Why Tropicana’s Redesign Failed (And How You Can Do Better)

tropicanaA few years ago, Tropicana redesigned their packaging, a mistake that hit a number of news sources all over the world. Their move from the old “logo” of a straw inside an orange turned into a sleeker design with lots of white space and modern sans serif fonts. Let’s take a closer look at what made this design such a major flop.

The Failed Design

The redesigned juice cartons from Tropicana featured an image of a glass of orange juice transposed over a white background. At the top of the carton was the text, “squeezed from fresh oranges” – but consumers believed otherwise. While the juice itself was unchanged, the removal of the longtime symbol of the straw stuck into an orange meant that consumers lost the sense of freshness that Tropicana had long come to signify.

What consumers saw instead was a nondescript glass of juice, with little to signify that Tropicana orange juice was the fresh, non-concentrate and just plain fruity orange juice that they had come to know and love. Critics accused it of looking like stock photography or like the juice was mixed from a package – exactly the opposite of what Tropicana should look and taste like. And according to AgencySpy, the whole debacle cost Tropicana $35 million – no small chunk of change for something that could have been avoided entirely.

The Marketing Takeaway

So what was the mistake? In the case of Tropicana, it was the fact that the redesign was so drastic. Tropicana had created a logo that consumers readily recognized as a signifier of freshness and quality. The redesign did away almost entirely with that, and consumers were mystified by the change.

Other brands have made alterations to their logos. Brands like Starbucks have certainly changed visually over the years, but in Starbucks’ case, alterations have been minimal and thoughtful enough that the overall feel of the design hasn’t changed despite the updates to make the brand more modern.

Tropicana dropped the package redesign in pretty short order. It just goes to show, if you’re considering updating your brand, first consider what it is that consumers already know and love. Big changes should never be made without careful consultation of your audience and meticulous planning.

Has your brand ever made a change that consumers disliked? How did you respond?

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Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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