tropicana packaging

tropicana-packaging

Arnell Group did the design of the new Tropicana package.  Seems like a lot of people hate it, so much that Tropicana are going back to the old design. Designers like it, most of my non designer friends don’t. Tropicana went back to the old packaging stating that consumers liked to see the orange with the straw, but they still paid the consultant a lot of money to make the change.

Was this a case of consultants trying to convince the client to do something that was “designed well” and to ignore consumer sentiment?  Well Tropicana agreed to change the package, at least for a while.

The clients ARE responsible for making decisions, regardless of what famous consultant is providing the advice.  That’s a big part of why I’m getting a taste of being the client…I know that I have the ultimate responsibility and accountability for decisions that get made, regardless of who might be whispering in my ear.

Google Tropicana packaging, lots of passionate dialog on this.

Which Tropicana design do you like better?

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Design Principles – A summary…

Below is a list of design tag lines. I’ve always been interested in how we explain what we do to design savvy folks while in elevator pitch mode. So this list is a start.

Hundreds say something like this: “NameHere is a product development consultancy focused on design, strategy, market, user interface and research, industrial design and engineering.” Some are a bit more poetic. “…user desires, business needs, design vision…” Below are the more unique entries I’ve found:

DESIGNERS

John Maeda – “Simplicity”
Ross Lovegrove – “Organic minimalism”
Santiago Calatrava – “Repetition…” (because nature often works in patterns) designer of the Chicago Spire

CONSULTANCIES

Ammunition – “Don’t play the game, change the game…Loaded”
Astro – “We create supercharged products and brands”
frogdesign – “form follows emotion”
Fuseproject – “Design brings stories to life”
Lunar Design – “Creativity that makes a difference”
New Deal Design – Get Real
Smart Design, 11 Design – (roughly) Making people’s lives better.
Teague – “…establishing perspective.”

CORPORATIONS

Krups – “Passion, Precision, Perfection”
Philips – “Sense and Simplicity”
Porsche Design – “The Engineers of Passion. Pure, functional and technically innovative”

(ok, i’m just starting this list, if you got some interesting ones for me to add, post a reply)

Sgi down for the count?

In early May, SGI went chapter 11. They were definitely one of the companies that were hard driving the look and feel of the Silicon Valley boom of the 90’s. I just thought it would be appropriate to show a few of the products back in the day. Hmmm, what would be the lessons learned from this era? Don’t dress up products in plastic skirts. Plastic capes never look real, especially when molded in blue. Don’t design after watching Phantom of the Opera and while on mind altering matter.

Steriods done right!

Here’s a classic done right. From Ducati’s website “The 750 Imola Desmo is one of the most famous bikes in the world. It is best known, and, of course named for, its victory with Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari in the 200 mile race at Imola in 1972 – one of the most spectacular in racing history.” This bike put Ducati on the map in the racing world and from there, Ducati quickly became a force to be reckoned with.

This is the new Imola. The details are impeccable and it captures the essence of the original bike. One thing that’s clear is it definitely brings modern technology into play. The new tech shows through, which makes the bike different, but doesn’t detract from original design. It’s raw AND refined. It’s a skillful execution taking a classic and creating a modern reproduction. (maybe I’m biased since I own a Ducati?!) Read my post about “life after steroids”. Let me know what you think.

Life after steriods

Back in the 70s, Dodge made cars on steriods. Barracuda, Hemi Cuda, Roadrunner, Charger all stuffed with Hemi’s and 440 was the displacement to have. Throw on dual quads and you’d be getting, about 3 miles a gallon! Mopar defined what it meant to be a muscle car. Big engines, bold style and tasty chrome treatments. Fast forward to 2006 and we have the new Challenger.

Let’s look at the design. Its really, really close to the original, but different. Its softer, the belt line is now just a tiny little crease to catch a highlight. That line used to be so pronouced, you could just about place a beer can on it. The front end has lost its aggresive, shark like, i’m going to eat you alive look. Now it looks like a cute baby shark that hasnt had its first taste of surfer yet. And where’s the chrome? I have to say, i’m dissappointed. It looks like Barry Bonds coming off steriods, the outline is there, but what defines the muscle has faded and is turning into fat.

I feel like with the Big 3 are running out of new ideas and have lost the guts to create what made legends: Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Corvette, GTO and the list goes on. Today, we just get a range of ok to bad reproductions with working A/C.

What has the better design? The original or updated Challenger?

  • I like the orignal (100%, 2 Votes)
  • I like the new version (0%, 0 Votes)
  • They both suck, why can't car companies do something original? (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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Ugly gets attention

Can this be a good thing? Here are two things that started out ugly upon intro, then turned into classics and created brands that still exist today. What’s the cause of this? Was it a tipping point? Or some disruptive technology? Or some designer trying to be different. Or just a component of time and dumb luck? Maybe a mix of all.

1985 Air Jordans, if these shoes were Air Quintens, would they have done so well? In Jordan’s book, Driven from Within, one passage goes something like this. Tinker (of Nike) shows prototype shoes to Michael (and I think they were the black versions, even uglier), MJ says, these shoes are ugly; I’m not wearing these on the court. Tinker convinces him to give them a try. A week or so later, MJ says, man, these shoes feel great, they’re light and provide great support, but everyone on the team are laughing at the way these shoes look, Tinker goes on to say, but MJ, they ARE looking at your shoes, right??…Michael got it and went with it. A big part of the success of Jordan I’s, they got noticed. Sure it helped that MJ went on to be the best player ever in the NBA (my opinion). Regardless, a brand is born.

