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7up — Flippin’ it: dnL

I try to stay hip with what the kids are doing these days, but mostly I try to stay aware of what type of branding is used to attract the new generation marked by attention deficit disorder. The latest effort comes from the makers of 7up — Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. who are owned by London-based Cadbury Schweppes. The story goes a little something like this: back in the sixties 7up decided to create an uncola beverage and turned the world of cola upside down. 40 years later 7up is turning itself “upside down and inside out” to introduce a new fruit flavored blast called dnL. Yup, read it backwards and inwards and it spells 7up.

Branding stroke of genius or pure laziness?

On one hand you have the strong brand equity of 7up, so by flipping it you still retain that association while at the same time giving something completely “new” to the unsuspecting youngsters. On the other hand one could think that 7up wasn’t confident enough in launching a completely new beverage with a totally original brand, so it’s understandable that they took the route they did. Again, as a business decision this time, stroke of genius or pure laziness?

I’m thirsty.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 1572 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Aug.26.2003 BY Armin
WITH 98 COMMENTS
Comments
Darrel’s comment is:

Branding stroke of genius or pure laziness?

I'd say it's a genius stroke of pure laziness. Well done.

On Aug.26.2003 at 09:44 AM
marian’s comment is:

Hmm. I have mixed feelings about this (just like capital punishment). It's interesting thing how much it still reads as 7up. If I hadn't just read all about it (though a repetition of "it's a fruit flavour blast" is hardly informative) I never would have read it as dnL. But I think that's the strongest thing about it: presumably people will see it and say "what the ...?" and that's half the battle. But the design around the logo is too much like 7up, and they run the risk of people dismissing it as not a different product, but different marketing for the same old 7up.

The packaging is also butt ugly, but I've come to expect no less from this industry.

I was much more intrigued by the "flipit" type on their awful flash page. It was very ... Thai. Sortof an international visual palindrome, and the potential seed of something very interesting that I suspect they will fail to develop to its full potential.

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:12 AM
Michael S’s comment is:

I think it would be interesting to know how the designer came up with the discovery. Was it a simple pencil sketch turned upside down (or vector image flipped 180) or something more illicitly involved.

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:15 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

In general, the vast majority of new product launches fail and fail quickly. It is increasingly difficult to establish recognition and memorability. I'm hoping Debbie can back me up with some stats (yes, I'm being lazy). In that light, I see the business decision to try to lure people who already know and understand 7up into something different. I wouldn't regard it as lazy, but financially prudent, as it costs less to support what is technically a brand extension instead of an entirely new product.

The first time I saw it on-shelf, it confused me greatly. I thought they had printed the wrapper upside down and it was just a poor redesign of 7Up. Maybe their strategy is to let it get "discovered", making it more street and more cool.

Also in the beverage case, Pepsi's got brand extensions out too: Blue (which tastes horrible) and Vanilla (me too, Coke). And Sprite's got Remix, which probably competes with dnL.

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:15 AM
Armin’s comment is:

>Maybe their strategy is to let it get "discovered", making it more street and more cool.

I think that's just the case. As opposed to Sprite's Remix, dnL has had little to no advertising — although I might not be hanging ou in the appropriate places or watching spongebob squarepants. I saw a TV ad for dnL like a month ago and it definitely got my attention. I think they have opted for the "discovery" route, which could add some coolness to it. Even though it's green and probably tastes like shit.

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:51 AM
brook’s comment is:

yeah i think the close association with 7up is a measure of safety. it's very difficult to launch a new soda. crystal pepsi anyone? i think 7up with caffeine would appeal to certain people, so maybe it will work out.

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:52 AM
Rick G’s comment is:

Sheesh, I was going to weigh in, but Jonsel nailed it.

The soft drink market is hypercrowded. Another new flavor of soda? Big deal. But that "Huh?" factor of the dnL packaging (gaudy, natch) actually makes the consumer linger on it for another second, and isn't that the goal?

In other news, the dnL TV spots suck so terribly I'm actually embarassed. If you haven't seen them, here's the synopsis: A leprechaun with dnL. Yeah, that's about it.

-R

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:56 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

although I might not be hanging ou in the appropriate places or watching spongebob squarepants.

You really should watch Spongebob. It's a good show. ;o)

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:59 AM
brook’s comment is:

PS. it doesnt taste as bad as it sounds, pretty much like regular 7, but maybe a bit more flavor. i like vodka sevens, so adding the caffeine and a strange color actually worked on me. so it works for recent college graduates who drink vodka sevens at least!

i think citrus is the most saturated flavor segment of the soda market, so doing somethign really weird and 'off-the-wall' is probably necessary. i don't think that sierra mist thing really worked out well, and it was pretty conservative in appearance...though the ads were 'xtreme.' the 'yeah, it's kinda like that' ads. which are lame and condescending anyway. these companies really seem to underestimate the intelligence of children. or maybe i overestimate? i dunno.

On Aug.26.2003 at 10:59 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

I think 7up with caffeine would appeal to certain people, so maybe it will work out.

And this is real tricky territory. Normally, an extension piggybacks on the attributes of the parent brand while adding something new, e.g. Diet Coke - just as refreshing and real as Coke, but less calories. dnL is almost rejecting 7Up's values. The un-uncola.

BTW, I love their FAQ. Q: What flavor is dnL? A: It's a fruit flavor blast. It reminds me of an old SNL parody called "It's Not Yogurt."

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:04 AM
Adrian’s comment is:

When you take a big gulp of it and the bottle is upside down and you see the 7up logo, I think that's a different approach than just flashy graphics, although the graphics are pretty butt ugly anyway.

I miss Pepsi Kona - yep Philly was hit with a coffee flavored Pepsi for a six month trial period in '97, to bad it didn't stick around.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:06 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Ok, so I have a good blonde joke which pertains -- follow me here.

......

A few days ago I was having some work done at my local garage.  A blonde came in and asked for a seven-hundred-ten.  We all looked at each other and another customer asked, "What is a seven-hundred-ten?"

She replied, "You know, the little piece in the middle of the engine, I have lost it and need a new one."  She replied that she did not know exactly what it was, but this piece had always been there. The mechanic gave her a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to draw what the piece looked like. She drew a circle and in the middle of it wrote 710.

 

He then took her over to another car which had its hood up and asked, "Is there a 710 on this car?"

She pointed and said, "Of course, it's right there."

 

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:17 AM
Joe’s comment is:

Don't forget that the flip goes beyond just the label. It's green in a clear bottle!

Pure genius.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:20 AM
KM’s comment is:

That's so crazy that this topic awaited me this morning. While in the corner-store buying cigarettes I saw the dnL bottle and thought a manufacturing error had occured until reading the subtext.

