Case Studies

Kohana Brand Redesign


Designer: Lauren Dickens
Creative Direction: Christian Helms
Illustrator: Abi Daniel

The natural beauty of carefully crafted coffee.

Kohana’s coffee is exceptional, but their brand identity was dated, out of sync with their values and missing the mark with contemporary coffee culture. With the brand poised to enter the national market and launch a new product line, it was a perfect moment to shun evolution in favor of revolution.

The new Kohana brand packaging.

We proposed a bold transition from a dated packaging system to an identity focused on the islands that inspired the brand, its values and the ritual of enjoying a cup of coffee. To help, we invited artist Abi Daniel to capture the beauty and energy of the coffee plant. The result is a striking package that not only conveys a sense of Hawaii, but translates to just about anywhere people enjoy a moment of reflection.

Shedding style and showing more than telling.

Kohana meticulously sources the best organic, fair trade beans and slow roasts them to perfection. Inspired by a much-needed moment of reflection while visiting Hawaii, Victoria Lynden founded the brand on taking a moment to slow down and enjoy life — and a cup of coffee.

The coffee is top-quality, but Kohana wasn’t communicating with consumers. Our work began with a review of their positioning and an analysis of the brand’s existing assets.

Kohana before the rebrand.

The original brand identity included text that stated that the coffee is organic, natural and artisan; but the packaging itself told another story

Let the flower speak.

“Kohana” is the small, white Hawaiian flower that heralds the arrival of the coffee cherry. It signals the promise of coffee to come, and the beginning of an extraordinary experience. It’s a strong symbol for the brand, but it wasn’t being leveraged in a way that resonated with consumers.

Our solution was to let the flower speak for itself. Rather than just telling consumers that the coffee is organic and natural, we would show them— letting the inherent beauty of the coffee plant tell the story in an honest, pure way.

Take a cue from the islands.

The Kohana name offered both opportunity and challenge. It’s unique and own-able, but it’s not an immediately recognizable combination of letters.

A distinctive characteristic of Hawaiian language is the building of words from small, truncated pairings of consonants and vowels. This structure makes large phrases more intuitive, and helps to create the language’s unique sound signature.

By clustering the Kohana name into three distinctive verbal cues, it allows for quick unpacking of the word, and an immediate understanding of pronunciation.
 Equally important, this treatment engages consumers in a moment of actual interaction with the name, which reinforces recognition.

Clarifying message and amplifying impact.

The clarified Kohana name and amplified coffee flower served as key drivers for new brand packaging. We commissioned illustrator Abi Daniel to work with us to leverage the flower in a powerful way, aligning its value and beauty with coffee itself. Contrasted by bold iconography and striking color, the packaging is warm and welcoming, and stands out on the shelf – a far cry from the previous packaging.

A strong, cohesive packaging system.

We united the previously fragmented Kohana system under a consistent color palette and messaging platform, and extended the language across the full spectrum of brand packaging to reinforce recognition in different parts of the store. The brand’s newest offering, a line of ready-to-drink cold brew coffees, offered an opportunity to translate the system to cans as well. Messaging clearly outlines how each product is used, and along with the color palette makes distinguishing different varietals easy

Activation materials and brand merchandise.

The identity system is designed to extend across a broad range of applications, bringing the brand to life in unique ways in a variety of settings. Each element is crafted to communicate a balanced expression of Kohana’s proposition and personality.

“As a businesswoman, I appreciate the sharp business acumen and strategic vision that HW brought to the table, to drive creative expression. The work was fresh, appealing, true to our roots, distinctive and differentiated.  HW delivered an authentic identity unique to Kohana.”

“The team at Helms is delightful, insightful and driven to deliver results. We are happy to report that our product launch has surpassed our expectations and our brand is gaining recognition, loyalty and value.”

Victoria Lynden, Founder, Kohana Coffee
Helms Workshop®