First churned in 1978 by childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most important things in the world, right up there with peace, democracy, and oxygen. Okay, maybe not exactly but their ice cream is pretty darn good. And so are their business practices that have made them one of the most liked companies. Originally sold from a single ice cream parlor in Burlington, Vermont, Ben & Jerry’s (owned by Unilever since 2000) is now sold all over the world across more than 5,000 locations and in endless number of grocery stores, amounting to annual sales revenue of $132 million. Clearly, the company is doing alright yet they still saw a need to update their packaging, recently redesigned by Pearlfisher who explain that the challenge was to “revamp the Ben & Jerry’s packaging portfolio, elevating the premium quality of the product depiction and refining the architecture without abandoning the principles that are at the heart of the brand.”
Pearlfisher has refined the brand’s visual identity at shelf, making it more coherent across all territories and elevated several of Ben & Jerry’s core brand equities — a blue sky with clouds and green pasture — that were being overshadowed by increasingly complex and layered flavor combinations. To address Ben & Jerry’s most prominent brand equity, their complex flavor combinations, Pearlfisher created an ownable visual language using the flavor tower. Hamish Campbell, Creative Director of Pearlfisher comments further, “Consumers already love Ben & Jerry’s indulgent flavors and the brand’s effusive personality. Our job was to take that personality and use it to express how premium the product is. The flavor towers play with gravity and scale, creating indulgent larger than life taste expressions. The iconic Ben & Jerry’s cow frees the brand to convey the spirit, joy and whimsical nature of Ben & Jerry’s. We used both tools to clarify the brand’s messaging, unifying the brand and creating a more consistent and premium feel across all segments.”
The old packaging was so over the top and busy that it was hard to find fault in it. It just worked because the design was a reflection of the concoctions inside and the explosion of flavor in your mouth. But after seeing the redesign, you can start seeing that, indeed, it could be improved. The new pints make the names clearer to read inside big fluffy white clouds, using a chubbier font that reads much better without all the strokes around it. The cow now plays a bigger role, appearing in different poses and activities. The pastures and sky are more visible, like when you pick up a room and discover that there is a floor underneath the mess. And the new visual hook of the packaging are the flavor towers.
Clearly Photoshopped and charmingly mis-sized each tower conveys the quirky attitude of Ben & Jerry’s while quickly communicating the ingredients of each flavor. There is something so wrong about a tiny cheesecake on top of a giant strawberry that works so right in this context — on any other package or brand something like this would end up on any number of Photoshop Disasters tumblr.
This is not a revolutionary or overly complex redesign. It takes most of the existing visual ingredients of the brand and presents them in a new way that will retain its familiarity on the shelf but provide a fresh presence for the die-hard fans and consumers.