Yogurt packaging is not black & white

A you’re probably aware by now, I make my living as a packaging designer. As such, I’m constantly looking at stuff. Whether it’s the art and information on a cereal box, or how IKEA products are so efficiently packed in those otherwise plain brown cartons. It’s all part of what we, as consumers, experience when we seek out and buy this– stuff.

I’m also the primary food shopper in my family, so I’m in the supermarket on a regular basis. And, whenever I’m out and about shopping, I  have a habit of looking at the product that’s on the shelves. I’m sure a lot of people do that– maybe not in as conscious a way as designers but they do it. And after a while, whether you’re aware or not, you start to see patterns. Color selections. packaging shapes, wording.

Next time you’re in the store, take a look at the soda aisle. What color is the house brand’s cola? What about their ginger ale? Now look at the name brands. What color are they? It sure isn’t a coincidence.

But I digress

Carbonated drinks aren’t what made me think of this. It was yogurt. Walk past the yogurt case in the store and– with a couple of exceptions (I’m looking at you, Activia)– they will most likely look like this:

Dannon blueberry yogurt packYoplait strawberry yogurt pack

In short, lots of white, with accents of the brand/line colors. Oh, and the hero shot of the fruit or flavor inside. Even the upscale/gourmet brands follow these conventions.

So, when I saw this last week, it made me stop.

Stop the presses– who is that?

This is a new offering from Yoplait. I think it’s called “YQ by Yoplait”, and a couple of things became evident:

  • It’s positioned as a more premium offering. Muted tones hint at more sophistication.They don’t feel the need to be bold and screamy with their colors.
  •  I’m not their desired demographic. The colors and overall design have a more feminine feel. They’re clearly targeting women with this product, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they roll out tv ads reinforcing this.
  • This ain’t your everyday type of yogurt. A gray cup? Off the top of my head, I cannot think of any other yogurt brand that has executed in such a way.

We’re still talking about yogurt?

I didn’t pick up any (though I might this week, just out of curiosity, demographics be damned!), but at first glance, this type of category disruption was certainly effective, and it made me consciously think about why.

  • It got me to stop and look at the product. This is the first step and indicator of an effective pack design. Cutting through the noise (in this case, quite literally “white noise”) and getting the attention of the consumer.
  • It created curiosity in sampling the product. I may not buy one today. I may not buy one next month. But one of these days I just might go “hmmm”… and pick one or two up.
  • It got me talking about it. Do I even need to explain this one?

These are 3 things to always keep in mind when designing a new pack. We may not always be successful in achieving these (for a number of different reasons), but we certainly need to try.

Now, I have to start thinking about that grocery list…

 

 

 

Do androids dream of obsolete men? | Random Thought for January 9, 2018

The title, for those unfamiliar, is a combination of the title for the novel “Do Andoids Dream of Electric Sheep” and the Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man”.

I was listening to a piece on NPR about the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) out in Las Vegas. The conversation revolved a lot around automation. And it got me thinking…

We can automate a lot of things– manufacturing processes, data analysis, transportation (well, we’re collectively working on that). So what else is there? Can design be automated? As a community of designers, we argue often that design is ultimately about problem-solving and communicating. So, if we’re talking about finding the best solution, then conceivably you can establish a set of rules and parameters to reach the best possible solution.

And if we continue distilling the argument, we could reach the conclusion that design, being about solving problems, can be broken down into a set of algorithms and rules. And if we’re able to do that, what does that do to– and for– designers? Do we then become utterly obsolete? What does that do to design itself? What does an automated design look like?

And if we’re able to do that– what’s next?

I don’t pretend to have the answers to any of this. But listening to the conversation on the radio gave me pause and made me think about what, professionally, things might look like 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

Something to think about.

The Sheep and the Unicorn

“That’s the way the competition is doing it”. “That’s how it’s always been done”.

These are not fully valid reasons for making choices. Sure, there can be times when visual cues or specific language help the consumer make an immediate connection to whatever is being sold. But, more often that not, falling into this type of groupthink and making decisions from that place can be at best a bad idea, and at worst catastrophic. Thinking like this can dilute a message. It can take a standout design and make it generic. It can take the air out of a successful marketing campaign.

Figure out what makes you you, and leverage that. Forget the sheep, and embrace the fabulous unicorn within.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– For March 1

These last couple of days have been a bit odd. I had all the best intentions of getting this done yesterday, but time spent with family took precedence, so, at least for a day or two, I’ll probably be behind with my projects.

On today’s CSED:

I decided that it would probably be easier on me if I set a theme for the month and used that as a springboard. I took a cue from Daniela, over at “designism” and decided to go with a music theme. I’m thinking that I’d like to do a month’s worth of album covers done in the Blue Note records style, but with my self-imposed time limits this may not always be possible.

