Saturday, December 19, 2015

Celestial Seasonings' New Boxes: Cold Tea

Celestial Seasonings tea had the same iconic packaging for decades. After the company was bought by Hain Food Group in 2000, it finally rebranded in 2010. I respect that Hain kept the packaging the same for a decade as the two companies got used to each other. The 2010 transformation definitely updated the look, but generally held to a similar approach in illustration. (I wrote about that rebranding here.)

Well, not anymore:

Clearly, Hain is in the middle of a new box rollout just five years later, as seen in this display at a local store, which still has a few boxes with the old designs mixed in.

I'd say the new design is a mistake this time. It takes something that was distinctive on the shelf and makes it almost generic looking. The differentiation between varieties is especially weak. Compare the two different chamomile packages at top left:

The new package feels dry, yet still cluttered, despite the white space.

I don't mind the new logo, but I think the idea that the names of the varieties — now located at a relatively low spot within the box layout and in harder-to-read, smaller, condensed, and all-caps type — will be more identifiable than the colorful, iconic illustrations is a mistake. Also, notice how, in the cardboard display shown, the names of the varieties are often cut off by the display edge.

Oh, and it's interesting that the Sleepy Time box doesn't use the new Celestial Seasonings logo — instead it uses a similarly styled version of the Sleepy Time name. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a major brand do that with its logo. The box actually says Sleepy Time twice on the package front, since the design requires the variety name be shown at bottom left just above the color bar.

As one commenter said on the design site, Under Consideration,

If this was a new product, I think people would applaud it for ticking all the current design boxes when it comes to teas. But it had such a distinctive/quirky look and feel that made you want to believe this was not just some large multi-national corporation. I bought one of these new teas not even realizing that it was "that" Celestial Seasonings.... I like the new look, but loved the old look. 
Another commenter called out the type choice used for the variety names:
That all-caps, condensed sans-serif support font in solid color against the white background makes the overall packaging look too sterile and medicinal for a warm, cozy tea brand.
"Colder" appears to be the consensus among the commenters on Under Consideration. Not a fitting adjective for a brand of hot teas.


Michael Leddy said...

I, too, like the new logo (which I think has a produce-crate-art feel), and I, too, dislike the overall redesign. They seem to have followed Tazo in removing all hippie-esque, vaguely “Eastern” elements from the packaging, the very things many customers probably most like in the packaging.

Shelley said...

The packaging update was a flop, they lost too much business and so have announced that they'll be going back to the redesign of 2010 by September.

Daughter Number Three said...

Thanks for the update, Shelley!