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Patterns - a series of professional observations about package design practices within specific product categories

Sliced Bread

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Patterns is a series of professional observations about package design practices within specific product categories - brought to you by the design team at R.BIRD.

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Combined into a 220-page full-color Paperback or PDF: All 11 reports, including this one, have been updated with new observations, image galleries, brand and keyword indexes.

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Featured in this report:

01 - Overview


Our observations on these brands revealed a high level of noise in the category. Attention is under competition from brand marks, flavors, colors, healthy claims, and benefit violators.

Response: Simplification of branding would serve consumers well in this hard to navigate category.

02 - Environment


These images were photographed in a metropolitan New York area supermarket. The shelf space dedicated to this category is approximately 50 feet in length. The space to the left is dedicated to gourmet-bakery breads (local bakeries, Boboli). The space to the right is dedicated to English muffins and bagels. Products are grouped by brand making comparisons by variety somewhat difficult.

Response: Sorting the category into "flavor" sections would improve the consumer shopping experience and will require re-examination of how to achieve brand impact.

03 - Structure


The majority of breads are sealed in clear plastic wrap to keep their shapeand maintain freshness. Non-resealable outer bags are decorated and fastened with a plastic tag or twist tie. End panels are the primary communicators at point of sale. Face panels (top left) offer the expanded brand essence by using illustration or photography to reinforce a unique position. The back panel (bottom right) is commonly used for storytelling and nutritional information.Rye breads are the only ones that are stacked vertically and use the face panel at point of sale.

Response: Opportunities for unique structures or packaging configurations could create a stir in this category. It's important to note that any new structures must provide equal or better freshness and product visibility.

04 - Bread Varieties


We found there is a wide variety of offerings among sliced breads. White and Wheat are the most common kinds of breads. Light, Country Style, Multi-grain, Nuts/Oats, Potato, Rye, and specialty breads make up the balance of the category.

Response: We expect to see more Lo-carb bread offerings to coincide with current health perceptions and the impact of carbohydrates on diets. Why not consider more eclectic flavorings: Why not "olive and rosemary," for an example. Following with seasonal micro-brew concept?

05 - Color


Generally, warm colors are used to evoke the inherent qualities of fresh baked bread. Many brands use splashes of color over a white field to establish its own identity. The prevalence of white may harken back to the local independent bakeries who all sell their fresh made breads and confections in pure white bags and boxes. Wonder Bread's multicolored circles are a favorite among children and their moms and communicate the consistent nature of this long standing favorite.

Response: Darker backgrounds and unique colors will help new entries stand apart from the expected color language.

06 - Variant Color


Brands offer a range of flavors, each with a color system to make identifying variants simple. Arnold use of large color blocks is bold but color differences are subtle and may lead to confusion.

Response: New color palettes can inject more excitement into this category and achieve a higher degree of product identification that will help consumers in their selections.

07 - Typography


Almost all brands use classic type styles with serifs. Variants are prominently displayed with large typography. Bread is a traditional food, so the usage of classic type styles works very well and transmits a familiar feeling to the consumer.

Response: Opportunities to use special type treatments for variant designation will add appetite appeal and reinforce the attributes of unique flavors.

08 - Brand Personality


There is a clear effort across competing products to present unique brand personalities. Pepperidge Farm's "Never Have an Ordinary Day" promises a better tasting product. Wonder is "Americas Favorite Bread," while Levy's is authentic, "real," Jewish Rye on which everything "tastes better."

Response: New entries should consider completely different positioning, clearly expressing a unique brand personality. Classic, homestyle positioningmay get lost in the sea of existing products.

09 - Architecture


Commonly, brand and flavor are treated with equal importance. Another exception is "Home Pride," white brand is 80% of hierarchy. Flavor, skew, is reinforced through color end wraps.

Response: Unique thinking for communication of flavor through other methods other than typography can give branding more importance.

10 - Points of Difference


A single, unique product benefit is used by competitors as a way to help consumers make purchase decisions. In this category the violators add important information resulting in easier purchase decisions.

Response: Violators should be used only when important to highlight unique product benefits. Keep the message simple and to the point.

11 - Storytelling


Storytelling is commonly used throughout the category, particularly in ethnic brands and specialty flavors. The stories usually include a brief history of the company, its philosophy and foundation, and what makes the product or brand unique in its field.

Response: Storytelling is highly recommended to establish heritage for a new brand or to create appetite appeal for a new flavor. It can help build an emotional bond between consumer and brand and communicate a brand's heritage, identity, and promise in a compelling way.


On November 13 b. westbrook said...

what is a benefit violator?

On November 14 Joseph Favata said...


A violator is a term used to describe a brightly colored flag or burst that interrupts or violates the design of the package. A benefit violator would promote a health benefit or other information that may influence a consumers purchase decision, for instance: “20% Fewer Calories!” or “Heart Healthy!”

On December 3 b. westbrook said...

thank you for sharing your bread observations. the way in which bread packaging is being analyzed here is a nice template for the analysis of packaging.

On November 11 Anonymous said...

this helped me alot!!

On January 21 Anonymous said...

i wonder if anybody knows of a book about the design of violators

On March 8 Anderson said...

Wordefull, nice job! Help us a lot

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sliced bread, white bread, whole wheat bread, baked goods, fresh, Arnold, Home Pride, Martin's, D'Italiano, Wonder, Vermont Bread Company, Beefsteak, Pepperidge Farm, Sun-Maid, Levy's, Country Kitchen, environment, structure, bread varieties, color, variant color, typography, brand personality, architecture, violators, storytelling, specialty flavors, natural, wholesome

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