Home > Advertising, How-To, Marketing > How Not To Re-Brand: Tropicana Orange Juice

How Not To Re-Brand: Tropicana Orange Juice

I was buying groceries the other day when I noticed cartons of a new orange juice brand on the shelves. Well, it took me about 5 seconds and a much closer look at the package to realize that that was not a new orange juice brand. That was the re-branded Tropicana.

So, if it took me that long to recognize a juice that I have been buying for a few years, something was not done right. Let’s take a closer look.

The old cartons used to have a large Tropicana logo, in a thick and bold “tropical island” font. The logo was horizontally displayed above a strong visual element – a picture of a large, juicy, fresh orange with a straw stuck right into it. White was a dominant background color which helped bringing the logo and the image to the front. The combination was very powerful. Cartons were easy to recognize on the shelves from 20 ft away. The entire design screamed freshness and it felt like you are buying a product that was made from oranges that were picked moments ago.

In the new design, the Tropicana logo uses a much smaller and narrower font. It is also displayed vertically which makes it really difficult to read. The slogan “100% Orange” is what is displayed horizontally and feels as the brand name. In addition, the main visual element was changed to a photo of a partial glass (visual illusion?), full with orange juice. There is also very little white area, so less contrast and more blur of visual elements. And when you actually look at the juice, it looks as someone spent hours in Photoshop trying to remove any sign of pulp and freshness. Overall, the box looks synthetic and of a no-brand orange juice made out of concentrate.

And there is more. The pulp levels labels in the new design are so small and hard to read compared to the old design.

The last funny thing is the website portion. When you visit the Tropicana website, the new box is displayed only on the home page, while the “Juice Finder” page shows boxes in the goold old design (see image below in gallery). Even the PepsiCo site still shows boxes in their old design!

I find it hard to believe that a company as big as PepsiCo, which spends millions of dollars on branding and marketing, would  execute so poorly. How can you throw away years of brand & identity recognition among millions of customers and replace it with such a lame design? And how can you release a product and start a multi-million dollars marketing campaign without updating your website?

It looks like the folks on the branding team need to read some branding books & guideline.

Update (Feb 23, 2009): The new design is gone. The good old design is back. More here.

Tropicana juice - juice finder web site

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  • http://webx0.com Yaron Galai

    Hey Jay – great post! One speculation – I think that in the past couple of years many of the OJ players started intentionally designing their boxes suspiciously similar to Tropicana's boxes. Especially Florida's Natural – http://www.globalpackagegallery.com/main.php?g2

    So for Tropicana the trade off may have been to take a short-term hit on recognizability of their product, for the long term benefit of clear differentiation from their copycats. So the test for them might be in a year or two, not right now.

    But overall I agree with everything you said – the new design is really bad…

  • William Jordan

    It reminds one of the illogic at Coke to eliminate the green curved bottle shape that was integral to the uniqueness of the Coke image worldwide. It’s all about the non-verbal. — W. W. Jordan

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    Exactly. But even if Tropicana thought of reaching the more verbal users, then they made a bad call with the vertical layout of the logo.

  • http://www.toesrecordings.com David

    Totally agree…just from a usability perspective, this design is stupid and pointless.

  • szooey

    not to mention the fact that the new design looks more like a generic brand design than the familiar Tropicana. I remember standing in front of the oange juice selection wondering where was my favorite juice brand, my eyes having glazed right over the new carton design assuming that was the store brand variety. My boyfriend did exactly the same on a separate trip to the grocery store. Tropicana what have you done to yourself?

  • Trena

    I think the new design is fabulous! Its simple, its clean, its modern and it makes me thirsty just looking at it! Move on people!

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    This experience sounds very farmiliar

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    I agree it is simple, clean and modern. But it is not Tropicana.

  • kmgflavin

    I like the design, and the image of a full glass of orange juice. The font is European in style as is the labeling of the type of juice, e.g. pulp, no pulp, etc. I think the full glass implies that consumers should fill their glass, which could drive up volumes consumed – I wonder what the research told them about quantity consumed; for example, my wife never drinks a full glass nor finish the last to empty the glass.

