blog - World Kombucha Award 2023 - Gold Medal - Can Design! Discover the creative sparks of Yugen!

World Kombucha Award 2023 - Gold Medal - Can Design! Discover the creative sparks of Yugen!

World Kombucha Award 2023 - Gold Medal - Can design
World Kombucha Award 2023 - Silver Medal - Ginger Lemon
World Kombucha Award 2023 - Bronze Medal - Pineapple Chili
World Kombucha Award 2023 - Bronze Medal - Strawberry Basil

In Ghent, an incubator where creativity and business go hand in hand, the story of Yugen Kombucha finds its origins. Wim Vandersleyen, a versatile graphic designer, along with Chris De Backer, co-founder of Yugen, share insights that go to the heart of Yugen's artistic and business ethos.

Wim, with his experience ranging from local bakeries to international companies, plays a key role in shaping Yugen's visual identity. His collaboration with the brand exemplifies diversity and creativity, while Chris brings a unique business perspective from his position as co-founder. Together, they dive into Yugen's visual journey.

Man in a black t-shirt and aviator sunglasses holding a can of Yugen Kombucha with ginger lemon flavour outdoors on a sunny day.

The Visual Journey of Yugen

From the beginning, Wim's goal was to capture the essence of Yugen's kombucha. As the architect behind the brand image, from the colour scheme to the stylish cans and bottles, he embodies the spirit of Yugen: minimalist, dynamic and bold.

Believe it or not, the design concept for Yugen Kombucha's packaging was inspired by the rough, typographic design of coffee bags. Wim shares, "These bags carry coffee across oceans from South America, stamped with clear, crisp information about their contents and weight." He transformed this simple, 'dry' approach into something that stands out on shop shelves, saying: "It is the contrast between the utilitarian and the aesthetic that makes our packaging unique."

Collage of burlap coffee sacks from various countries including Honduras and El Salvador, and a chart of black and white coffee-related symbols and icons.

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Row of Yugen Kombucha bottles with various flavors including Apple Mint, Pineapple Chili, Mango Turmeric, Grapefruit Hops, Ginger Lemon, and Cherry Thyme, labeled as organic and vegan with live cultures.

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Yugen's Design Philosophy: Art and Taste in Harmony

Wim Vandersleyen's creative path with Yugen Kombucha is a testament to Yugen's belief in the power of design. "This vision has opened the door to a unique collaboration with illustrators, where tight brand guidelines meet artistic freedom. Illustrators are given a 'circular space' on each can and bottle, within which they integrate Yugen's themes into their art, each with its own story per flavour", says Chris.

The search for the ideal illustrator for each taste is a painstaking task, with Wim and Chris striving to find artists whose style matches Yugen's minimalist aesthetic, emphasising diversity and uniqueness in each collaboration.

Collection of black and white circular Yugen package designs featuring intricate illustrations of animals, nature, and people in various thematic compositions.

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The result is a cohesive yet diverse collection of designs that not only reinforce Yugen's identity, but also celebrate the individual creativity of each artist. In advance, check out these toppers their instagram/website:

@wimvandersleyen_studio, @charlesdegeyter, @goes.peter, @joelleduboiss, @mellongwen, @artuur_vdk, @jacquesandlise, @buethewarrior, @maarten.donders, @henkwillems1

Creating the Yugen font: A Symbol of Brand Identity

In the realm of visual storytelling, the creation of the Yugen font stands as a milestone for the brand's commitment to a unique identity. Faced with the limitations of existing fonts and their alignment with the hand-drawn Yugen logo, Wim decided to take a bold step. "Creating a customised Yugen font was a way to not only achieve visual harmony but also reinforce our unique brand personality," he explains.

Yugen font showcase featuring bold black typography on a yellow background with the full English alphabet, numbers 0 to 9, and various punctuation marks, alongside the Yugen Kombucha Ginger Lemon logo.

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Designed entirely from scratch, this customised font complements the Yugen logo and integrates seamlessly with the brand's visual story. It is more than just a collection of letters; it is a reflection of Yugen's commitment to authenticity and creativity and it ensures consistent communication.

Assortment of Yugen Kombucha brand designs with phrases like 'TEA HERBS SUGAR JUICE', 'ALWAYS KEEP COOL', and 'PURE FRUIT JUICE' in various fonts and vibrant colors including a silhouette of a kombucha bottle and plant illustrations.

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Yugen's Award: Gold in "can design" at the World Kombucha Awards 2023

Yugen's receipt of the gold award for their can design at the World Kombucha Awards 2023 was an unexpected honour for Yugen and Wim. "It was never about the awards, but recognition is always welcome," says Wim. This award is a sign of the shift in consumer goods towards strategic and holistic branding, focusing on the interaction between aesthetics and brand ethos. Yugen's recognition is a testament to their profound, inspiring brand concept - the core of Yugen.

Colorful cans of Yugen Kombucha featuring botanical designs in blue, green, and pink hues, with flavors like Ginger Lemon, Apple Mint, Pineapple Chili, and Grapefruit Hops, labeled as organic, vegan, with live cultures.

