It has been a while since I was last time in Helsinki airport. I was very positively surprised to see the new Finnair long haul lounge: it looked and felt like Finland and… Finnair! Well done!
Since my visit to the New York auto show in April I have been wondering about the Volkswagen brand positioning here in the USA. In Europe Volkswagen is really positioned as the peoples car and as such their visual identity and communication reflects that.
Here in the USA it has been different and VW has been making some steps a long the way. Take a look at the examples below:
Yes, Volkswagen has made progress from the tough looking old website design to the more approachable current design but it still feels Volkswagen is a bit lost.
It is lost in its positioning against Audi, the other brand in the Volkswagen group.
In order to be the people car it should not out win Audi in webpage design. It should also not out win Audi either in big events like the New York Autoshow. It should never out win Audi.
What should Volkswagen do? It is of course up to the Volkswagen Group to figure out how to play with Audi, VW and Porsche in their brand portfolio but it is clear that there is some clear overlap at the moment. That is bad, as it will decrease distinctiveness of these wonderful brands against competition. My recommendation would be to bring much more focus on what made Volkswagen big: being the people car and Das Auto! There is a lot to play with when you think of a car for the people. That is, The Car for The People!
I remember the day when my wife came home from shopping in the local supermarket complaining that she had a hard time finding our favorite Tropicana juice. “They have changed the packaging and I cannot find anything anymore! Almost took the wrong one!”. She was not complaining for a wrong reason. Take a look at the two Tropicana juices on the left. Yes: they are actually different but it is really difficult to spot: ‘high pulp’ and ‘some pulp’ in a different color, different caps and some other small differences. Surely this might work when you have just two packs next to each other but it gets totally different when you see a whole shelf full of similar looking packs! Other consumers realized this too and after less than 2 months and a 20% drop in sales the new pack was replaced by the old one!
Today I noticed that in the supermarket all the ‘new’ packs are finally gone and replaced with the good looking, differentiating ‘old’ packs with the new redesigned cap. Below you see an image of the ‘new’ pack in supermarket context and the ‘old’ pack. Surely the old pack helps consumers to navigate much much better!
But it was not navigation what was the issue. Reading the original pepsi message and press coverage( 1 and 2) it was about “It’s time to remind consumers that Tropicana Pure Premium is pure, natural and squeezed from fresh oranges,”. “In order to reinforce this message, we focused on the health benefits of the juice but showed it in a more emotional way than ever before in this category. We want to remind consumers how it should feel to drink this juice every morning.”
This is a great objective but hard to imagine that the execution should result in very blend and non differentiating design within the Tropicana range! It was so blend that even consumers were not able to navigate in the store to find their favorite juice! In fact: over the last 3 months I have had at least 2 times that I took accidently the wrong juice home! Something that never happened with the ‘old’ sales pack! Why? The various colors that would help me to navigate (orange=no pulp, green=some pulp) were difficult to find as the overall pack looked so much the same.
Then on the objective to remind consumers that Tropicana is pure, natural and squeezed from fresh oranges. Why change from the fresh oranges with the straw to difficult to see orange juice in a glass? Is it not better for consumers to know that the oranges used to create Tropicana were the best on the planet? Showing them on the sales pack with a straw (so fresh you can drink from them!) did a perfect job!
So here are the lessons I took from this disaster:
- Identity which elements in your visual identity drive consumers to purchase your product. In case of Tropicana it could have been the image of the fresh looking orange and the straw that strengthens the feeling of freshness even more.
- Identity which elements in your visual identity help consumers to navigate in your portfolio. In case of Tropicana it is for sure the use of colors for the different variants of juice.
- Identity which visual elements consumers feel belong to your brand. In this case: the happy font, the straw, the fresh orange.
- Any changes you make to #1-#3 you test in a retail environment with consumers who are in hurry to grab their favorite product and do not have time to admire individual design details.