I would say a stroke of genius. I think it works in the same way as some stores, usually laundry mats, install their signage upside down to draw a second glance. It works.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:21 AM
KM’s comment is:

Tan - that's a good joke. I have one that happened to me the other day. While on a photoshoot, we were moving to another location so I asked my assistant to turn off the pack and move to the other location. He asked "how do I turn it off?" (Being that it was a rental he didn't know) I said "just hold down the 'on' button for a second and it will turn off." After a few seconds he replied "I don't see an 'on' button." I walked over and shut it off, he said "oh... I thought that said 'no'..." Of course we laughed our asses off. From now on I tell him to turn the pack "no"

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:26 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Jon, do you think you're supposed to think they mistakenly printed it upside down? It may also be a thing where you're supposed to feel a little extra clever because you "figured it out" that dnL is 7up flipped, making you a part of some brand in-crowd and theoretically more loyal to the soda.

But the "mistake" idea reminds me of a Cap'n Crunch variation from a few years ago--the "Oops" box of all-crunchberries. It was designed to look like a screw-up at the factory: crumpled paper and masking tape was scanned and put into the design and the text was all about "we screwed up and filled it with crunchberries." Even though my realist side knows this is basically as cynical as any other marketing ploy, I still thought it was funny and more clever than most such efforts. Plus, it was all crunchberries.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:28 AM
bbaltimore’s comment is:

The cola wars rage on and everyone is tampering with their brand. 7up has been getting crushed by Sprite for a while now. 7up tried freshening things with a "new improved flavor" about a year ago with no real impact so I suppose it was time to try something different.

All of that said I think while people recognize the brand and that will be a boost for dnL ultimately 7up will always be something I associate with older people and drinking when you're sick.

How about this:

If you were suddenly empowered with complete control over the 7up/Dnl brand what would you do with it?

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:28 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Tan: funny!

I will say that the dnL site is rather fun...even though I despise superfluous flash. The upside down cursor is both clever and infuriating at the same time.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:38 AM
David E.’s comment is:

It seems like a little trend where companies are trying to come up with something "new" without spending much money (bad economy to blame?). A few days ago, a friend offered me a stick of gum. She told me it was "spearmint bubblegum" flavored. Tasted as good as you might imagine. Then there's the m&m's that look like they accidentally got jammed up too hard against other m&ms and specs of different colors rubbed off on them.

Taco Bell's been doing this for 20 years. Every new food item they come out with gets made from the same beans, cheese, ground meat, etc. as back in the '70s when they had only 5 items on the menu.

but im with marian...i reallly like the flipit logo.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:52 AM
KM’s comment is:

On a sidenote: I've always wondered why companies, like fast food restaurants, come out with "new" items that really aren't new. Like a chicken strip sandwich. Same chicken strip, same bun. Did they produce too many chicken strips and are trying to get rid of them? That's my theory...

On Aug.26.2003 at 12:07 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Mmm...crunchberries.

I put that Crunchberries pack along with other "oops" ideas like flipped Oreos (vanilla cookie with chocolate cream inside). It's just so obvious that it's a marketing ploy, and probably a limited time deal. The dnL doesn't portray itself as such, but as something they tried to do on purpose — to create something opposite to what they already had — all in the consumer's best interest, of course.

Sam, I think that they definitely are using that upside-down approach to make people feel clever and attached to the new brand. I'm probably not their target market. And I do think it might work. I want to know what effect it will have on the 7Up brand, though. Maybe nothing, if the target markets are mutually exclusive. Or, they might be emphasizing how uncool 7Up is, thereby decreasing sales among those that exist on the cusp of two demographic ranges.

On Aug.26.2003 at 12:08 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I know a 11 year old that is doing Powerpoint presentations for school, exceeded her buddy list on AOL, has a cell phone, etc. Despite these technological advancements, (whether they are good or not is another story) kids are expected to sit and listen to an outdated teacher scratching the same thing onto a backboard they did 50 years ago. ADD is a result of our "I needed it yesterday" culture among other factors.

Not genius but clever. It's an everyday business practice, a standard brand practice, and capitalism tactic - squeeze as much money out of what you got in anyway you can. Why make up a new name (brand) and such when you have the enormous (despite sinking sales - assuming) of a popular brand like 7UP?

Off the topic but it came to mind :

"Within the last two weeks, Mr. Simmons has announced a deal to sell his Def Con3 soda — "the smart energy soda," which tastes like liquid cotton candy and has vitamins added — to 5,200 7-Eleven stores."

-New York Times 08 24 03

On Aug.26.2003 at 12:24 PM
David E.’s comment is:

>Maybe their strategy is to let it get "discovered", making it more street and more cool.

I would tend to think that kids hate this kind of manufactured, contirved "coolness" as much as I would have when I was a kid. (What was the soda Coke had out for about 2 weeks with the Daniel Clowes art on it? Didnt exactly catch on, did it?). Converse high-tops, Dickies and CocaCola can be marketed as "cool" because kids have already made these things their own. But whats hip about a new soda? I think its bound to fail.

On Aug.26.2003 at 01:02 PM
Sarah B.’s comment is:

I agree with Marian that it is "butt ugly" - but I also think that it is a neat/cool idea. It might have come from laziness, but no one else has done anything like this, that i know of, so.. props to them!

On Aug.26.2003 at 01:26 PM
Tom’s comment is:

It all comes down to market share. The reason dnL exist is because of Sprite Remix - or vice-versa. The same with orange flavored Mountain Dew and MelloYello. All these new drinks are test marketed in select regions before a national or international launch(usually), so as soon as Coke gets wind that Cadbury is testing a flavored 7Up, they start the wheels rolling on a flavored Sprite. These brand extensions are rushed to market with little thought to long term brand building. The main reactionary goal is to saturate the market with these gimmicks so that nothing stands out on its own and pulls market share from the core brands.

Remember Clear Pepsi? Tab Clear?

I would be surprised if whoever designed the identity had more than 2 weeks, if that before focus groups then a quick round of revisions based on input from too many "strategic" marketing professionals.

Usually these brands opt for the "discovery" route because of a lack of internal support and funding. I would have been impressed if they had made a gutsy move and flipped the original logo on the flagship brand.

On Aug.26.2003 at 01:37 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I like it, but it doesn't make me want to jump out and buy it.

And it's not anything earth shatteringly ground-breaking either. It still feels manufactured marketing -- like the N'sync of soda.

Anyone remember Coke's OK soda? Now that was alternative soda packaging. Too bad it tasted so bland.

No, to me, the coolest soda packaging out there is Jones Soda. It seems like there are a thousand different versions of their lables -- all public submissions and all cool. Somehow it seems more genuinely hip.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:02 PM
David E.’s comment is:

Anyone remember Coke's OK soda? Now that was alternative soda packaging. Too bad it tasted so bland.

No, to me, the coolest soda packaging out there is Jones Soda. It seems like there are a thousand different versions of their lables -- all public submissions and all cool. Somehow it seems more genuinely hip.

Yeah, OK Soda was the one i was refering to. And I agree that Jones Soda is genuinely hip. Its obviously created by a small hip company using hip designers (or its a good job of appearing that way). Kids pick up on that stuff. They have more intuition than any big corporations give than credit for.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:08 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

ADD is a result of our "I needed it yesterday" culture among other factors.

