Squeezed Out

It’s official: Tropicana is ditching the Arnell redesign.

Good.

It was a shoddy rebrand that ditched common sense and brand equity for a meaningless sub-brand update/unification project. You can see a side-by-side at Brand New here and here. I’m just happy they had the sense and fortitude to dump it. I wonder if what really made them do it was flagging sales figures or, more likely, an overwhelmingly negative response. Though we’ll likely never know. It makes them look so much more magnanimous to say they’re responding to consumer outpouring of love for the brand.

The New York Times wants to present this as Pepsi’s New Coke. I wouldn’t go that far, as this is just ill-advised tinkering with the packaging, not meddling with the recipe for a flagship product. However the Tropicana debacle serves as a pretty succinct image for Arnell’s redesign of Pepsi’s major beverage brands, which has been pretty lackluster overall. It’s coming off more like a series of student projects than a real national rebranding (from what I can tell the soon-to-be-revived look is still around in places like the UK). Unlike Coca-Cola’s subtle refinements of their packaging, Pepsi’s redesigns seem to scrap nearly all of the brand equity that any of their existing brands had. The only one that works for me is Gatorade:

The orange lightning bolt is the strongest visual element of the brand besides the actual liquid itself in those orange-topped bottles. I think their approach to this product line works very well and strengthens its core attributes, unlike Tropicana… and Pepsi… and Sierra Mist (which screams student project more than any of them). Mountain Dew… I’m sorry… Mtn Dew is the only other rebrand I don’t hate, and that one’s already been done by EMS.

Add to this mess the circulation of the now-infamous vapid and self-aggrandizing Arnell Pepsi concept document which, even as a joke, makes them look like money-wasting fools. The whole thing just feels half-baked. Will this make a dent in Pepsico’s beverage sales? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure it will hurt their brand, which will likely translate into a sales hit down the road. However, I’m eager to see how the whole thing plays out.

And to see if Tropicana will be the only brand they roll back. I’m putting in my bet for a Pepsi rebrand that rolls the identity back toward the classic Pepsi wave. Pepsi “Classic” anyone?

4 Responses to “Squeezed Out”

  1. Steve Laniel says:

    I first read about the reversion to the earlier Tropicana brand on Marion Nestle’s blog.

    My biggest gripe about the new brand (i.e., the one before they reverted) is that I couldn’t tell whether I was drinking the same product. Was it still Pure Premium? Still 100% juice, “nothing added, nothing taken away”? I couldn’t tell. It wouldn’t surprise me if they lost sales from other confused customers.

  2. […] a brand’s equity looks like. It’s a 3 minute video of Peter Arnell defending the the Tropicana redesign that was pulled, in part, due to a 20% drop in sales. That’s the power of a brand. And that power flows both […]

  3. […] The trouble is that these decisions are made without concern for what the consumers and loyal customers actually want. And when a company like Ikea starts to tinker with its brand without proper planning, you’re getting a whiff of something much worse: tinkering with the business without thinking. If they think their brand perception, as formed by their identity, doesn’t have value, they should take another look at Tropicana. […]

  4. pvah says:

    They do in fact have Pepsi throw backs now. With real sugar and old school logo. Much like the “Mexican Cokes” we have in South Texas, these throw backs appeal to the same idea, although in the cheap, 20 oz plastic bottle form.

    Makes me wonder how many of these “redo” logos, ideas, adverts, etc are brought to life by a overpaid hungover design team trying to hit a Friday deadline.

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