Keith Lauver never thought much about packaging. He didn't have to. His company, The Healthy Pantry, was a mail-order service that sold all-natural, quick-to-fix boxed meals to subscribers--and mail-order consumers don't have to be enticed by a flashy package.

But in 2010, Lauver, who is based in Red Lodge, Montana, decided that the best way to expand his company was to get his products into grocery stores--and it became clear that he could not succeed without an entirely new brand identity.

So he hired the Boston-based marketing firm Marlo Marketing/Communications to craft a box that could sit comfortably beside products such as Hamburger Helper and Rice-A-Roni. The new brand debuted at the Natural Products Expo in March 2011.


The Logo

Before launching The Healthy Pantry, Lauver was prediabetic and 40 pounds overweight. Because his own transition to a healthier diet inspired him to start the business, he wanted the logo to scream health. He posted a request for a logo on CrowdSpring, an online marketplace for crowdsourced designs, and paid $400 for this one. "We felt it really spoke to a healthier you," Lauver says. "But, it turns out, most consumers assume healthy food doesn't taste good, so it pigeonholed us."

The Imagery

Initially, Lauver marketed The Healthy Pantry by throwing at-home cooking parties. The events generated strong word of mouth, which became the basis for the mail-order business. Because neither parties nor mail-order meals require compelling packaging, Lauver was able to get away with using images from that looked similar to his recipes.

The Box

In the early days, Lauver designed the labels on his home computer and placed them by hand on plain white boxes. It wasn't until Lauver began pitching grocery stores that he began to worry about how the product looked. In one meeting, a grocery store manager said, " 'Keith, you've got the ugliest box I've ever seen,' " Lauver says. That's when he started hunting for a designer.


The Imagery

The photo on the box, Fogelman says, is "the money shot. No one's going to buy this because it's called cooksimple. They'll buy it because it looks tasty." Fogelman, who took on the project in exchange for equity in the company, insisted on hiring a food stylist and food photographer, who worked for three days shooting seven entrées.

The Directions

To make the recipes look as simple as possible, Lauver and Fogelman included photos of all the additional ingredients people need to complete the recipes. "It's shocking how few people know how to cook anymore," Lauver says. "As silly as it may seem to put a picture of a pot on the box, I wanted to make it look easy enough that my 7-year-old could do it."

The Brand

During in-store demonstrations of The Healthy Pantry's products, Lauver found that most consumers valued convenience more than health. So he and Marlo Fogelman, whose Boston marketing agency focuses on consumer products, decided to undertake a complete makeover. The two brainstormed words and phrases associated with convenience, eventually agreeing on the name cooksimple. The logo is very similar to Real Simple magazine's, but Lauver's lawyer said the odds were low that the magazine would take action.