By Harry Peng, Design Director
Here we are again, a round up of F&B rebrands in China for the year, this time my three best for 2019. If you missed my earlier article, on the top three worst, you can read it here. Without further ado, here are my three favs from last year!
Meituan rolled out an ambitious rebrand. Although the wordmark didn’t change at all, they made a bold move to swap their key brand colour which they’ve been using since 2013, the beginning of Meituan. From turquoise to yellow.
Why yellow? Meituan felt that yellow communicates warmth and passion, which resembles the heart-warming services that they deliver. *Awww… so warm and fuzzy*
I see this move however, more as a long term strategic decision to build a stronger link between their brand and a specific color. When Meituan first started (with their turquoise coloured logo), they were just an online group-buying platform (like America’s Groupon). They then launched their food delivery service and drivers doned bright yellow outfits with a bright yellow box attached to their e-bikes. Over time, consumers gained a strong connection between them and the guys in bright yellow running around delivering meals when you’re at your laziest. Meituan became such a familiar sight, that it would’ve been foolish not to take advantage of the bright yellow. Then with the purchase of Mobike last year, it was an easier decision to start introducing bright yellow Meituan shared bikes.
Yellow offline (Food delivery guys) – yellow online (Meituan App) – yellow offline (Shared bikes) – yellow everywhere.
With this move, they present themselves as a unified brand that’s easy to recognize and owns the bright yellow. To keep hammering in the colour, they also pushed heavily through social media the concept of #美团黄# (#MeituanYellow#).
#2 Pagoda Fruit Shop
This was a delight to see and one that I did not see it coming!
Pagoda fruit shop is a franchise-model fruit shop that penetrated Shanghai and a long list of second/third tier cities in China. I always suspect businesses like this either don’t know or don’t care about their branding, since they approach their business from a pragmatic stand point. Even their names are typically pragmatic, for example the translation of 百果园 = A garden with hundreds of fruits. In this case though, they caught me by surprise!
1. Making the mascot work for the brand
First thing that I liked about this rebrand was that they have kept the mascot and made it work! In my recent post, I covered the case of Daniang Dumplings where they decided to drop their mascot and unfortunately resulted in a generic and perfectly forgettable brand. With Pagoda, they put their mascot at the forefront and show that it’s versatile for various applications, seasons and holidays.
2. Cohesive and unifying wordmark and mascot
Secondly, the new wordmark and mascot treatment is consistent with one another. Both have the same types and angles of curvatures, the same type of playfulness. If you look carefully, the squeezed monkey face has a similar oval shape as the Chinese characters. It feels like an integrated piece and is standard practice for identity design but can be easily overlooked by designers / agencies (e.g. Wallace Fried Chicken case). Pagoda and their agency have planned a great deal of flexibility in the VI and the results are great!
3. Creating a flexible identity
Thirdly, the ability to apply this identity across a range of online and offline applications in unique ways shows that this brand is more than just a copy-paste identity. From mobile/APP to daily packaging and gifting to branded vehicles to consumer products, it all works.
Pagoda has successfully transformed itself from a questionable street-side vendor into a chain that looks credible, uplifting and fun!
#3 Scream Energy Drink
For those who grew up in the late 90s and early 00s, Scream is something inked to their childhood. When it was first released in 2003, the iconic bottle shape, the provoking name and the first of its kind anti-spilling cap had captured a lot of young followers. It was cool and edgy at the time. The bottle design remained unchanged ever since.
In 2019, Nongfu Spring released new packaging and I for one find it refreshing and pleasantly surprising, in a good way!
1. Right colours and right icons!
The new colours for the drink come with 2 new flavours, white peach and green mango. The new motive takes away the energetic man and replaced it with a friendlier, more casual icon. Immediately the extreme sports look and feel has vanished. The packaging is much more approachable and transformed into something you are more likely to pick up on a daily basis rather than a post-marathon hydration. The choice of colour supports this message very well, subtle and friendly, easy on the eye, almost like a flavoured tea. It also feels much more modern for this generation.
2. New wordmark is an organic extension of the overall package
Talk about opposites! The new logo wordmark is rounder and much easier to read compared to the old wordmark. It matches the rounded and gentle sport motive (the character across the bottle). If you’ve ever studied shape philosophy in design, you’ll know that rounded shapes give a more warm and approachable feeling. Side note: Disney leverages shapes in all their characters to give certain feelings, why else are happy friendly characters typically rounded and scary grumpy characters square shaped?
Once the wordmark is dropped into the sport motive, it feels natural and fitting. Also notice that it’s like the ‘scream’ comes from within the character, like a natural strength/energy from within.
3. It ties nicely with the strategy
It’s no secret that sports has been on the rise in China for the past few years. As Chinese consumer become more mindful about their wellbeing, their eating, drinking and exercise habits will continue to change. For a while, the focus has been on those who take sports seriously and train intensely for running, biking, swimming, basketball, soccer etc., but actually there’s another segment that’s grown rapidly and been of interest to many brands. The idea of ‘light exercising’ has caught on. This group isn’t focused on the intensity of the sport or activity, but the enjoyment and overall health benefits. They see the value of movement and exercise, but aren’t interested to finish a session dripping of sweat. It’s less extreme and more casual, which is exactly the design approach Nonfu Springs has taken. Compared to the previous designs, this one doesn’t scream *pun intended* aggressively but rather shouts happily.
The illustration: from Edvard Munch styled icon to a friendlier motive and welcoming smile
The logo: from a shaped-edged twisted wordmark to a rounder and a block-shaped lockup
The colour: less contrast, with a warm and friendly look and feel
The KV: communicates fun everyday exercises, rather than intense sports
Were there other F&B rebrands you thought should’ve been on here? Let us know by getting in touch!