1.142009

brands, generic-style

I’ve noticed something lately — name brand food packaged goods are changing their brand visual identities to what seems to me to be a more generic brand look.  Following the two-times-is-just-a-coincidence-but-three-makes-it-a-trend adage, I offer 3 examples:

new carton design
new carton design
old box design
old box design
new box design
new box design
old bag design
old bag design
new bag design
new bag design

In each instance, the brand name seems to be de-emphasized, while the product type is more the focus.  I find this an interesting approach, given the battle between private-label and branded goods. Private-label brands are growing in number and market share, in part because of their increased “branded-ness” — cases in point:  Whole Foods365 Everyday Value brand and Costco‘s Kirkland.  And branded goods have been struggling to fight back.  (I previously posted about this.)

Are branded goods trying to emulate a private-label look in order to compete more effectively on shelf?  Or are they simply going for a more streamlined design and have inadvertently adopted a more generic look?  Either way, it’s a curious approach — one that doesn’t make sense to me.

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  • Hi Denise, I completely agree with your observation about a simpler packaging look becoming more popular. When I worked more frequently on packaging projects (at Landor a couple of years ago), consumers were somewhat bi-polar on their reactions to this streamlined look. They were just as likely to say it looks “premium” as they were to say “generic.” However, the more sophisticated consumers seemed to recognize the intent was for a premium image. I doubt that these brands are trying to emulate private label, rather they are just trying to break through the clutter as best they can. Lay’s, however, has an advantage. They don’t have to scream the brand with a large logo as their yellow packaging ensures a brand block in the snack aisle (much like Pepperidge Farm cookies or Nabisco crackers in their sections). Cheers!

  • noah brier just posted about this topic: http://www.noahbrier.com/quickies/2009/02/why_did_tropicana_redesign.php — love his last remark, “sometimes when the design community celebrates a rebranding the public doesn’t (and vice versa I’d imagine).”

  • latest news on the new tropicana packaging — it’s dead!
    according to the new york times’ stuart elliott, the company is bowing to public demand and scrapping the changes it had made — http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/feb/23/1n23juice20113-tropicana-learns-americans-can-take/?uniontrib

    peter arnell, industry giant and head of his eponymous firm, is taking the “there’s no such thing as bad pr” approach — he is quoted as saying, “i’m glad tropicana is getting this kind of attention.”

    i guess that’s better than admitting that the 30 people/5 months it took to develop the new packaging was a waste…

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