April 7, 2014

3 Examples of Packaging Redesign Gone Horribly Wrong

3 Examples of Packaging Redesign Gone Horribly Wrong

Americans are constantly bombarded with messaging encouraging us to reinvent ourselves. Supposedly, it’s never too late to start over or define a “new you,” whatever that means. While this may be true for folks in the self-help and wellness industries, packaging design companies know that reinventing ourselves can sometimes not only be difficult but also disastrous if handled poorly.

While Miley Cyrus deserves to be queen of reinvention and serves as a shining example of what a little repackaging of the product can do for a brand, perhaps changing your brand image to the twerking, tongue-flashing direction won’t work for you. Let’s look at three examples of packaging redesign #fails and see if we can’t learn something in the process.

Tropicana Goes Rogue

Perhaps the most famous example of a packaging redesign meltdown is the infamous rollout of a new, decidedly more modern look from Tropicana in 2009. After only two months on the market, the juice giant quickly scrapped the redesigned packaging after seeing unit sales drop 20 percent in the short time the new packaging represented the brand on supermarket shelves. This case is notable because of the short window of time PepsiCo gave the new packaging to take off (go down in flames, rather) and the shocking dip in sales seen following the new packaging’s debut. For these reasons, packaging design companies must be exceedingly cautious with these types of dramatic redesigns in order to avoid disastrous results.

Tropicana Packaging Rebrand

Collapse of a monopoly?

Arguably the most well-known board game of all time and certainly a uniquely American diversion, Hasbro’s Monopoly brand is so popular that nearly every American can name his or her signature “piece.” But whether you’re a Scottie Dog kinda guy or a Top Hat gal, you might have walked right past the nearly unrecognizable package that hit shelves in 2008. Catering to an urban, young adult demographic and aimed at rebranding Monopoly as a pastime best enjoyed among yuppie friends in condos with lovingly-installed faux vintage details, this look didn’t garner a monopoly of market shares and is rarely spotted anymore.

Monopoly Modern Rebrand

Sierras in the mist?

You may not have had the displeasure of ever seeing the packaging abomination that was the swampy, fuzzy Sierra Mist lemon lime soda can that hit shelves in 2009-2010. If you missed it, count your blessings. This packaging redesign #fail was perpetrated by Arnell, the same firm behind the disastrous Tropicana redesign mentioned above. What could be worse than changing your brand image to one that makes it impossible to even read the label? Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long at all before PepsiCo scrapped the blurry can, which included not only a very deliberate “misty” look to the product title but also a creepy and off-putting background depicting what we think was meant to be vines intended to create a “natural” origin for the product. Those vines ended up looking more like veins, giving the newly designed can a look that might appeal more to Frankenstein’s monster than to consumers looking for a refreshing and naturally sourced beverage of the clear, caffeine-free variety. As if the blurry font and oddly vascular background weren’t enough, what’s with the vertical orientation that further confuses the eye? We’ll give this green goblin a “do not resuscitate” and hope PepsiCo doesn’t venture further into this type of packaging design in the near future. Better yet, maybe they should rethink who they hire for their packaging design?

Sierra Mist Rebrand

The Takeaway

Look, we understand the desire brands have to reinvent their images in order to reposition themselves in crowded markets and reach new consumer demographics. But sometimes, these risks serve to alienate loyal consumers or confuse them so much they overlook the unfamiliar product packaging on retailers’ shelves. When considering a packaging redesign, brands should use smart market research and skilled packaging designers to get the best bang for their branding bucks. With great risk can come great reward, but brands have to walk a fine line between reinvention and alienation of loyal consumers.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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