Pepsi Slaughters Tropicana’s Great Design


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Pepsi has done it again!  They seem to be hell-bent on overhauling their entire product line to be clinical and minimalistic, while poaching the ideas of others.  First I’ll post an image of what Tropicana’s old carton design looked like.  Remember the good old days when you see this – back when food products looked like food products . . .

Old Tropicana Carton

One of the best package designs ever.  The eye is moved through the whole design quickly and easily – on purpose.  You see, the human eye first goes to the bottom left of an object, so you need some type of diagonal element to move your eye from the bottom left to the to right.  The old Tropicana carton did that beautifully with the round orange, and note the green leaves poking toward the bottom left of the carton, where your eye can “use” them to get into the design.  The dark gradient in the middle of the orange perfectly and forcefully moves your eye across the orange’s surface to the straw, with the perfectly illustrated drop of juice – or is it water? – then up the straw, where your eye meets the curved Tropicana logo, bringing you around full circle to the top left of the design, where you then move along the left edge of the orange back to the bottom left, where you started.  That’s when you notice the “100% Pure & Natural Orange Juice” badge, as well as the superfluous data at the bottom.  However, before you move on, notice the relationship between the logo and the “100% Pure & Natural” typefaces.  The logo uses a soft, curved, slightly tropical, sensual, organic type while the lower badge uses a small-caps serif typeface to balance the logo with a touch of seriousness, even majesty.

Other notes on this would include the wonderful pairing of orange and green and the way the vertical orange stripe bisects the design, yet implies a sort of award ribbon – though only subconsiously.

Now on to the new design, which came out only a year or so after the above design was released.  Here it is, in all it’s new fangled glory:

New Tropicana Carton

So, a few things are evident here.  Number 1 is that Pepsi, and by extension Tropicana, has an affinity for mid-90’s british design, when geometric sans serifs were used alot. Except they used them well.  Second is that Tropicana was tired of having a logo!  “Hey, let’s not have a logo.  Everybody else has a logo.  Let’s just use our regular text font, and stick that little leaf thing above it!”  Third, Tropicana doesn’t want to be associated with tropical anymore.  Tropic does not equal Tropicana.  It’s now Tropican’t.  Ha.  Haha.

Now, you can see that they tried to move your eye up the design again, from the bottom left to the top right, but the execution has several flaws.  First, the darker color is on the left, which makes the left side visually “heavier”, which in turn can make your eye get caught in a perpetual roundabout on the left side of the carton, especially when viewed straight on, instead of the above 3/4 view. Plus, the curve of the orange glass leads up to the top edge of the carton, instead of curving your eye back into the design! That’s not good.

There’s no clear focal point in this design.  The size of the white “100% Orange” competes with the logo, which competes with the “squeezed from fresh oranges” bit.

All in all, this new design looks like a supermarket discount store brand.  Or maybe a Target Market Pantry item from 5 years ago.  Oh, and I love what they did with the bottle cap.  I can hear the executives now, “We need to do something with our cap!” “I know! Let’s take the old one and put an orange boob on the top of it!”  “That’s genius!”

In case you haven’t checked the blog in a while, check out the post I did on the new Pepsi logo

Keep going, Pepsi – at this rate, you’ll be giving the design blogosphere fodder for a decade!

Oh, and I have to give mad props to the folks over at Under Consideration, and specifically their blog, Brand New for pointing this out, as well as the new Pepsi logos.  They get behind-the-scenes news about this stuff way before it hits the shelves.

4 Responses to “Pepsi Slaughters Tropicana’s Great Design”

  1. JBishop says:

    You know, when comparing this to the new Pepsi design, I'm wondering if they are in fact targeting those that would normally by the store brands. It's a sneaky move, but I'll be willing to bet that is their reason behind the poor design. Have you ever seen a store brand that had great design? Just a thought.

  2. You might be right. In this economic climate, more people will be going after the store brands, since they are historically cheaper than the name brands, so if Tropicana positions itself to be identified with the store brands, they could, in fact, end up bringing themselves more business by lowering their perceived worth! It's so crazy, it just might work!

  3. BenCotten says:

    It's funny. Before I read the post, I looked at the pics. The original design made me thirsty. It actually made me crave a tall glass of cold, “some-pulp” Tropicana orange juice.

    The doesn't make me want orange juice at all. It looks like something you'd find in a 3rd world country sitting on a rusty bare shelf in a lukewarm cooler. The juice in the glass looks watered down and doesn't look cold or juicy.

    Thanks, Joseph. Now I'm mad at Tropicana.


  1. […] And in case you missed it, here’s the article I wrote about the new design. […]

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