The 99designs team watched with eager anticipation Monday night as our San Francisco colleagues, Kyle Lin and Matthew Basham, doled out product packaging design tips to Supermarket Superstar contestants Latrice Pace and Melissa Randall on Episode 1 (Cakes). (Note: The branding segment featuring 99designs begins at 28:30.) Didn’t know we were involved with the new Lifetime reality series? Learn more here.

Kyle (above left) and Matt (above right), along with the show’s branding expert Chris Cornyn, shared some great tips. Unfortunately, the race-against-the-clock nature of the show meant there wasn’t a lot of time to go into much detail about how to apply their advice.

This is the first of a weekly column in which we’ll share top tips on logo and packaging design from each Monday’s episode. (Cue bookmark!) Without further ado, here are our top tips from episode 1:

#1: Make sure your personality shines through

Is your product (and company for that matter) serious, playful, quirky, colorful, or a whole host of other adjectives? The best way to connect with your target audience and differentiate from other products on the shelves is to display your personality to its fullest potential. Choose fonts, colors and images that get your brand’s voice across.

Let’s take Melissa, for example. A description from her website, Baking with Melissa, describes her in the following way: “Melissa’s bubbly energy is contagious! She has a theatrical background…”

Her headshot certainly says this, but her original logo does not:

Images courtesy of

The revamped logo and packing design she used to pitch her final cookie-cupcakes to the judges hits the bulls eye:

melissa good logo

Your logo and packaging are often your customer’s first (and maybe the only if they turn away!) impression of your product, and you’re up against steep competition. So make sure it stands out from the crowd while saying exactly what you want it to.

#2: Your company or product name in your logo should not have customers guessing

Latrice’s original logo design was hard to read. Her company is called “Treecie Treats,” but as she discovered on the show, the name as seen in her logo (below, left) could easily be construed as “Reecie Ats.” And while she intended the top of the “T” to symbolize the delicious aroma of her peach cobbler cupcakes, as branding pro Chris pointed out, “It looks like you’re in the sewing business here!” Latrice ultimately changed not only her logo and product – from cupcake to loaf-cake – but also the name of her company.

Image on the left courtesy of

When you’re designing your logo or packaging, use your family and friends as a focus group. Show them prospective designs and find out if they can easily tell at a glance what your company is named and what product you’re selling. You may be so attached to your design that you’ve become blind to the possibility that not only isn’t it working, it’s working against you. If anyone raises a red flag, seriously consider making modifications.

#3: Sell an experience through your packaging

In her first meeting with the judges, Melissa pitched her cookie-cupcakes as just that – a clever, scrumptious desert. But Melissa does not merely bake and sell these goodies – her day-to-day business has her attending kids’ birthday parties to teach guests how to make them. So she took the judges’ advice and decided to package the treats as a colorful DIY “party kit.” In doing so she’s now selling not only treats but a fun bonding adventure.

Latrice, on the other hand, decided to focus visually on peaches, her key ingredient, and feature a realistic image of the cake inside the box. She’s aiming to make consumers’ mouths water at a glance, and come away with a good idea of what it would be like to actually bite into one of her creations.

As you design your own logo and incorporate it into your product packaging, remember every step of the way that you want customers to believe they’re not merely paying for food – they’re buying an experience.

What do you think – which box would you toss into your grocery cart? (We won’t name the winner – no spoilers here – but if you’re in the U.S. you can watch the episode here and see for yourself!)