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Social media-friendly food packaging ‘reignites’ Lay’s brand

Social media-friendly food packaging ‘reignites’ Lay’s brand
Lay's modernized its package design with a streamlined and intuitive look, including a top-down photography style popular on Instagram.

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America is modernizing the look of Lay’s potato chips with a new packaging design—the brands’ first pack redesign in 12 years. The new look debuted in September 2019, rolling out first in the United States and China. Other countries will follow in the coming months and years.

Photography on the front of the bags plays an important role in the redesign. Unlike photos on the previous packaging, the new photos were shot from the top down (looking straight down at the food, that is), the same way savvy Instagram photographers shoot food.

Additionally, the Lay’s logo is smaller and placed nearer the center of the package, with monochromatic rings seeming to radiate from the logo. In the redesign, Lay’s has retained the bold colors previously associated with the brand and its flavors.

Lay's new packaging design is on the left, next to the most-previous design.

The back of each bag is decorated with fun imagery punctuated with a four-word flavor description. For example, the back of the Classic Lay’s bag pronounces, “Crispy Yummy Deliciously Tasty.”

To complement the packaging effort, the brand relaunched its website in late September 2019. To see how the packaging design for Lay’s potato chips has evolved since the 1950s, click here.

Katie Ceclan, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay North America, answers some questions about the packaging redesign.

What was the motivation for the Lay’s brand to execute a packaging redesign now, after more than a decade with the previous design?

Ceclan: Although Lay’s is the undisputed leader in flavor, as well as the overall potato chip category, status quo is the enemy. Of course, any iconic American brand must evolve to stay relevant. In the case of Lay’s, we saw an opportunity to reignite our relationship with consumers.

The objective was to modernize our packaging with a streamlined and intuitive look, while also embracing our natural role to offer even a brief moment of joy in people’s lives through our vibrant packaging, robust flavor and witty personality. To make any significant change to a global brand like ours is a considerable undertaking and not something we take lightly, so it’s been a lengthy process to get us to this place—and we’re elated to reveal the new design to the world.

Did PepsiCo work with a package design firm to develop the new packaging?

Ceclan: In close partnership with Vault49 (a New York-based design partner), the Lay’s brand update was fueled by our internal PepsiCo and Frito-Lay teams’ strategic Design Thinking—a function, mindset and culture that can increase the success and surprise of design and innovation.

The Design Thinking process is threefold: empathy, strategy and prototyping. We begin with empathy, wanting to understand what is relevant to people. Within the strategy phase, we seek to understand what is most relevant to the business and company.

The interaction of the first two—empathy and strategy—offers insights that lead us to design, create and prototype ideas quickly, allowing us to gain alignment from stakeholders, partners and co-creators while also allowing for cross-functional partners to fully participate in the design process. We then use the prototype to get feedback from consumers to generate informed solutions—a process that we repeat as many times as relevant or necessary, until we are content with the outcome.

How does the redesign’s top-down photography relate to Lay’s social media presence?

Ceclan: Our previous food photography was shot at a three-quarter angle, which was standard in 2007. In the last 12 years, we’ve seen multiple iterations of the iPhone and the rise of social networks, plus the sharing economy. Our fans create content as much as they consume it—so the photography on our packaging mirrors the way they envision it on their plates and in their social feeds, ultimately showcasing a deconstruction of ingredients to imply that flavor is not a commodity. 

The photography style also gives a less contrived and more natural feel to the food, grounding all design elements in a realist manner to drive authenticity. Every bag was individually art-directed and designed to bring the best food story to life.

Is the package structure the same as before?

Ceclan: There have been no changes to the bag/packaging itself, only the design elements.

When did the new packaging roll out commercially?

Ceclan: Fans were given a sneak peek of the new packaging on Sept. 9, 2019, when Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle hit shelves as a now-permanent addition to the Lay’s flavor portfolio. Given the significant undertaking of transforming our displays across 250,000 retailers in the United States alone—which encompasses 115 different package designs across 25-plus flavor varieties—the full conversion will be in place by mid-October 2019.

With all its flavors, Lay's redesign project encompasses 115 different packages.


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