Over the last several years, Chobani has established itself as a leader in the Greek yogurt market. It was founded in 2005 by a Turkish immigrant, Hamid Ulukaya, when he realized there’s simply no decent product of this sort in the supermarkets. Thirteen years later, his company is a food and beverage industry giant.
However, in spite of doing very well in beating their competition, they decided they need to breathe some new life into their brand. They recognized that it’s the right time to change their logo, their package and their overall visual appearance.
The reasons for this were numerous. They have tried to escape from the fact that all the rival products in their industry are starting to look the same, but also looked to boost their brand and expand their market.
And they seem to have done a great job. Let’s see what they did.
As it was just mentioned, one of the key initial reasons for Chobani to reinvent their visual identity was to try to stand out from a bunch of imitators among rivals. Namely, the colors, the slogans and shapes of packages started looking very much like each other and Chobani was in danger of being invisible on your supermarket’s dairy products shelf.
As Peter McGuiness, Chobani’s chief marketing and commercial officer explained:
“Virtually everybody’s copied us. I’m not here to pick on the competition, but it’s not been good for the category.”
Obviously, McGuiness reckons that this kind of visual homogeneity in their branch is bad not only for Chobani, but for their competitors as well.
For Chobani, this kind of undertaking presented a big risk. If they change their looks too much, they might become unrecognizable for their regular customers.
And yet, if they don’t try to reinvent themselves, they face the possibility of becoming indistinguishable from other yogurt companies. And this is something that an industry leader wants to avoid at all costs.
Thus they took a leap into the unknown and here are the results.
The idea that drove the whole redesign process was to fit the brand image that Chobani has been trying to maintain for over a decade. Chobani is known as a brand that is quirky, playful, easygoing and understanding. Their open and attentive attitude towards customers and employees alike has always been firmly associated with the brand.
The old logo and package didn’t really reflect this image. They seemed too generic and remote, even uptight. There was something artificial about the product that’s supposed to be made of natural ingredients.
It lacked spontaneity and naturalness, so brand managers wanted to change this for good. The first step to making a package appropriate in this respect was changing the wordmark logo displayed on it.
The point of the logo redesign was to make it more casual, as well as more visible. In order to make it more casual, they switched to a curvy, lowercase typeface, instead of the old straight, traditional and capitalized one.
The fact that they used a font that’s more human-like and seems like it’s actually hand-written helped Chobani’s efforts to humanize the brand. Naturalizing the brand was also one of the priorities, and they did it by using the curves, which are typically associated with organic shapes.
Finally, it was important that the bottle stands out on the shelf. That’s why the new font needed more weight than the old one. In words of Leland Maschmeyer, Chief Creative Officer at the company:
“That was super-critical because what we know is that when consumers shop the shelf, the very first thing they look for is their brand. With the old Chobani wordmark, when you stood ten feet away from a very crowded shelf, it disappeared. It wasn’t visually heavy enough to stand out.”
Furthermore, Maschmeyer claims that when it comes to making visual adjustments in order to strengthen their brand, it’ not just about changing the logo on the package. He says that the way customers see and experience Chobani every day “informed quite a bit of design”.
Therefore, the intention to make a statement about the desired brand image also largely influenced the shape of the package. Less conventional and generic shapes are there to evoke a sense that the brand is laid-back, youthful and even childish or naïve.
And when it comes to colors, it seems that their wellness philosophy as well as one of their slogans, “fighting for happily ever after”, informed quite a bit of the color palette choice.
The colors they employ in the new package design are not there to simply attract the customers with their flamboyance. They’re there to convey a message about healthy nutrition that their products provide.
Hence the choice of colors that resemble those easily found in nature. It’s no surprise really, given that most of the lines of products Chobani offers feature images of fruit on the package. This should encourage people to perceive the Chobani yogurt as a healthy choice of food full of natural ingredients.
One of the biggest challenges in refurbishing the looks of the package was creating different styles for different lines of products, and yet somehow achieving that they still look like parts of the same brand.
This is a big step forward compared to how things used to work at Chobani. Namely, back in the days, whenever they came up with a new line of products, they would simply use the previously employed design elements in order to incorporate its design into the already existing overall visual identity.
This time, people at Chobani have tried to create four distinct strategies for four different lines. What the strategies would look like depended on the purpose of a certain group of products.
In essence, Maschmeyer says that they developed different identities for products that people should see as either “healthy”, “fun”, “functional” or “social”.
Basically, four different designs should reflect four different objectives, which leads to personalizing products and making clear to consumers what the product has to offer. For instance, their “Flip” line, which falls under the “fun” category is obviously more amusing and lively in design, unlike the foods and beverages that Chobani tries to present as natural and healthy.
However, there are at least four common characteristics that all of the lines share. Namely, they all need to maintain the sense that they’re handcrafted, approachable, naïve and nostalgic.
This strategy should help the brand seem natural, spontaneous and give it a human face. Also, it’s supposed to make it seem affordable and inexpensive, yet not cheap or low-quality. People at Chobani made a great effort to balance these factors out and create a casual, refreshing, pleasant and inviting package design.
The way some of the lines are designed is also echoing the need that Chobani felt to expand their market. It’s not just them – the spokesman of their fierce rivals, Dannon, Michael Neuwirth, also reckons that yogurt is still “under-consumed compared to other countries”.
So this sparked another initiative at Chobani. They are trying to reach out to new customers and promote new ways and new circumstances in which you can consume their product. And the new package design echoes this intention perfectly.
The two lines that are supposed to catch the attention of new customers are “Flip” and “Smooth”. These two lines contain products that differ a bit from Chobani’s traditional ones, insofar as “Smooth” is a non-Greek yogurt, while “Flip” combines yogurt and healthy snacks.
These two are evidently more colorful, distinctive and persuasive so that they could easily attract casual shoppers. It’s a great way to intrigue those that normally wouldn’t bother with trying the original thing.
All in all, the moral of the story is that a sort of risk that Chobani has taken with the complete redesign can certainly pay off. Even if you’re an industry leader, it doesn’t mean that you should get complacent, sit back and relax.
Maintaining a proper brand image demands constant reinvention of your products and your visual identity. Sometimes it doesn’t end well, but with the right team on the task and the right amount of enthusiasm, there’s little room for mistake.
Nevertheless, an unpleasant event that happened right after Chobani launched their new look might serve as a kind of a warning. Namely, as soon as the new package was on the shelves, people started complaining about the strange smell coming from inside the containers. Apparently, new cups and bottles were responsible for it.
It remained unclear what really happened, but Chobani reacted quickly, promptly fixed the problem and the complaints stopped. However, the whole event was very inconvenient for the company. It seems as if they rushed a bit into introducing their new look and overlooked certain factors that influenced the very quality of the product.
Having a great design is necessary, but having a good product is even more important. And even a giant like Chobani was inclined to make this sort of a mistake. You have to be brave enough to always push your design to the limits in order to achieve a top-class visual appearance for your brand, but make sure to never do it at the expense of the quality of your product.
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