    Though I like the design, but I agree that this is not Tropicana's brand. I expect to see this at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    The full glass image as a way to increase consumption is an interesting theory which makes sense. As W. W. Jordan commented above, it is all about the non-verbal/subliminal.

  • http://www.thesucculentwife.com Anne-Marie Kovacs

    Totally agreed with you. Plus, I think that the packaging now looks like a generic store brand. Or like the packaging that Fresh & Easy is now using. Tropicana is in risk of losing all the branding recognition that took years for it to build. The straw in the orange said “100 % orange Juice” much much louder that the literal copy ever could. It's always said that it's not easy to “do simple”. Indeed, Tropicana and its agency missed the mark on this one.

  • bobestes

    I respectfully disagree. I see a brand that is fresh, free of additives, pure in nature, etc.

    And as far as the disorientation of not finding the package you've been used to seeing, that's pretty common in major redesigns. People get over it by their second time through the grocery store.

    I see a box that jumps off the shelf, comparatively speaking. But, to each their own.

  • http://www.prattman.com David Pratt

    This critique is right on! My first take was “they're out of Tropicana” and only have the generic brands. Then it dawned on me that the carton had been redesigned. The old design made it easy to find my favorite “no pulp.” The classic book Olgivy on Advertising underscored for me the importance of readability and instant understanding in advertising (or packaging). So putting standing the brand name on its side and making “100% orange” the biggest element is just stupid. You've got to “read the fine print” to figure out if it is the from concentrate.

    And I agree that just because something can be Photoshopped does not mean it should be. So the bright glass of orange liquid reminds me less of fresh squeeze orange juice and more of Tang, or Sunny Delight.

    The only thing I think they got right is the screw cap that looks like a toy orange. Maybe the were able to trademark the idea, as far as differentiating from the competition.

  • paul

    On a personal note about this post – a one person focus group if you will (and specifically for the makers of Tropicana)…

    For nearly 2 years I've shopped for my Grandmother. She INSIST on Tropicana as it's 'the best'. When this new design came out I ACTUALLY asked a store employee if they stopped making it because I couldn't find it (even though I was looking right at it)… Well, I bought it, brought it home –

    I've never heard the end of it… “that's the worst OJ I've ever had”, “it's nothing more than water”, “don't ever buy that cheap OJ again” — it the SAME OJ she's had for YEARS – but her perception of the quality changed immediately. It's not even OJ, it's junk. And now I have to buy Florida's Natural.

    Perception Matters.

  • Myles

    Jay,
    I very much agree with what you had to say about the changes in Tropicana Juice packaging. I have been a loyal Topicana customer for years, and I was really disappointed by the changes in carton design. I actually took the trouble to write to Tropicana to voice my complaints about the poorly designed orange juice carton and how it now looks like a no-name brand.

    The new labeling regarding pulp, or calcium, etc. are also hard to read. My wife actually bought 2 out of 3 wrong cartons, because she did not notice the labels which are poorly located at the very top of the carton, above the cap.

    And finally, they also changed the cap to make it rounded to look like an orange, which may look nice but is less practical than the previous cap. It is definitely harder to open, and my guess is that older folks with fine motor difficulties will have trouble with it.

    Those are my thoughts. Myles from Rhode Island

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    Myles,

    I have not noticed the cap usability issue. Good point!

    -jay

  • Jim Bremer

    I drink Tropicana and I almost fell over when I first saw the new carton. I hated it. But I think there is an emerging trend here that is noteworthy. Simplicity. Gatoraid is now “G”. Pepsi is bare bones simple. In a world where 10,000 brands compete for you attention at Walmart (there new ID is really simple too) these brands stand out. Package design is done in isolation, and to often evaluated out of context. It's a headline world and we are constantly trying to compress information. More than half of the information on a package isn't read by the consumer, so why bother. I think this is the wave of future design.

