One of the most challenging aspects of leading a design agency is being asked to define “what we do.” “Do you have a design philosophy?” “What is your style?” We constantly field these questions from prospective clients and even potential hires. As creatives, we never like to be hemmed into one definition. We are more often looking for ways to share what we’re not than what we are. But… there is something that Freshmade excels at, and it does help define much of the work that we do. If we had a design mantra, it would be this: we find the sweet spot between disruption and relevance.
If we had a design mantra, it would be this: we find the sweet spot between disruption and relevance.
Honing that balance between mass appeal and show-stopping design does not come easy. Sometimes you have to reign in something truly bold, or wildly beautiful because it’s just too niche or polarizing. Sometimes you get stuck with a certain asset you would never design yourself because it has too much equity to disregard. We know that micro-moves don’t usually have much of an impact for shoppers, but we also know that there is such a thing as swinging the pendulum too far in the “brand revolution” direction. This is why brand refreshes can be terrifying for clients, and particularly complex (even sometimes political) for their design agencies.
We know all too well the emotion, the ‘three steps forward, two steps back’ advancements and the copious amounts of research, late nights, and compromises that come with a massive brand refresh, particularly for a legacy brand. That’s why we’re shining a light on what we consider the Top 3 Brand Refreshes of 2020 and why we love them.
–Vanessa Doll, Partner and Director of Client Services
It’s no easy task to give a brand its first refresh in over 150 years, especially one with a wide array of products that have been staples of every pantry and fridge. The biggest success of this 2020 brand refresh is how unified the brand now feels across categories, communicating “simple greatness” on a high level.
Amber Paine, Senior Designer
“It’s no easy task to give a brand its first refresh in over 150 years, especially one with a wide array of products that have been staples of every pantry and fridge. Retaining the iconic keystone shape to frame product photography, updating the san-serif logo, and emboldening traditional brand colors–this brand refresh balances maintaining equity in a legacy brand and reaches a new generation of modern consumers. The biggest success of this 2020 brand refresh is how unified the brand now feels across categories, communicating ‘simple greatness’ on a high level. What we can all learn from this refresh is that you don’t always need a complete design overhaul to create serious shelf impact.”
Joe Baum, Senior Designer
“Agreed. I also think JKR did a lovely job of telling stories from this iconic brand’s history by using fresh and modern illustrations with unique and strategically simple animations that live and animate right on the packaging.”
JKR did a lovely job of telling stories from this iconic brand’s history with unique and strategically simple animations.
We’re seeing more brands steer away from traditional category cues, and instead pulling inspiration from out-of-category.
Lisa Neal, Art Director
“If visions of two golden arches come to mind with Plenty’s new packaging design—this was indeed, no accident.
I think the refresh does an excellent job making salad greens feel craveable. No surprise here, but ‘craveability’ likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of lettuce, but the packaging intentionally draws inspiration from junk food brands. And, while it may seem counterintuitive to associate produce with the likeness of McDonalds, I appreciate their strategy to leverage the psychology of fast food design cues to ignite a sense of flavor, excitement and approachability. I love that we’re seeing more brands steer away from traditional category cues, and instead pulling inspiration out-of-category.’
Assessing the packaging itself, there’s no question it stands out—big time. The color palette is not only daring, but an intentional choice, leaning on red and yellow to evoke hunger and appetite.
“Assessing the packaging itself, there’s no question it stands out—big time. The color palette is not only daring, but an intentional choice, leaning on red and yellow to evoke hunger and appetite. And, as eye-catching as the palette may be, the custom typeface might be the real star of the show here. The letterforms were beautifully designed to resemble lettuce itself, with curved and tapered strokes mimicking the shape of both leaves and stems (insert: designers geeking out everywhere!).
Lastly, while this healthy product might be hiding under the clever disguise of junk food, I love that the packaging doesn’t shy away from prominently featuring the leafy heroes themselves. A huge window spotlights the greens, unencumbered by busy or unnecessary design elements. It is a lettuce brand, after all.
Approaches like this really get me excited about the future of food brands. I commend Plenty’s creative team for pushing the limits here, and hope to see more agencies take (calculated) risks like these. This is yet another thing I love about working at Freshmade. We are constantly pushing each other to venture outside of our comfort zones—but never at the expense of being thoughtful and strategic.”
Refreshing a brand doesn’t require a massive change… just enough to spark intrigue and truly feel fresh!
Hillary Zhu, Senior Project Manager
“Having worked on this brand back in my Kraft Foods days (now Mondelez International), I was most excited to see the transformation for Cadbury in 2020. This appears to be the brand’s first major redesign in about 50 years and I think it was long overdue. The new wordmark does a great job of paying homage to the history of the brand while feeling contemporary.
The subtle pattern on the packaging adds a tactile element which invites you to pick up this packaging and really interact with it. The updated typography for “Dairy Milk” in all caps offers a nice contrast to the Cadbury logo while putting this product front and center with unique letterforms.
There is a fine line between risking alienating your current consumer and attracting new ones, especially when you are such a behemoth brand. From my experience working at Landor, we often pushed for more change than consumers were willing to let us make in testing. Refreshing a brand doesn’t require a massive change… but enough to spark intrigue and truly feel fresh!”
At Freshmade, we’ve helped countless clients refresh their brands to modernize their package design at the shelf and beyond. To see some before & afters, click here.
About the Author:
As a strategic and creative leader, Vanessa helps spearhead growth for our clients. She came to Freshmade by way of LPK in Cincinnati, where she spent many years as senior project manager on P&G brands, such as Always, Pampers, and Vicks. She also led client services for Coty Beauty, helping brands like Wella and Clairol and worked on Pringles, Kellogg’s, and Anheuser-Busch. Since joining Freshmade, she has overseen all of our client relationships, from Mastronardi Produce to Publix. Between her dual master’s degree in Writing Theory and Pedagogy from DePaul University and experiences as a sailboat racer and bar owner, Vanessa brings well-rounded intelligence and determination to everything she does.
Cadbury images from Itsthatnice.com, Bulletproof: Cadbury and Dairy Milk redesign, article by Jenny Brewer