Last week there was a lot of press about Nice!, the new Walgreens private brand for grocery products. My take . . . really Nice! name, not so Nice! packaging. And here’s a story to explain why.
George was the first indoor hurricane I had ever met (an analogy that is easy to come by as we await the arrival, or not, of Irene). With his almost biblical power over ideas (he is an AIGA Medalist and in the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame) he blew around the office wreaking creative havoc, and his agencies managed to produce some of the most iconic conceptual advertising in the last 50 years. Clive was terribly good at managing the growth of design firms (he would later go on to rebuild Lippincott after the retirement of Walter Margulies) and managing the expectations of clients.
Although neither of these gents were designers in the classic sense, they both had a clear grasp for brands, and a very simple measure for a successful retail package design. Wandering around the studio they would growl “what’s the idea, yah gotta have an idea!” (Clive from Britain slurring his Rs, and George from the Bronx slurring everything).
But their point was clear . . . its easy to make things pretty, but its much harder to make them smart.
And their definition of a smart idea was pretty simple, it had to be unique, memorable, and ownable (George would always say it had to have “balls” too, but that’s another story). The question in the office was always, “can the brand build a long-term equity with this design?” Seems simple right?
A few years later I was working for a fellow named Jack Blyth and being a Scot, his test for uniqueness was even simpler. If you could take the name off a package and still have the consumer recognize the brand, then it was a successful package architecture. Yes again simple, maybe even overly simplistic, but certainly clear.
By these measures the new Walgreens brand may be simple, but it isn’t Nice!
Looking at the image above containing Target’s up & up, Publix everyday, Walgreens’ Nice! and Walmart’s Great Value brands with their logos missing, George and Clive would likely agree that Nice! isn’t unique, memorable, and ownable. And Jack would wince at these generic packages with their unrecognizable or nonexistent equity with the brand name is missing.
The shelves have been inundated in the last decade by brands with predominantly white packaging. And we have all weighed in on their issues. To introduce this new brand in 2005 is one thing, but to introduce it in 2011 is either naive or bereft.
Too bad, because its a really Nice! name.