You may know the details by now (and if not see Jackie Huba, Susan Gunelius or Stuart Elliott at the NY Times for excellent recaps), but Tropicana has suffered a new media thrashing at the hands of brand advocates unhappy with the new packaging by The Arnell Group.The enthusiasts are correct here, the packaging does indeed look more generic than the familiar packaging it replaces.Â The brand name is recessive and the product shot of the glass of orange juice stretched over two panels of the carton makes the product look like private label.Â The new packaging is also less functional, as it is harder to identify the form (with or without pulp, with added calcium, etc) as that information was banished from the main panel to the top flap only.Â Finally, in spite of Peter Arnell’s elaborate doubletalk, showing the juice on the package rather than the orange was a huge mistake for a brand whose primary competitive claim is that it is squeezed fresh from oranges and not made from concentrate.
The two more interesting questions from our point of view are:
- When should I spend the money to redesign packaging?
- How can I avoid a Tropicana fiasco with my own re-branding campaign?
Here are a few thoughts:
- Rebrand when you have news – a significant product innovation or dramatic improvement is a good reason to rebrand
- Rebrand if your market position changes – if a competitor threatens your brand positioning and you need to focus, narrow or shift the position
- Rebrand if you have new, innovative packaging – a packaging innovation is a good time to rebrand or just refresh the packaging look
- Refresh if you want to update the brand image – if the brand is stale and needs an update, make evolutionary changes to modernize the packaging
The Arnell Group would have served Pepsi and the Tropicana better to focus on refreshing the packaging rather than entirely rebranding it.Â Â The Pepsi logo rebrand was no less pointless than the Tropicana packaging overhaul, but it will be far less damaging because Arnell merely refreshed the logo by tilting it and adding a bulge.
Part of the lesson here is that if you don’t really understand what a creative guy is telling you, there’s probably a reason for that.