This week, two articles in the NY Times caught my attention. The first was about the image of a candy package, the second about the image of Christ, and both are lessons about good intentions gone really bad.
And while one is the story of a botched restoration of a religious icon in the Spanish town of Borja, and the other about the botched update of a Philly icon, only time will tell whether these stories will end as intriguing examples of resurrection.
The first article, about Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, initially got my notice simply because it was in the NY Times Advertising column, a place not known to spend much time talking about package design. The story begins with the classic tale of a brand, started in the early 20th century, seriously threatened by departing from its heritage when purchased a few years ago by the Just Born candy company. And then describes the brand’s recent renewal with the adoption of a new package design and communication strategy that returns to familiar and iconic brand identity “roots”.
Hey, this new package (shown below) may not be perfect, but it certainly pays homage to the brand’s retro mid-century influences, rather than the over-the-top, amped, and meaningless typography so popular in the early 2000s.
The prodigal brand losing its way with extravagant overindulgence, or simply a misplaced restoration, and then returning to its former glory only with a return to its simple roots, is always a brand identity theme that gets my attention. We focus on these kinds of stories in my class on the origin and evolution of consumer brands at the School of Visual Arts.
The second article, about the desecration of a religious icon, the fresco of Christ painted by Elias Garcia Martinez in the 19th century, is also a tale of the misguided but perhaps well-meaning update of a classic image . . . in this case apparently by Cecilia Giménez, an elderly congregant of the Santuario de la Misericordia. She apparently got upset watching the fresco degrade on the walls of the cathedral and took matters into her own hands. The results of which you see in the image above.
This sounds like the classic story of many innocent or misguided marketers who mistake change for progress, and take the evolution of brand equity into their own unprepared and/or unsympathetic hands.
The good news is that both of these icons are now in the hands of professionals, who have their best interests at heart, and the ability to restore their heritage and meaning.