When I was in third grade, I won a blue ribbon for the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston –Salem in the mid-70’s. I remember how I created the artwork. I sat under our crabapple tree, took out a black crayon and scribbled with broad sweeping loops on a large piece of paper. Then, I colored in the loops using every crayon in my Crayola 64-pack.
I was so proud to have the ribbon…but I also felt a little guilty. I didn’t really feel like I deserved it. I wasn’t a REAL artist. I was a fake. It didn’t take artistic talent just to scribble on a page! That’s not real art! That’s just an organized, colorful mess.
That’s what I thought of as I read the Design Brief done by the Arnell Group on behalf of Pepsi… a bunch of scribbling done to justify “art” (or, in this case, design).
So much has been written about this, but I simply have to add my two cents worth. I have worked with some of the greatest branding agencies in the world, evolving some of the world’s greatest brands, so I feel qualified to participate in this discussion.
It’s not always easy to update a classic. It’s a serious project that requires a respect for the past and a vision for the future.
But here’s my reaction to the Pepsi Design Document: Oh my stars! Talk about getting caught up in your underwear!!!! The brief goes through huge gyrations (literally) in justification for Pepsi’s new logo, complete with discussions about the Golden Ratio, Greek design, magnetic fields around the earth, and emoticons.
Now, some have said that the Arnell Group just tried to rape Pepsi of millions of dollars with hucksterism, trying to sell toilet water as magical healing elixir. I don’t agree. I think they put forth a study that someone probably really believed in. And that’s what is so scary. The problem is, someone should have stopped them ten minutes into the study in order to save them…from themselves.
Certainly design should be grounded in strong, timeless principles. And I can applaud the design group for wanting to “ground” the design in looking at where Pepsi has come from (its historical design work). And innovation and freshness should be brought to bear for any package trying to remain relevant.
But this document goes beyond the pale. Its outrageous conclusions are so many scribblings with a black Crayola.
Aside from the ridiculous discussion contained within its 27 pages, I am appalled at what is NOT in the document: Consumers. There doesn’t seem to be a thought put forward as to what the consumer would or wouldn’t think about Pepsi, its color scheme, design history, or even of fashion and design trends in general.
Where’s the consumer in all of this!
MARKETING LESSON #1: START WITH THE CONSUMER!