Peled Light

There’s something intriguing about this. Can’t put my finger on it.

Cadillac Vs. GM Vs. Branding

In my browsing of the web, this story about how Cadillac seems to want to distance itself from the other brands in the GM line up. They obviously must be serious about it as they even have the IT department involved, giving them fancy new email addresses.

The move to give back Cadillac’s perceived brand (or more to the point, brand positioning) freedom is an important and necessary move if they’d actually like to compete for new customers. Handling a luxury brand is an entirely different beast. It thrives on creating differentiation and a quality above others. Very hard to do when you’re surrounded by the other kids in the family.

While it’s nice to finally hear GM is figuring out branding, it’s sad to hear it took them this long to figure out. Personally, I think they lost their way a while ago when they focused on saving money rather than making money. The time when it really showed was all the way back in the 80s when GM forced all of it’s brands to share some really awful platforms yielding the very terrible models that, if not for the badge, would just be average, terrible OldsmoBuicks. People really do notice these thinly veiled cost cutting measures.

Even though GM is a leviathan, I would have hoped they’d have figured this out before now. They have a lot of work to do as GM has to essentially drag the Cadillac brand out of the commodity-priced sludge. To compete with the BMWs and the Lexus brands, they can’t just stop giving out incentives or update the logo, they’ll need to re-tool their entire line.

The hardest part might be that Cadillac will have to ascribe to a far higher quality level than the other GM children. They’ll have to own their own styling department to generate their own look. They’ll need to have their own engines and their own interiors that need to be long on quality, materials, & finish but short of that plasti-leather found in American cars.

I think they have the components to make it work and the models they have are almost there, if they can own the entire process, there is a chance it could work, but GM will have to stick to the plan for a number of years before it will begin to pay off. They have a tough row to hoe, especially with all the managerial moving and shaking going on.

In short, Branding isn’t just changing up your URL or polishing a logo, it’s the everything you do with your company and if you just change your logo design, you’ll just pay people like me a lot of money and get no bump in your business – because customers aren’t dumb – especially when they’re writng a $70,000 check for someting that’s a status symbol and perhaps a car.

Brand Color Analysis in a segment- The Squint Method

I design new packaging quite a bit. One of the most important things when you’re designing is to make sure that your products differentiate themselves yet still remain cohesive within the segment.

When you think of branding, a lot of people think of enforcing it through the ‘ownership’ of a color or color blend. This means that when someone thinks of USB cables they know that the ones in the pink package are of quality and are your brand. Hopefully, this means that they are drawn to your pink box without need to discern the differences between the others. Now I can’t make people buy one thing over the other, as that recurring purchase comes from the inherent cost/quality of the product, but I can work to re-enforce ownership of whatever qualities are there through color ownership.

Usually, there are a number of competitors doing the same thing as you: working to own a color. You have to pick a different color to pop your brand from theirs. The first thing that needs to be done is to understand what the dominate colors (or combinations) in the segment are.

What I do when I’m setting about to design packaging is pretty simple. I squint a bit. While kinda silly sounding, it does a pretty good job of divining out the dominate colors without getting caught up in the details. It’s a nice sell-point when you have to justify your designs to have a version of this in your presentation, which is plainly just a nice Gaussian filter.

In the previous example of books here, it could have been easy to construe the color choices in the copious amounts of text and all the blasters as false dominant colors, but with the blur you can plainly see some trends and big competitors.

Obviously, yellow and black dominates the category as well as a dollop of blue. The last thing you want to do, if you want a product line that sticks out is to use yellow, black, and blue. (Judging by the top image, you also don’t want it to be super-busy – but that’s a tale for another time.) Perhaps a red book or maybe a green series would be best in this situation, as you wouldn’t be sharing colors with a lot of competitors.

I have my intermediate Fine Art Painting professor Denis Sargent to thank for this and now you do, too!

The Tide of Change at Aldi?

It’s an interesting thing looking at changes to packaging at Aldi.  It’s kind of like watching the evolution of Banana trees – changes are so interesting because they’re asexual so there’s far less of the Darwinian things going on. Not that Aldi is asexual or sexual in any regard, but it is curious because it’s a place were no in-store competition happens, so there’s less of a drive to keep packaging up to date, as referenced by the package on the left. This is the prior work.

When you look at the prior work you can see it has that 80s-90s kind of gonzo-happy feel to it. A big image of a tasty sammich with text smeared all over it and drop shadows that scream hand-cut film. There’s also a smattering of blasters that point out details somewhat hap-hazzardly. I think you can see this sort of art in any number of groccery stores’ generic line. That’s the Aldi’s I know and love.

What do we have on the right? The new packaging.

Someone has done a fine job of cleaning and reorganizing. The logo has been retroed to a 50-60s serif face with the product name de-emphasized and placed in a color band. The call-outs have been re-positioned and organized into the top right corner where they pop much more.  The rest of the more mechanical details are contained in a white bar at the bottom of the package that also includes the UPC, as if it was supposed to be there.

Overall, I think it was a really nice job. It makes me think that Aldi might be thinking of trying to polish their image and shed that bargain-basement stigma. They may have also seen the light through their Fit & Active line which could look at home in a Target somewhere. Either way, this is a good step in the right direction, especially seeing that the call-outs are more relevant to what the current American shopper is interested in – or at least should be interested in – as well as making the stuff less scary to take out of the fridge when there’s company over.  I am excited to see what the rest of the remodeling will look like, if there is more !


An excellent use of materials properties to create an interactive space without the need for a lot of electronic horsepower.

Mechanics aside, this installation creates an interesting dialog between person and space, allowing the person to create their environment.

Why Some Logos Work?

I think this comes down to why certain logos and infographics work and others do not. Obviously there can be other factors but thinking along these lines gives insight to the process, especially when you consider ‘symbol’ to mean ‘logo’, ‘ad’, ‘chart’, ‘UI’ or whatever else a graphic designer touches. Taken further, such findings could indicate at what point items cease to be read or interpreted and merely seen. Good stuff.

Touchin’ That Brand

It always amazes me when a company who has such tremendous ownership of a market segment decides to up and drastically change it’s trade dress – and this is exactly what Campbells is doing. It seems incredibly ballsy to upend the location of their brand mark and especially move it to the opposite end of the package. This is a poor move as most people in the US would immediately understand that a white can with just a red band on the top is Campbells Soup. There needn’t be a logo, an image of tasty soup or even the proper color of red. The color location is quite enough. Now, they are throwing that work away.

It seems suspect to me that the eye tracking had not come back with the same results with the red band at the bottom. I would guess that other factors are at work aside from the location of the band, probably the undulation of the wave and perhaps less red on the cans.

The second reason I have is that I think they forgot that a lot of times, these cans are sold as tray packs. These corrugate tray packs will do an excellent job of covering up the bottom-placed Campbells logo and the red wave thing ( that everyone has). So now, if you’re lucky you’re just selling ‘Classic Favorites’. Mmmm, sounds store-brand good! I made up a quick drawing to illustrate:

By the way, that wave looks a lot like the Target® in-store trade wave on it’s side or an upside-down Rubbermaid wave – just sayin’.