Tropicana Products, owned by PepsiCo is America’s leading brand of orange juice. In January 2009 they decided to rebrand but it looks like they underestimated their customer’s attachment to the classic packaging. The new version was a dramatic change, with the iconic red-white striped straw in an orange replaced with a bad stock photo and cold-corporate typography, lacking any human touch or emotion. The focus of the orange-less look was to focus on the ‘notion of squeezing’, justified the creative behind the redesign.
The information structure of the new design just didn’t feel consumer friendly. The original design was logically structured to simplify the consumer’s selection, creating a hierarchy for their eyes to follow and using smooth bends and curves in the logotype to reflect the natural side of the product. The colours of the original packaging were deep, rich with saturated oranges and greens, evoking health and the natural world. On the other hand, the redesign used brighter colours that didn’t have the same depth and impact, looking washed out against the white carton.
The new clean lines and lack of visual aesthetics managed to achieve one thing that Tropicana’s competitors had never done before, degradation of its brand equity and undermining of their status as the market leader. Sales went down instantly by 20% as they hit the shelf, consumers complained and flooded blogs for weeks. They felt the new design was generic, bland and undistinguishable and it now looked like a ‘discounted store brand’. 7 weeks after it’s launch, PepsiCo had no other choice but to remove the redesign and return 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There’s nothing unusual about a product repositioning their packaging, label or logotype to bring outdated aesthetics up to date with their enduring brand message. But 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.