Process was developed from working with both large and small CPG clients. Clients were spending large amounts of money to develop unique brand positioning and design only to see it erode when applied across multiple SKUs. Line extensions was another area of packaging that would cause diversion from the original brand design—meaning it didn’t maintain the balance of a family look and the unique product extension attributes. We extensively studied the package design and creation process and began to insert key touch points to insure that the original brand intent continued through the entire process. One of our large CPG clients that followed our process estimated savings of more than $2 million dollars in one year!


Driven by new consumer research, competitive pressures and new regional blend product formulations, Kaytee, a division of Central Garden and Pet, needed to refresh its brand including an extensive packaging redesign while maintaining its existing flexible packaging format. The previous design for its wild bird food, feeders and other products to help consumers connect to birds was hard to read, over-decorated, and inconsistent.

Our BrandContinuum process helped keep objectives on track across a large number of SKUs and packaging types—objectives such as to position Kaytee as the science-driven leader in wild bird products and to provide clear visual hierarchy and cues consumers are looking for including clear product nomenclature and descriptions, visual representation of the type of birds the food attracts in their relevant regional environments, color coding for product SKU differentiation and a clear plastic window to see the product. The redesign reinvigorated Kaytee’s leadership position in the wild bird category and continues today as the company uses science-driven innovation to expand its product line.