Redesigning Tropicana

Tropicana's Re-Design
Tropicana’s New Design
click to Tropicana’s site .

It’s my pleasure to bring our readers another wonderful new voice, that of Alexandra Gergar, a great photographer, vegetarian cook, and marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh. Alex’s focus in Thinking Big Works, as you can tell from the banner, is the intersection of food and design, now coming to you on Saturdays.

David VanAmburg

Food & Design: redesign mis-steps


With clean bold lines, a beautiful typeface and no pictures, you would think that Tropicana’s carton redesign should have been hailed as work of imagination.  Should have been…


In late 2008, Tropicana launched a new package design, and these new cartons hit grocers’ shelves around the country.  Almost immediately, a public outcry criticized the new brand design from the parent company PespiCo.  All across the web people negatively responded to Tropicana and its move towards their modern design. By February 23, Tropicana had an official recall of all of the newly designed cartons.

Ultimately, this new product design was unrecognizable.  For two decades Tropicana had the serif font, pure orange label and the beloved orange with the straw.  When they removed these three iconic references from the package, the customer became confused.  I know when I was looking for my “pulp free” variety I had to do a double take.  Spending seconds trying to decipher the carton to make sure it was:
a.) my brand of orange juice
b.) I correctly found my variety.

It was thoughtful concept of Tropicana to color code their varieties for “pulp free”, “some pulp”, “calcium” etc., but this just added to the confusion.  I was left with several choices that just overwhelmed me.  In fact, while I stood there trying to figure out which color was my “pulp free” I watched a woman come back and exchange one variety for another. When your customers have a hard time recognizing your product variation, what does that say about your package design?

As our world becomes smaller through social networking and viral opinions, individual brand contact with it’s customers is more connected and therefore more apt to intelligent criticism   Brands should expect customer reaction when they make drastic changes regarding their brand image.  Tropicana experienced this first hand, with a large backlash when blogs and online articles condemned this PepsiCo rebranding strategy.  The social media circuit lit up for the weeks following the launch of the redesigned cartons.  The public outcry was so overwhelming, that in just a few short months, Tropicana recalled their packaging decision.

No brand wants to do what Coca-Cola did in 1985.  Modernizing your brand is a way to bring in new customers as well as keep your current client base interested in your product.  However, when you stray too far away from what your customers hold as the core of your brand, you have misunderstood what your customers demand.

Regardless of what Tropicana has done for the package design, the juice is still the same great taste.  Tropicana has loyal following and that is why there was strong reaction to this design change.

FYI: Tropicana spent $35 million for this design and promotion.

Alex graduates from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in marketing and finance.  Cooking since she was a child, she now  a food blog called Lemons In Water.

Product design is a conversation with your audience, why not blog in the same manner?

Alex Gergar

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