Snapping to a New Design

Brand New recently reported on the new bottle label design for Snapple teas and juices.   When I was at the grocery store yesterday, I made sure to investigate.   Overall, the new design took Snapple up a notch or seven on the classy scale.   The designs are solid and well-executed.   And that scary-looking sun is gone, which is a big plus.   Here are a few snaps of before and after designs.

snapple before and after

snapple before and after

snapple after

The Devil Is In the Details, and So Am I

As I was looking at the new Pepsi logo this afternoon, the gears in my little brain starting turning, and I arrived at an interesting thought.   Here’s the new Pepsi logo:


I was looking particularly at the ‘e’ in the logo and wondering about the wave.   Here’s the old Pepsi globe; notice the wave:


What if the wave in the ‘e’ of the new wordmark:


Was flipped horizontally to become a subtle reference to the old globe:


So then, the Pepsi wordmark would be:


The current wave in the ‘e’ is curious as to its purpose. Why not make it a straight bar instead? But if the wave should stay, why not give it a real purpose?   Just a thought.

I’m In Love with the Pepsi Packaging

I was at the grocery store today and snapped these pics of the Pepsi packaging.   I’m in love with the minimalism of these designs. Absolutely gorgeous.

The bottles:

pepsi packaging

Can boxes, side view:

pepsi packaging

pepsi packaging

End view, both old designs and new designs:

pepsi packaging

Diet Pepsi Vanilla, before and after:

pepsi packaging

Wild Cherry Pepsi:

pepsi packaging

My hat is way off to the Pepsi team and the designers who took the packaging in this remarkable direction.   Awesome work.

The Recovery Begins With Government Graphic Design

Last week, President Obama unveiled logos for two new administration programs,, aka American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery):

recovery logos

NPR interviewed creative director Steve Juras about the logos.   Juras provides a nice overview and insight to the logo development.

Armin at Brand New writes:

The ARRA emblem feels decidedly American, it might just be the stars and the blue, but it definitely has an American pride aura to it. The design is clean and simple and touches on three key aspects: America (of course), the environment, and the industry. The design of each element could probably be discussed ad nauseam and hundreds of alternative drawings could have been made, but as quick signifiers these work great. I’m not a fan of the rounded corners of the quadrants, but that’s just me. This logo probably looks kick-ass in all black too.

The logo for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program may feel a little corny, with its tiger stripes. But, let’s face it, sometimes it’s too tempting to forego the obvious and this logo creates a very identifiable visual. The thing I love about it is the combination of dark gray (or is it black?) that could stand for the asphalt that millions of people drive on each day throughout the U.S. and the orange that is emblematic of all the workers that are regularly out there working the roads. The type choice for TIGER is odd though: Kabel (slightly modified).

I can’t argue with clean and simple, and I particularly enjoy the symbolism in the TIGER logo.   Construction road signs are what colors?   Orange and black, so using these two colors in the logo representing the U.S. Department of Transportation (you know, the road crew folks) is fitting (images from the Manual of Traffic Signs):

construction signs

If this is just the start of the high level of design the Obama Administration is going to introduce to the federal government, hats off to them, because good graphic design was one of the many things missing from the Bush White House.   Steven Heller, graphic design extraordinaire, blasted the Bush Administration’s use of fonts on the banners that appeared behind the president during major speeches (the “Mission Accomplished” variety) in an article for AIGA:

Whatever one thinks about [the Bush] administration’s domestic and foreign policies, the White House’s garish type selections are so thoughtless they trivialize rather than enhance the rhetoric of our POTUS (no, not a synonym for doofus or that substance he used to smoke but rather the Secret Service’s acronym for President of the United States). While his handlers would never allow the leader of the free world to go out in public wearing a rayon leisure suit and white bucks, they nonetheless use clownish shareware typefaces with hokey beveled edges and cheesy drop shadows to represent his ideas.

So here’s to more good design work from the Obama Administration in the future.   And do the jobs of creating the logos count as stimulus-related job creation?   If so, the stimulus is already working.

Tropicana Squeezed by Consumers


I’m very late in commenting on this story, but Tropicana recently announced it was un-designing its juice cartons.   What a shame.   When I wrote about the redesign back in January, I said:

The cleaner designs of Tropicana and Pepsi and specifically the minimal design of the Pepsi containers are a very welcome change in beverage packaging, proving once again less really is more.

But now those new, beautiful juice cartons are being replaced with the old, uninspired designs that preceded them.   Were the new designs perfect?   No, probably not.   But completely scrapping them in favor of the original designs takes seventeen steps backward.

What set these new (I guess I should refer to them as the old designs now?) designs apart from other orange juice packages was that they were fresh and simple with their approach.   Some people have argued the redesign made the cartons look generic, but I think other orange juice cartons are generic-looking because they all are variations on the same design with only slightly-modified elements lousy font for the logo, check; the logo maybe in an upward arc, check; illustrated orange, check; plastered-on pulp- or squeezed-type text, check;   multitude of extraneous other text, check.   Instead of harmoniously- and smartly-designed packages, other cartons have become exercises in how much the “designer” can fit onto the carton.   Take this Florida’s Natural carton (from Global Package Gallery), for instance.   Just on the front, how many times does the word “Florida” appear?