Actually ADD is most likely chemical imbalance in the brain. It *is* quite often misdiagnosed, though. And, it is true that the younger generation is much more able to digest media much faster than the older crowd. (Not to be anal, but I did quite a bit of research on ADD a while back... ;o)

Speaking of cola, anyone remember Opencola? It was an 'open source' cola that had the recipe printed on the can. A rather clever marketing ploy (IMHO) for their software product.

And, of course, any graphic designer with a design annual from the 90s must remember OK soda…a product package seemingly worthy of umpteen design awards that barely made it in the market for more than a few seconds.

I think it comes down to the fact that it is sugar water. The only people that really care about the brand are kids. I can't say I remember ever being in a restaurant and actually caring whether it was Coke or Pepsi in my glass.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:09 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

'doh. Took too long to compose my thoughts. Tan trumps me.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:10 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Jones Soda, Its obviously created by a small hip company using hip designers

Not sure if I would label SamataMason as hip, but they certainly understand their clients. If I'm not mistaken the second half of the company's name, Dave Mason, did the packaging.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:17 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Jones Soda works because it avoids all the typical trappings of a gimmick. No tricked up logo. No swooshy graphics. No cartoon characters that survive unreal circumstances thanks to Jones Soda. Simple type and photography that has nothing to do with the product. Its amateur looks give it a sense of honest appeal. It isn't some supernatural thirst quencher to let you party 'til the break of dawn. It's just a drink.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:24 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Did Jones Soda survive? I don't recall seeing it around recently, but I could just not have noticed it.

To me it looks exactly like how it should look if a designer wanted to do something "different" or to "break lots of rules" of package design (ie, use black, straightlines, simple typography, photos of "metaphorical" things). In other words, it's designy and completely un-thirst-making to me. I am anti-designy, by kickity! Today at least.

I can't imagine anything being "genuinely hip"--isn't this an oxymoron? Especially when said of a corporate product?

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:32 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Jones Soda is for sale at Panera's (chain restaurant) here in Joisey. The cream flavor is awesome. Syrupy sweet!

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:34 PM
Tom’s comment is:

Although I personally love the design of Jones Soda; well, good design and good products have a hard time competing with billion dollar ad budgets and distribution strongholds. They've done well to stay in the game this long.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:35 PM
Sam’s comment is:

>>They've done well to stay in the game this long.

Agreed, Tom. Perhaps it's thanks in part to WhoopAss? And I'm all in favor of the many flavors.

On Aug.26.2003 at 02:51 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

And I'm all in favor of the many flavors.

Alas, no chocolate soda. I miss chocolate soda.

On Aug.26.2003 at 03:28 PM
Mongrel’s comment is:

Came across this as the "Pepsi Kona' reference piqued my curiosity... fun for wasting some time, and give a good idea of the saturation (pun?) of the market and (yay!) branding. Oddly, Coke products are all but omitted from the reviews list... odd

http://www.bevnet.com/reviews/

On Aug.26.2003 at 04:13 PM
Michael S’s comment is:

I can't imagine anything being "genuinely hip"--isn't this an oxymoron? Especially when said of a corporate product?

Soda wise, this isn't too far off the mark. Though I would hate to categorize anything as hip...

On Aug.26.2003 at 04:21 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> I can't imagine anything being "genuinely hip"--isn't this an oxymoron? Especially when said of a corporate product?

true -- but what I meant I guess, is that the Jones packaging is authentic in it's new-ness. It's not a corporate attempt at designing something down for the younger audience. There's an unsophisticated clunkiness to their design, which adds to the garage-brew, authentic brand image. Thus, I termed it "genuine hip".

And their corp office is in Seattle -- a small square building on the semi-industrial side of our downtown. It sits among a bunch of manufacturing buildings -- but it's disctinctive: the building is black with giant orange flames painted on all sides. For now at least, they seem true to their product and brand image.

On Aug.26.2003 at 05:02 PM
Sao_Bento’s comment is:

I think the "A.D.D." comment only shows that you are not willing to delve into youth culture enough to understand it. Disagreeing with their values and lifestyles because they don't jive with your world view will only lead to years of standing on your front lawn shaking your cane while yelling "you kids stay off my lawn!!!"

As far as "dnL" - don't you guys get it - they didn't change the name, they just re-designed the bottle so that the cap is on the bottom.

On Aug.26.2003 at 05:02 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Get off my lawn kid!

On Aug.26.2003 at 05:52 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Hee hee hee: "you are not willing to delve into youth culture enough to understand it." Armin, dude, you are like so old and shit.

On Aug.26.2003 at 06:28 PM
Rick G’s comment is:

Sam and all-

I pass the Jones Soda offices every day on my way to work. If I can get my head together inthe morning, I'll try to snap a few pictures and put them up here. If you didn' tlike the brand before, you'll love it when you see thir office and vehicles.

-R

On Aug.26.2003 at 06:30 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>Armin, dude, you are like so old and shit.

Huh... speak into my good ear Sam.

Seriously Sao, I'm not old enough to be anybody's parent here. My ADD comment was to illustrate that young audiences must be captivated right away, if a product is unable to grab their attention in the first 30 seconds of exposure they will most surely move on to the next things that flashes or shimmers. Whether I'm willing to delve into youth culture enough to understand it or not is not the question. The fact that 7up did not invent a product from the ground illustrates my point, they know that if they are not able to establish some sort of relationship with da kidz they are out of the game.

>As far as "dnL" - don't you guys get it - they didn't change the name, they just re-designed the bottle so that the cap is on the bottom.

Dude, please. If they didn't change the name why are they referring to it as dee-en-el, with a domain name that starts with, yes you guessed it, dnl. And if they just re-designed the bottle so that the cap is on the bottom why didn't they just use 7up.com to promote it and just turn the web site upside-down?

On Aug.26.2003 at 06:37 PM
Sam’s comment is:

I think he was joking, Armin. But your sense of humor might be more in tune with this guy (check out that schweet roll-over effect!).

On Aug.26.2003 at 06:45 PM
Sam’s comment is:

With all due respect to SamataMason, who do nice if not terribly varied work, unsophisticated clunkiness doesn't quite describe the Jones labelling, to my eye. It's a standard type of graphic design: simple, sans serif, photographic. That it's applied to a soda bottle is indeed different within that product space, but it still looks like a lot, lot of other design. I don't know nothing about no industrial warehouse, but if they're selling their product in New Jersey and around the country, they aren't exactly ma and pa. If they're painting their HQ as a brand statement, well, it sounds like they're painting their HQ to make a brand statement. They seem very savvy to me. But, more power to them for that.

Whoa! Maybe I don't believe there's such a thing as an "authentic brand." I think I don't. I've always had a hard time articulating this in these discussions, but authenticity is really the issue, isn't it? I mean, how can a product/message/brand operate properly (ie, in the capable hands of the designers et al.) and communicate properly and forcefully to the buying public, and not be thoroughly controlled? It can't, and we might all agree that it shouldn't, right? That is the point of branding, after all. (Let's say product branding for the time being--leaving aside the question of whether a book jacket "brands" an author, for example.)

