J.W. Johnson Chili with bold yellow and red packaging designed by EBD.

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February 14, 2020


3 min read

Bringing Farmers Market to Family-Owned

Neil Young said it best in his 1977 country-infused ballad, Saddle Up the Palomino, ‘It’s a cold bowl of chili when love lets you down.’ Neil knew and understood that a great, warm bowl of chili was comparable to a warm full heart. It’s safe to say that Johnson Chili truly understood Mr. Young’s sentiments since they had been producing meat products for three generations (four if you count the great-grandchildren working summer breaks). When the family wanted to refresh the packaging for their chili starter mix, they came to EBD. Flavor, the versatility of use, and homemade craftsmanship set this chili starter mix apart and provided the basis for what the company wanted to demonstrate with the packaging. 

The Johnson Chili brand is woven with pride & stewardship and it is important to them to give back to the Colorado community. They wanted their product to convey this ethos and their hands-on approach to making their products.

“Simply put, we make only what our family is proud to serve on our own tables.”

J.W. Johnson Chili branding and packaging designed by EBD against a black background.

The family also wanted to tell the story of the fresh ingredients their product contains and the convenience that chili starter mix offers. Crafting homemade chili is an all-day undertaking, but this product allows for delicious chili in just 20 minutes. EBD understood that by featuring the ingredients, it would appeal to a younger, millennial demographic who enjoy the accessibility of a healthy, easy-to-make meal or appetizer. The team at EBD also recognized the opportunity to bring a new consumer base to the frozen meat section, so that was the beginning of our strategy.

Quick-serve foods have infiltrated the packaged goods market. Countless healthy processed snacks and meals – which are made from minimally processed ingredients – are taking over store shelves. EBD saw an opportunity to feature the health-forward philosophy the Johnson brand encompassed by incorporating call-outs on the packaging: gluten-free, preservative-free, and absolutely no artificial ingredients. 

J.W. Johnson Artisan Starter Mix for Chili packaging designed by EBD.

EBD also wanted to communicate the quality, tradition, and value behind the product. To do this the packaging needed to convey a natural feel and be able to capture the passion and authenticity of the Johnson brand. The final execution gives it a hand-made, small-batch look and feel, with custom illustrations of vegetables that give it a farm-to-table quality. And to ensure a smooth transition with their loyal customer base, we carried over a similar color palette with added richness and depth.

Authenticity is the mindset behind EBD’s brand and this project allowed us to amplify that.

The most exciting part? The huge transformation of the package. We took a brand that already had decades of success and a deeply rooted following and introduced it’s bowls to a broader audience. See this project and more on our website!

A sketch of vegetables grouped together.