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First Look: Coke Juices Up Its MinuteMaid Packaging

In round two of the juice packaging cage match that started late last year with the Tropicana fiasco, Minute Maid unveils a new look that hews to its heritage.

First Look: Coke Juices Up Its MinuteMaid Packaging
minutemaid packaging

Having watched closely the food fight Peter Arnell triggered with his short-lived Tropicana packaging redesign for Pepsi, Coca-Cola officials have unveiled a fresh-squeezed makeover of their own iconic MinuteMaid brand.

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The redesign involves the key brands, primarily MinuteMaid in the U.S., in the beverage behemoth’s juice portfolio. Unlike the Tropicana debacle, in which Arnell abandoned the juice brand’s visual heritage, MinuteMaid’s new design builds on elements of its own former identity, including the black rectangle and white logotype lettering. But it adds a green horizon mark, and fruit photography to buck up the idea that all this orangey flavor is not just chemicals, but the real thing.

Leading the charge on the redesign was Fast Company‘s own Masters of Design October cover boy, VP of design, David Butler. “We started the process working closely with the global juice team to understand the objectives and the strategy of growing our juice business,” Butler, reached at the big analyst summit in Atlanta this week, tells Fast Company. “This scalable, common identity was created to address a business challenge, not to simply update a package. This is truly designing on purpose.”

minutemaid lineup

“With over 100 brands in our portfolio, this was a huge problem to solve,” says Butler. “We’ve created a scalable identity system that we can use across retail, equipment, trucks, POP, everything. It’s easy,” he says, “to look simple. It’s hard to be simple.”

For inspiration, members of the design team trekked to Brazil, to check out the fruit groves and the processing plants. “We were trying to connect to the source,” says Butler. The cartons’ leafy bower and green ribbon are intended to evoke those natural elements.

Key parts of the brand language were created by Duffy & Partners, Minneapolis (Duffy is a Fast Company expert blogger) and CMA in Houston in league with Coca Cola’s in-house design team. One of the key design elements in the design is the clever use of fruit photography. “Most juice brands throw the fruit on the table to make it look abundant,’ says Joe Duffy. “We needed to create a proprietary way of showing the fruit.” In league with photographer Terry Heffernan, Duffy styled the fruit so that there are two oranges on the bottom with a wedge of orange on the top to create a kind of ‘smile.’ The photography wraps around the side, so that if they are placed side by side in the refrigerator case, they create a sense of fruity abundance.

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“Fifteen years ago, when we first did the MinuteMaid design, we watched people shopping for fruit,” Duffy says. “The way they shop for juice is similar – they look for the most beautiful piece of fruit.”

That insight has since been picked up by most brands, and is where Tropicana likely went off the rails. By abandoning their fruit photography, they gave people the impression that the juice might well have come from some metal vat. Duffy’s challenge was to create photography that stood out from the rest on the shelves. “We knew we needed to display this in a way nobody else has done,” he says. “It draws attention because it stands apart.”

That photography will be used by other designers on the company’s roster, leveraged through its Web-based “Design Machine” tool. “There are 400 different pieces of photography associated with the system,” Butler says. “Our goal was to drive efficiency in how they’re used, whie maintaining a consistent identity.”

Consumers in the U.S. will be the first to see the new packaging. The redesign of other juice brands such as Del Valle, Andina, and Cappy will roll out over 2010. In China, Butler says, a new brand, called Pulpy–full of bits of orange–is wildly successful.

With more than 100 juice brands in 145 countries, Coca-Cola is the largest buyer of fruit for juice in the world. It buys one of every six oranges produced for juice. Over the past 10 years, Coca-Cola’s share of the fragmented juice category has nearly doubled, and its global juice volume is now twice the size of its nearest competitor. The ready-to-drink business has grown, Coke officials say, at an annual growth rate of 11% between 1998 and 2008.

For more from Butler and Coke’s MinuteMaid rollout in the video below:

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About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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