Tag Archives: package design

The Ten Brands I Give Thanks For

It’s Thanksgiving day, and although it sounds frivolous, I have spent the last few days thinking about what brands I really care about, that make a positive difference in my life, and that perform against higher standards than most. This is highly unscientific, personal, and random. But these companies make products that drive preference–mine at least–and stay the course in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

You will notice that the cool advertising is not  the reason these brands have been chosen. Cool advertising–or any advertising–is not the same as a brand. The same goes for the logo.

The list is in alphabetical order:

American Express For not recklessly pursuing the sub-prime market. For the wonderful Platinum card, which has earned every penny of the annual fee by giving me access to airline clubs on bad travel days. For retaining the original card member year on the face of the card.

Apple For gorgeous design, intuitive controls, and perfection in packaging. For not selling out to Intel’s co-branding dollars and keeping its advertising clean and distinctive.

Bergdorf Goodman For not contributing to the homogenization of the world and maintaining its one, spectacular and historic location. For merchandise that you can’t get elsewhere.

Felco For the best pruners in the world, in all sizes. 15 years and counting.

Google Voted in by my daughter, “because it answers all her questions,” and it’s hard to argue that. Besides, it isn’t afraid to take the logo out for a walk now and then. All I ask is that they stick with their mantra, “Don’t be evil”.

Hershey* For giving new meaning (or the original meaning) to “corporate social responsibility”. For employee retention and loyalty that few can claim. For staying true to its roots, even in extensions like the amusement park and hotel. *If they buy Cadbury and mess with the Trust, they are off the list.

Martha Stewart The brand, not the person. For inspiring me to get back in touch with my inner crafter, and make my home a better place. For an unerring eye for color, composition and quality. For products that are manufactured to high standards.

NPR For miraculous programing that brings a fresh face and point of view to whatever it covers. For Car Talk, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, Jonathan Schwartz, An American Life, all of which have kept me in my car long past the time for me to get out.

Olay For reinventing itself from an obscure, old lady brand, to a well-priced, well-researched, line of skin care products just before the recession hit. Well done!

OXO For changing forever the experience of peeling a potato–in other words, ergonomic innovation. For standing out among all the endless kitchen tools.

The minute I finish this post, I will undoubtedly come up with other winning brands. I’ll just keep them until next year.

How about you?


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Filed under Brand strategy, corporate identity, General Marketing, package design

Hooray for Kashi

There is a lot to admire about Kashi, both the company and the individual products. 

I was in the grocery store recently, and was impressed to see that Kashi is starting to have some real shelf impact. The cereal variety has expanded and I saw their pilaf in the rice section for the first time. And their products taste good, too.

That’s not unique, of course. Many companies can make the same claim. What is brilliant is the clarity and consistency of their positioning and message: “7 Whole Grains on a Mission”. In a world when companies want to be all things to all people, and wordsmith their messages to death, Kashi is refreshing by comparison. 

Their packaging is attractive and clean, but far from generic. They are obviously focused on healthy eating, but not as lecturers and finger-waggers. Instead, they reflect health infused with fun. The website is simple, easy to navigate, focused on people, community and environment. The tone of voice is modern, straightforward, human, young. They are quite transparent in terms of ingredients and nutritional analysis. So it’s a nice balance of style and substance.

Here’s where the going may get tough, though. How successful can–or should–Kashi become? How many product extensions are in the works? Here is the boilerplate that they use in their press releases:

As a pioneering health food brand, Kashi is dedicated to providing great

tasting, healthy and innovative foods that enable people to achieve optimal health and

wellness. Its products are natural, minimally processed, and free of highly refined sugars,

artificial additives and preservatives.


So far, so good. Yet, they are moving into frozen foods, like pizza, which may be pushing the envelope a bit when it comes to the ingredient list. 


But compared to what else I see in the supermarket these days, Kashi has a big leg up. They are more expensive than the usual highly processed, sugary cereals that dominate, so it will be interesting to see if their message outweighs the current trend to pinch pennies. My bet is that Kashi will continue to grow. My hope is that they don’t grow too much.

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Filed under Brand strategy, package design

Tropicana Redux: 20% Sales Drop Gives New Meaning to Negative ROI

Well, it’s one thing to go out in the blogosphere and sound off on my personal opinion, even if it’s shared by so many. It’s quite another to see the actual impact on sales that Tropicana experienced after Arnell redesigned the pack. According to Ad Age, Tropicana’s sales dropped 20% in a 7 week period, when the category was essentially flat.

Anyone who questions the agony involved in tweaking a package design should take note.

A lot of people are comparing this to New Coke and I think that’s rubbish. New Coke was a new product introduction, not a package redesign. It involved a new formulation, a new name and a new package. Tropicana was ostensibly doing what CPG marketers do every day, namely, updating the pack.

I have also read comments that question whether market research was done at all or if it was badly flawed. My sources tell me that the research was done, it was done thoroughly, the design tested dismally, and the recommendation was not to adopt the new design. Whose ego overpowered the voice of the customer? Or were the research results “reinterpreted” in a different way prior to being presented to the client?

Some graphic designers consider package design to be a lesser art form. It may not be as glamorous as corporate identity, but it’s far more complex, much less theoretical and, in terms of generating true consumer response, it is where the rubber meets the road.

Tropicana will recover from this. It will be interesting to see if there are any consequences for those who recommended the wrong path.


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