Posts Tagged ‘simplicity’

Is simple always better?

January 7, 2011

I noticed that a design agency called Antrepo had done an experiment in simplifying well-known brands’ packaging – they seem to believe that minimalism is always best. What do you think?



More at

Is it me or is it rather unsettling to see iconic brands stripped of the clothes that we know them by? They become more generic and less satisfying – less able to trigger the nice emotional response that makes people buy. I appreciate that sometimes brand managers go overboard with sticking ‘delicious!’ or whatever on packaging and that if you want to position a brand as premium then more minimalist design often helps. But I would be extremely wary of changing an established brand’s design in any major way: the design is imprinted in people’s minds in all its (sometimes in)glorious fullness and they will buy based on almost subconscious recognition of that, with all the positive emotional cues and memories that come with it.

I then saw that Starbucks are about to introduce a simplified logo which involves the mermaid only and no words – although I assume the shops will still say STARBUCKS above the door?


I find this a bit unsettling too: I’ve never really consciously looked at the mermaid element before, I just think of the whole logo with the reassuring solid capital letters. But I guess it’s something of an achievement that you can identify it without the brand name – maybe they’ve trying to emulate the Nike swoosh. They say it’s because they want to signal the next chapter in the company’s story and allow them to ‘move beyond being only a purveyor of coffee’. To being what, one asks? I hope they don’t go all brand extension crazy and lose the plot. We already allow them to sell food and to sell coffee at retail: how much further do they want to go?

An optimistic interpretation is that it’s what Adam Morgan would call a ‘symbol of re-evaluation’ to draw attention to refurbished shops, since frankly a lot of the ones I visit are looking rather tired now. I would far rather they sorted that out than worried about a new logo: a new logo on the existing stores will seem very lame. Let’s wait and see.