Kraft Shreds its Cheese Packaging

April 27, 2009

At the supermarket this weekend I did a double-take passing the shredded cheese display. New packaging! How exciting. I made a beeline for the display which looked a lot like what you’d expect a generic or store brand to look like. Then came the big shock — it was Kraft!

kraft_old_full_line

Considering how controversial the rebranded Tropicana packaging was, I was very surprised to see that Kraft had followed suit. In the old packaging, although each package varies from cheese to cheese, the basic look remained the same: a blue wave at top and bottom, a “banner” top and center with the Kraft logo and type of cheese, and a clear view into the package. It’s recognizable, eye-catching, and invokes a sense of quality.

Please excuse the photo from my phone's "utility" camera.

Kraft's new shredded cheese packaging — white space and lower case letters.

The new, cleaned up packaging is almost austere in its simplicity. I am a big fan of white space, but this new design may be oversimplified for a big consumer brand. It heralds the old store brand packaging we all used to recognize, before “no-frills” brands began to compete on visual presentation, and not just on price and value. The packaging is not just a simple white and blue stripe with a block of color to indicate the type of cheese, it’s also not glossy! It’s a more matte-looking plastic package material, which, I’m sure, is intended to stand out from the other brands’ glossy cheese packaging. You might also think, that given all the clear-space around the Kraft logo, that the logo would stand out more from the package. However, it manages to get lost on this über-clean design, your focus, instead, is drawn to the colored block of copy on the bottom, which tells you the type of cheese in all lower case letters. Read the rest of this entry »

How to :: NOT use a font

April 7, 2009

Email blast design is just like every other technology — dangerous in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it. Here on Long Island there’s a wonderful organization called the LIA. However, the email blasts they send are less than wonderful. In fact, they’re simply awful.

We can forgive the cheesy headline, the many fonts used throughout, even the squished photo. What we can not excuse is the use of an all caps, italic, calligraphic font!

Why oh why? How does anyone think all caps, calligraphic font use looks good?

Why oh why? How does anyone think all caps, calligraphic font use looks good?

If you read our blog, you already know my position on Zapf Chancery. Well Monotype Corsiva is similarly abused. It’s just less accessible to everyday computer users. But the same rule applies: Just. Don’t. Use. It. However, if your font choices are limited, and you simply MUST use a “fancy” font, and the only font that will do is Monotype Corsiva, please, please, please, (for the sake of all our senses), don’t use it in all caps, or even with initial caps. It just wasn’t designed to work that way and it’s painful to look at.

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The swoosh logo :: just leave it

April 1, 2009
The Nike logo: from humble beginnings to universal recognition.

The Nike logo: from humble beginnings to universal recognition.

Nike adopted the swoosh for its logo in 1971. It’s symbolic, it’s iconic, and it’s very appropriate for their business. (And was designed by a college student, btw.) So what is it about the swoosh that makes so many decision makers want to use it for their logo? It’s everywhere. And no one uses it as well or as meaningfully as Nike.

A new swoosh for Capital One. But WHY?

A new swoosh for Capital One. But WHY?

It seems that both big and small companies in all industries think a swoosh logo is also right for them. Take Capital One for instance. What does their new swoosh say for them? That they’re fast moving? Is it an orbit? Does it intimate forward thinking? Truly these are not unique concepts, even if that is what they’re thinking. How about coming up with a logo that distinguishes them from the competition? One that focuses on their key strenght(s).

I have to wonder what motivated each of these companies to adopt a swoosh logo. Did they see swoosh logos everywhere and figure that was the thing to do? Did they subconsciously “copy” the swoosh from one of the few companies that use it successfully (Nike, Intel)? Did they see it as hip or trendy or otherwise worthy for their compay’s most valuable asset — thier brand?

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More font madness :: are these the 7 worst fonts?

March 24, 2009

On LMNOP’s blog, there is a post that is near and dear to my heart. It’s called America’s Most Fonted: The 7 Worst Fonts. Check out the link for their top 7 picks. I have to point out tho, that they missed my top pick: Zapf Chancery!

And after my post about the disaster that is Zapf Chancery, all kind of other disastrous fonts came to mind, like Tekton, Dom Casual, and Papyrus. (Unless you are an architect, and you are working in AutoCAD, and you are adding text to your blueprints, you should never, ever, ever use Tekton.)

And then when I wondered if this was perhaps too harsh, I found this post as well, Are We Being too Mean to Bad Fonts? Perhaps we are. The truth is we love type! Maybe too much. It’s not malicious. It’s just the experienced, critical eye of a designer slash typophile tirelessly searching for meaningful design.

Designer nightmares :: Zapf Chancery

March 11, 2009
Zapf Chancery Italic — not a "fancy" font.

Zapf Chancery Italic — not a "fancy" font.

Simply put, Zapf Chancery is the font that never should have been born.

No offense to Hermann Zapf, the font’s designer. (To his credit, he also designed Palatino and Optima.) Zapf Chancery looks a lot like the calligraphy I was teaching myself when I was 12. Only uglier. But Zapf Chancery’s real crime isn’t its existence, it’s HOW and HOW OFTEN it’s used.

Unfortunately, Zapf Chancery comes standard as a system font on every computer I’ve ever seen. So that means it falls into the hands of, well, everyone. And lets face it, not everyone is qualified to use fonts beyond Arial and Times.

Because it’s standard on every computer, it’s not just individuals who have the potential to create something awful with Zapf Chancery, it’s sign shops, copy shops, art school students, and on-line quicky design services. And they are creating! From beauty shop signs and address stampers, to invitations and (blech!) business cards, Zapf Chancery seems to be everywhere!

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Generic Juice :: Tropicana

February 25, 2009
Tried and true. A package design so familiar, yet only truly noticed once it was gone.

A package design so familiar, yet only truly appreciated once it was gone.

The name Tropicana is almost synonymous with orange juice. Yes, the company makes other products, and other big name companies make orange juice. But Tropicana, with it’s clever straw-stuck-in-the-orange concept, is really the biggest name in orange juice.

In a media-soaked society like ours, companies have to keep their products — and product packaging — fresh. And when Tropicana (owned by PepsiCo) decided it was time to add some freshness to their well-known orange juice cartons, they enlisted the help of Arnell, a NY-based firm.

Tropicana's new carton: whitespace gone wild.

Tropicana's new carton: whitespace gone wild.

And design they did. Gone is the recognizable straw-stuck-in-the-orange concept, gone is the comforting green gradient Tropicana logo, gone is the familiar orange band that boasts of pulp or no pulp. It is an entirely new design with scarcely the tiniest bit of the old package concept left — perhaps just the orange and green color — not really enough to retain any mindshare. I suppose Arnell and PepsiCo feel that the Tropicana name (which is not very pronounced on the new package) is enough to prevent customer confusion and maintain customer loyalty.

Not surprisingly, everyone is talking about this new package. But probably not in the way that Arnell and PepsiCo would like. The most common conversations I’ve heard go something like this: “Have you seen the new Tropicana packaging?”

“Yeah. It looks like a store brand.”

“Yeah.”

Okay, so there aren’t many ground breaking discussions happening in the juice aisle. And if it were a group of designers discussing the new package, the conversation would have been a lot lengthier, but not any more positive. But when your customer-base thinks your new package looks as generic as a store brand, you’ve got problems.

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