When I was a youngster I remember my dad drank Budweiser beer that came in a 16oz. can. Cold and frosty, it was poured into a tall thin glass and looked absolutely delicious. I thought Bud was king. Then I saw a commercial for Hamm’s beer. And then one for Old Style, and Meister Brau, and Schlitz and later even Coors. My they all looked so wonderful and desirable. Maybe it was the commercials, but I think the packaging was the tip in. The cans and bottle labels were all so well designed and came in such a variety of colors. When I became old enough to legally drink I had decisions to make. Was it going to be Bud? Or Schlitz? Miller looked good but so did so many other brands. As time went on I steered more toward the imports is search of richer flavor. Still I noticed the art on the bottle or can to assist in my decision. Heineken was a big winner in the green bottle with the red star. But then Beck’s seemed to look a bit better (even though it had the same color scheme). While I was in the green bottle phase I then veered off and went to Grolsch with the built in bottle stopper. Recently I started drinking Stella Artois, another green bottle brew (probably for those Wes Anderson style commercials).
So basically, I go head over heels for all kinds of beer and along with taste I look at the packaging. Recently I saw an article discussing the decline of Budweiser sales due to the loss of connection to the prime target market because of the look of the packaging. It was an interesting read but confirmed my belief that “looks good, taste great” may actually comes in just that order.
Anyways, as spring is arriving and the summer season is just around the corner, the great pastime of sitting down and having a tall cold one in the backyard is soon upon us. And with that comes the annual decision as to what brew will be the chosen one. Bud? Miller? Coors? Sam Adams maybe? Or will the craft beers win this season? I guess it all depends on what you see when you go to the store and find yourself in the beer cooler shopping for your dream beer.
Good luck with your search and keep a cold one on hand just for me!
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Our most recent entry showed the new proposed design for Nutrition Label that would replace the present one seen on all food packaging. We thought it might be interesting to post some of the impressions about the new design from the person who created the present deign out in the marketplace today. The designer’s name is Burkey Belser and here is a reprint from a recent Washington Post interview.
Burkey Belser is the Steve Jobs of information design. The 66-year-old American graphic designer is the visionary behind what may be the most frequently reproduced graphic in the world: the nutrition facts label. Drawn in simple black and white, with no punctuation, it was deemed a “masterpiece” by fellow designers when it was unveiled in 1994.
Since then, the nutrition label has become iconic, appearing in some form on countless pieces of artwork, comics, bags and T-shirts — not to mention an estimated 700,000 food products on store shelves in the United States today. At the Moschino fashion show in Milan last week, the most talked-about item on the runway was a dress featuring faux nutrition label information stamped all over it. After seeing the gown, British singer-songwriter Rita Ora tweeted: “My future wedding dress #1day #Gorgeous #SEX.” On Thursday, as federal officials work on the first update to that design in two decades, Belser — who also designed the energy guide that appears on appliances and the drug facts panel on medicines — reflected on what he was thinking when he designed the original food label and what he thinks of the proposed changes announced by the Food and Drug Administration. How did you get involved in the nutrition label project 20 years ago?
I was working at design firm with my wife, and one day I got a call from [former FDA commissioner] David Kessler. He said, Burkey, I have a great project for you, but you have to do this for free. So we did. It turns out that Congress had legislated the science, but they didn’t appropriate the funds for the design…
What were you going for when you designed the the original label?
Clarity. We looked at 35 different designs. They included charts, sliders, all kinds of different graphical approaches… In the end what we went with — there’s a harmony about it, and the presentation has no extraneous components to it. The words are left and right justified, which gave it a kind of balance. There was no grammatical punctuation like commas or periods or parentheses that would slow the reader down. It’s subtle… It’s like what Steve Jobs said about the radius of the iPod, the corner. The detail is so important that you wouldn’t even notice it and if you didn’t notice it’s a sign that it succeeded…
This was the best project I ever did. I don’t know if anybody’s heart beats faster when they see nutrition facts, but they sense a pleasure that they get the information they need. Tell me about the challenges of information design. How is it different from other kinds of graphic design?
It’s a very unique specialty, a special kind of skill. It’s very easy to run off the road in terms of design… Every normal tool of a designer — color, photography, illustration — that’s all stripped away, and all we have is type. In this case, what we did with the original label is to use the dramatic difference between black and light fonts, between super bold and super light rules. Those act as organizing devices for the reader so they will slide right through that label.
Michelle Obama, Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled the proposed updates at the White House. What do you think? First of all, I really support the efforts of the FDA. I do have a certain fondness for the original, but I understand it’s been a long time and there have been shifts in the science. [In the new design], there are a couple of successes. It’s easier to see the calories. The consolidating of serving sizes is going to be really important. But I ask if it feels as well organized down below, particularly with the movement of percentage of daily value to the left… There are also multiple super bold rules throughout the middle of the label, which break it up in a way the old label hadn’t. It now reads in lurches instead of smoothly through the label. Now if a label were designed by scientists it would have no boldface. As soon as we bold something that’s a public policy decision. In the old label, you boldfaced fats. In the new version, calories. I believe the alternative label should not be called nutrition facts. It should be called nutrition guide. It’s moved that far along the continuum because of the design. Instead of presenting facts, it’s prescriptive. It’s telling people what we want you to do — eat more of that, avoid this. So you see, when you get down to details of label, you’ll see every single decision has an impact, has an effect on the reader… It still feels like our old friend the nutrition label, and people are fond of the label. The proof is that it’s riffed on in so many ways. And I don’t think the affection will go away with this design.