So but, all this controlling and filtering, to me on a gut level, is the exact opposite of authenticity. The process of branding seems to me to always be on the move further and further away from authenticity. Nike's brand rests on athleticism, but there's nothing real or valid or even remotely accurate about the idea that I'll be more athletic just by wearing Nikes. I guess I just always feel like the Brand Promise is bogus. That people buy into it by the trillions of dollars (giving us all a decent living, make no mistake) doesn't really make it any less bogus. Nor am I so idealistic or insane as to think the whole thing will really turn around and people will start disbelieving brand promises. But still.

I mean, isn't there something transparently market-oriented about painting your offices like one of your products? Gives me the willies, in a way. Today, at least.

Anyway, please forgive me for figuring out something pretty obvious here, but this is kind of a branding thread, no?

On Aug.26.2003 at 06:56 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Well, it's an interesting question Sam. But if you'll excuse me, it's a little cynical.

> So but, all this controlling and filtering, to me on a gut level, is the exact opposite of authenticity.

Controlling a marketing message does not mean a company couldn't be authentic to its brand. On the contrary, many corporations go to great lengths to assess honest, and positive, brand images or their services and products. What's wrong with wanting to showcase your company in the best light? Branding does not necessarily mean brainwashing.

The world is not filled with Microsoft-like predators and Nike-spin machines. There are legits brands out there that are authentic, and are consistent with their images and packaging. Smuckers, Nabisco, Gerbers, Ben & Jerry's, Levi's, etc.

Brand and authenticity can certainly co-exist. Don't give up on the world yet, Sam.

On Aug.26.2003 at 07:21 PM
marian’s comment is:

Kids pick up on that stuff. They have more intuition than any big corporations give than credit for.

I always wonder this. I have never been in the position of marketing to kids, and I've (thank god) never had to design to a kids' focus group, but the absolutely abysmal state of design in soft drinks, chocolate bars, chips, etc. always make me wonder Why? Why does it have to be like this? Do kids really respond more to this swirly mess of bubblized type and lurid depictions of what's inside? If you had a package that was unlike this, would kids just turn away from it? I dunno, really.

But also, don't you ever feel left out of being targeted? Why is it always for the damned kids? What about me? The only time I see food items that appeal to me from a marketing perspective, they're all super expensive, fancy gourmet shit ... or they're from Europe. And you know what I do buy packaging based on design, sometimes. So if 7up is having some trouble with their market share, why the hell can't they do something that would appeal to an adult? something sophisticated, instead of more bloated, effervescent graphics in a sea of eye-popping colour? (Remember the simple, green bottle, with just 7up on it?) Cause, hey, I like 7up, I just never drink it. But they could get me to quite easily.

And just don't get me started about chocolate bars.

As for Jones Soda, I think what makes it cool is not the framework of the design (the b&w sans) but the fact that the pictures on the label constantly change and that you can easily order your own custom labels. Plus it's small and a little rare, so not everyone has it, which makes it cool. Plus, it's named Jones.

On Aug.26.2003 at 08:30 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

"Authenticity" is almost 100% marketing anyway. I'm just not as cynical about it as Sam. And lest you think this is a new trend, Levi's added their "authentic" red tab back in the 1930's as a point of differentiation from other denim brands. Through the passage of time, it's authentic, but seen in that era, it's a marketing decision. Even snowboard brands, which must avoid the stench of overmarketing are planned and thought out.

I don't doubt that every bit of the Jones brand and package is highly studied. SamataMason is not exactly a small, inexpensive firm. Hiring them was certainly a calculated move. Ensuring that it was very different from all other soda packages was well-planned. I do wonder if they tested the label design in focus groups or just went with it by gut feeling. I'm more liable to believe in true authenticity when the company knows what they want out of the product and is willing to put it on the shelf without getting a statistical "yeah, sure".

Maybe your beef is with the idea of branding itself, Sam?

On Aug.26.2003 at 08:55 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Okay, let's see. I'll leave aside the discussion of cynical v. skeptical...for now. (One of my favorites, he he.)

When I say that branding is antithetical to authenticity, I am not talking about the quality of the product or the practices of the company behind the brand. Levi's make great, sturdy, quality jeans. Ben & Jerry's do good community service work and make good ice cream. I agree. I'm certainly not saying I don't have brand loyalties (hell, I'm typing on one right now).

But by "authentic" I mean something unique and personal. Something that is true by virtue of its being made directly, from creator to receiver. It's as simple as a tomato (sorry, Graham) that really tastes like a tomato, instead of the watery mush you get in supermarkets. Having music instead a promotional blitz. Or having an actual person represent you in government rather than an ideology machine (lest you think the problem is limited to design or pop culture).

When Levi's wants me to believe (ie, via their brand promise) that by wearing their pants I'll be more rugged or outdoorsy or whatever the strategy happens to be, that is what I meant when I said "bogus." That I will be more athletic by wearing Nike. The idea (thanks, Jeff Goldblum) that using a Mac will make me more creative is not only misleading and denigrating to the idea of creativity, it's kind of demoralizing. Oh, that's what creativity is--using a certain computer? No one minds being fooled in this way?

Jon, I'm not saying anything other than that branding wants consumers to believe something that will make them buy their product. In good brands, that something is true; in bad brands it's a stretch or a flat-out untruth. That's the reality of branding, no? Fine. It's just that the idea of authenticity is a level on which I can see how inauthentic these promises are. Doesn't anybody get sick of all the banal, mass-produced, mediocre crap we have no choice but to live with? Are the options simply to embrace it or be doomed as a cynic? Don't you want something more from your profession than to promote the "unique" attributes of a bottle of soda? Shouldn't you demand more?

I'm not trying to change anyone's mind; I just appreciate the chance to think out loud.

How does the song go?

On Aug.26.2003 at 09:41 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

The nature of branding is often to get you to think beyond pure functional terms. This is simply because someone else can always come along and make a similar widget, give it a different name, and charge 20 cents less. Branding grabs emotional realms so you value that original item more than you value the 20 cents. Pure commerce. That being said, I don't simply subscribe to all the various brand promises thrown at me. I'm as discriminating a consumer as the next designer guy/gal.

I guess my reaction to your brand cynicism is because I make most of my living off it. You're right, I do wish that most of these companies would back up their brands with honesty and integrity and serve a noble purpose. Maybe it's my cynicism that I don't demand that of the producers of items I purchase or brands I work for, but, I just vote with my dollars for those I do wish to support.

Don't you want something more from your profession than to promote the "unique" attributes of a bottle of soda?

There's a bigger topic here that touches on Bradley's "Better Living..." thread as well as previous threads on First Things First, et. al. What is really so wrong with supporting a new soda brand? Were they to come to me and request new packaging, should I turn them down on the basis that there are simply enough soda brands and they should do something better with their dollars, like plant a forest? I don't think design should simply abdicate when it comes to commercial goods. Who exactly determines when enough is enough and when something is or is not needed? The consumer will often make that determination by purchasing or ignoring. I don't feel that's my place. What is my place is to help them find their niche in a crowded marketplace while being true to who they are as a company.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:05 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

>The packaging is also butt ugly, but I've come to expect no less from this industry.

>I've always wondered why companies, like fast food restaurants, come out with "new" items that really aren't new. Like a chicken strip sandwich. Same chicken strip, same bun. Did they produce too many chicken strips and are trying to get rid of them?

>I think that they definitely are using that upside-down approach to make people feel clever and attached to the new brand.

Such a good, rich discussion, so sorry to join so late--I have been travelling, ugh, what a conversation to miss!

This is where I am at these days, re: branding: (and bear with me) A brand is a cultural transitional object. The things a marketer or designer produces, a consumer buys and an advertising agency garnishes with seductive graphic flourishes, extend into our lives the process of simultaneously merging with, and differentiating ourselves from the world of others. Plates, chairs, colas, sneakers—these products are now currency in our universe. With brands we assert moods, tastes, whims and affiliations.

So...why does one person choose Coke over Pepsi over 7up over duL? Such a good question. Ultimately a brand does more than differentiate itself categorically—a brand’s identity also differentiates the consumer attitudinally. The consumer chooses the brand that makes them feel most socially confident and wears this badge of cultural acceptability...whether it be soda, sneakers, douche, condoms, cigarettes, beer or mouthwash. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is almost beside the point (sadly), it is so prevalent in our society. Everything sold today--even Ben & Jerry's or Jones soda has a "gestalt" that they are selling--and that is because they are SELLING. Asking people to choose. Getting people to think that if they choose their brand or their product that they are signalling an affiliation that identifies them--either pro-brand or anti-brand. None of it--even Tom's of Maine is created without a sense of what this will mean to the consumer, not what it means to the creator and if you like it or not, big deal, it is your own fucking choice. It has nothing to do with being a "good" brand or a "bad" brand. ALL brand marketers want you to want their products, want you to believe that if you consume them that they can own and define (or consume) you. The "new" products that aren't new are used the same way that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher used their relationship to promote Charlie's Angels 2: when there is no real news there, you make shit up so that people will at least cock their heads and consider paying attention. And today, "brand design" is only about 20% design--even for Tom's of Maine or Jones soda. The rest of it is cultural anthropolgy, marketing, psychology and market research. Truly.

But I think one of the issues we are talking about here is this: does this mean that if our packaging or brand identity is considered “cool” it will make people happier or the world a better place to live in? If they wear Diesel Jean, carry an Ipod or drink dnL, will they have less insecurities? Cheat less? Lie less? Smile more? Feel “alive with pleasure”?

No. They won't. But people want to feel hope and possibilities and in our society, we define ourselves by what we buy, what we don't buy, what we want and what we don't want. It is the nature of a capitalist society, which we are all living in, grateful or not, actively participating in or not.

Ultimately, I will tell you that it all comes down to free choice. You may hate the dnL logo or you may not (I actually love it, but I am old and not really very hip) but the fact is, you decide what you think and you decide whether or not you want to buy it. Which is pretty cool. We are not being dictated to. If you don't like a company's corporate politics, don't buy stuff from them. I've said this before and I will say it again: in the end, we have the power. If we do not use this power to make our choices heard, to analyze, criticize, theorize, boycott, buy shamelessly and by our own standards and beliefs, we are lazy and indifferent and we deserve what we get.

Whew.

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:26 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> But people want to feel hope and possibilities and in our society, we define ourselves by what we buy, what we don't buy, what we want and what we don't want.

I love that thought -- consumerism is hope. It's a very humanist way to look at capitalism.

I am sometimes tired of the prevalence of branding in my everyday life. But just because I knowingly buy products that I'll never utilize to its full potential, it doesn't mean that I'm guilty of brandwash™, or that I've lost the ability to judge what's of value to me. Because as Debbie said, it's my choice on whether or not to ignore the noise, and whether or not it fits my life.

This gets back to the idea of authenticity, or the "worthiness of acceptance to a fact or reality." I think the elaboration in the question here is whether or not this "authenticity" in branding is a pluralist promise -- in other words, does it have to be authentic to everyone, or just to those who choose to test its promise, to be valid?

Hypothetical: If one Patagonia customer's life is saved in the wilderness because of his or her jacket's ruggedness -- is it a fulfillment of the authenticity of the brand for everyone, including the fat, city-dwelling computer nerd who bought the same jacket just for the brand image, or is it still "bogus"?

Come 'on, I think it's unrealistic and Utopian to expect that degree of authenticity from anything in this world -- nevermind just branding.

On Aug.27.2003 at 02:16 AM
Tom’s comment is:

But also, don't you ever feel left out of being targeted? Why is it always for the damned kids?

Because teenagers and pre-teens have MORE expendable buying power/influence for those products than any other demographic.

The authenticity issue is what every good brand manager strives for. If you can "appear" authentic to your target consumer, you know, speak their language, visually and with the right attitude, then you've won half the battle. The other half is being in their face at the right time and place. I believe the older we get, the harder we search for TRUE authenticity.

The really interesting thing on this thread to me is that most teenagers can spot a phony/pretender/overtly marketed product, yet these products are bring'n in the dough. Which leads me back to the question - dare I say - how powerful is good design in an oversaturated world of trite, expected and depessingly acceptable design solutions.

On Aug.27.2003 at 08:27 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Interesting. I love how Speak Up discussions morph over the length of a thread.

The following ad in today's New York Times caught my attention. It was in the main section. What I found curious, was that Coca Cola as a brand was advertising their brand in a direct way. Not just Coke tastes good, you're cool if you drink it, this that and the other thing; but "here's what we got, and it's the solution." Also, the fact that they say their brand, although one company, provides all these different choices. From the tree-hugging Odwalla juice to the euro Fanta.

Carry on.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:12 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Come 'on, I think it's unrealistic and Utopian to expect that degree of authenticity from anything in this world -- nevermind just branding.

Now who's cynical, Tan? But the idea of authenticity originates with the creator, not the person who uses the product, whether they're hiker or nerd in your example. As in "author," authenticity has to do with the directness of the creation of the message. But I am sure that my notion of directness and others' is vastly different. That's cool.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:35 AM
Tan’s comment is:

true Sam -- haha, I guess at the end, my take was just as cynical .

Oh well, who wants a Coke? I'm buying.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:39 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

"here's what we got, and it's the solution."

Mmm...Corporate branding. In market logic, if you love Coke, then you'll trust any of their products to be as tasty and refreshing. Anybody out there actually subscribe to that theory? I drink Coke and Diet Sprite, personally, but I'm not such a fan of Dasani. Actually, because Dasani is made by Coca-Cola, I don't trust its purity as much as I would a true spring water company.

I love how Speak Up discussions morph over the length of a thread.

Right, what were we talking about anyway? I wear khaki's and a polo shirt. No, that's not it. Oh yeah. I'm thinking of trying some dnL today, just because now I need to know what it tastes like. Fact is, if it tastes darn good, then I'd buy it despite the packaging. Is that the ultimate failure of design?

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:41 AM
Sam’s comment is:

>>If you can "appear" authentic to your target consumer, you know, speak their language, visually and with the right attitude, then you've won half the battle.

Well said, tom. Funny that George Burns came up earlier: "You've got to be honest; if you can fake that, you've got it made." Now I know this is the way the world and the design business works.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:48 AM
Sam’s comment is:

What is really so wrong with supporting a new soda brand?

