3 Ways Skittles Is Refreshing Its Logo and Packaging

The Mars brand is tweaking its identity without losing familiarity

Leaders from Glossier, Shopify, Mastercard and more will take the stage at Brandweek to share what strategies set them apart and how they incorporate the most valued emerging trends. Register to join us this September 23–26 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Going back 30 years ago, candy colossus Skittles debuted the slogan “Taste the Rainbow,” which has since become one of advertising’s longest-running campaigns.

But while slogans can last for generations, brand packaging usually can’t. The encroachment of visual stimuli via social media, competition from rival confectionary brands and other forces prompted the brass at Mars Wrigley to launch a packaging refresh, which makes its E.U. debut today. (An American rollout comes next year.)

“With our customers being stimulated by many aspects throughout their lives, we wanted to make sure that we have a mechanism to tell our stories in a clear way,” Mars vice president of confectionary Armando Reyes told ADWEEK. “Our packaging needs to play a stronger role in this storytelling.”

Design overhauls are a high-stakes business. In 2008, Pepsi introduced a revamped logo that got more attention for the $1 million it reportedly cost than any of its design merits. The following year, orange juice drinkers pushed back so hard on Tropicana’s carton redesign that the company reverted to the original look.

What’s more, Skittles is already the most popular non-chocolate brand in America, and changing its visual profile too much, Reyes said, threatens to undermine the equity that the brand has been building since 1979.

Below, executives from brand design consultancy Elmwood explain how they changed three key elements of Skittles’ visual profile without losing its all-important recognizability.

The Typography

Skittles’ highly recognizable font couldn’t be tossed out, but it could be better delineated. “The old logo had soft, rounded edges,” said Elmwood design director Paul O’Brien. “We [gave] it a harder shadow to make it more standout, more attitudinal.” The brand name itself now arches slightly to suggest movement, while the K’s ascending arm sports a curve to “visualize the playful nature of Skittles,” O’Brien said.

The Rainbow

Still at the center of the packaging, Skittles’ signature rainbow is both more visible and brighter—not just to better grab attention in the candy aisle, but online, as well. “As you move beyond the pack into the world of digital, you need assets that are super clear,” said Greg Taylor, Elmwood’s chief provocation officer. One design feature that won’t change is the orientation of the rainbow. “Skittles is not like any other fruity confection,” Taylor said. “It has an upside-down rainbow.”

The Lentils

The individual candies (the brand calls them lentils) have dropped down from the rainbow to occupy their own space on the pouch. “By freeing up the lentils from the rainbow, we’re doing two things,” O’Brien said. “One, we’re allowing consistent use: The upside-down rainbow and the logo type can [now] live freely within that space.” Second, ensconced on a solid-color background, the candies can now tumble end over end—a “swooshing effect” that adds a dynamic feel to the package.

Enjoying Adweek's Content? Register for More Access!