J2O Rebrand Case Study
Please note, this brief and case study was written in 2014.
25–35-year-old men and women who love getting together with their friends and family, both in and out of home. They are grown up, confident, have an established social network, and feel relaxed with those around them. They don’t need alcohol to boost their confidence or lower their inhibitions and are happy to interchange between alcohol and soft drinks.
As it stands, 40% of J2O consumption is by those aged 16 and under, but J2O wanted to change that. The current artwork design is not seen as ‘adult’ by many; the colours are viewed as bright and childish, and some consumers have even described it as cheap and a little "chavvy". They therefore briefed students to redesign J2O to appeal to a target audience of 25-35-year-old men and women. The design should make them proud to be seen holding J2O in bars, restaurants and at home, and should bring through J2O’s expressive, unpretentious and playful personality.
Packaging designs must be created for both the Orange & Passion Fruit flavour and the Apple & Mango flavour 4pk.
• Ensure that consumers know that J2O is a blend of two fruits.
• The J2O logo and bottle shape drives consumer recognition so must be maintained.
• The J2O brand is synonymous with the colour green that is on all of our packaging. Please make sure that it features in some capacity when coming up with design ideas.
• In the past, the depiction of fruit on our packaging has increased taste credentials so although it’s not compulsory to do so, bear this in mind when coming up with design ideas.
• We would encourage you to visit bars, pubs and supermarkets to view J2O against its competitors to better understand the scale of the challenge.
My Response to the Brief
My initial reaction to this project was to create a label that looks more like a beer bottle label. Fentimans do this type of design incredibly well as their vintage-looking labels are more appealing to adults. Here is an example of their bottles.
While brightly coloured fruit juice drinks are usually marketed at children, Fentimans bottles of cola and lemonade are understated but detailed making them more appropriate for adults. As a t-total 20-something year old, I believe there's a lot of stigma or embarrassment surrounding someone who does not drink when at a bar but if a bottle looked more like alcohol and less like fruit juice, I believe more people would order one. I also found inspiration from Heineken and Stela Atrios bottles.
My first design turned out fairly well considering I was playing around in Illustrator. The circular motif looks old fashioned but the monochrome colours make it look elegant and modern. Though the logo was not to be changed, I did simplify it right down to just a flat logo. It already improves the look of J2O and makes appear more sophisticated. I kept the splashes and bubbles in because J2O's brief stated they still wanted the redesign to be playful.
To distinguish between the flavours, I added a gradient to the circular motif; orange and passion fruit is orange and a pinky colour similar to that of a passion fruit and apple and mango is apple green and an orangey mango colour.
I then left the initial design alone to explore other options, all of which didn't quite hit the spot as well as the first design. I was concerned with the square-format logos especially as the J2O bottles had a curved element to the glass. I also felt they were too ornamental and possibly too feminine and the brief stated the design must appeal to both men and women.
The next step for me is to always try the complete opposite, just in case something good comes from it. I tried to add some direct reference to the fruit by adding little oranges to the patterns but I didn't feel that would be easy to continue across all designs (eg. a lime, an orange, a lemon all look the same in vector form. What would be the solution for a pomegranate?). Whilst trying to truly embrace the green for the first time, I ended up with a terrible version of the 7Up design. Another alternative was to try and show that the bottle was full of fruit. As you can tell, this was not a brilliant idea and the result was quite scruffy... Not to mention, passion fruits are not the prettiest of fruits. The last ditch in the dark to try something new was inspired by Pepsi. Whilst I liked the bottle showing through the logo, it was just too close to Pepsi with the bottle being black and it would be difficult to distinguish which flavour was which, not to mention that fruit juices are usually light and airy and this felt just too dark.
Meanwhile, I had posted my first J2O logo onto my Instagram for feedback (I find collaborating and talking to other people useful in the design process) and J2O commented and asked to share the design. I took this as a sign that I was on the right track, abandoned all other avenues and focused on the first design I created (isn't that almost always the way?!)