Florida's Natural

Matt Everson at Astuteo makes the case that the new Tropicana cartons failed and details eight reasons why.   The first reason he lists is labeling, writing:

ORIGINAL: Text labeling appears along the top sealed edge and across the front, all knocked out of a large, tactfully positioned block of color indicating the type of juice. Product variations are easily distinguished at a glance.

REDESIGN: Text labeling of the juice type along the top and across the front is inconsistent – one is reversed and one positive – and the thin colored stripe is far less noticeable requiring a greater investment of time and concentration on the part of the shopper.

I’ve seen this argument elsewhere also, and it really bothers me.   For people to complain that they now have to actually read the carton is befuddling.   Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite before buying something anyway?   Or do people prefer to close their eyes and just grab something off the shelf, whatever it might be.   Are we now in the business of advocating laziness?

So with the old designs, locating the correct carton maybe took two seconds, but with the new cartons, locating the correct juice now takes five seconds?   The new cartons clearly state in a specific color-coded fashion what type of Tropicana orange juice you’re looking at.   But this isn’t enough for the average, lazy, too-hurried-to-actually-read-what’s-in-front-of-them, always-complaining-they’re-soooo-busy American who prefers this text to be blazoned across the carton in a manner that screams, “hey you moron, I’m ‘no pulp.'”

Maybe, though, the distaste I have for undesigning the Tropicana cartons and the reasons people cite as failures of the redesigns invoke larger questions and complaints I have about modern American culture, a culture that advocates multi-tasking, rushing through the day, and spending less time and focus on our tasks.

But I suppose that discussion is for another day.   Today, though, I can say I switched to Tropicana orange juice because I appreciated the package design immensely.   Once the superior redesigns disappear, maybe I’ll keep a carton around and keep filling it up with juice from the sub-standard, generic undesigns.

Yes Pepsi Can

Using the same design and animation concepts from their New Year’s commercial, Pepsi launched a new commercial to coincide with the presidential inauguration Tuesday:

“Made of Energy”

A splendid motion-graphics-based Pepsi commercial for the new year and coinciding with their newly launched branding.   Slick, colorful, and simple.   “It’s time for joy” indeed.

Pepsi’s New Look Fizzes with Excitement

Pepsi recently revamped its logo and beverage container design. The new logo clearly retains the spirit of the old logo but injects a different feeling. But what is more intriguing to me is the design of the beverage containers.

Cans (from and ignoring the awful faked reflections):

new pepsi cans

And the bottles (from Brand New):

new pepsi bottles

The new look fizzes with excitement. Not the excitement of a million things going on in the design at the same time; rather, it’s the excitement of a minimal design allowing greater, more focused communication of the brand and message. The new can and bottle designs are incredibly clean.   While I may not think the product inside is refreshing (I’m an avid water, tea, and milk drinker), the design on the outside is remarkably refreshing compared to over-saturated designs of previous Pepsi cans and other soft drink designs (from Kitsune Noir):

old pepsi cans

In conjunction with the new Pepsi container designs, Tropicana, a PepsiCo company, launched new containers (from Tropicana):

tropicana container

Alex Bitterman, a former design professor of mine, writes about the Tropicana redesign:

Perhaps this is only the tip of the iceberg, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll begin to see some truly functional and well-designed consumer product and food packaging, rather than decorative visual noise that simply panders to masses of overstimulated and bored American consumers.

I absolutely agree, and I think the same words can be applied to the Pepsi redesign.   The cleaner designs of Tropicana and Pepsi and specifically the minimal design of the Pepsi containers are a very welcome change in beverage packaging, proving once again less really is more.

The ‘O’

Logo Design Love writes about some of the Obama logo ideas that were part of the development process getting to the final logo.

The three finalists:

Finalist #1:

obama logo finalist 1

The masked imagery is interesting, but still weak, and that image reminds me of the default desktop on Windows XP.   Clearly, though, the designers smartly realized early on the ‘O’ would go a long way.

Finalist #2:

obama logo finalist 2

The bubbles are a very interesting concept but seem wildly out of place in a political campaign.   This reminds me of the Charles Schwab “Talk to Chuck” commercials with the big quote balloons.   I can imagine these Obama balloons animating in a similar fashion.

One of the problems with #1 and #2 is the lack of the strong symbolism that people can subconsciously buy into like any great marketing brand/logo (Nike’s swish, Apple’s apple, McDonald’s golden arches, etc.).   A strong symbol that transcends ordinary design in the field and becomes instantly recognizable without any supporting text.   That leads us to…

Finalist #3:

obama logo finalist 3

Designer Sol Sender notes:

Originally the stripes were kind of symmetrically expressed across the horizon, and as we went into final refinements we felt that giving it a little bit more dimension, a little bit more motion, ways to enter into it a little bit more for the viewer was a better way to go.

And, of course, the final design:

obama logo

I can’t imagine an Obama campaign without that logo.   Like the campaign itself, the logo and graphic design of the campaign were a successful and remarkable exercise in discipline.   The logo skillfully symbolizes his theme (sunrise: a new day), America (flag allusion, rolling hills), and himself (the letter ‘O’).   Fantastic.

(Nod: Brand New)