Navya Jhunjhunwala is well on her way toward building a career in packaging design with an emphasis on food products. Her multi-step approach, honed at FIT, often leads to iconic, deceptively simple designs, easy to manufacture. They also build on her fascination with food.
Jhunjhunwala, who arrived in New York City from her native New Delhi in 2017 to attend FIT, started highlighting food on her Instagram account – in effect, a simple food “blog,“ while still a student.
“It began as a hobby because my friends and family would often ask me for restaurant recommendations, especially in NYC. It ended up growing and giving me many networking opportunities,” said the 2021 Packaging Design grad. The blog quickly led to freelance projects like Best Damn Cookies, Junzi Kitchen/Nice Day and HaGou.
To put it another way, “blending my love for food with my eye for design came naturally to me because I had a good understanding of the food industry as a consumer.” Good design leads to trying products.
A takeaway from coursework to professional work was learning how to break the design process into separate steps. “That led me to think about strategy and to create more meaningful designs and brand identities,” Jhunjhunwala said.
She met Mohit Sahoo, co-owner of Best Damn Cookies, when he contacted her via her Instagram account in winter 2021. He invited her to taste the company’s product. She spoke about her packaging and branding design experience, so when the company was ready for a redesign he hired her last May as a freelancer.
“When I began the redesign for BDC, I drew on a lesson from Professor Marianne Klimchuk’s class. We were assigned to redesign one of our past projects, paying close attention to breaking down the process into multiple steps.”
She started by taking the old Best Damn Cookies logo, and breaking down what worked and what had to change.
“We were especially impressed with Navya’s ability to synthesize what we wanted into a cohesive design without being swayed by prior attempts,” said Mohit Sahoo, co-owner of Best Damn Cookies.
“We had already worked with three talented designers who were not able to provide us with a logo that had the depth we wanted, while at the same time being simple enough for the type of market we were in.
“Navya took two very different aesthetics and merged them into one logo that my partner and I both were happy with and that had legs commercially,” said Sahoo.
“The shade of purple they were using served their product well, so I retained that and made a few design tweaks. But they had a script font that looked dated and didn’t speak to their target consumer, so I decided to get rid of it,” said Jhunjhunwala.
Now she is working on creating merchandise for BDC. “At FIT there was a lot of focus on ‘off-pack’ applications – designs that are not for the main product’s packaging. ‘Off pack’ applications show how the brand lives in the world.”
“Navya’s best strength is her ability to work with a lot of different brands, keeping their identities separate, but close to heart, while still delivering heartfelt visuals.
“We get a lot of people who compliment our visuals now, which is not something that happened before!” says Sahoo.
These are often secondary assets of the brand. “Creating secondary assets that feel true to the brand values and aesthetics are essential, but the new designs must look unique and purposeful.”
“At FIT I learned to start off with a review of the product and where it stands in the market. I made a competitive overview and created a ‘perceptual map’ to find a gap in the market,” says Jhunjhunwala.
“The perceptual map lays out the competitors and defines what qualities they have in common. If competitors feel playful and mass market, we might try to create a design that’s more sophisticated and high-end”
Another important step is to define the target market. Jhunjhunwala does this while studying the competition.
“I learn more about the consumer: What their lifestyle is like, what they buy, their income, age, gender, and so forth.”
Only then does she start “mood-boarding” and finding inspiration. She gathers images, fonts and colors that explain a certain direction in which the brand could go.
“I usually create three different options with unique defining factors, to see what works for the brand. I go beyond the look of the brand, and focus on how it makes the consumer feel.”
For example, if she’s going for a more refined and high-end aesthetic, the tone of voice used when talking about the brand in advertisements, Instagram captions and so forth would probably be more formal and classy, Jhunjhunwala says.
Only then does she start designing the logo and defining brand assets such as colors, primary and secondary fonts.. “I also come up with slogans that could be used for the brand,” she said.
The result in this case: A redefined brand identity with a simple yet unique logo, using color to differentiate cookies from one another.
It’s the best damn design!
Since carrying forward the Best Damn Cookies redesign, Navya has also been the designer for many of their collaborations with Fine and Raw, Truffle Shuffle and Mala Project.
To learn more about the Packaging Design program go to Packaging Design at FIT.