Courtside Isn't Just a Sports Drink, It's Also a 'Play' Drink

Courtside Isn't Just a Sports Drink, It's Also a 'Play' Drink

Sports drinks are a great way to hydrate and replenish electrolytes. But they’re usually full of added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and other additives and preservatives. Furthermore, they're seemingly designed and aimed at athletes that go hard. 

But regular folks engaged in leisurely exercise need hydration too.

The new beverage brand Courtside gets made using organic ingredients like coconut water, natural fruit juice, some effervescence, and nothing else. It's naturally full of hydration and gets sweetness from coconut water, but it's a sports drink for casual, less athletic occasions.

Courtside’s brand identity and packaging design express a casual, hydration anytime vibe. Absent are typical sports drink tropes like sharp, angular shapes and bright colors that convey high-performance and frenetic movement. Also missing are the woo-woo and dreamy presentations of modern functional beverages.

“With the branding, I wanted to evoke a sense of playfulness and joy through simple visual pillars and allow room for the evolvement of the system over time,” explained Ariel Irby, co-founder and the designer behind Courtside’s branding. “When people see or interact with the brand, I really wanted them to feel the play and warmth experiencing it, echoing moments they would spend with friends playing tennis or going to Dance Church.”

"Our core marks are minimal but find expressiveness through additions of illustrations and playful typography," Ariel adds. "I wanted our design language to be able to grow with us and continue to expand, so the brand always feels fresh but still ownable.”

The color palette is simple and pleasant, using blue, green, and yellow as primary hues, with red and white as secondary colors. The label has a slightly sporty feel thanks to the tall type used vertically along the side of the can, anchored by text along the bottom running horizontally.

Fruits are injected with personality while signaling the flavor of each can, thanks to excellent illustration work by Hannah Chow and Patrick Poss. Sliced coconut and limes sit on a bench, blueberries, strawberries, and lemon stand atop podiums, and a whole mango and sliced passionfruit sit on a towel.

“My number one goal with the packaging design was to create an eye-catching presence on the shelf,” Ariel said. “Beverage aisles are jam-packed, so I knew it would be crucial to use color and simple messaging to draw people in and answer what this is straight away. The time you get with new customers is so brief; I wanted our brand to stand out.”

Irby explained that the branding found inspiration in the nostalgic; memories from the 90s of playing soccer and kickball as kids, including the half-time snacks like orange slices and sports drinks. These moments are less about peak performance and high stakes and more about play and having fun. “I didn't want the branding and packaging to feel too sports heavy, especially leading with the name Courtside, so I brought in expressions of all movements and play, which is where our brand messaging comes from,” Ariel said.

So long as there's football on Sundays and CrossFit bootcamps, there will always be a sports drink with an aggressive aesthetic that's more in line with maximizing one's athletic performance. But Courtside offers something unique for the athletic-light crowd, something as laid-back as a catch or a pickleball session with pals with plenty of style to boot.

Courtside flavors are available in 12 packs for individual products and a “Warmup” variety pack at

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