when design gets bland

This thought came into my head while seeing some stuff discussed on these and other boards, in particular with the whole pepsi and tropicana rebranding: is packaging trending toward the cleaner, blander, lazier? design and we are leaving the rich, textured (dated?) in the past? I keep seeing the same modern, sans serif fonts, color blocking and white space everywhere. Do you like this trend? do you hate it?

I think it depends on the product. On some it is incredibly effective. On others, not so much. It just seems to me its being applied to everything new, and if we continue the trend we might encounter a sea of blandness as we walk down the grocery aisle.

please note i’ve only referred to packaging graphics in this thread. If you do find design bland in other areas, do tell

Some examples:

I like everything I see above except for the Pepsi/Tropicana stuff. I think simplicity only becomes bland when you execute it poorly and in an unrefined way.

I dont think lazy is the right adjective. I actually think simple design is much more difficult to execute than “non-simple” design. All details have to be carefully considered whereas sometimes noise can just cover up bad design. The lifesavers package is beautiful. Perfect.

I prefer this new aesthetic towards packaging over the old aesthetic. I feel like many of the old packages looked just like one another. Interesting topic. I wonder what graphic designers would say. I have this feeling that many had been doing really clean designs then marketing comes by and is like, “where is the NEW sticker,” or “you’ve forgotten the NOW WITH” sticker. hmm.


yeah i may have worded myself badly. What I basically wanted to ask was if you saw a definite trend forming, and the consequences of it. It feels like i keep seeing the same treatments over and over again, like its become a formula.

Some of the images above i love. Lifesavers definitely looks like its targeting the adult market as opposed to kids, and looks much more mature/refined in its simplicity.


yea. i dont think i’m always the best at wording myself. I find myself typing while doing an illustrator rendering or something, so my bad.

but i totally feel that more and more “regular” grocery stores are looking more and more like organic grocery stores if you know what I mean. It seems like the packaging you see in Whole Foods has been on point for a while now, but bigger companies seem to be adopting these styles big time.

i like it.


I get the feeling that graphic design is following ID trends for once. Now, ID is moving away from simplicity and GD finally gets it. If you are bored, don’t worry, it won’t last more than 5-10 years.

I agree and disagree. If you notice Packaging design is starting to follow normal design trend. This means that we are starting to follow things link fashion, product, economic, seasonal, etc… I don’t know if this is a new thing or that it is starting to become more apparent lately. I think that every up there is great except for the Pepsi stuff, which if you have read my previous posts you will know my opinion on them. I think that packaging is starting to be looked at as part of the whole proposition and not as much as a dust cover for the product. I agree that the Lifesavers bag has hit a different audience, but if you really look at it, it is also creating a different emotion with the pack. It is no longer saying, “Kids come buy me”. It is saying “Adults that loved me, buy me for a permissible treat that you can eat for multiple sittings”. This is the same with Godiva. Everything they have communicates gift and creates an emotion for that time. The simply Bliss carton shown above, I think is beautiful. It shows what the product is and nothing more. This makes it look premium and demand a higher price.

I don’t think that package design has gotten bland; more that it has followed the modern design trends and patterns. A great example is apple. I bought a new iMac over the weekend and the great part about apple is that it is all you need and nothing else. The experience about buy and setting up a Mac is great. It comes with everything you need, to set it up you just plug it in, and it is nothing but a monitor, which includes the hard drive and everything else.

I think before we say design has gotten bland, I think we need to think about the consumer and say do they really need everything we think they do.

I don’t think that simple means lazy. If you checked out buyers habits I bet that the simple, clear designs sell well… people don’t want the confusion of cluttered packaging when they are selecting their product from the supermarket shelf (the average time the UK buyer takes to select an item is 7 seconds - not long at all).

Having said that I have seen some very good more ‘complex’ designs that still communicate what the product is, who it is aimed at, and the brand.

I don’t like it. Its not very creative. Wow another sans serif running vertically on a solid backround. How inspiring. Bauhaus has been closed for like 75 years people. :unamused:

None of these items look like food to me anymore (not that any of it is actually food, but thats another subject). All this stuff looks like face cream or soap or some other cosmetic product.

Personally I think big juicy cartoon lifesavers create more of a mouthwatering reaction than a few colored circles. I think the Tropicana graphic of an orange with a straw sticking out of it was way more fun and happy than the packaging shown above. Now it looks like grade D orange juice from Aldi. (a cheap grocery chain here in Chicago)

Simple modernism has its place for sure. But without loud splashy graphics the yin is missing its yang.

Am I alone in liking the new Pepsi logo. I’ve seen it bashed a few places now. I think it’s a decent update to a stale design that had only been carried over for the sake of tradition. The old Pepsi logo was not nearly as iconic as the Coca Cola script. It wasn’t intimately tied to their brand image, so there was room for alteration and enhancement.


You’ve got to be the only person on earth (besides the designer and Pepsi-Co brass)

Sorry man. It is really bad.

It’s really quite horrible.

I think minimalism helps the product jump off the shelf. Large splashes of color/negative space frame the content.

But they can make the product less appealing. The lifesvers packages are a great example–they almost communicate the OPPOSITE of what that product is all about experientially. Flat and monochromatic?

I know I am going to contradict myself here, but I agree. I think the Lifesavers pack looks great by itself, but if you put it on shelf it might not work. I liked to old graphics with just the large lifesaver on it.

So when it ALL looks like that, will we return to the more elaborate packaging? it might just be a cycle. It just seems to be getting a little repetitive…sans serif, white space, etc. Works when its new, not when everyone else is doing it.

I think we need to remember that not all packaging is created equal. Depending on the product will depend on the graphics. The packaging above is for the more premium food market. By keeping the graphics simple you are showing off the product, giving the feeling of quality and purity, and making it feel up to date, modern and fresh. With this the product can demand a higher price point. This is not the same for say a kids product where the graphics will be big bold and fun.

personally, I love this new trend in design- I hate it when company graphics blast out with obnoxious graphics and colors. Something much more refined appears not only more sophisticated, but clean. I would much rather have these “clean” objects in my house that those that are simply annoying.

Modernism is so boring nowadays because we see perfectly clean edges everywhere. variation is needed to spice up life. dammit i want carrots to look like carrots!