One thing I love is seeing brands that have been in the CPG space for a while going through a rebrand. You've learned so much in your first few years of operating that you can now meet with a designer and really bring your brand to life in an authentic way.
So many young brands these days all look the same, and frankly it's rare that one comes across my feed that jumps out at me like Magic Dates did after their recent complete rebrand. This felt so warm, thoughtful, authentic, and far from the groovy, pastel, minimalism that so many brands are adopting in their visuals these days.
Not long after reaching out to Diana at Magic Dates and Meghan and Sam, the women behind Here and Now who did the rebrand, I found the chocolate covered dates front and center at Erewhon. Right when you walk in the door. A huge reward for a job well done.
Quick, give us two lines about Magic Dates:
MAGICDATES is the first better-for-you snack company to use dates as a symbol of cultural connection. The date fruit is our hero ingredient and we make delicious snacks that your body will love. MAGICDATES are plant-based, gluten-free and without added sugar or sugar alcohol.
What about Here and Now?
We are a branding agency based in Austin, TX, and Baltimore, MD. We're passionate about helping female founders in the consumer product space succeed. We work with female founders to build unapologetic brands that get noticed and are impossible to forget.
What sparked the visual rebrand? How did you know it was time?
Magic Dates: In late 2019 I knew that we needed to focus more on our digital marketing strategy. Up until that point we had been investing all of our resources in traditional brick & mortar retail. That led me to learning about digital marketing in early 2020 and the social justice events of June 2020 mobilized something in me. I was moved by some people’s ability to use their voice to speak truth and effect change. That’s when I knew that I needed to connect more to my origin story and my intention behind MAGICDATES.
What are the first steps you take in working on a big project like this?
Here and Now: We always start with the brand strategy. Whether we’re working on this with the client, or they already have it nailed down before they come to us, the strategy is where we stem all of our design decisions from. In particular, we focus on brand values, target audience, and competitor research. Once we have a good understanding of who the brand is and where the opportunities are in the market, we begin the visual identity process. This starts with several mood board directions, that we narrow down to one final direction. This sets the tone for the entire design process.
How did you know working together was a partnership you wanted to pursue?
Magic Dates: I chatted with Sam & Meghan a couple of times and really appreciated how receptive they were to my ideas. I loved their openness and willingness to make the rebranding process collaborative, fun, and meaningful
Here and Now: We were really excited about Diana’s mission and vision. We saw a lot of potential with her brand. The old visual identity wasn’t telling the brand’s story, and we couldn't wait to bring it to life.
How much did the brand values come into play when you were determining the design of the new packaging?
Magic Dates: I had spent months working on our new brand strategy prior to meeting with Meghan & Sam. There was a lot of soul searching, research, and conversations with customers. Ultimately, I came up with a cohesive set of values and Sam & Meghan were great at helping me stay the course and maintain focus on our North star (brand values).
Here and Now: Throughout the entire process we referred back to the brand’s values. We always say that your brand values are like the filter that everything else runs through. Every decision we made was directed by those values.
What is your favorite aspect of the new branding?
Magic Dates: I love the warmth in my heart when I look at this packaging. Part of my intention with MAGICDATES is to reclaim the narrative of the middle east and to share a story often untold. A story of beauty, culture, wisdom, and good food. When I look at our new package design and the branding work that goes with it, I feel all that.
Here and Now: How more is more. One of the brand keywords we focused on was ‘opulence’ and we think the final design really embodies that. All of the pieces work together harmoniously and compliment each other. From the letterforms within the logo to the illustrations done by Zeindee Designs, they all support one another to express the opulence and expressive characteristics of the brand.
What was the hardest part of the rebranding process?
Magic Dates: The visual aspect of branding is just the tip of the iceberg and that has its own challenges. But before even committing to any design elements, the brand strategy is vital and the heart of the brand. Committing to this groundwork is the hardest part because many entrepreneurs don’t realize the value of this work and they tend to jump straight to design, logos, and color palettes.
Here and Now: Trying to tell the brand story without overcomplicating the design. We had to do several iterations of the packaging design until we got it right. We wanted there to be an immersive scene, but didn’t want to take away from what the product was, or cause the customer to be confused or overwhelmed.
What is your biggest lesson learned from doing this visual rebrand?
Magic Dates: To trust my instincts. Research is great. Market fit is necessary. Consumer feedback is key. Yet, I put so much of myself and purpose into MAGICDATES and when you’re that invested in your company, you have to also listen to your gut and share your heart.
Here and Now: This was the first project we’ve collaborated on with an illustrator (Zeindee Designs) so it was a learning experience for us in sourcing the right fit to match the style of the new brand identity and the vision for the packaging.
Best advice for a brand out there debating a packaging design change up?
Magic Dates: Why? That’s the best question you can ever ask yourself in any situation. Why do you want to rebrand? If it’s just because you want change and feel that a rebrand will give you that refresh, that’s probably not the best reason and you’re better off investing your time and money in another aspect of your business. But if there’s a deeper core reason like lack of clarity in your current design or a change of positioning, for example, then a rebrand may be in the cards for you.
Here and Now: Have a good understanding of who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish first. Knowing what you’re trying to say with your product that’s different from what others are saying is key to creating a unique packaging experience. If you already have an existing product, find out from your customers what they like about the packaging and if there’s anything that could be improved. There is almost always room for improvement.
Help us get to know YOU. Lightning round:
- Favorite CPG trend right now?
- Magic Dates: I love the gut health-focused trends using simple and whole ingredients. I also love wheat pasta alternatives; those are my personal go-to nowadays.
- Here and Now:
- Meghan: upcycling foods to address food waste, and simple yet super bold packaging design with large type
- Sam: I always love a good pattern, especially when it acts as a key brand asset that’s sometimes even more recognizable than the brand’s logo.
- Least favorite CPG trend right now?
- Magic Dates: Keto. Sorry, this trend needs to be cooled off.. I think it’s causing more harm than good at this point. I think it’s causing an overconsumption of energy. Also, sweet keto products tend to have sugar alcohols that are creating gut-health issues.
- Here and Now:
- Meghan: claiming “sustainability” for marketing
- Sam: anything white and minimal with gold foil. Can we close the book on this one?
- What’s the last new food you tried?
- Magic Dates: I tried Worthy Foods at expo west and loved it. They make these amazing creamy bowls made of fruits, veggies, and pea protein.
- Here and Now:
- Last book you read?
- Magic Dates: I love history so I’m reading Desert Queen by Janet Wallach. It’s about Gertrude Bell, an English adventurer who traversed the Arabian desert and played a role in shaping the modern Middle East.
- Here and Now:
- Meghan: I am just starting The Buddha and The Badass, it was actually recommended by a past client.
- Brand you have a crush on?
Learn more about Magic Dates: