Packaging Redesign: 5 Food Brands that Refreshed their Look

June 4, 2021

Packaging redesigns allow brands to stay relevant, boost sales and keep up with regulatory changes. Here are 5 examples of how brands redesigned their product packaging, what you can learn from them.

A packaging redesign project is tricky to navigate. Especially when we stop to consider the various #designfail stories.   

For most brand managers,  it might be Tropicana’s packaging redesign fallout. 

After the launch, consumers heavily criticized the new packaging design and it immediately went viral for all the wrong reasons. Tropicana’s sales dropped by 20% causing a loss of 30 million dollars. Consequently, other fruit juice brands gained an advantage.  

A packaging redesign project can help your brand to:

Therefore, a packaging redesign project should be handled with forethought & planning. Let’s take a look at a few food brands that did manage to mostly get it right & how you can manage a redesign project.

1. McDonald’s - Global Packaging Redesign

packaging redesign
Source: wersm.com

Recently, McDonald’s globally released new packaging designs. It moves away from the traditional red and yellow packaging to now visually represent key elements through   flat graphics and pastel shades. Their new design brings “a sense of joy and ease.” According to the designers, the new design is “aesthetically minimal, and, most importantly, emotionally joyful”.

Redesign for practicality

Here are some of the key features of the redesign.

Possible Challenges In This Type Of Design Project 

Accurate Proofing

In this context, a significant challenge for the brand is creating packaging for every menu item. Such projects require extensive collaboration and prototyping. Artwork management platforms provide collaborative capabilities where stakeholders can proof designs online through tools such as PDF comparison, color extractor and more. 

Some platforms also have a 3D packaging viewer that help collaborators visualize the packaging in a 3D model.

2. RXBAR - Memorable Packaging Design

packaging redesign case study
Source: godairyfree.org

RXBAR, a protein bar brand, started with a packaging design that the company founders made using PowerPoint. The brand only used whole-food proteins in their product and marketed it to the health-conscious, gym-going group. However, the Chicago-based company did not have much luck till they did a complete overhaul of the packaging. 

Incorporating brand philosophy into packaging design

RXBAR’s tagline was “No. B.S.”. This line is visually represented in their entire packaging design. The principal display panel shows a list of whole food ingredients that go into making the protein bar.

The brand uses a simple line drawing to indicate flavor. The company logo is also much smaller. 

The brand’s target audience includes mindful millennials and health-conscious consumers. This change in packaging has moved RXBAR to the third place in their product category.

Possible Challenges In This Type Of Design Project

Managing multiple SKUs during redesign projects

A key challenge here is maintaining the accuracy of the product packaging when you have different SKUs. RXBAR has seven different bars, each with different ingredients. Therefore, the designers must have worked on different principal display panels for each packaging. Only the layout and the fonts  remain the same. The nutritional panel also changes. In this case, each SKU becomes a different packaging project. 

Digital asset management with version control will be crucial to handle such projects. With version control, it’s easy to access the right file at any given time.   

Collaborating with legal teams for approval

RXBAR did run into some trouble for this packaging redesign. They mentioned the inclusion of egg whites in their product, but did not mention that it is in the form of egg white protein powder. This ambiguity led to a minor lawsuit. 

Packaging redesigns require collaboration from external agencies such as law firms who will determine if all the claims on the product packaging are legal or not. Often, products come with labels such as “non-GMO” or “Gluten-free” or “Zero sugar”.

The legal team working with the brand will have to verify if they can make those claims or not. An easy way to get this done is by using an artwork management platform where you can invite collaborators and send them a checklist of what they need to look at.

3. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk - Refreshing an  Iconic Product 


redesign packaging
Source: itsnicethat.com

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk has a constant consumer base. A bar of Dairy Milk invokes nostalgia and childlike joy in celebrating life. 

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk refreshed its packaging design last year. They also changed the “Cadbury” logo along with the “Glass and a half-full” icon that is seen on Dairy Milk packaging.

Redesigning while retaining familiarity

The new logo has a more contemporary feel to it. It is now much cleaner. The Cadbury logo wordmark was initially just a signature but became a more polished logo over time. The new design has “put humanity back into it”.

The packaging also uses the pattern from the 1905 packaging design. Furthermore, the packaging adds a label that says how Cadbury uses only sustainably farmed cocoa. The design also uses top-down product photography and a 3D effect to make the product more prominent. 

Possible Challenges In This Type Of Design Project

Managing deadlines for extensive projects 

Redesigning iconic brands is a challenge as they have no room for errors. When there are multiple  SKUs, they all need to be checked accurately. This may lead to multiple rounds of revisions and iterations before being approved.  As mentioned earlier, proofing becomes crucial in such scenarios to maintain accurate colors and perfect layout across all SKUs.

Furthermore, brands cannot launch the new design one by one for each SKU, they must do it all at once. This requires every collaborator to stick to deadlines. An artwork management tool simplifies the process: not only does it provide collaborative capabilities, but it also automates the workflow and assigns deadlines for each task. Notification reminders and an audit trail helps to bring in accountability.  

4. Dunkin’

packaging redesign example
Source: Design Shack

A while back Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded themselves to just “Dunkin”. They simplified the name and changed their logo to let the consumers know that they don’t just sell doughnuts anymore. 

Possible Challenges In This Type Of Design Project

Collaboration is crucial for large-scale rebranding projects

Rebranding of this scale needs intense collaboration. The brand has to redesign all marketing material and packaging from scratch. Multiple design teams have to collaborate. Team A will create the new logo. Team B will incorporate the logo into the packaging. Team C makes marketing material for social media, and so on.

Brands have to design new packaging from scratch and that requires all hands on deck. They also need a legal team, printers, and other external teams to work with them. Before launching the new packaging, they have to be proofed thoroughly.

Artwork management tools provide artwork proofing tools enabling one to see if the artwork has the correct colors, typefaces, layout, and more. 

5. Just. (Hampton Creek)

redesigning packaging
Source: Buzzfeednews.com

Formerly Hampton Creek, the Silicon Valley vegan food-maker is now just called “Just.” with a period in the end. The company decided that “Just.” is better branding and decided to move forward with that. The company has completely redesigned all its labels. The new labels are now cleaner with an increased focus on the food and flavor. 

This is an example of how a company-wide change can lead to changes in product packaging. Changes include company info changes in labels along with design changes. Such changes require extensive collaboration from marketing teams as well as legal teams.

Packaging Redesigns during COVID-19

The onset of the pandemic increased the use of single-use plastics and sustainability took a back seat. However, a year later, brands are starting to think about the environmental impact of packaging. The evolution of packaging design during the new normal will not only focus on sustainability but also convenience, hygiene, and changing purchasing habits. 

TLDR

  1. Packaging redesigns are a crucial marketing tool that allows brands to stay relevant. A brand can redesign packaging to boost sales, or to reflect company-wide changes. 
  2. You can redesign the packaging to improve the usability of a product (example: McDonald), to improve your sales by catering to a larger audience (example: RXBAR), to stay relevant (example: Cadbury’s or Dunkin’), or to update the changes in the company (like Just.)
  3. However, you must know that redesigns can fail too. Tropicana’s new packaging that had a more contemporary and cleaner design took away the looks that consumers were familiar with. The new design replaced the fruits with glass and changed the logo. It took away the premium look that the brand always had. Furthermore, they changed too many things at once - logo, typography, slogan, image and lid. The brand failed to consider product identification and recognition by the consumer
product packaging redesign

Your Turn

With the right tools, packaging redesign can be an effortless and error-free process. With artwork management tools, you can get a secure place to store your digital assets, a place for all stakeholders to collaborate, and workflow management – all in one place. So, how are you planning to redesign your product packaging? Tell us in the comments below!


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