Package Design Magazine's fourth annual Makeover Challenge now enters the peer review stage. Entries have been submitted from our four design teams—Design Resource Center, Perennial, Tridimage, and The Zunda Group—and are displayed on the following pages.
The Citrus Magic brand of household air fresheners and cleaners is the subject of this year's packaging overhaul project. Like many consumer goods companies, the core Citrus Magic line grew in different directions as the parent company added new products without a comprehensive brand design strategy. The Makeover Challenge gave them the chance to have four design firms take on the challenge of proposing four comprehensive design strategies to Citrus Magic.
The time for peer review is now.
The Makeover Challenge design teams took seriously the challenges to create a single unified brand and to introduce new functionality and ergonomics in the packages. The teams looked closely at the personality of the brand and the parent company's desire to promote all-natural products that were safe and effective. A new part of challenge asked the design teams to find an innovative sustainability solution for one of the packages and to find an innovative way to improve production efficiencies.
Now it's your turn as an avid reader of Package Design Magazine. Let us know which package makeover presents the best overall package design direction for the Citrus Magic brand by voting on our website. The deadline for online voting is September 30, and the winner will be announced with the publication of our November/December issue, where the winning team will be profiled in a cover story feature.
Strata Live 3D provides the 3D experience
When you vote for your favorite overall redesign on the Package Design Magazine website, you'll be able to view fully interactive 3D models of each and every package. This feature was made possible by the cooperation of Strata, a software company in St. George, UT.
Strata agreed to supply each design team with the Strata 3D CX Suite, a $1,700 value currently discounted to $995 for regular customers (www.strata.com/3dsuite.asp). The teams received this software free of charge in order to have complete control in creating their 3D models, and the software outputs the "Live 3D" models that can be directly uploaded and viewed online.
Strata offers a portfolio of graphics software for the professional designer. There is also an active online community of users that can be very helpful at www.stratacafe.com.
Design Resource Center
Design Resource Center (DRC) looked for inspiration in Citrus Magic's history of creating natural, citrus-based products for the consumer. Citrus represents the spring of life and their goal was to increase brand success by reinforcing the brand promise, utilizing a unique shape to differentiate on an intuitive and visual level. The consistent shape and graphic elements achieved this with a complete "symbol" that represents the key attributes of Citrus Magic—earth-friendly, organic and natural, refreshing, and clean.
When looking closely at premium household cleaning products at retail, DRC principal and creative director John Norman noticed an ironically cluttered category. "It's kind of an oxymoron—you'd think it would be 'clean,'" Norman says. He believes the DRC-redesigned packages would be a breath of fresh air in the category. "It just jumps out at you," says Norman, "but it's not so unique that it's odd."
In defining the real essence of the brand and the products' effectiveness, Norman explains, "It's really about cleaning and getting back to a natural state." In nature, elements work in harmony—and it was important for the DRC solution to do the same. The dominant leaf motif defines the soft, smooth, flowing structure. The harmonious design elements are inviting and encourage consumers to pick up, hold, and examine the natural-looking package.
The DRC Makeover team feels the graphics are friendly, approachable, fresh, and eye-catching. The "sunburst" effect of the bright orange citrus sun is reserved for the brand wordmark, making this area special and allowing the brand identity to stand on its own. This area is both inviting and strong to break through retail shelf clutter, to be compelling from a range of viewing distances, and to connect with shoppers on an emotional level.
The overall, consistent effect of the new branding and packaging is contemporary and clean—but not commoditized. "We really cleaned up the information hierarchy," says Norman. The brandmark provides a proprietary, national brand feel, and the sunburst background color could change according to the scent of the product within. The product descriptor is at the top, and the "100% Natural" claim in the arch above the sunburst is central but secondary.
The DRC approach to better packaging function focused on creating a universal ergonomic shape that is easier to hold and use. The curved shape of leaf fits nicely into the curve of a user's hand. For the carpet and room odor eliminator, they also created an easy to use dial for metering the amount of powder. A translucent, non-printed area allows the consumer to see the exact amount of product that is left at all times. For the solid air freshener, DRC created a more visually appealing solution so consumers will now gladly display—rather than hide—in a standing or sitting position.
DRC focused their sustainability efforts on greatly increasing the recyclability of the packages and components. Changing from green as closure color increases reuse from recycled products, since less product of the product is pigmented. PET, HDPE, and PP are the resins deliberately sought for commercial recycling. They recommend virgin PET vs. RPET (recycled PET) for two reasons: 1) It is very difficult to control the color of RPET 2) It is difficult to know how many heat treatments it has been through, and what chemicals it has been exposed to.