1985 Suzuki GSXR 750. This bike was just not a nice looking bike. This was the same year Kawasaki came out with the Ninja and everyone wanted that bike, even the name “Ninja” and the ad campaign, samurai’s cutting things up. To bikers obsessed with speed and being fast, that was bad ass! Long story short, the GSXR cut up the circuit in the amateur ranks and quickly became THE bike to have if you were serious about riding. The bike went through some “aero” redesign in 1988, but the GSXR legend had been established and a brand was born. Yeah, one might say it’s still ugly, but take a close look at the 1996 Ducati Monster. Slightly odd sculpting and proportions, and with the GSXR fairings off, lots of similarity. I’m not saying the Italians ripped off Suzuki, but maybe were inspired by something in the past. (That is if you think the Monster is a nice looking bike)

Seems like sometimes ugly can work. But ugly can’t stand on its own. Performance, it has to be there. Oh, and strong advertising helps too, like Spike Lee said, “its gotta be the shoes”. That said in today’s world, beauty can’t stand on its own either. In a perfect world, things would start off beautiful, have the performance and/or depth to back it up AND get the right stories told about it. The world isn’t perfect but here’s something to think about. As nature proves, some things start off ugly, but reach a state of beauty, like butterflies or babies! (Come on, babies in the first few minutes, not so nice!!) So that must mean there’s always hope for things, ugly.

Apple Craft: it’s the product

I just got back from the Art Center conference called Radical Craft. I wasn’t able to make the first day of the conference, which I was told seemed to be the better of the two days to attend. But I did happen to catch a talk, or more an interview given by Chee Perlman of Jonathan Ive, the VP of Design at Apple. I have to say it was a really great interview. The MC intro went sort of like this, “if Steve Jobs is the design visionary at Apple, then Jonnie Ive is the design soul”. Here are my thoughts about what I enjoyed:

1. Jon is the 100% opposite of the typical design rock star personality. Isaac Mizrahi also presented that same day, actually a really great interview as well, but his personality is huge and clearly a big part of the package. Flamboyant, loud, arms waving, running into the crowd like Jerry Springer. This is not Jon Ive. I think its great to see smart designers that don’t want to be rock stars, talk about their passions in a public venue.

2. He’s clearly focused on one thing, making the product as great as it can be. When asked about what the goals of Apple are, he states that creating and producing the best product possible, is more important than making money. I’m sure some of the business guys would choke hearing this, but I’m of the same belief, that if you really get the product right, the chances of it and the company doing well are much higher. Additionally, you get the benefit of a company with a reputation that delivers quality.

3. Following on about the utter importance of the “product” itself, he states that getting this right, has a much more lasting, positive impact than marketing and sales. Once again, I’m in complete agreement here. Yes the Apple ad campaign creates a grand sense of style and aspiration for us consumers, the itunes store offers a great online experience, but the proof is in the pudding, if the product pleases, it just makes you smile and reinforces the message, but if it disappoints, you’re crying and the message turns into a joke. If the product is done right and delivers, then that creates repeat customers boosting sales.

4. He is a design freak, passionate and fanatical about the details and getting it right. It’s fortunate that he’s in an organization that cares as much as he does.

5. Continuing on design, he states that Apple design is NOT about self expression and more about taking complex problems and making them appear simple. This was said in the context of comparing Apple Design to other designers, like Mizrahi, who would profess to say that the design he produces, IS self expression. On this note, I can’t say I agree with Jon. Yes the current Apple design language is the epitome of simplicity. One could argue that the current line is almost expressionless in its character. But what about the “candy colored” phase of Apple design? Or the jelly fish like Apple/Harmon speakers? Quite expressive if you ask me. What designers produce or at least intend to produce, in my mind, is a clear statement of self expression, whether that expression is simplicity or intricacy or excitement or whatever appropriate thought fits. That product expression is also a direct reflection of where that particular company is at the time as well. Often the reflection can get watered down to a murky blur by too many participants trying leave their own mark, but that’s another blog topic.

It’s clear that Jonathan and his team are in pursuit of excellence. It’s also clear that Apple at large is willing to pay for this and do what it takes to produce great product (poor engineers, they must go through hell!). There is another interesting blog about the cost of innovation from Noise Between Stations which I actually found on Bruce Nussbaum’s Business Week blog who also has some nice thoughts on design. The NBS blog talks about how much Apple pays for innovation and puts it up against sales, good stuff. This all said, as someone traditionally trained in Industrial Design, and now an expert in Experience, Strategic, Brand, Feeling, Styling, Innovation Design 😉 I quite enjoyed Jon’s ability to stay focused on one thing, the product.

Does Brand Matter? Honey I shrunk the Hummer

The new H3 looks like a shrunken version of the H2. Can you tell which one is a 2 or 3? Doesn’t this go against what Hummer is all about, BIG, BOLD, MILITARY? If people want a small hummer, I guess that’s cool, but could GM have done something different? They had to retool most of the exterior body panels right? Why not make some good design changes? Was this the easy thing to do? “Jim, scale the CAD files down to 70%.” Was this what “consumers” wanted? “I want a small hummer, ooh that would be cute!” If so, maybe consumers don’t care about what all the brand experts develop and communicate. Do consumers want their personal version of whatever is they think is hot? Maybe GM did this because Apple seems to keep shrinking ipods and it seems to work for them!

Stick to you guns. From my brand point of view, what GM just did would be analogous to using the same design for the current Mini and blowing it up into a “mid sized” station wagon. Would that still be a Mini? I guess they could rename it “Midi”, but that might confuse all the people out there in the music world.

Oh, the image on the bottom is the H3.