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Packaging Design // SOL Republic

When I joined SOL REPUBLIC, its product packaging at retail was very mismatched and very dark. For the first product launch in my tenure — for a small wireless speaker whose name, Punk, I pitched in the namestorming session — I worked with Character (who had worked on the most recent, most successful packages.

We designed a packaging system that was cohesive and stand out at retail, plus push forward the brand’s upmarket lifestyle ambitions and emotional music-lover appeal. It pairs editorial-style elegant typography and layout with heroic design-centric product views at a glance, with color tops matched to product color (the subtlety of which is sometimes hard to see clearly in renderings).

Among other goals, looking at the budgets I was working with, I worked to make sure that subsequent packaging in this system could be executed in-house without further reliance on an agency.

Prior Sol Republic packaging had eluded successful brand blocking at retail by being varied in color and layout. Also product design and product color had in many cases been unclear from the front. The new system has a consistent and appropriate hierarchy of elements and proved the dictum that sometimes design is subtraction.

Once a shopper picks up a headphone or speaker to review features, the backs of Sol Republic packages not only cover the features in icons, but feature expressive and differentiating black-and-white photography. This package line balances the “clean, design-forward” product with the “raw, music lovers” lifestyle feel of the Sol Republic brand in social posts, point of purchase displays, ads and social. I art directed multiple photographers in different conditions, and retouched images that already had been shot, to achieve images that balanced well with other content and with one another on the backs of packages.

Photography: Greg MacNamara

Sol Republic positioned itself as design-forward, but sub-premium in terms of price (compared to, say, Beats). The out-of-box experience of the products was designed in collaboration with the industrial designer team: always refined and minimal, as high-touch as cost margins would accommodate.