  • Karen

    I like the rebranding. The new packaging looks less like an amusement park treat and more like a healthy food choice you want to make. Those who buy pulp will find that green still signifies their preference. The 100% orange type is most prominent signifying what's for sale here over the other blends and pop juice choices. The nuances of real juice would clutter and dull the image so yes, it's really bright orange but clearly orange juice in a clean, clear glass. The Tropicana brand still reads strong.

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    The question is whether the simplicity effort is worth throwing a way years of investment in building a strong and recognizable brand? I am not sure.

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    David,

    See @Myles's comment related to some usability issues with this cap. What are your thoughts?

    -jay

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    That's hilarious!

  • erbear

    i totally agree, the color of the juice in the new design is pale and washed out. i feel like i'm buying the cheap stuff for twice the price, wtf?!?! the cap in the shape of an orange is outright cheesy. not a good move at all. even my roommates who are not graphic designers (i am) commented on how flat the new design looks.

  • http://www.jivefromthehive.com Elizabeth Hannan

    Wish they would just stop jumping into the future with this branding redesign that is very much like Pathmark's No Frills version in the 80's. Pepsi Co has the budget to be creative with our alienating their consumers. Maybe they didn't invest in the market research that should have on this project.

    If nothing else they should go back to the old design or something similar.

    Elizabeth Hannan
    http://is.gd/ktoc

  • Chris

    Apparently they're scrapping the new design.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/business/medi

  • http://www.meydad.com jaymeydad

    We did it then!

    That's a reason for a blog post – http://www.meydad.com/2009/02/23/tropicana-oran

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  • Meme

    Wow, do we really have nothing better to do with our time than whine like drippy cunts over a design?
    Seriously. If that is all you've got to do, get a rope, you're wasting my breathing space. and for the record, I thought it was a good design.

  • Confused Shopper

    I have trouble anytime I shop for Tropicana. I agree about the previous packaging – certainly did look like generic. But no matter what packaging Tropicana has been in I always have problems. All I want is OJ. Preferably without pulp. There are so many variations of Trop on the shelf that I have to closely read the labels to find the one I want – without pulp. And then I have to be even more careful because it might be OJ with Tangerines.

    All the packages look alike, and there are too many variations. It can take 5 minutes of looking at the boxes to find plain OJ without pulp.

  • Confused Shopper

    I have trouble anytime I shop for Tropicana. I agree about the previous packaging – certainly did look like generic. But no matter what packaging Tropicana has been in I always have problems. All I want is OJ. Preferably without pulp. There are so many variations of Trop on the shelf that I have to closely read the labels to find the one I want – without pulp. And then I have to be even more careful because it might be OJ with Tangerines.

    All the packages look alike, and there are too many variations. It can take 5 minutes of looking at the boxes to find plain OJ without pulp.

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  • JZ

    Wow, I can’t believe how many people don’t understand good graphic design. Walking through an American grocery store is walking through graphic design hell, with unsophisticated cartoonish packaging that is an assault to our eyes littered everywhere (such as the old Tropicana packaging). Go to a grocery store in Europe, or even Montreal, where graphic design is part of the culture and actually appreciated and you will find beautiful, clean, minimalist, modern, refined packaging such as the new Tropicana packaging. When this new packaging was in stores it stood out from the rest for it’s refined elegance, and I bought OJ for the first time in months.

  • Scott

    Now we are in 2011 and the bottle has changed again, and down to 59 ounces. What is worse, Tropicana Pure Premium OJ, known for its Florida deliciousness now is imported OJ from other Countries like Brazil. Is anything not sacred anymore?  I just had a taste, and perhaps the East Coast still gets the product from Florida, but the West Coast is seeing pure Romanian Tropicana OJ, mixed with other places as well. Sounds like concentrate. Simply Orange & Florida’s Natural still comes from Florida and tastes like it! 

  • Mike Butts

    Minimalism is but one aesthetic within graphic design. While it is a movement, and the exclusive element in the work of some individuals, it is by no means the “end-point-perfection” of the field.

    What’s being discussed here is brand recognition. The objective is to convince a consumer to purchase a particular product. Minimalism is not what the problem is. Rather, it’s application.

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