Birch water – sap collected from the trunks of birch trees by "tapping" them – is a popular drink and health food in Finland and other countries including Canada and China. However the beverage is not common in the UK, which has been identified as a target market for the product.
"Clarity of product communication was therefore paramount, so we used the packaging structure to our advantage," said Horse founder Ian Firth.
Tåpped's cylindrical can is made from 75 per cent wood and is designed to resemble the white stripy bark of a birch tree trunk.
"This helps overcome some of the challenges of communicating an unusual new product, but equally distinguishes the water from other beverages," said Firth.
The recyclable can is mostly made from renewable paperboard, which is sourced from sustainably managed forests.
The Tåpped label wraps around a section of the cylinder, and features an extended tab with a tree-shaped logo, which is "a reference to tagging of young saplings," the designers say. Orange, pink and blue labels have been used to differentiate between flavours.
"The design has been considered holistically, with both the packaging and the product helping to contribute to the preservation of forests", said Firth.
Referencing Norse iconography, the Tåpped logo features a tree shape that doubles as an upwards-pointing arrow, representing the way sap travels up the tree before being collected.
"We knew that to create the birch water market here in the UK, we'd need to educate consumers, so innovative attention-grabbing packaging would be vital," said Tåpped founder Paul Lederer.
Birch water, which is rich in minerals, vitamins and the antioxidant manganese, is harvested by tapping birch trees as the sap rises at the beginning of spring. The process is similar to the way maple syrup is extracted from maple trees, or latex collected from rubber trees.
The birch tapping season lasts just a couple of weeks each year and sap collecting has traditionally been a cottage industry.
But the health benefits of birch water are now being marketed heavily and the product is being talked up as a "super-drink" comparable to coconut water, leading to increasing industrialisation of the vast birch forests of Scandinavia and eastern Europe.
New York designer Joe Doucet also recently created packaging to promote a drink to an overseas audience. His bottle and branding for SŌTŌ sake reinterprets Japanese aesthetics to appeal to western consumers.