Black River Juice Line Re-Branding

Derrick Lin


Design Agency: Circus Strategic Communications
Illustrator: Anna Scetinina
General Manager: Black River Juice
Project Type: Produced, Commercial Work
Client: Black River Juice
Location: Toronto, Canada
Packaging Contents: Line of Juices
Packaging Materials: Clear label substrate manufactured by UPM Rafltac. UV Flexo, printed by Forte Labels

Comments from Jessica Praskey, General Manager, Black River Juice

The Black River packaging was designed in the early 1980’s and very little had changed since. We needed a change for the following reasons:

The package did not properly convey the value of what was in the bottle (pure pressed Ontario fruit). The label was unexciting and “looked like it had been sitting on the shelf for a decade” (said many of our retailers). We had the same bottle and similar label to ALL of our competitors, we did not stand out on shelf at all. Black River had been in the Ontario Natural Food Market for 35 years, with no new skus and same old packaging, it was difficult to garner excitement in both retailers and customers.

Logo has changed slightly; slight, but important changes. Black River has been a trusted brand of pure juices in Ontario since 1979. Many people recognize our logo, we did not want to lose that recognition or the heritage of our brand. The words “Black” and “River” were stacked on top of each other so that they fit on the packaging without wrapping around the bottle. The font and the “frills” were left the same. We added “Est 1979” to give the customer a sense of our history.

As mentioned above, we had the same bottle as every other shelf stable pure juice brand out there! We needed to be different. We went with the old style milk glass bottle shape because we wanted to convey “fresh from the farm” without actually having to use those words on the label. Black River sources fruit from local farmers whenever possible and presses it here at the Black River facility in Mississauga. What comes out of the press, goes into the bottle. We wanted to let our customers know how close they are to the farmer when they drink our juice. There is no packaging that better conveys this than the old dairy bottle.

Design was a collaboration of the team at Black River, Anna Scentinina ( and Circus Strategic Communications.

Comments from Anna Scetinina, Illustrator

Brand manager had a clear vision of how the illustrations should look and team already started on some sketches, but, they needed an artist who would not only possess great illustration skills but also could overcome the challenge of creating a vector illustration that is to be printed on clear label applied to glass bottle with various juice products which vary in color from yellow to almost black. Style intended to be authentic woodcut look with settled yet beautiful and bold colors.

I enjoyed working on this set of illustrations from start to finish (my artistic background with hands on experience in etching, wood cut, lithography helped me a lot). Although my vectors are not an imitation of any of etching techniques (rather a combination of them) the the style comes from there. There were challenges especially working on dark fruit, which goes over dark juice color which had to pop on clear label. That is why some of the illustrations are inverted in tones/colors. Most challenging ones have gone thru print tests and multiple revisions to finally get the best look.

Final Result
Project took almost a year to complete (only my part) with total of 22 illustrations. Product design fully reflects the product quality representing company with its 35 years history, company that uses Ontario grown fruits and produces great quality juices. Illustrations style reflects natural ‘fresh from the farm’ look.