Bitters, Batteries, Beauty

Bitters, Batteries, Beauty

Excellence in packaging and design can make the world’s most boring products sexy. Exhibit A: The Tesla Powerwall.




Last month Tesla announced their flagship home and utility energy product to great fanfare. Writers, thinkers, and bloggers worldwide crunched the numbers and opined on the Powerwall’s usability and profitability but what struck us here at Trysk was the focus on beauty and design.


Telsa CEO Elon Musk described the Powerwall as “A beautiful sculpture on the wall” and spent much of his 18-minute launch presentation discussing its aesthetics. He maligned old batteries as ugly and neatly conflated the concepts of beauty, practicality, and convenience. The fact that the Powerwall is wall-mounted, and that homeowners wouldn’t need to sacrifice their boiler room or utility closet to its installation, was called out as a key design component.


Musk even took a dig at the ugliness of electricity lines, calling them “not the prettiest thing in the world.” In Musk’s world, the idea of going off-grid, previously reserved for survivalists and counter-culturalists, is also an act of beauty. Beauty that just happens to coincide with purchasing his new line of batteries.


Whatever your opinion of Tesla or the Powerwall, Musk’s acumen as salesman, brander and marketer is undeniable. This was the product launch of the year. They already sold out their pre-sales. And it was batteries. Silent, forgettable, inanimate batteries.


When one thinks of electricity, one imagines fun gadgets like televisions, computers, and phones or dynamic projects like wind farms or hydroelectric dams. Not batteries. Batteries are the part of electricity that you forget about.


Batteries are boring. Until they’re beautiful.


We were reminded of our friends over at Scrappy’s Bitters. Just like batteries, bitters are the part of the cocktail that you sometimes forget about. Bitters are intended to be subtle and accentuate the liquor.


So how does an artisan company like Scrappy’s, seeking to elevate the status of bitters among the drinking public, get people excited about something that, if done correctly, blends in perfectly with its surroundings? Excellence in packaging and design.



First, Scrappy’s went the extra mile on graphic design. Everything about this label is exquisite, from the font choices to the colors to the balance and use of white space. The aesthetics thoughtfully date back to prohibition-era design style and pay homage to bitters’ history as an apothecary cure.


Next, Scrappy’s thought deeply about who their customers are and what they need. Bitters are for bartenders. Bitters live at the bar (not on the shelves behind the bar). When bartenders look at bitters, they are looking down at the bottle tops.


Kia Karimi, Operations Manager at Scrappy’s says, “Bartenders were consistently tell us in dark bar, lights are slow, slammed at the well, you’ve gotta pull every bottle out of the bitters well and figure out which flavor you want.” They knew they needed to address that need if they wanted to stand out in a crowded market.


That’s why Scrappy’s varieties are color-coded with “topper” stickers on the lid. Bartenders don’t need to lift the bottle up to see what they’re working with.


Powerwalls go on the wall. Scrappy’s bitters go in the bar. Both products find beauty within usability and become top-of-mind through excellence in design.



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