Do Brands Look Better Stripped Back? We Have the Answer!

August 15, 2017 - 5 minute read

Do Brands Look Better Stripped Back? This was a fascinating design project kicked off by the talented Mehmet Gozetlik, all the way back in 2010 as part of a project called ‘Minimalist effect in a maximalist market.’

Since then it’s picked up plenty of attention in places like CreativeBloq and went kinda-viral on LinkedIn thanks to this post from Becky Murray, a creative recruiter.

Yet this whole time, it’s been missing one crucial thing - consumer insights!

We were interested to know whether the general public would embrace these stripped back, minimalist designs (which we all really liked); or whether the busier, but more familiar designs would prevail.

In other words, should brands be acting on the design inspiration provided by Mehmet, creating a more refined and clean look to differentiate themselves in a noisy marketplace...or are their existing designs essential when fighting toe-to-toe for consumer’s attention in the supermarket?

To find out, we asked 500 consumers which product they would prefer to purchase (after all, the yardstick by which to measure designs for consumer packaged goods is surely commercial success).

We did this by presenting the first 250 people with the more modern design on the right; and then we flipped it, presenting the next 250 respondents with the more modern design on the left.

You can see the data in full for each survey here and here.

The results

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 09.36.01.png

(Minimalist designs on the right, original on the left.)

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 09.36.16.png

(Minimalist designs on the left, original on the right.)


As you can clearly see, the simple, elegant pared back designs were universally rejected by consumers.

Just a single one of the minimalist designs (Schweppes), out of 10 products, came out on top. And that was only with one of the 250 consumer segments.

Which means all of these brands can give their product design teams a big slap on the back (and maybe a raise?) for getting it so right.

Does it also prove that minimalism can’t work in the consumer packaged goods category if you’re looking to get mass-market adoption?

That would be reading too much into it.

More likely this shows that consumers prefer what they know over dramatic changes.

Collectively these brands have spent hundreds of millions of pounds (at least) on promotions and brand building over the years, making their packaging feel more comfortable and familiar to their millions of regular customers.

Minimalist men, ageless design, stripped backed London

Across all 500 respondents and the 10 products, men were 57% more likely than women to prefer purchasing the updated minimalist design.

Do millennials prefer a more minimalist design?

Not according to the data, where those under 30 had roughly the same preferences as the overall population. However when looking at those aged 50 and over, there was a much stronger preference for the traditional packaging.

Interestingly, people who work in London (regardless of gender) showed the same overall preference for the stripped back designs as men did (regardless of region) - those working in the capital were 57% more likely to prefer purchasing the updated minimalist product designs than were consumers who worked elsewhere in the UK.

In conclusion

The marketing teams behind the 10 brands featured in this design experiment should be happy. Their brand-building has paid off, with the UK overwhelmingly preferring to purchase the original designs than the stripped back ones.

However that doesn’t mean there aren’t some strong pockets of support for a more minimalist approach - particularly amongst men and those in London - meaning that if you’re considering a more targeted product extension with a specific focus on these demographics, you might consider a cleaner, simpler approach to packaging design.

Want to test out your next packaging design ideas before launching them in-market? See which will perform the best by utilising Attest’s Consumer Insight Platform today (and you’ll have the results tomorrow).

Original images from the concept:




Red Bull.jpg



Corn Flakes.jpg



Mr Muscle.jpg

Related posts

5 Perspectives on The Brands to Watch in 2018

Who's going to stand out this year? Will brands that took a battering in 2017 make a statement in 2018? Will it be the year of challenger brands or incumbents?

To bring you answers to these questions (and more), we reached out to 5 experts with very different backgrounds across startups, content, social media, experiential marketing and audio to share their unique perspectives on who are the brands to watch in 2018.

Alison Battisby, Founder, Avocado Social

Monzo: The digital mobile-only challenger bank saw nearly half a million new users sign up for its services and claim their bright orange bank cards last year. Monzo is a fantastic way to manage your budget thanks to their instant updates in the app showing you how much you've just spent, and provide added value when used abroad thanks to their free withdrawls up to £200. 

Having just received their full UK banking license from the FCA and PRA in 2017, Monzo is rolling out "the best current account in the world". With their slick app and excellent communication, they are playing to millennials by offering a unique customer experience and we're set to see even more new banking features in 2018. 
Sanctus:  The mental health startup based in London has the vision to create the world's first mental health gym, where people can go and work out their mental health fitness as they would their physical fitness. Right now, the company is working with businesses to create space within a company for people to take time off and talk to a Sanctus coach. In 2018, the company aims to work with 50 business partners and continue to spread awareness of mental health. Founder   James Routledge   writes an excellent weekly newsletter on mental health and growing the startup, which is honestly written and is well worth a read .
Neom Organics:  Hot off the heels of significant new investment, this Harrogate-based beauty and wellbeing brand is set to launch a new range of products in 2018, as well as new retail stores both in the UK and abroad. Neom was found by two friends, one of which was an ex Glamour magazine editor who realised her own wellbeing, and that of her close friends, was affected by the stress and demands of modern life. She quit journalism to train as an aromatherapist and nutritionist before founding Neom. The brand's products focus on improving people’s wellbeing through home fragrances and skincare. 
Adam Azor, Managing Director, Curb
My first pick is Pepsi. Lets be honest, Pepsi had an awful 2017 from a brand perspective, they created what they thought was going to be a work of advertising art, an ad that would change the world, but instead it turned them into a global laughing stock.
This is also on a backdrop of huge backlash and increased legislation against sugary drinks. The days when all they had to worry about was competing against Coca-Cola are probably looked on with nostalgia by the marketing team. However Pepsi are a brand with true marketing pedigree, iconic campaigns, partnerships and experiences.
I’m really interested to see how they come back. The test of a great brand is how they react when they are at their lowest. I will be watching Pepsi closely in 2018 to see what they have planned.

My second one to watch for 2018, is the darling of the Aim, BooHoo. The online based fashion retailer has gone through exceptional growth over the last few years, along with some very smart acquisitions.

However they are now at the point where brand building is becoming as important as performance marketing. I expect an innovative business such as BooHoo to evolve its marketing activity to ensure it not only continues its business growth but becomes a brand leader in its own right.

This will be a year to watch brands take the design aspect of their branding in new and exciting directions.

Posted by Mark Walker on January 16, 2018

10 Ways To Understand and Shift Your Brand Perception in 2018

Think you know what your brand represents? I’ll let you in on a little secret; it’s not what you say in your slogan, brand values or advertisements. It’s whatever consumers say you are.

Posted by Bel Booker on January 09, 2018

5 Things That the Strongest Brands Focus on

Nothing lasts forever.

Posted by Mark Walker on January 08, 2018

5 New Year Resolutions to Help Your Brand in 2018

New Year resolutions don't just have to be for individuals. The idea of improving, quitting bad habits and enjoying a more productive, successful year can be just as valid for business and teams. 

Here are some resolutions you may want to consider for your brand to avoid the pitfalls others experienced in 2017.

Posted by Alex Rees on January 05, 2018