Tropicana Products, owned by PepsiCo is America’s leading brand of orange juice. They underestimated their customer’s attachment to the classic packaging when they decided to rebrand. After a 5 month journey, which resulted in a dramatic change, the rebranded packaging was released in January 2009. The creative driver behind the redesign said that the focus of the orange-less look was to focus on the ‘notion of squeezing’. The iconic red-white striped straw in an orange, was replaced with a bad stock photo and cold-corporate typography, lacking any human touch or emotion.
The information structure of the new design was not consumer friendly. The original design was logically structured to simplify the consumer’s selection, creating a hierarchy for their eyes to follow and used smooth bends and curves in the logotype to reflect the natural nature of the product. The colours of the original packaging were deep, rich with saturated oranges and greens, evoking health and the natural world. While the redesign used brighter colours, they didn’t have the same depth and impact, looking ashed out against the white carton.
The redesign’s clean lines and lack of visual aesthetics achieved something that Tropicana’s competitors had never done before, degradation of its brand equity and undermining of their status as the market leader. Sales suffered instantly slumping 20% as they hit the shelf, consumers complained and flooded blogs for weeks to protest that the design was generic, bland and undistinguishable and it now looked like a ‘discounted store brand’. After 7 weeks after it’s launch, PepsiCo removed the redesign and returned to the original packaging which consumers had an emotional connection to.
There’s nothing unusual about a product repositioning their packaging, label or logotype to bring outdated aesthetics up to date with their enduring brand message. If the brand is doing well and still enjoying large market shares, why play around with it’s packaging? Remember that you’re not designing for the client and certainly not for yourself, but for the consumer. If there is a need to change then rebrand, if there is no need, then don’t rebrand.