Last time we saw how wineries have tapped into the influences of packaging and how some companies now target the less savvy wine drinkers with non-traditional approaches to wine labels. Most of the time, if you don’t have a specific brand in mind to purchase, packaging can make all the difference – brand loyalty and packaging go hand in hand. Bringing your company’s flavor and personality into your packaging can make the difference between becoming a trusted brand or just another item on the shelf. But, packaging can also be tricky to update once you’re an established brand, how do you maintain your loyal customers and attract new sales with added appeal?

Some brands have managed to do this well, while others have fallen short. On my recent visit to the liquor store I noticed updates to one of my favorite drinks. Known for it’s decorative embellishments and round shape Chambord Royal has recently updated their classic bottle. They were able to come up with a new and modern look that has the some of the same luxurious appeal as their old packaging.

Although less embellished, the new look is just as fancy and classy. I’m glad to see that the bottle shape was cleaned up and the gold plastic embellishments on the bottle have been removed. The updated, sleeker letters and gold patterning have brought modern shelf appeal to the brand. Chambord has now been elevated to with the same ultra mod appeal that the martinis they are mixed in have.

Another good example of packaging elevating it brand is Cabo Wabo tequila.  Priced to compete with the mid to high range tequilas, Cabo Wabo has refined their bottle and added some shelf appeal, helping it stand out from some of the tequila bottles they are shelved alongside. They were smart to keep small subtleties of the old packaging but the new changes are sure to attract some new attention and sales. They have elevated the brand with a more sophisticated cleaner type choices and bold label colors. It is interesting to note that they have also made a distinct choice to totally refine the look of their highest end tequila going for a very classy look of a liquor decanter, further driving home the message that this sipping tequila is not to be shot with lime and salt.

Other great examples of updates to packaging can be found in the new Kraft dinner boxes and the overhaul of the Bath & Bodyworks signature line. Each of these companies were sensitive to their consumers and were well aware of their brand and how far they could go with a new package. Some other established brands were not so successful and learned the hard way that packaging changes can have significant impacts when consumers are not ready for it.

Although well done and definitely eye catching, Tropicana’s new packaging was not well received. It was reported that the sales of Tropicana dropped by 20% and their competitor’s sales rose during the time the new package was released. The new look took away the one iconic image Tropicana owned that no other company could compete with. Tropicana simply became another glass of juice and not the closest thing to putting a straw in an orange. Getting rid of the image it had been using for decades proved to be too much for consumers. Tropicana reverted back to the original brand look prior to their re-design within a month of the new packaging release.

Real time branding mishaps like this prove that consumers are strongly influenced by packaging. Change can be good but is not always accepted, at least not in one big step for some established brands.

Some sites related to this blog:

http://adage.com/article/news/tropicana-line-s-sales-plunge-20-post-rebranding/135735/

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/business/media/23adcol.html?pagewanted=1