Jon, I know what you mean and I hasten to say that I am not saying there's anything wrong with doing branding design, not saying that at all. I guess I'm just looking at it more from a hapless consumer's point of view than a designers' and trying to articulate the exhaustion that comes from being so assaulted by so much commercial noise. And then to have to accept that this noise is the way to validate my identity and assert my individuality through choice--it's more than a poor (well, middle-class) fellow can stomach.

Sorry, catching up on some excellent points y'all have made. I will try the Jones soda, I will.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:50 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I don't subscribe to that either, although does Apple count? I rely on their computers yet when they broke into the music market, I went with an iPod, not a Sony. I guess that's product diversity, not brand diversity.

but I'm not such a fan of Dasani.

Me either. I like Aquafina though. Maybe it's Spears... Evian is gross, to many minerals. I like Poland Spring, oh and Volvic is great. San Pellegrino too. I think that's "genuinely hip."

Is that the ultimate failure of design?

In the end it's the taste that matters, no?

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:53 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Yay, Debbie--you're the person I wanted to hear from! We may have such opposite points of entry to this discussion, but that should just make it all the more interesting--I hope!

Plates, chairs, colas, sneakers—these products are now currency in our universe. With brands we assert moods, tastes, whims and affiliations.

But people want to feel hope and possibilities and in our society, we define ourselves by what we buy...It is the nature of a capitalist society, which we are all living in, grateful or not, actively participating in or not.

Yes, but we're also living in a democratic society, and doesn't that carry the obligation to analyze and the forces (formerly political, now increasingly commercial) that pull us in every direction? To question the forces by which we define ourselves as individuals, and to demand that what makes us feel hope and possibility (the pursuit of happiness, no less) is really something substantial, and not a product on sale for $4.99?

The thing that gives me the willies about products as currency is, it's so superficial and easy. It seems kind of absurd to me that you can buy a persona off the rack at the Gap or Diesel or Dolce&Gabana--just add Campers and you're stylin! I'm very cynical about that. If my child grows up to define her/himself with sneakers and sodas instead of jokes and adventures and friends, well come on, does that seem right?

This is indeed along the lines of 'Better Living' thread but I'm interested the way this discussion looks at the responsibility of design though branding, rather than the usual "do pro bono work or teach" approaches to social responsibility. So far, though, I see a sense of responsibility to one's clients (nothing wrong with that), but what about something more?

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:54 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Sorry, one last off-line-composed harangue--

Debbie wrote You decide what you think and you decide whether or not you want to buy it. Which is pretty cool. We are not being dictated to.

I guess my gut level reaction is that as consumers we are being dictated to because you cannot escape the advertising, the billboards, the spam, the junkmail. To me this type of choice--what to buy--is not very empowering or meaningful in the big scheme of things. It's far more empowering to make other kinds of choices and look at buying things just as part of getting things done around the house. Naturally, capitalism loves it that we feel empowered by what we buy--if Coke isn't making money off you, Pepsi is (or Jones or whoever). In the end, though, it's money in their pocket, sugar water in my tummy and what in the end do I have to show for that?

If we do not use this power to make our choices heard, to analyze, criticize, theorize, boycott, buy shamelessly and by our own standards and beliefs, we are lazy and indifferent and we deserve what we get.

Absolutely. But again, shouldn't we designers also, from time to time, analyze, criticize and theorize not about the particular merits of one soda or another, but about the whole practice? Is it wrong to bite the hand that feeds you, or is it just good old democratic uppity-ness?

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:56 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Oh well, who wants a Coke? I'm buying.

Jones Green Apple Sode for me, please!

On Aug.27.2003 at 10:09 AM
Davin’s comment is:

I don't think we'll get this in Canada as there is some form of consumer law that prohibits clear pop with caffeine (our version of Mountain Dew has no caffeine for instance).

I don't drink pop anyhow (don't eat any sugar) so I am now purely a spectator when it comes to the countless new twists and cross brandings that the candy co's send our way.

Isn't consumer "choice" intrinsically tied to "freedom"?

On Aug.27.2003 at 11:32 AM
Tom’s comment is:

What I found curious, was that Coca Cola as a brand was advertising their brand in a direct way.

Based on my experience, that ad has nothing to do with brand Coke. It is soley a corporate image that is in the WSJ to add value to the stock. I would be surprised if the brand manager for Brand Coke even knew about it.

On Aug.27.2003 at 11:52 AM
Michael S’s comment is:

Evian is gross, to many minerals

Here's an interesting brand extension. Spray Water

Don't ask me why I know about this.

On Aug.27.2003 at 12:06 PM
David E.’s comment is:

I'd just like to say that i think Coca Cola is one of man's greatest inventions, right behind asprin. Feeling slightly nauseated and need a little lift while at work? The company I work for certainly makes ME feel that way. If all you can get your hands on is Pepsi it's gonna be pretty disappointing. ;P

On Aug.27.2003 at 12:26 PM
Tom’s comment is:

I'm with you Sam. What you are talking about goes way beyond design and branding, but can be impacted by designers and brand visionaries. Too many brands target consumers based on their demographic buying power and look for stereotypical ways to link their product with a coolness factor to the consumer instead of just being honest about the product. A blatant example would be the beer industry - young white guys can be cool, funny and have sex with supermodels if they drink Beer X. Personally I will never work on a project for beer as it is a drug that when promoted to drink in excess(and it always is) can be deadly. OK maybe that's an extreme example, but a little more genuine honest authenticity suggested by brand builders certainly wouldn't hurt .

Such a deep subject that should at least be considered as we target potential clients.

On Aug.27.2003 at 12:27 PM
Brent’s comment is:

As far as soft drink gimmicks, I can't say I've ever seen Clearly Canadian's http://joelavin.com/orbitz.html" target="_blank">Orbitz topped. They were absolutely disgusting as a drink but I've held onto four bottles of the things for about seven years.

Jones soda - liked it until the only flavor I could ever find was blue bubble gum (ick!) now I drink http://www.bevnet.com/reviews/boylans/" target="_blank">Boylan's. I can only assume they (Jones) have distribution problems in the Chicago area. Never around anywhere...

On Aug.27.2003 at 12:36 PM
Sarah B.’s comment is:

Jones Soda - I have been craving to try one since reading these posts yesturday... any one know where I can get a hold of one in the Hudson Valley?

On Aug.27.2003 at 12:43 PM
Tan’s comment is:

hey, I liked Orbitz. But I like bubble tea and a bunch of other weird Asian drinks with tapioca and sweet beans and crap in it. Those funky suspended things in it are no worse for you than the chemical preservatives in a can of Coke.

On Aug.27.2003 at 12:44 PM
marian’s comment is:

Isn't consumer "choice" intrinsically tied to "freedom"?

No. Please don't confuse choice with freedom. You can choose which paper to buy but all of them may be state (or corporate) controlled; prisoners have choices; people in concentration camps have choices. Consumer choice is available throughout the world, including in countries with repressive regimes. Even in North America the "freedom" that we take for granted doesn't look so free when viewed from a very poor person's perspective (a good example of this is illustrated by the article "The Marriage Cure" by Katherine Boo in the Aug.18/25 issue of The New Yorker). Freedom is more about access than choice.

