Brand Packaging

Risks, and rewards

February 19, 2010


When the new Tropicana packaging hit shelves, and didn’t go over very well with consumers, it created chaos among package designers and CPG companies. Not because the packaging was poorly designed. But because it demonstrated what can happen when packaging negatively affects shoppability.

Personally, I think it was a very creative design, presenting a somewhat 2D image of a glass full of fresh orange juice on the packaging…for a new orange juice brand - not Tropicana. The problem with creating a design from scratch is that you lose all brand equities, and therefore, shoppability. Maybe if this packaging were designed for a new brand, it would have fared well on shelves. Regardless, what’s done is done and it’s the aftereffects that marketers and package designers are dealing with now.

I recently spoke with Paula Scher, a partner with Pentagram, about the new Renu packaging for Bausch+Lomb (read more about the redesign in our March issue). She shared that many CPG companies are afraid to institute a major redesign because of the Tropicana debacle. And that wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that.

Brands are becoming much more cautious about their packaging. And they should be. Packaging redesigns are nothing to take lightly. In addition to clearly conveying brand attributes and product benefits, it’s imperative that any new design helps shoppers quickly recognize the product they’re looking for.

But creativity is nothing to hold back on.

Last year, when new product introductions were decreasing, manufacturers seemed to turn to new varieties instead, thinking it was less of a risk. But who’s to say how the new products would have fared in a down economy? The point is (as “Full House” as this may sound), life is full of risks. So when it comes to package design, why not take one? Although the Tropicana redesign had a negative outcome, it showed the direct impact of packaging on shoppers. Why not try to harness that power in a positive direction? After all, the greater the risk, the greater the reward.