DRC discovered that by examining the relation of the packages to each other, there were production efficiencies to be gained. By using a vertical labeling process for the solid air freshener, DRC increased line efficiency so all products can now run on the same labeling line. For the air freshener, DRC changed the overall product package to a pump, therefore increasing line efficiency with a standard fill process.
From the brief provided for the Makeover Challenge, Perennial understood that customers of all kinds felt that the Citrus Magic name itself conveys something specific when individuals hear it—trusted naturalness combined with real effectiveness. The Perennial Makeover team began with the redesign of the Citrus Magic brand name word-mark first, and then constructed the package design to create a visual bull's eye for shoppers.
Perennial developed a more contemporary identity, starting with a simpler, natural logo in lower case that was also able to reverse well in graphics. Gary Oakley, Executive Vice-President, Creative at Perennial, explains that they tried to define the packaging to be consistent with the brand's message of natural purity and environmental consciousness with all-natural cues on a pure white background. "We didn't want to over-complicate the identity," Oakley says.
Compared with the old package design, the Perennial Makeover team developed shapes and graphics that are calmer and less aggressive to convey simplicity and premium quality. "The packaging shape and form emulates the soft form of the citrus fruit," says Oakley. The principal display area is curved, leading the consumer to discover more by turning the package around.
Perennial took great care in emphasizing the key point of difference of "100% natural citrus oils" in an elevated position. The idea was to have it as a common flash. It's a significant point of difference, and the Perennial team felt it should be outside the central focus to highlight it. In addition, the multiple drops of the all-natural flash signify multiple citrus products in the product blend. "We're helping to join the dots in consumers' minds," Oakley explains.
For ergonomics, the Perennial team married form with function to create packages that are easy to hold, carry, and store. The new all-purpose cleaner bottle has a soft form and a flexible neck innovation that makes using the product easier at unusual angles to get into odd spaces and corners. This design also helps the pump to reach the remaining fluid inside a nearly empty bottle that an inner tube often cannot reach in conventional spray bottles.
The odor eliminator has a cap with openings on each side, as well as on the top to allow for easier and greater sprinkling of the deodorizing powder when needed, using a side-to-side motion. The odor eliminator has a separate collar that rotates to open slots, allowing the consumer to be more in control of the product output. The solid air freshener, with the shrink label removed, is an attractive decor accent. The lid can be rotated to adjust for more or less citrus fresh scent. Also, by making the bottom convex, the product can be stacked well on retail shelves.
One of the design team's main mandates was to ensure the packaging they created was just as earth-friendly as the product it would envelop. After thoroughly researching the options available, the designers determined that the best solution would be to use the new nature-based PLA packaging technology. The corn-based polymer is derived from a 100% annually renewable source, and is the world's first polymer to show a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The packaging materials for all four SKUs is common, and this can offer some volume efficiencies to the manufacturer by ordering one type of material from one supplier. Since the main ingredient in the company's products is a natural byproduct of the citrus industry, Citrus Magic could explore a mutually beneficial partnership with one of the large citrus companies in order to reduce waste and improve sustainability even further.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Tridimage Makeover team felt the most relevant part of their brand exploration was to confirm the level of Citrus Magic quality and effectiveness that was in both loyal and potential consumers' minds.
Citrus Magic's all-natural products offer results that outperform the competition, and Tridimage was impressed by how consumers have been voicing their praise of the magical results.
The Tridimage team felt that new and loyal consumers should feel—through the packaging—like they are taking home something magical. "What was missing was the emotional part of their packaging," says Hernán Braberman, Tridimage principal and design director. "We think that design brings stories to life. People today are looking for experiences, and for stories to bring those experiences to life."
Tridimage crafted an engaging story for Citrus Magic that is all about the magic that is behind their unique products. Magic is the art of performing illusions that amaze by achieving something impossible with common elements, just like this brand's formulas. Tridimage decided that each product's package would feature a different magic act performed with ordinary citrus fruits as a powerful and ownable visual metaphor of Citrus Magic brand's attributes and values.
"We wanted consumers to focus first on the 'action' of the label and complement it with the logo," says Hernán. The packages' vibrant colors represent the lively colors of the mature fruit, which are great package designs themselves. Tridimage intentionally avoided using just one monolithic brand color in order to clearly communicate that these products are created using a combination of several citrus essences.
The recessed area on each package's body emphasizes the fresh blue sky as a metaphor of the products' fragrances. This creates a "window" or "depth" effect that invites consumers' touch at retail and adds another dimension to consumers' interaction with the product. The recessed area also has a "horizon" effect, and when the products are lined up the recessed areas all line up precisely.