But I digress.

Fact is, if it tastes darn good, then I'd buy it despite the packaging. Is that the ultimate failure of design?

No, the success of design is to get you to try it, after that it's done its job. If the product isn't to your taste, no amount of fancy packaging will get you to drink/eat it again; if the jeans fall apart after 2 weeks, no amount of sexy models will get you to buy a 2nd pair, etc. Obviously there's more design in the product itself which will help determine its success, but if that fails, the product fails.

I was going to mention Orbitz. Funny, Brent, that you have 4 bottles of the stuff. I considered collecting it myself because it looked doomed to failure from the start. I mean who ... besides Tan ... would want to drink something with pieces of snog floating around in it? But at the time it really caught my attention, and I did try it, because I just had to. So the design was successful, but the product failed.

On Aug.27.2003 at 01:39 PM
Tan’s comment is:

hey, I think clam juice, or Clamato, is even grosser -- and that stuff sells fine. Blech!

you know what's also gross - Yoohoo. It tastes fine, until you finish the bottle, and see the sludge residue left at the bottom. Blech 2! Now there's a case for not having a clear glass bottle.

On Aug.27.2003 at 02:28 PM
Brent’s comment is:

Tan-

I like bubble tea too but the flavors of Orbitz never made me happy, they just tasted flat and syrupy. I avoid coke and those mass produced sodas whenever possible cause they are really bad for you. I like Boylan's cause it's natural, but I'm getting too far off the tracks here.

The one that really confuses me - Red Bull. It tastes just like Squirt to me and people buy it by the case for like 25 bucks...what?

On Aug.27.2003 at 02:50 PM
Brent’s comment is:

marian-

they're the ultimate conversation starter in my office. everyone else that saved some too had their blobs fall. (there's no other way to say that)

On Aug.27.2003 at 02:55 PM
Adrian’s comment is:

Sorry to jump back in so late, but...

I don't think anyone mentioned Landor's Dr Pepper Red Fusion identity. I think it's the best of the new soda incarnations or incantations (sp?).

Darrel, they still make chocolate soda. My local Kroger carries it, I think it's diet, but I'll check.

For internet fun - create your own Fanta commercial;

Link

here's my contribution Link

Also, I may have dreamed this one up but, does any one remember Apple Slice? It had a blue, red and gold label.

On Aug.27.2003 at 04:18 PM
Sao_Bento’s comment is:

I understand what your intent was, but a generalization (such as "the A.D.D. generation" or to suggest that a group of people is attracted to things that "flash or shimmer") is the result of not understanding the group being generalized. And if you don't understand the group the message is targeted to, how valid is your criticism of that message?

Sorry if I'm being a hard-ass about this, and I don't mean any ill will, I'm just tired of people writing off the kids as being dumb and unsophisticated.

. . . And yes, the thing about the cap being on the bottom was a joke.

>>Seriously Sao, I'm not old enough to be anybody's parent here. My ADD comment was to illustrate that young audiences must be captivated right away, if a product is unable to grab their attention in the first 30 seconds of exposure they will most surely move on to the next things that flashes or shimmers. Whether I'm willing to delve into youth culture enough to understand it or not is not the question.

On Aug.27.2003 at 04:45 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>. . . And yes, the thing about the cap being on the bottom was a joke.

Damn it, I just lot a bet.

>I'm just tired of people writing off the kids as being dumb and unsophisticated

I never said dumb nor unsophisticated. I know brilliant kids who can't keep their attention on anything longer than 5 minutes.

>And if you don't understand the group the message is targeted to, how valid is your criticism of that message?

Dude, I dunno. For the record I have to say I do understand the target audience. Look, I see something, I gather an opinion and post it up. Whether it's "valuable" criticism or not is not up to me to decide.

On Aug.27.2003 at 05:07 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

>Yes, but we're also living in a democratic society, and doesn't that carry the obligation to analyze and the forces (formerly political, now increasingly commercial) that pull us in every direction? To question the forces by which we define ourselves as individuals, and to demand that what makes us feel hope and possibility (the pursuit of happiness, no less) is really something substantial, and not a product on sale for $4.99?

Sam, first of all, sorry for the (once again) late post to this discussion. I am on the West Coast, and the time difference is killing me. Second of all, to answer your question above: of course we should question the forces which we allow to define ourselves as individuals. I think it is sad that most people end up defining themselves by the products that they buy. I think that it is unfortunate that someone may feel more confident about themselves wearing make-up or designer clothes or deodorant.

Who do you blame for that? The brand manager of said product? The advertising agency for creating the "need state"? The designer for creating a seductive package? The people that buy it so that they feel better about themselves? This is a societal issue. I do not believe it is the fault of corporations that make products, that we as a culture are insecure, lack a prevalent sense of self-esteem, and are for the most part extremely superficial in terms of how we evaluate beauty, worth and stature. But that is really not the fault of Coca-Cola! These are philosophical issues that define our times. As a culture we have allowed ourselves to swept up into the superficial life of Friends and Survivor and Baywatch and Cosmo and Vogue and The Devil Wears Prada and Fortune magazine and so on. These are the benchmarks in which we evaluate our sexiness and worth and value. We don't have to buy into any of this if we don't want to--we might not have a choice about the 40 brands of toothpaste or 70 brands of deodorant from which to choose (if you want to see it that way) but we do have a choice as to whether or not we want to buy into using them at all. No one is forcing you to buy anything. I do agree that it is manipulative of the media or corporations or ad agencies or design firms to put messages out there that insinuate that if you use this product you will become a better person or more popular or a better lover. But, for whatever reason, people seem to need that. Just look at all the crap email out there. This is not just about soda. It is about our very essence, our souls and our most private fears. And that is what needs to be addressed in our society.

Sam, another question you had was this: shouldn't we designers also, from time to time, analyze, criticize and theorize not about the particular merits of one soda or another, but about the whole practice? Is it wrong to bite the hand that feeds you, or is it just good old democratic uppity-ness?

Here is were we emphatically agree. Yes, we do need to be doing this. Yes, yes, yes. We need to keep doing this because we are the only ones that understand what is at stake. And we are the only ones that can insure that this work is done with integrity. Every gesture we make now is cinematic because it gets swept up in to a swift sequence of gestures that precede and follow it. Can we do this with integrity? I try. It is hard. I have to make tough choices every day. We must hold each other accountable for the work that we do, and while we may have different points of view on what constitutes free choice or democratic will, I think we all agree that we must keep asking ourselves the tough questions and try, if we can, to keep from doing work that doesn't have integrity, try to say no to the clients we don't believe in, try as hard as we can to get our clients to operate out of power and courage as opposed to fear, and most importantly: to try not to create any or take any shit.

Design does matter. Not because it will make us feel better about our own little egos--but because it should make us feel better about the world.

On Aug.27.2003 at 06:21 PM
marian’s comment is:

No, the success of design is to get you to try it, after that it's done its job

In retrospect, this was a foolish statement. I take it back. -- a little rushed today ...