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The Essence of Yugen: An Experience Beyond the Senses

Chris explains: "The word "Yugen", deeply rooted in Japanese philosophy, is more than just a name for our kombucha. It represents a profound and almost mystical concept, experiencing the extraordinary beyond the everyday". Wim Vandersleyen, acknowledging the complexity of 'Yugen', sees it as "a moment where everything converges in such a way as to create a sense of something beyond our sensory perception."

Bottle of Yugen Kombucha Cherry Thyme flavour placed on pine needles with a backdrop of green pine branches, highlighting the drink's organic and vegan qualities.

This philosophy forms the basis of Yugen Kombucha. It is not just the creation of a drink, but the creation of an experience that transcends the boundaries of ordinary sensory interactions. "Yugen is how we position our brand in the world," reflects Chris. "It is our approach to relationships, with customers, suppliers, or partners, and it is present in every aspect of our business.

From the subtle flavours of the kombucha to the artistic packaging, Yugen Kombucha is a manifestation of this deep philosophy, focused on more than just a drink, but on an experience that reflects the depth and beauty of life. "This philosophical foundation extends to our approach to sustainability, an integral part of our corporate identity."

Sustainability: The Core of Yugen

Yugen's commitment to sustainability is deeply integrated into every aspect of its packaging design. Wim and Chris emphasise this commitment and point to the use of printed aluminium cans as a crucial choice. "Aluminium represents the gold standard in environmentally conscious beverage distribution," they explain. This decision reflects the brand's ethos of ecological awareness, ensuring that every product not only delights the taste buds but also respects the planet.

Yugen's design philosophy also embraces simplicity for sustainability. By adopting monotonous designs, the brand not only achieves an elegant aesthetic but also significantly reduces production costs. This approach is not just about visual appeal; it is a conscious effort to minimise environmental impact and offer affordability to customers, as highlighted by Chris.
Wim, who shares these lessons at Artevelde hogeschool - Ghent, stresses the importance of reducing the use of plastic. "The preference for screen printing over plastic packaging on bottles is a testimony to our commitment to sustainability," he says.

Variety of Yugen Kombucha bottles with illustrated labels, featuring flavors such as Apple Mint, Cherry Thyme, Ginger Lemon, Grapefruit Hops, Passion Fruit Elderflower, Pineapple Chili, Raspberry Cacao, Blood Orange Juniper, Mango Turmeric, and Strawberry Basil, all emphasizing organic and vegan qualities.

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"This approach is in line with Yugen's vision of a greener future, where every choice, from packaging to production, contributes to a healthier environment. In parallel with our environmental efforts, our relationship with creatives plays a crucial role in bringing our vision to life," states Chris.

Collaboration with our artists

Yugen's ethos is founded on a deep belief in the power of collaboration, a vision shared by Wim and Chris. They stress the importance of shared vision and creative freedom in their collaborations. This principle has proved crucial in building strong ties with illustrators, allowing Yugen to reflect its unique identity in a variety of media, from packaging to promotional materials.

Group of people casually seated outdoors, some on chairs and others on a curb, enjoying bottles of kombucha with boxes of assorted beverages nearby, in a relaxed, informal setting.

Over the course of their five-year collaboration, Wim and Chris have developed a harmonious synergy with artists. This interaction has led to a coherent and dynamic brand story. Wim explains: "It's not just about making designs, but about bringing to life a lifestyle that exudes Yugen."

An essential aspect of these relationships is respecting and nurturing artists. Yugen's approach transcends legal agreements, focusing on a shared understanding and appreciation of creativity. Wim emphasises the importance of clear communication and recognition of artists' contributions. This recognition is visible in how Yugen credits illustrators in both marketing materials and on the products themselves.

The distinctive Yugen circle design in their illustrations symbolises the brand's commitment to artistic expression. This design element, consistent in form, allows space for each artist's creativity and contributes to a recognisable Yugen style, notes Wim.

The Yugen Arts Community

"Yugen is not only committed to individual projects, but also actively supports the growth of the art community. The brand focuses on promoting young, emerging talents by providing them with a platform to develop and express their unique voices," declares Chris.

Collage of vibrant Yugen event posters for art exhibitions, music jams, and book launches, featuring bold graphics, various fonts, and details about the events including dates, times, and locations.

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Wim shares, "Our community is about mutual growth and support, where experienced artists mentor newcomers, resulting in a thriving creative environment." This commitment extends to events such as exhibitions, where artists not only exhibit their work, but also learn and grow together. Yugen's collaboration with artists is a journey of shared growth and creative exploration.

Wim Vandersleyen, sharing his insights on the evolving landscape of graphic design and packaging, highlights the trend towards eco-friendly solutions. "The future of packaging design lies in sustainability," he argues, pointing to the growing importance of ecological considerations in design choices.

Yugen Kombucha embraces this vision of the future by focusing on eco-friendly packaging designs while taking into account current trends in digital and social media. This means striving for designs that are not only visually appealing but also practical and feasible, with a special focus on multilingual labelling for the diverse Belgian market. This approach reflects Yugen's commitment to both environmental responsibility and effectively reaching a wide audience.

We invite you to be part of this journey. Share your thoughts on how Yugen's story resonates with you. If you have ideas or questions about our design philosophy, sustainability efforts, or future trends, please contact

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