It’s almost always hot, it can be pretty spicy, and it always stands out on supermarket shelves; it’s hot sauce branding.
If there’s one thing you need to know about the team here at Canny, it’s that some of us live for all things spicy, especially me (someone who regularly takes on spicy restaurant challenges like he’s Homer Simpson).
So when I heard we were planning to put together a blog on hot sauce branding, let’s just say I was the first person to throw their name in the hat to write it.
That said, I should point out that the focus here is solely on branding, not taste – despite me having already tried around 65% of the sauces featured (again, I love the spice).
Unlike other FMCG packaging designs, hot sauce branding tends to have a lot more leeway in terms of how much creativity designers are given.
You’ll see this for yourself with some of the examples included below. There’s one brand that has modelled its bottle after a molotov cocktail that is sure to grab your attention, in more ways than one.
Let’s turn up the heat and get started!
Credit to Design Bro
Hugo’s Hot Sauce
I should point out that not all of the hot sauce brands I highlight can be found in the wild, some are the product of designers simply making something for the hell of it.
Take Hugo’s Hot Sauce, for example, a hypothetical branding/packaging design project by Jag Nagra, someone that clearly has a love for larger-than-life icons that run with a range of bright colours.
“I began this self-initiated project recently, to develop a line of hot sauce: Hugo’s Hot Sauce. I took on a metaphorical approach to the label illustrations,” says Nagra on this hot sauce project.
“Starting with a matchstick to represent the mildest one, they increase in spiciness continuing on to: camp fire, forest fire, fuse and lightning bolt.”
I like two things about this example of hot sauce branding. First, the emphasis on visuals/colours to relay important info relating to how hot it is. And second, just how simple it all is in execution.
Some might call it too plain/child-like for sauce meant to burn your mouth and throat to bits, but I appreciate it for what it is, which is a refreshing change of pace compared to 90% of hot sauce branding that is just skulls, devils, and flames.
Credit to Dobby Club
It’s Too Bloody Hot Sauce
Products inspired by other media can be pretty hit-and-miss. Thankfully, this Peep Show-inspired bottle of hot sauce is an absolute hit, at least in my opinion.
Believe it or not, this is actually one of several hot sauces created by Lou’s Hot Sauce, in collaboration with Dobby Club – a brand that makes a living selling merchandise inspired by one of the greatest UK sitcoms in history (if not the best).
The bottle itself isn’t going to win any design awards – no matter how good the illustration is on the front.
Mark Corrigan has never looked so good.
I’ve included It’s Too Bloody Hot here because it’s one of the best examples of nailing your brand messaging.
You see, for FMCG products to be successful, they need to be consistent across every touchpoint.
With this hot sauce, both Lou’s Hot Sauce and Dobby Club do a fantastic job of getting on the same page. From the name itself to the product description, to how it’s marketed on social media, it all reads from the exact same script.
Credit to Sauce Shop
If you consider yourself a connoisseur of the sauces – both hot and otherwise – odds are, you’ll have come across Sauce Shop in your travels.
They’re the brand with the logo that looks like it was made by a label-maker if that helps?
Design-wise, the brand does a great job of distancing itself from some of the other hot sauce brands you might see in Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.
The label-maker design is so effortlessly done, leaving enough room for the contents of the bottle to sell itself. And sell they do, both in-store and online, mostly because of the taste, but also, because of how it’s branded.
You see, a lot of Sauce Shop’s success comes down to how they showcase its values as a brand.
If you head over to the Sauce Shop website and skim through some of the pages, you’ll notice a couple of things that, clearly, flesh out their values in some way or another:
- They produce all-natural ingredients
- There’s an entire webpage dedicated to recipes
- There’s a strong sense of giving back/local pride
- They have a page dedicated to sustainability
- There’s a loyalty program for people to join
A lot of brands in this market, for lack of a better phrase, tend to get lost in the sauce when it comes to translating their values in creative ways; the same goes for scaling the business without losing touch with their values.
Sauce Shop is an example of how to successfully navigate both, to be true to yourself and the impact you hope to make with your product.
Also, they’re an example of how great hot sauce can taste when you use the best ingredients, so take note if you’re looking to get your own business off the ground!
Credit to TRUFF
TRUFF Hot Sauce
Is there such a thing as high-end hot sauce branding? Apparently, there is in the case of TRUFF Hot Sauce who sell some sauces at £35 a bottle!
Is it worth it, though, that’s the question?
The branding would suggest it is based on how lavish the product looks in its packaging and how it’s shown in photos/videos scattered across the TRUFF website and social media. The following statements they use to sell the brand certainly help, too:
- ”No Limit to Indulgence”
- “An Elevated Dining Experience”
- ”Luxury Condiments”
The positioning of this brand is excellent. They demonstrate a knack for knowing exactly who they’re targeting and how unique the concept of ‘luxury condiments’ is to a market known for its easygoing approach to branding.
