Household Products

Rebranding more than the bag

Posted: April 19, 2016 by
Jeff Fleischer

For many years, the Hefty brand has included a range of products sold in different parts of the retail space. Though often carried in the same store, however, the products didn’t have a package design philosophy that connected all of them.

So when Reynolds Consumer Products began a redesign of the packaging for its Hefty waste bags, the project soon expanded to include Hefty’s other products, creating a cohesive visual identity in the process.

“The whole initiative was to be a stronger brand within the marketplace,” says Toni Marnul, creative director for Reynolds Consumer Products. “If you looked at our packaging before, we sometimes looked a little scattered. Except for the polygon that held the word ‘Hefty,’ we didn’t have a consistent way to talk to the consumer.” Marnul, along with Blackbird Brand Building and Velvet Hammer, started a collaborative effort to remedy that.

“The biggest thing we were looking to do was cleaning up the presentation,” explains Bill Rempe, president and cofounder of Velvet Hammer. “Before, the packaging was in a bit of a features arms race, where the packaging was very focused on communicating every new feature to consumers, rather than communicating the brand message. Technology like Odor Block and the grip were becoming the key points, while Hefty itself was being drowned out.”

Ending the ‘arms race’

Consumer research showed orange was a strong color for the brand, allowing it to take an existing element on the old waste bag package and make it primary. This also let Hefty utilize a color rarely used in the waste bag category, which would therefore stand out on shelf. Most of the new boxes for waste bags used dark orange as a primary color, with a lighter-orange highlight around the product image. The only exception was Hefty Ultimate—a new product that rolled out as part of the launch—which used a gray package with orange as a secondary color.

The package was also redesigned to have a clear hierarchy of information, and to work in both horizontal and vertical positions on shelf. On the vertical package, the Hefty polygon logo appears at the bottom of the image, about halfway down the package and prominently framed; on the horizontal, the picture is on the left and all the text to the right. 

Below the polygon is the sub-brand name, e.g., Ultimate, Odor Block or Extra Strong, and below that a thin horizontal bar calling out a key feature in italicized text. The goal was to still emphasize Hefty’s technology, but present that information as a supporting part of a larger brand message.

“The idea was to clean the pack up so it was obvious to the consumer what they were getting,” says Rick Mariani, cofounder and creative director of Velvet Hammer. “The typography was kept very consistent. It was easier to organize information so that, in the two or three seconds consumers need to read the pack, they learn what they need to know very quickly.”

Slide on over

Once the new package for waste bags had been designed, Hefty and its partners took a similar approach to the brand’s line of slider bags, including sandwich and freezer bags. The third phase focused on Hefty tableware, including its foam plates, bowls, and plastic cups.

In both cases, the team decided to use the orange color and polygon to keep the Hefty identity clear across products. Previously, the slider bag package used pink as a primary color, with different secondary colors for the freezer and storage products. The tableware, which is packaged in transparent plastic, originally featured orange text printed on the clear background, along with an image of the product in use.

For the redesign, Illumination Research conducted consumer research about the packaging in both Chicago and Charlotte, NC. Using its portable, digital “virtual wall,” Illumination showed consumers several options for the packaging, which included examples shown in a life-sized digital retail shelf.

“We like to look at the branding not just in isolation, but also in its competitive context,” explains Jeff Bass, chief operations officer and co-principal at Illumination Research. “Consumers might choose one design out of several options, but maybe it doesn’t pop the same way when it’s on a shelf next to competitors as it does in isolation.”

As with waste bags, the new packaging for slider bags is an orange rectangular box that can be displayed horizontally or vertically. It uses the same hierarchy, with an image of the product in use, and the Hefty polygon above the sub-brand. As before, the storage and freezer bags use different secondary colors, but those are now dark and light blue rather than orange and green.

Fit to be served

The tableware makes use of the brand color via an orange circle that appears on the clear wrapping. In the case of plates, the full circle is roughly the size of the inner portion of the plate, allowing it to fit the available space. For cups and bowls, the sides of the circle are cut off, but the large size of the graphic gives it ample room for information about the brand, sub-brand, and features.

The sub-brands Everyday for plates and bowls, and Easy Grip for cups, appear below the polygon, against a dark-blue bar. For tableware, the horizontal bar communicating features is green, and the image of the products in use appears in the lower-right portion of the circle.

“We wanted the brand to be very front, so that no matter what aisle the shopper is in, they will be able to identify Hefty,” Marnul says. “By combining the elements we already had in our toolbox with this approach, we feel we’ve achieved that.”