We interact with dozens or even hundreds of different products on an average day, and practically all of them arrived to us in a package of some kind. In most cases, the packaging design completely flies under our radar and we are usually only conscious of it when we have a problem with it. Personally, I remember my mother had a special hatred for the packages Barbie dolls used to come in, with everything tied down with plastic-coated wired twisted up every which way. Read more…
But there are also cases when a product’s package design evokes a positive reaction, communicating the brand’s core values to the consumer and building brand loyalty if those values resonate with them. And there have been a few rare cases throughout history where the packaging itself reached iconic status. These are their stories.
Coca-Cola’s unique bottle design
Once the Coca-Cola Company first started bottling its fountain soft drink many decades ago, it wasn’t long before competitors came out of the woodwork, trying to take advantage of the success of Coke to sell their own inferior cola products. In some cases, people were even trying to sell counterfeit Coke! Coca-Cola needed a way to set itself apart and give consumers a simple way to be sure they were enjoying the authentic taste of genuine Coca-Cola Classic, so they did something that was extraordinary at that time and changed the shape of their bottle. The curved bottle design was trademarked, and today is the most iconic package design in the world.
Toblerone’s unusually shaped candy bar
I heard a rumor recently that Toblerone was no longer going to be producing its signature chocolate bar in the characteristic triangular shape. Now, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I should think that the company would have better sense than to do away with one of the most iconic package designs in Europe and North America. While consumers may be able to spot a Toblerone box by its colors and typography, most people will be looking for that triangular shape that we all know and love.
Update: it turns out Toblerone did, in fact, change the shape of its chocolate bar, but don’t panic! It’s still a triangle, but they have widened the spaces between the pieces. The new bars have been reduced by 20 grams as a result of “rising production costs”. People aren’t happy about the change. Which reminds me… Remember this gem?
Pringles, the not-quite-a-potato-chip
Pringles may not legally be allowed to call themselves potato chips anymore, but there’s no denying that the stack of chips in a tube is a unique, instantly recognizable and iconic package design. Not to mention it was a very practical invention, ensuring the chips stayed nice and fresh (resealable container) and didn’t get smashed to smithereens (rigid tube).
All companies should be aware of the potential power of package design. The packaging is, after all, the consumer’s first contact with your product, and if it doesn’t do its job well, you could end up investing lots of resources in a product that people won’t even pick off the shelf.