Ribena: Diluting taste for standout?

23.04.10

We were very interested in the recent redesign of a British icon, Ribena. The pack redesign is coupled with a major ATL campaign featuring the return to our screens of the lovable Ribena berry characters that made their debut in the 80s… and judging by the initial Twitter response it’s proving to be a big hit

We love seeing new packs we’ve worked on being launched. But we’re a humble bunch, happy to laud great design, even if we haven’t been involved (gracious I know). That’s because we’re acutely aware of the minefield that must be navigated when in search of a successful packaging redesign, particularly when it comes to iconic brands. Sometimes, in pursuit of an attention grabbing redesign, the brand’s core values are compromised – as last year’s Tropicana Pure Premium showed in the US.

With this in mind we were very interested in the recent redesign of a British icon, Ribena. The pack redesign is coupled with a major ATL campaign featuring the return to our screens of the lovable Ribena berry characters that made their debut in the 80s… and judging by the initial Twitter response it’s proving to be a big hit.

Faced with a sea of purple, the redesign has used a prominent white holding device around the brand name as a means of improving brand visibility & differentiation on shelf. No doubt it will turn heads, but in our view this improved visibility comes at a price…

Whilst there’s been an injection of more berries visually, paradoxically we wonder if the intense, rich blackcurrant taste has in fact been diminished, thus eroding what makes it so strong in the first place? Two factors contribute to this: the amount of white on pack (and thus the reduced use of purple), and the execution of the berries.

In our experience the inclusion of white in food & drinks packaging requires judicious handling and can connote a spectrum of product characteristics. On the one hand it can convey a stripped back, natural purity; but handled insensitively it can be associated with a low quality, weak product constitution, most commonly attributed to supermarket own brands and ‘lite’ variants. In fact, when we first saw the new design for the core Ribena variant, we wondered if it was a No Added Sugar variant.

Secondly, we wonder if it might have been more prudent to use real photography for the berries to improve taste perceptions – the more illustrative approach that has been adopted, in combination with the prevalent white colourways may not be conveying an optimal premium message.

Don’t get me wrong; this doesn’t come close to the marketing faux pas that was the Tropicana redesign. This is an evolutionary design change that retains a number of key equities but we question whether the pursuit of greater standout has lead to the sacrifice of too many taste cues – consequently, has the premium message been diluted? (excuse the pun) The all important consumer response remains to be seen!