On Aug.27.2003 at 07:31 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Yes, I completely agree the issue operates on a societal level, Debbie--the superficiality of tv shows, the insecurities that advertising plays upon, what our politicians get away with in the face of general apathy: not design problems at all. And whatever power we as individuals can exercise is just that--individual. That's not to say it's infinitesimal or meaningless or necessarily ineffectual. But it is a worth thinking about, and branding is perhaps the most timely issue, at this particular moment in our culture, to examine these questions. Maybe not.

But as designers, as players in the larger scheme of product branding/marketing/advertising, we are certainly among the drowning in that swirl of inauthentic, well-processed, highly refined, meaningless junk. Don't get me wrong--I'm not trying to blame anyone, not the designer, the brand manager, the marketing agency, not even the soda manufacturer. But I'm a little troubled that a lot of designers would rather chitchat about their favorite type of soda than consider some of the larger implications. But I know I shouldn't be so hign 'n mighty about it.

On Aug.28.2003 at 09:14 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

But I'm a little troubled that a lot of designers would rather chitchat about their favorite type of soda than consider some of the larger implications.

I will agree that there needs to be discussion about the downward spiral that is our culture. Everything said from our choices of meaningless and hollow products to our gutless politicians is very true and very sad. However, I don't agree that every topic has to always lead back to such a big-picture level. I see nothing wrong with digging into the minutiae of a branding decision and the resulting design work. There's a lot to learn from that examination. Otherwise, we risk turning into the very type of Ivory Tower institution that most of us dislike. Am I just being completely shallow? Please tell me if so.

On Aug.28.2003 at 09:23 AM
Davin’s comment is:

Marian: "Please don't confuse choice with freedom."

Oh, I wasn't. It's my penchant for using air-quotes to denote my sarcasm that often gets confused in text.

What I was somewhat flippantly trying to elude to was the implied freedom that consumer "choice" celebrates. The notion that North Americans are in some way more "free" because we have countless products to choose from which are in-turn being constantly "upgraded".

Many of the consumer goods offered to us play on our fears and insecurities as well as our self-imposed cravings.

I won't tell anyone else what to do but if you don't drink pop for a year and then you take a sip of Coke you'll wonder how you ever drank it in the first place.

On Aug.28.2003 at 09:41 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Point taken, Jon. It'smaybe not a question of either big-picture or design minutae---both are worth examining. I would never say that looking closely at design problems for its own sake is shallow--quite the opposite.That's not quite what I meant about chitchat. In any case.

On Aug.28.2003 at 12:50 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

>"You've got to be honest; if you can fake that, you've got it made." Now I know this is the way the world and the design business works.

Sam Sam Sam. I am just so depressed reading this line. And I can't seem to get it out of my head. I think that this may be one of the most provocative things I have ever seen. (Sigh) BUT: it can't be true. We are too smart (albeit insecure and lazy) for that to fundamentally be true. I think at the end of the day, consumers (including you and I and the readers of SU) are too smart to be fooled that intrinsically. At least I really, really hope so.

We might think that we are fooling people when we are pretending to be honest, but deep down, I think they really know what is going on. They know that Coke isn't the real thing and that Nike sneakers aren't going to make you a better athlete or that an Ipod won't make you cool (or will it?) but we still buy the stuff because we want to hope it will.

I think that is what is fundamentally behind branding: risk reduction and hope. It might not make us any better people, more secure or more popular, but in a day and age with so much sorrow and evil, brands give people hope--as does design--that the world can be a better place.

On Aug.28.2003 at 01:44 PM
Paul’s comment is:

I like your comment on hope, Debbie. I mean, when a product does what I am led to believe it will do, I feel genuinely pleased. My iPod may not have made me cool (far too much to ask of a portable electronic device, I know), but aside from working as promised, it does make me feel cool. And happy.

And although the happiness derived from a consumer experience may not be as significant on a cosmic scale as the happiness derived from observing a beautiful sunrise or watching one's child as they are sleeping, it is a happiness nonetheless, and I for one will take all the happiness I can get.

That said, I know I will feel only disappointment when I am seduced by the packaging on a soft drink. Even Jones, which I think is pretty sharp for its space, comes complete with a "oh, it's just soda" revelation. That's where the honesty question comes in for me. The branding makes promises the product just can't keep.

On Aug.28.2003 at 02:29 PM
Mike’s comment is:

Back to the dnL concept [hey I've been away], there was a band in Atlanta in the 80s...LMNOP.They claimed their producer was Don W. Seven.

On Aug.28.2003 at 09:56 PM
Todd’s comment is:

I think the "change" is a rip off. I've seen better.

On Aug.29.2003 at 03:46 AM
ryan ’s comment is:

whats the seven mean in 7up

On Mar.30.2004 at 09:00 PM
Armin’s comment is:

7up history according to the Sodamuseum.com. As reliable a source as any.

On Mar.30.2004 at 09:25 PM
Nat Bolton’s comment is:

Seriously, no matter how you package carbonated sugar water, it's still carbonated sugar water. Pepsi, Coke and the rest must understand this. I'll bet that they don't even plan on these "new" sodas taking a permanent and/or lasting part of the market share. The short spike in sales (from probably nothing more then curiosity) right after the drink is released probably is enough to make the endeavor worth while. These days a soda brand is almost expected to create a new and exciting (read: vibrantly colored and heavily sugared) drink about once a summer. It's how you remind the public that you are in operation and still relevant to today's market.

The packaging is of lesser importance. You just employ every gimmick and flashy style trick you can think of to get the bottle noticed.

On Mar.30.2004 at 11:15 PM
Benjamin II’s comment is:

I have a question to ask because I am desperately hoping to find someone that knows the information.

My question is: Does anyone know what is the typography font style that was used to design the current "Squirt citrus soda" logo ?

On Jun.07.2004 at 05:28 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Benjamin, you might have better luck at Typophile's type identification board. Just upload an image and you'll probably get a response.

On Jun.07.2004 at 09:08 AM
a. hopkins’s comment is:

7up is still the best tasting, most thirst quenching, best help to get over an upset stomach or a fever drink around. They should advertise that and how hard it is to get, instead of coming up with a new lesser product. I suggest an ad that shows a person dying of thirst in a desert scene walking hopefully to one pop sales shed or convenience store after another, refusing to buy because all they have is Coke products, moving on, in withered condition, looking for the real thing. We've had this experience (well, not quite so dramatically) many times. I called 7 up with this idea, but they weren't interested.

On Aug.19.2004 at 08:49 AM
Mark’s comment is:

well lets see Dnl's logo:

That resulted from turning this logo upside down:

On Sep.27.2005 at 09:41 PM
P. J. Williams’s comment is:

What happened to 7-Up Plus? Is it gone
forever or will it come back soon?

On Jul.28.2006 at 08:00 PM
Pepsilover yummy’s comment is:

Screw any company who uses and abuses employees... Hires Poor illegal imagrants and pays them with nothing more than a case or two of soda for a weeks worth of work!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On Sep.15.2006 at 06:29 PM