Packaging Analysis | Engaging People with Story


From a packaging standpoint, this is a good label. Matte finish, foil layer with an even application of adhesive. Compared to Breakside Brewing out of Portland, this label appears to use a thinner stock, it tears a bit upon peeling. From a design standpoint, it is the lofty hope of a graphic designer to create a package people will want to keep. Sticker enthusiasts are much appreciated in beer label design, because the effort of the work lives on past the consumption of the product.

I worked as a packaging graphics designer for 9 years, for one of the top 10 global retailers in the nation. Part of my job was producing graphics that sold product, capturing attention in 3 seconds or less—developing engagement effective enough to get someone to connect with the widget or cog and make purchase. After that, my concerns were refocused on selling the next product. To do that I was a part of the creative team that looked for inspiring sources to get the job done. Mythology is one of those resources we would use.

Mythos/mythology used to be considered discussion of current belief. This was in ancient Greece. In Jungian psychology mythos and creation stories are considered the live link between people/cultures and cosmos. Characters in these stories represent archetypes, shared character-types that exist in our collective unconscious. In short, using a mythological character can engage people on a deep psychological level, inspiring them for any number of reasons, but mainly finding a point of an individual’s character that they can relate to the archetype. This creates an indirect character-identification and triggers a person to by the cog or widget based on who one sees themselves to be. In our age of products and profits outranking the value of life and culture… it’s a sticky business. Although, admittedly I did buy this beer because I like Freyja, and on the personal note it is tasty.

Book review here,  GoodReads

Book review here, GoodReads

Freyja is one of the key members of the Norse Pantheon, on par with Loki, Thor and Odin. I can’t remember Odin’s wife’s name and on that note I’m sure I’m not alone. Why am I on this particular tangent? Partly yearning for our mainstream story tellers in Hollywood to do the work of presenting strong female archetypes to relate to. This is more than wanting to see it hit merchandising on a mass level. For example, I like the Avengers series and the Marvel Universe, but they wrote out Freyja.

There’s a rich collection of the Norse Myth put together by Neil Gaiman (writer of American Gods). In the introduction he talks about studying the available scrolls of the old stories. These are only available because Christian monks wrote them down. In his own account he notes that there are mentions of women all throughout the texts, and in the ancient poems and songs of the Norse people. The stories of the majority of women are written out.


Freyja represented the women’s role in Norse society. She was connected to the continuation of life, agriculture, advisor in matters of war, and provided a home to half the fallen warriors of battle after being selected by the Valkyries—the other half went to Valhalla. Marvel would have to figure out how to write a character that was more concerned with the balance of life and resource than of death and glory. It would cause a rift in the entire notion of what a Viking was… now commonly understood as the glorified pillagers who sought glory and fame by taking land, riches and women from newly established colonies.

Council in Asgard  Frigg (Odin’s wife) sits to his right. Freyja is standing.

Council in Asgard Frigg (Odin’s wife) sits to his right. Freyja is standing.

One such story survived, of how Thor dressed up like Freyja to get his hammer back from the giant king who stole it. Loki promised the giant he would bring him Freyja to be his wife, his one condition for returning Thor’s hammer. This suggestion was presented in council and Freyja shot it down, she had that right, and it was uncontested. Makes one question what was more valuable—a hammer that defended the nine realms or Freyja, this woman. It’s a good story.

Thor in disguise  which leads to his taking out a hall of giants with his hammer.

Thor in disguise which leads to his taking out a hall of giants with his hammer.

I believe we have a responsibility to tell accurate stories, or to challenge commonly held beliefs that get formed pretty firmly through the avenues of packaging and mass entertainment.

These understandings can be dismissed as fantasy, make-believe and so on…. or do because this all seems generations ago. Point is, women of a big part of my hereditary lineage were written out. You can see it in the label… just her gloved hand is shown.

Where do we go with that? “We” being people building community, working on change, community talking about mutual respect. Write a new story?

I guess I look at it like I look at original art education or education in anything. “Learn the rules first and then you know how to break them.” That being applied to graphics which become the kinds that people keep for whatever reason. For archetype stories of women who are buried in a culture of violent takeover and glory, we have shreds to work with, but good stories can be written with those shreds we have.

Mary K Johnson