Pivot, Position and Purpose: How We Made Our Brand’s First Bottle

By Vasu Goyal, Founder at Shot X

The idea of Shot X came during my final year as an undergraduate student at Michigan State University. From weekly events to St. Patrick’s day, I experienced a life where students lived for the weekends and got extremely wasted every single time. It was almost like they had to drink more the next morning to kill a hangover, some would take an Advil, and a few would resort to coconut water. Even though I was not as extreme, I was still part of the same tribe. Like every other student, I used to yearn for a hangover cure the morning after.

While working on Shot X, I met a lot of experts– venture capitalists, marketing specialists, entrepreneurs. “The branding is good for the hangover segment”, they said. However, they also said it did not reflect what the product was and therefore lacked function and purpose. Because Shot X was a turmeric drink, we were strongly suggested to detach from our nightclub branding and transition to colors that indicated it as a health beverage. Over subsequent months, we worked on understanding and identifying our target market. After months of market research on how to position the Shot X brand, we finally had a brand strategy in place. Here is the journey of how Shot X evolved from a clubby after-shot to its present branding in visuals:

27 June ‘17–First Render

The product had just come out of R&D and we had only made a render based on the name and brand essence– they still stand today. Shot X was the first name we picked and we ultimately stayed with it. “Shot” came from the idea that it was a 70ml drink, and could easily qualify as the size of a shot. The “X” was the drink’s X-factor which was the unique turmeric based formulation we had created. We locked the name once we saw that the name stuck with everyone whom we had surveyed. The brand’s essence, “Get Back to Life” really signified the purpose of the product– wake up feeling fresh and get on and have a productive day.

The very first render for Shot X. It aptly fit with the clubby vibe we wanted.

We initially wanted to target the party/hangover segment in the US and anticipated hangover to be a good sales pitch. To aid our pitch, we started with a black and white bottle design. It was bold, matched the vibe of a nightclub setting and it looked aesthetic. We were leaning towards placing the drink in bars/ clubs/ alcohol stores and this render hit home the idea of something that people would spot and want to carry.

We had also contemplated different bottle designs, but each design had its own set of issues.We toyed with the idea of a tin bottle to explore more options. The idea of a tin bottle was dropped because we knew we would be competing with bigger brands for shelf space. The tin bottle was also deemed unnecessary because the drink did not have to be refrigerated before consumption. The idea of a glass bottle was also in the works but we ultimately decided against it due to logistical and handling costs.

The three alternative bottling options we were initially considering for Shot X

“When they say always go with your gut, they were right”. So we kept our first design and decided to test the waters.

TESTING PHASE

When testing, we chose a wide field. We tested the drink at fraternities, golf tournaments and clubs. We handed enough samples to generate ample feedback.

The Feedback - “Is this an energy shot?”, “Is this an alcoholic beverage?”, “Is this for men?”. We discovered through some really insightful conversations that a turmeric drink inside a black casing, even when its made for the hangover market, does not cut it.

For expert opinion, we spoke to some VC’s, marketing experts, and other entrepreneurs in the field.

We got 3 key insights:

  1. Black and white were attractive but weren’t gender neutral
  2. Shot X needed to explicitly state its purpose
  3. The brand colors needed to depict Shot X as a health beverage, and not as an energy drink

POSITIONING CHANGE

In our market testing phase, another key product related insight that we received was repositioning ourselves. We wanted to indicate Shot X as a health beverage that not only helped people with hangovers but supported liver health in general. Conducting competitive research and looking at what rested on the shelves of popular health grocery stores helped us. The colors yellow, green, and white seemed like the solution for our new positioning.

As our positioning changed, so did the bottle design. We came up with countless renders and ideas to indicate our positioning. The color green just did not seem to go well with what Shot X truly did.

Shot X bottle design transitioning gradually towards a healthier look due to change in positioning.

We wanted the bottle to look minimalistic. So we cut the green out and focused on white and yellow. After multiple renders and physical prototypes, we came up with our very first bottle.

FIRST PUBLIC BOTTLE

Final Shot X bottle. It accurately depicts the brand’s vision and stays true to it’s purpose.

Voila!! Final Design– Turmeric orange and white

Turmeric is the active ingredient in Shot X. It is a well known spice and it stood out for our positioning. For the clean look, we wanted the overall bottle to be white.

Weighing the pros/cons and the stickiness aspect of the design, we finalized this bottle. We then came up with the 4 pack that suited our branding.

We did and we still do love the first bottle shape, but we faced a lot of manufacturing challenges with it and therefore, the idea currently stays in the works. We are still working on perfecting the shape and size, so stay tuned and follow us in our journey as a DTC brand…

BOTTLE AND POSITIONING EVOLUTION


Company Profile

Company: Shot X

About the Product : Shot X is a 70ml, turmeric based supplement that is intended to minimize the after-effects of drinking. It boosts the liver’s natural ability to respond to alcohol. A glass of wine on a casual night or downing multiple drinks over the weekend, whenever you drink, Shot X supports liver health and helps avoid rough mornings.

Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA

Year founded: 2018