Tropicana, who introduced a radically re-designed packaging last month, has announced they will scrap the new designs in favour of the previous packaging. This move is unprecedented in my lifetime, wherein public outcry over the design of a product has influenced corporate decisions on the highest level.
The New York Times tells the story of how the new packaging failed to soar. The Design community, I predict, will rejoice. Faint sounds of “I Can See Clearly Now” will echo on the wind. Statues will be toppled. Ok, perhaps not. I was a fan of the previous packaging, designed by my buddy Debbie Millman and Sterling Brands.
In this particular case, it teaches us a valuable lesson: don’t mess with heritage brands! Americans, and consumers the world over, are passionate about the brands they know and love and trust. Those emotions are not to be taken lightly, and not to be toyed with. In case you were in doubt about the power of branding and packaging, let this be a new litmus test. Tropicana has occupied a place in the heart of Americans for decades, offering more than nutrition — offering comfort and routine and a bit of the simple life each morning.
The un-design and reverting is also a bit of pie in the face of Arnell Group, who re-designed the Tropicana packaging as well as a total brand identity re-design for Pepsi, and an update of Gatorade — each of which has earned more than the requisite amount of controversy. Imagine having your design accepted, and then rejected after a firestorm of public outcry. Wolff Olins, you’re next.