Friday Design: Soup Can Label Redesign

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely week and have a wonderful weekend planned. For today’s Friday Design Talk, I want to talk about redesigns, specifically in the context of soup cans. But it applies to libraries, especially with regards to logo redesigns, rebranding efforts, and web redesigns. So let’s talk soup!

I was recently in a store shopping with my husband when we noticed that Progresso has redesigned their soup can labels. I took two photos, which you can see below, of the redesigned labels on the left and the older design on the right. So what do you notice? What speaks to you? What works and doesn’t work for your design sensibilities? I’ll wait a bit while you check out the cans and think about it. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you my thoughts below the photos.

photograph of two cans of clam chowderphotograph of two cans of chicken noodle soup

Okay, are we ready to talk redesign and rebranding? Yes? Great!

So, first things first, there really isn’t anything terribly wrong with the redesigned soup labels and the rebranded Progresso banner. But there really, in my opinion isn’t anything great either. It is all quite bland, which I’m almost positive wasn’t what anyone wants people to think of when they think of their soup line. You want soup to be delicious, aromatic, comforting, yummy, right? I just don’t get that feeling from the new design.

So what is in the new design and what’s been changed?

The serif fonts used in the old label have been swapped out for a plain san serif font. Okay, one could make the argument that this makes the label easier to read. It also makes it look like every other redesigned packaging and sign I’ve seen over the last few years. It seems like a large chunk of the design world has been swept up in the Helvetica trend and san serifs are the only go-to fonts used anymore. I have nothing against a good san serif, but I never get the feeling that it is either “traditional” like the label says nor do I feel like it makes me think “yum, soup”.

The new label is less busy. There are no pops of color from the vegetables on top of the Progresso banner (which I seriously thought was part of their logo, but apparently isn’t). There is no depth to the label–most of the gradients have been removed, giving the new banner a flat look, even with the bit of movement with the swoop of the banner from left to right.

The use of just the bowl of soup as the focal image, instead of a close-up with the spoon is an interesting choice. Even with the removal of the center square with the name of the soup from the old labels, it feels like the label now has an odder delineation of space. It almost looks like the can is frowning with how the bottom of the label cuts off the soup bowl, but that could just be me.

The new labels just feel bland, like they don’t want to stand out from the crowd, they just want to sit on the shelf with every other soup can and be quiet. That’s not what you want when you are competing for market share in soup. You want to be bold–to connect–to be different. Stand out. It’s okay. At least they kept the blue, although it is much lighter overall, so I can find it in the soup aisle.

So what does this have to do with libraries? If you are contemplating a redesign or a design of a label, a logo, or really anything for your library, don’t be bland. Be bold. You don’t have to follow every hot new design trend. You don’t have to set everything in san serif fonts and you don’t have to make everything completely flat in your design. Pops of color can be good and eye-catching. In design, as in life and libraries, sometimes you have to standout and be brave. Don’t always go with the safe choice, just because it is there. Pick fonts and colors and designs and graphics that truly connect with your message and evoke the emotions that you want to evoke with your designs.

And, if you are designing for soup packaging, make sure its label screams yum and comfort (it doesn’t have to actually say those words, but the design should). Think about what your design needs to communicate first, always–then go from there.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of fun and relaxation as we head into autumn. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!