I can all but guarantee that many will buy TRUFF’s hot sauces based only on the design of the website, how the bottle and packaging look, the style of the logo itself, and the language used.
If that doesn’t emphasise the power of branding, nothing will.
Credit to Packaging Inspiration
Siri Sriracha Sauce
From one classy example of hot sauce branding to another, only this one comes in a silver tin and is a lot more colourful in contrast.
I’m, of course, referring to Siri Sriracha Sauce, the mock design project created by André Moreira that might have changed the way I think of hot sauce packaging, for good!
In terms of the design, the rough and ready style of the illustrations, coupled with the laid-back type, make for a relaxing vibe overall, despite how much pain you might be in from consuming the sauce within.
That said, judging by the tone of the colours and how organised the designs are, I don’t think the sauce here would be all that spicy.
No, this looks like a mild collection of sauces, which to some might be exactly what you’re looking for.
The idea of pouring hot sauce out of a metal tin might be off-putting to some, but I quite like the concept, plus, it would make storing/handling it a hell of a lot easier; I imagine it’s less likely to smash into a million pieces if it ever fell from a worktop.
What do you think, would you ever pour hot sauce from a metal tin?
Credit to Yellowbird Foods
Yellowbird Sauce is next up on our hot sauce branding deep dive, a brand straight out of Austin, Texas, that packs some serious punch, both in taste and in branding.
There’s a lot to like about the Yellowbird Sauce brand, be it the simplistic design of the bottle, to the various colours it uses for different flavours, to the name of its ‘Bliss & Vinegar’ flavour.
Still, none come close to the yellowbird itself, the Yellowbird’s signature mascot found front and centre on every bottle.
What goes well with hot sauce? Chips, that’s what. Check out our blog on the best chip packaging designs here.
It reminds me so much of the Tweety Bird from Looney Tunes, only with a lot more attitude.
They might have a ray of sunshine floating over their head, but this bird is far from happy, probably to serve as a warning to how hot the contents of this hot sauce are – or to sell a range of merchandise, such as caps, reusable bags, and socks.
Not every hot sauce brand sells merch, but those that do should consider how transferable the logo is to these products.
If you can nail your logo, then there should be no reason why you can’t make some extra money selling other items; just follow Yellowbird’s lead and you’ll be fine!
Credit to Nikita Gavrilov
Remember that molotov cocktail-inspired hot sauce brand I mentioned at the top of the post? Well, this is it.
Introducing Molotov Pepper, the explosive hot sauce brand designed by Nikita Gavrilov, a Russian-based creative, who created this project for a student project, if you can believe that.
Discovering that this wasn’t a real product took me back a bit, as the quality of the packaging design and the branding is 10x better than the majority of what you see out in the real world.
“Be careful, inside the bottle, there is an explosive mixture that can set all your favourite dishes on fire and turn your stomach into ashes. The bottle is already on fire and the rebel hand is ready to throw, only the bravest can handle the power of Molotov Pepper.”
– Nikita Gavrilov, the mind behind Molotov Pepper
Who’d have thought that something so simple as a custom label found at the top of the bottle would lead to such a creative approach to its packaging?
Not me, that’s for sure.
The word ‘bomb’ being scratched out of the label is a great touch, too, although I imagine most sellers would want that taken off completely if they were to stock it themselves, unfortunately.
The hand around the base only adds to the character of the design, which applies to all three flavours of the hot sauce. If I had to pick my favourite of the bunch, I’d have to go with the orange, Sea Buckhorn Ghost Pepper flavour.
Can you see why I was harping on about this hot sauce brand now?
Credit to Design Vagabond
Fuego Hot Sauce
Fuego Hot Sauce is a lot like the TRUFF hot sauce branding example from earlier in that it looks expensive, probably tastes expensive, and has a unique packaging design to boot.
The only real difference between the two is that Fuego Hot Sauce looks a lot more DIY in comparison – almost like something you’d see on an Etsy store, just with a lot more attention to detail.
What’s lush about the hot sauce branding for Fuego is how much of a throwback it is.
The shape of the bottles, the mini-rack it comes with, and the printed type on the label, all of it feels like it was yanked from yesteryear and handed to modern-day cooks. The icing on the cake is the small shot-like bottles that come with it.
If you’re rushing to purchase yourself some Fuego Hot Sauce, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.
This is another one of those student-led projects, meaning it doesn’t exist and is, currently, nothing more than a concept; a very creative concept, but a concept nonetheless.
Props to University of Washington graduate, Stephanie Hughes, for designing this one, it’s class on so many levels!
Huy Fong Foods Sriracha
When I started putting my list of hot sauce brands I wanted to spotlight, I knew that I was going to have to include a classic in there somewhere.