We all read (or try to read) the Nutrition Label that the FDA requires on food packaging. I’ve seen many people looking the label over while shopping in grocery stores and wonder what the consensus is. Well, it seems that the information wasn’t conveying the best message possible as the FDA has a new proposed label. As stated in the article below, “It is to reflect the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease and designed to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes.”
Here I have included the current label and the proposed one. Let me know what you think and let the FDA also know as they are accepting public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days.
Here is the story and the labels.
FDA proposes updates to Nutrition Facts label on food packages
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed to update the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The proposed label also would replace out-of-date serving sizes to better align with how much people really eat, and it would feature a fresh design to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes.
“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”
“For 20 years consumers have come to rely on the iconic nutrition label to help them make healthier food choices,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “To remain relevant, the FDA’s newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans.”
Some of the changes to the label the FDA proposed today would:
- Require information about the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced. The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
- Update serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994. By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people “should” be eating. Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting.
- Present “dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.
- Require the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that some in the U.S. population are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health. Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily.
- Revise the Daily Values for a variety of nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. Daily Values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value on the label, which helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.
- While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” would be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
- Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, which are important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease.
The proposed updates reflect new dietary recommendations, consensus reports, and national survey data, such as the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutrient intake recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, and intake data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The FDA also considered extensive input and comments from a wide range of stakeholders.
“By revamping the Nutrition Facts label, FDA wants to make it easier than ever for consumers to make better informed food choices that will support a healthy diet.” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “To help address obesity, one of the most important public health problems facing our country, the proposed label would drive attention to calories and serving sizes.”
The Nutrition Facts label has been required on food packages for 20 years, helping consumers better understand the nutritional value of foods so they can make healthy choices for themselves and their families. The label has not changed significantly since 2006 when information on trans fat had to be declared on the label, prompting manufacturers to reduce partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, in many of their products.
The changes proposed today affect all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The FDA is also proposing to make corresponding updates to the Supplement Facts label on dietary supplements where applicable.
The agency is accepting public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days.
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The lure of really good packaging – research vs. impulse.
How many times have you bought products through the lure of the packaging? Have you found yourself tempted and actually purchased something that way? Many times I’ve seen products that I never thought of buying but found desirable once I saw the packaging. After thinking about it, I had to let the logical side of my brain take over. Depending on price, my knowledge of the product and the competition (plus an actual need), I am able to come to a decision. These days the research is plentiful (Internet) and easy to access. Considering the simplicity of online shopping it is easier than ever to fall prey to clicking the “Buy” button. So when you see “the shiny and attractive package” do you buy on an impulse or do some research? Let me know what you think.
By the way, the above image is packaging for Bluetooth speakers.
When you shop for items and find them to be in a bottle, do you feel you should buy the one that is packaged inside a box? Is there a perceived “higher” value or do you see it as a waste of material. It is understandable that some products that are packaged in a bottle probably require to be inside a box for protection but do all need such? Obviously there is an opportunity to attract consumers with additional real estate on a box and then use the label on the bottle for more direct and necessary legal information. At times we make purchases depending solely on price and other times brand reputation is the deciding factor.
So in this case I am looking for feedback from you. How do you see the bottle in a box situation? Is is necessary or not? Would you make that purchase for your favorite perfume or beauty item if the outer box was gone? What product do you feel necessitates the double packaging? Does the information (or lack of) on a box make you desire the bottle inside it? What are your expectations?
Recently I came upon this article showing handmade paper greeting cards that you plant in the soil as they grow into wildflowers. The cards are embedded with seeds where they first send one a greeting and second act on an interactive level. The cards have whimsical illustrations with the ability to send wonderful messages.
Although I have seen this where one saves the package from a particular product which when planted, grows into a flower, this one is new to my radar. It takes a straightforward route turning a card into a form of nature. In this age of the online social world and instant (and last minute) messaging, my thought here is that someone was really thinking and took the concept of a greeting card and brought it back to a tactile form with dual purposes.
So I wonder if anyone has seen this or other forms that complete such actions. These cards actually makes the transformation that reclaim a life back to print (which has experienced a rapidly growing death). Let me know what you’ve seen and link to examples if you have any.
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I saw an article this morning about a husband and wife doctor team working on making a safer warning label for pharmaceuticals that alert users when their drugs expire and graphically inform not to take them at that time.
Here are a few points of interest with such a project. First, I applaud their effort in addressing this issue. Second is their ability to make this actually work (upon expiration, X’s in circles appear on the medication package acting as a warning). Third, is the fact that the design may never see fruition due to bureaucratic red tape and increased costs for pharmaceutical companies.
With these points considered, should we pursue having something of this nature explored and developed for food products and possibly other retail items? I realize that there are “Sell By This Date” or “Use By This Date” indicators out there, but do they really do the best job possible? I don’t always look for the dates on all my food items and when I do, I have to decide when the date runs close to the date in question (like today or yesterday! This milk smells ok!!)
Do we put such a responsibility on manufacturers and retailers or should we go with the “Consumer Beware” motto? Remember, warning labels are exactly that – warning labels. Do you want them to take on a larger role or do you trust that everyone can handle this? Consider your elderly parents or grandparents looking for the expiration date. I understand that we deal with accountability every day and this may be a slippery slope. Let me know what you think? Would you recommend a stronger solution to your client if the situation came up?
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