In the meantime, however, please enjoy the first of what will hopefully be a month’s worth of Blue Note-style album covers.

layout ©2010 rafael armstrong. Any and all images are the property of their respective owners, and are respectfully used strictly and specifically for the purposes of this CSED project.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– Feb 17

The idea for today’s #daily365 came about earlier this evening, when it occurred to me that MegaForce,  one of my 80s guilty pleasure movies, may have, in fact, been remade last year as G.I. Joe. It’s not a knock on Joe, which I enjoyed for what it was– a fun summer-popcorn-big explosion-action flick. No soliloquies on the nature of humanity, no heavily layered dialogue. Just pure, unabashed fun. It’s just that I noticed some parallels between the two, and it made me wonder.

Now, this realization, for some unexplained leap in logic, led me to my favorite movies of all time, and I decided that I would take a stab at a minimalist “poster”. I immediately thought of Empire Strikes Back, but couldn’t come up with an idea I could crank out within my self-imposed time limits. Having seen this (again) in the last couple of months, I decided to take a crack at Bogey instead.

©2010 rafael armstrong

Hope you enjoy. As always, your feedback and comments on this (or any other piece, for that matter) are always welcome.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– Feb 05

The best laid plans…

So, I had everything done and ready. Figured I could afford myself plunking down to watch the Smallville “JSA” 2-parter (I’m not a Smallville fan, but I’ve been a comics fan for a while and wanted to see how they would handle some of these Golden Age characters). The episode was really good, by the way. So good I may actually start watching the show.

But I digress.

After it was over, I switched over to Spike to watch some Pride mma fights. Next thing I know it’s after midnight and Tonight Show is on. So much for my plan.

So, this morning, after taking a survey of the snow that never was (what a gyp! The folks that cleaned out the local supermarkets last night must be regretting their decisions right about now), I’m taking a moment to upload yesterday’s concept. It’s a shot of the wireframing I’m working on as part of the visual realignment of my site.

©2010 rafael armstrong

As with all CSED projects, because of the self-imposed time limit of around 30 minutes, it’s far from a final draft (in some instances, it’s been barely a first draft). Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– for Feb 03

I had originally thought of doing both a month’s-end roundup, and a new piece for Feb 02’s #daily365. However, I felt that prepping for a job interview the following day had to take priority over that, so I decided to (at least for January) to let the roundup be the Feb 02 piece. That meant that I had an idea for Feb 03. Except I had my interview, and by the time everything else for the day was done, I was completely gassed and ended up falling asleep on the sofa watching the live “Man vs. Food” on the Travel Channel. So that meant I had to “postpone” putting it together– which means that I’ve got my work cut out for me today.

Feb 03’s CSED

The idea for this was pretty straightforward. With all the brouhaha over Groundhog Day and– at least in the New York area– the differing opinions between Punxutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck, the idea for an old-style boxing poster was a no-brainer to me.

Enjoy.

Rocky v. Apollo got nothin' on Phil v. Chuck ©2010 rafael armstrong

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)- Jan roundup

Well, January’s over now. We’ve moved on to February, and the pesky rodent saw his shadow (or not, depending on which groundhog you follow. Personally, I’m going with Staten Island Chuck this year. He seems like a “get it done” kind of groundhog). So, and in no small way inspired by others(here and here) undertaking this challenge, I’ve also decided to do a month-end roundup. It should be a nice way to see patterns forming (or not) in my work.

Without further ado…

One down. Eleven to go. ©2010 rafael armstrong

Hope you’re enjoying this half as much as I am in creating these pieces.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– for Jan 30

I’m a bit behind with these weekend entries of my #daily365. Saturday’s I decided to put off  until Sunday because my wife and I spent some time together catching up on a couple of episodes of Ghost Adventures that we had on the dvr. I had all the best intentions in the world to catch up early tonight (Sunday), but instead got sucked into the Grammys.  Save for a couple of moments, it’ll be around 3 hours I’m not getting back.

So, here I am catching up with what should have been Saturday’s piece. This one is completely different in that it tackles 2 different things. First, it’s the first piece I’m doing in InDesign. With over 300 pieces to go, odds are I would have done something in ID eventually. Secondly, it’s a piece that specifically addresses a need.

While in church today, an announcement was made regarding the members’ directory. It got me to thinking that the layout could use some gussying up. I decided to implement the use of columns, and selected type that was clean, and that could hold up at slightly larger point sizes (we have a good deal of members– myself probably included– who would benefit from the use of heavier weights on the type).

study in layout for directory page ©2010 rafael armstrong

As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome.