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Redesigning a brand for e-commerce



Redesigning a brand for e-commerce

How one supplement maker took whey protein from a start-up to millions in one year.

You’re looking for a whey protein supplement. You do your shopping online and what you get is a page of images that, on your phone, are the size of a quarter. How do you tell one from the other?

This scenario is why I feel strongly that, in the world of e-commerce, packaging may be more important now than it was in the days of pure brick-and-mortar retail. For those who can stand out on the digital shelf, great success awaits.

Here’s the story…

Levels Whey Protein redefines its identity

A colleague called me about the launch of his brand, Levels Grass-Fed Whey. Blake Niemann and his team had been in the business for a year. They tested the product out in a cereal style box with zip-lock bag that featured a clip-art style image of a cow. The reason the product came in a box rather than the traditional canister was that this shape served to differentiate the product. Through e-commerce testing, the brand owner discovered that consumers have greater familiarity with the traditional large plastic canister. They perceive that it keeps the product fresher, though this isn’t actually the case. Nevertheless, Levels decided to ditch the cereal box and bag in favor of the standard canister packaging. Sometimes, simply having a disruptive package isn’t enough.


But now, how to differentiate this canister from all the rest?   

That’s the challenge Blake put to the design team — communicate what is unique about this brand of whey protein.  The Levels product offers some real advantages that appeal to the Millennial sports and health enthusiasts that buy this type of protein. It is 100% grass-fed whey protein. It has no GMO’s and no hormones. Because of these traits, it fits the desire for more authentic, natural products. And that was a good place for us to start.

Working through the challenges

The first challenge was the simplest and the most difficult — how to communicate the exact advantages of the product. In this case, the what was more important than the who. So, the process began by designing a new logo and packaging. Placing the new logo below the product name on the canister was a deliberate decision. More important to the consumer is the “100% Grass Fed Whey Protein” and a new image of a Jersey cow.

The old clip art version of the cow was tossed out and replaced with a more natural update. Blake found an illustrator through Facebook to create a new cow for the Levels brand. The artist is actually a veterinarian; her rendering is a masterpiece and communicates an organic feel. The image, rather than slick foil on black, like much of the category, is hand drawn with a raw graphite finish, much closer to the earth rather than the machine. The design palette is white and features a stark, clean font. Finally, we added the words “Performance and Provisions” to the Levels logo which has a new, authentic feel and ties back into the core of the brand positioning.

This new design also helped solve a second key challenge; how to stand out on an e-commerce page. Test it yourself. Simply enter “whey protein” in an Amazon search and you’ll see how its pure, almost minimalist design differs from most of the other offerings, which are very similar to other bodybuilder products.


LevelsWheyChoc_0.jpg Pricing was another consideration. When the product first launched it was a bit high for the category. Today, at roughly $60 for a 5lb. canister, the brand is exactly where it needs to be to compete.

Apparently, consumers agree. In just the first twelve months, Levels Provisions amassed millions in first year sales. It’s been so successful, other leading e-commerce retailers are banging on the digital door.

Making the product a pure e-commerce play was also a deliberate decision. In the words of the client, “brick and mortar is a hassle. You can get eaten alive by retailers and distributors. With e-commerce, you can launch a product in days and get millions of eyeballs on your brand. Each month, Amazon has approximately 200 million visitors worldwide. Thanks to this platform, we are now one of the top 5 whey proteins on their site.”

To meet the design team at FORCEpkg, visit

To learn more about Levels Provisions visit




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