Posts Tagged ‘packaging’

Deception on the Store Shelf :: Over the top “retouching”

July 22, 2009

Open any magazine and you’ll see images that have been retouched into oblivion. Perfect skin, narrow waists, flawless hair – these manipulated images depict people you’ll never see this way in real life. But by now we are all pretty much aware of this fact.

But when you purchase a product, specifically a boxed product, you rely on the photo to give you a real sense of what’s inside. Sure it might be retouched to improve color, texture or blemishes, but it should certainly be shown to scale in proportion with the other objects or people in the image.

Proportions can be deceiving... especially when you can use Photoshop!

Proportions can be deceiving... especially when you can use Photoshop!

For example, I recently purchased this inflatable pool for my kids – the Slide ‘N Splash Whale Pool from Banzai. From the photo on the box, it looks like a decent sized pool. And although the true dimensions are written on the box, it’s typically the photo a consumer would rely on to determine whether or not to purchase a product.

What I learned once I unpacked and inflated the product, is that it is proportionally MUCH smaller than what is depicted on the box. Not slightly, which might be forgivable, but vastly and greatly different. Unless these children are approximately 18-inches tall, there is no way this photo is real. This photo has been modified, at the very least, to shrink the images of the children to probably two thirds to half of their actual size. In reality, the slide is so small that when my 2 year-old sits at the top, her feet reach into the pool. (Yes, my daughter is an average-sized child.)

From a marketing and design perspective, this is blatant and intentional deception. By “faking” the proportions in their favor, Banzai believes they will sell more pools. And they probably will. I would not have bought it if the photo had more accurately depicted the size of the product. But they won’t make their customers happy by deceiving them. In fact, I have bought my first, and last Banzai product.


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!


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. (more…)

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.”


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.


How To :: Create Customer Confusion

January 6, 2009
Does this go in the fridge or the shower?

Does this go in the fridge or the shower?

I saw a coupon for this product this weekend and immediately thought, “Since when did Dial start making yogurt?”

It’s not uncommon for companies to branch out into new markets. Really, what company today doesn’t sell bottled water? So it’s not unreasonable to think that The Dial Corporation, known best for soap products, would create a dairy product. Yogurt is a popular food item after all, and businesses need all the revenue they can get. And vanilla honey yogurt sounds delicious!

But once your initial confusion subsides, you’ll see that this is, in fact, soap! No, it’s not yogurt at all. It is soap with yogurt in it! Genius, right? Perhaps. But the package design, while pretty, is confusing! How many consumers will think (as I did — a packaging and graphic design veteran) that Dial has gone into the yogurt business and buy this thinking it’s edible? Of the people who buy this thinking it’s yogurt, many of them (most I hope) will figure out that it’s soap before ingesting any. (The bottle is really a standard body wash bottle.) But what about the hand full of consumers who, for whatever reason, don’t figure out their mistake before trying some? What about the few who will actually consume this product? Can eating soap make you sick? I don’t know but I’m sure I don’t want to find out.