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Subtle Branding Work in the Updated Hersheys Packaging

03/01/2012

Packaging gets refreshed all the time. Initially, I thought this was just an update but I think there’s a few interesting points that are happening with the change.

Firstly, Hershey’s is putting greater emphasis on the sugar-free nature of the product, so that it’s easily discerned, especially when placed next to a non-sugar free item like these Dots. (I couldn’t find a more closely related package than the Dots. It seems this size and quantity belongs only to sugar free chocolates, so this will have to do for comparison…and yes, I ate them both!) The vertical “swoop bump” has given way to a large white band across the center of the front panel. The change makes completely clear there is a distinction between these and the standard offerings. It also stands out at shelf, doing a far better job of calling out Hershey’s offerings in this area.

The postulations I glean from these changes are that Hershey’s may have had issues with customers having difficulty finding the product or perhaps they confused the sugar-free product with normal offerings. The other possibility maybe that Hershey’s is making a bolder bid to own the sugar-free chocolate space. A louder package would go far in that regard. Seeing as the shelf-space set aside for such treats has increased drastically in the last few years, I can see the draw to advertise this feature.

For branding folks, the second interesting change is the ownership of the brown field on the packaging. Both the Dots and the new sugar free packaging have gone with a straight Hershey’s brown. The packaging my seem less ‘fun’ but it also comes off as more bold. The change to the simplified Hershey’s brown background also serves to increase ownership of that color in the merchandising space and condenses the brand message.

Not only that, but the border around the Hershey’s logo has been removed, essentially making the entire package the logo’s brown field. Breaking the logo out of the border tends to break the “badge-ing” effect. Instead of saying it is a product BY Hersheys, it IS a product of Hersheys. Sure that sounds a bit like a game of semantics, but the ownership is more clear with the border-less logo.

The great thing is all of these changes bring the new packaging more inline with the classic chocolate bar look.

There are always gyrations between packaging being simplified and overly styled to be eye catching. This new packaging look by Hershey’s is definitely the former, but a congruent brand look is always preferable, especially when you’d like to exclaim that the new product offerings are the same quality as the old standards. Since I have tasted both, I can say that there might just be truth to packaging.

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