Next, I referred back to the brief to decide how to make the original logo work with what J2O had in mind. It must appeal to men, women, include the J2O green and the customer should know that it's a blend of two fruits. Easy, right? Well...
How I Eventually Embraced the Green
Returning to the first logo, I decided to put the logo in a circular background with the gradient corresponding to the two fruits for each flavour and also try it with a black background and use the gradient in the pattern itself. However, when adding it to a bottle mock-up, it felt clumsy and ill-fitting to the shape of the bottle.
So I decided to cut around the intricate pattern hoping it would reveal more of the bottle and use "real-estate". I was still experimenting with where exactly to use the gradient on the logo but I felt the shape fitted the bottle a little better (though my quick mock-up skills leave a lot to be desired. Just imagine the label to align with the curve of the bottle, not against it...)
I was also hoping that the bottle top would be enough "J2O green" in the design but I tried to incorporate it into the number 2 and as an outline off and on throughout the design process but then decided to do away with the background entirely and focus on the design by itself with the colour of the juice doing all of the talking. The following few designs work fairly well but the orange-colour of the juice ruined the look I was trying to achieve. I hadn’t yet figured out what I should do with the neck labels, but the black and orange just felt too garish and Halloween-esque for me. I was trying to achieve something elegant, adult and beautiful, but I found the orange and compulsory green were difficult to work with. The green bottle neck in the middle didn't fit the brief of illustrating that with each J2O flavour there's a blend of two fruits, so though it ticked the green box, it didn't establish what I needed it to in other ways.
And then the fun really begins. I must've tried what felt like hundreds of combinations for this logo. I narrowed it down (as best as I could) and turned to my peers for feedback and answers. Whenever you're too close to a design, it's almost always helpful to ask for a fresh pair of eyes. These were the designs put to other people:
Someone suggested I blacked the bottles out but after trying that previously, I used brown to make them look like beer bottles (imagine brown glass) This made the gradients look ugly and once I added the green to the design too, it felt like there was just far too much going on.
And then I had a thought... What if the bottle itself was green? Like Heineken. What if the gradients used were subtle to illustrate the blending of fruits? Bingo.
The first line-up...
The general feeling amongst my peers was the fourth green bottle along (on the wall?!) with the white logo was best. The idea to keep some of the glass clear to show the juice through the logo wouldn't necessarily work in production and also other J2O juice colours could clash with the green whilst also having some flavours looking the same. Using the white logo kept that beer bottle aesthetic I'd been trying to achieve since the first considering the brief.
Well, me being me and having to explore every avenue before I'm happy with a decision I've made, I had one last pop at designing using the juice colour and an intricate bottle neck label. It has some advantages but the gradients were lost on the juiced themselves and as stated previously, apple and mango and orange and passion fruit are the same colour though completely different flavours so there's no quick way to distinguish between the two.
So, back to embracing that green! I kept the neck label green with a subtle gradient to show the flavours which makes the design look slicker and more like an alcoholic beverage rather than a fruit juice drink
Then, someone rightly pointed out that if you're working behind a bar and it's a busy Friday night, how can you grab a bottle quickly knowing which flavour was which. So one quick change to the bottle top later and adding a different colour to the "two" to show the different flavours, I finally had the finished design.
So, now we're in 2022 and I've revisited the process of the J2O submission as a more experienced and (hopefully) wiser designer, what would I do differently now?
Well, I think I would still embrace the green but perhaps I would have tried a different approach to the circular motif around the J2O logo. Once J2O shared the image to their Instagram page, I thought it was a done-deal. Considering it eventually won the YCN student award, maybe it was a done-deal? But I can't help but wonder if it truly fitted the brief in its entirety. One of the criteria in the brief was for the rebrand should bring through J2O’s expressive, unpretentious and playful personality. Was my design a little pretentious...? Possibly. Was it playful? No. I would say it was perhaps a little too sophisticated. Apparently I believed keeping the bubbles in the logo would be enough! I still believe it's a strong design and I'm proud of how it turned out but maybe trying something more fruit-orientated could've been the direction to go in.