To be successful at retail, Tridimage made sure the packages have their own visual equity, a strong personality, and a contemporary and elegant presentation. Each package has it own 3D personality while clearly belonging to the same product family. The ergonomic shapes convey the operative direction of the packages—flat side for direction of use, curved side for the hand. Closures and actuators were integrated to the overall shape to obtain a minimalist 3D image, and full-body shrink sleeve labels allow a perfect integration of graphic branding and structures.
For the air freshener, Tridimage created a proprietary closure with a large actuator button. The all-purpose cleaner package features an integrated custom trigger with an especially ergonomic actuator. For the carpet and room deodorizer, Tridimage developed a closure system that controls the quantity of sprinkled powder through a user-friendly dial. The solid air freshener is opened by simply peeling off the partial-sleeve label, exposing the air vents of the main container.
To promote the parent company's eco-friendly and sustainable goals in the solid air freshener package, Tridimage developed an innovative molded pulp package. Molded pulp packages are traditionally used for protective secondary packaging applications, but the Makeover team believed in the power of design to elevate consumers' perception of this material. Today's high-quality thermoformed pulp molds ensure dimensional accuracy, produce well-defined smooth surfaces, and allow unique structural designs with a premium appearance.
Tridimage believes consumers would appreciate the new elegant container and clearly value the sustainability message. To give the four packages an edge at retail, the designers exploited the capabilities of modern production and labelling machinery. By taking advantage of accurate orientation and application of heat-shrink sleeve labels, Tridimage was able to create an intimate 3D dialogue between the structural and graphic design. The sky area that surrounds the four packages is simultaneously debossed on the containers, matching the 2D graphics and creating an eye-catching depth effect.
Zunda Design Group
South Norwalk, Connecticut
The Zunda Group's new design for Citrus Magic communicates the promise of the brand—both visually and ergonomically—for being an environmentally friendly, all-natural, citrus-based line of household products. The soft organic shapes of the newly designed containers are very reminiscent of the citrus fruit from where Citrus Magic gets its ingredients and cleaning magic.
The goal was to achieve a fresher, more sophisticated presentation by taking everything out of the brand that is not necessary, focusing mainly on the citrus, and eliminating all the noise. Partner Ed Moeller recalls the feeling at Zunda Group being: "Let's simplify the message and make the Citrus Magic very easy to find." This means easy to find the product on the shelf as much as it means easy to find the brand name on the label.
The new simple, clean organic looking citrus graphic utilizes vegetable-based inks on a minimal, yet persuasive, clear label for instant shelf recognition of the "all-natural" positioning. The visual design and the structural design combine to emphasize the cleaning power and refreshing fragrances of the natural citrus oils. This concept sets the stage for a new design standard in the "green cleaning" category and will surely stand out from the crowd at retail.
The new graphic presentation is minimalistic with a clean logo emphasizing the citrus source and with leaf accents emphasizing natural ingredients. The fruit segment circle dominates the package, but not in a cute or hokey way. The Zunda Group intended the product line packaging to be a flexible design platform for possible extensions and also reflect different fragrances in the line. The orange line is shown, but yellow packaging could be used for a lemon fragrance, and so forth.
Zunda Group partner Gary Esposito saw the project as moving Citrus Magic away from the mainstream, and even experimenting with a look that was out of the box. "We wanted to unify the line by letting the structures indicate the function," explains Esposito. "There should be nothing out on the market that looks like this."
One goal of the Zunda Group redesign was to avoid "overpackaging" by simplifying the designs, reducing co-mingled materials, and streamlining components. In keeping with the all-natural image and mission of the company, the Zunda Group was adamant that the packages not use any aerosol. After a deep product search, they found a delivery system that they could cross-pollinate from the garden category, where it is in limited use.
Zunda created a corn-based plastic pump dispenser that when it is pumped a few times it will pressurize the container. Pressing a release button releases the citrus air freshener into the room naturally with air pressure. The all-purpose cleaner has a traditional trigger spray that is more seamlessly integrated into the neck of the bottle, where it locks into place when not in use.
The package for the carpet cleaner is topped with a segmented citrus lid in the same proportions as the brandmark. The consumer twists the top to expose holes and meter the amount of cleaning powder dispensed. The solid air freshener also allows for fine adjustment so the consumer can better manage the product use. Users simply twist open the two-part container to adjust window holes for more or less air freshening power.
To be true to the Citrus Magic brand positioning of striving to be an environmentally conscious company, Zunda Group found a PLA-plastic provider that designs and manufactures proprietary corn starch-based, renewable, and compostable plastics created from breakthrough technology. The PLA material can be molded and extruded in rigid formats for all the Citrus Magic bottles. These plastics return to nature quickly and safely, meeting the demand from consumers and manufacturers for sustainable plastics.