Anyone that loves hot sauces will recognise the green top bottle from a mile away, not to mention, the rooster found on the front of the bottle. These recognisable elements belong to Huy Fong Foods’ signature brand of sriracha sauce.
I know I said I wasn’t going to include hot sauces based on taste, but I’d be willing to make an exception here.
You see, Huy Fong Foods is proof that branding and packaging design can be amplified when the product you offer has attracted a cult-like following based on its quality.
That said, the rich backstory of the company has also played a significant role in elevating the California-based brand – similar to Sauce Shop, only on a much bigger scale; a global scale.
A quick Huy Fong Foods history lesson:
Huy Fong Foods’ sriracha sauce was created in 1980 by David Tran, a Chinese immigrant from Vietnam who would eventually bring his product to the US.
The sauce was initially supplied to Asian restaurants near his base in Chinatown, LA, but sales grew quite quickly thanks to word-of-mouth. Fast-forward to 2012 and the brand announces that it had sold over 20 million bottles total (all without any form of advertising).
Unfortunately, not every hot sauce brand will be able to do what David Tran and Huy Fong Foods have been able to achieve. It takes years to build up that type of base, which is time that not a lot of FMCG brands have.
Still, it’s an inspiring story of how branding/packaging can be influenced by the product directly and not the other way around.
Credit to Working Not Working
We’re nearing the end of this hot sauce branding blog and have yet to touch on a single brand that hasn’t resorted to using demonic imagery in its designs, can you believe that?
It was a nice run while it lasted, but we need to talk about Seventh Circle now, a boutique hot sauce brand that takes its name from Dante’s Inferno.
Don’t worry if you haven’t read it/know what it is, we won’t spoil any of it for you.
Just know that it plays a significant role in how this hot sauce is branded, although, I don’t think the names of each flavour are? Speaking of which, I really like the names of these flavours, not to mention the typeface of each name.
‘Original Sin,’ in particular, is such a memorable name for hot sauce.
Most brands would shy away from using a similar type for both the logo and other text on the front, for some reason or another, but it works really well here.
What also works really well is the logo – a logo that consists of an illustrated scythe and a borderless flame. The two complement each other nicely, especially when paired with the wordmark.
Again, unfortunately, this is another personal project, so you won’t find it on supermarket shelves.
Credit to Pepper Geek
The Hot One’s brand is massive, to the point where you can’t have a conversation about hot sauce without someone mentioning “that spicy wings show on YouTube.”
Fans of the show will already know that they have their own brand of hot sauces, and are constantly coming out with new sauces with every season.
The scoville count might change with each new bottle, but what doesn’t is the quality of how each is branded.
The Classic, Los Calientes, and The Last Dab, all sport a very distinct look but are bound to a similar style via the logo and certain typefaces; Los Calientes being the most extreme version of the three.
What I like about The Last Dab packaging is how adaptable the design is, based on the number of versions we’ve had throughout the years. The Last Dab Apollo, the most recent version of the hot sauce, is the best it’s ever looked, in my opinion.
The muted yellow colour blends perfectly with the black and red colours found on the label. I also love the simplicity of The Last Dab type – the same goes for the Apollo type.
The Hot One’s packaging designs might not look as crazy as some of the other hot sauce packaging we’ve looked at up until this point, but it never needed to be.
Thanks to the show, the Hot One’s brand is synonymous with hot sauce, in the same way, that McDonald’s is for hamburgers and KFC for chicken.
In other words, the simplistic design of the bottle does more than enough to sell itself.
Hot Sauce Branding That’s Truly On-Fire
There’s only one word to describe the hot sauce branding covered in this post, and that’s:
I’ve already used the word ‘lit’ but that could also be used to describe what we’ve seen, especially that Molotov Pepper branding, which might be the best packaging design I’ve seen, period.
Would you agree or do you have a different opinion? Maybe you prefer the Truff Hot Sauce branding or one of the many Torchbearer sauces.
Regardless, if there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that branding and packaging design is the fuel that lights the fire of any FMCG product – be it hot sauce, potato chips, sweets, or alcohol.
You can have the hottest, spiciest, and tastiest hot sauce there is, but if you fall short on how it’s branded and how it’s packaged, then it will all be for not.
This is why many hot sauce brands choose to work with creative agencies like Canny, allowing them to focus on what’s inside of the bottle while we take care of the design part (arguably the hardest part).
If you’d like to see some of our previous packaging designs up close, check out the following case studies on the site:
All of these brands have gone on to find great success because they’ve worked with us, which is why most of them continue to work with us to this day, be it through social media assets, marketing materials for events, and even website hosting (yes, we offer that too if you need it).
Get in touch today and find out first-hand how hot we can make your hot sauce brand!