Category: In The News

How Design Is Giving American Politics a Brand New Look

January 17, 2018

Design in American politics doesn’t sound like it would be anything special—a little red, white, and blue, some stars and stripes, and you’re set. It’s practically what’s expected, so is there really any need to innovate beyond that?

Well, if 2017 was any indication, the answer is a resounding, “Hell yes.” And NYC brand and design agency CBX truly took this to heart when designing She Should Run, an organization that aims to expand the talent pool of women running for office in the United States.

“They didn’t want to look all the way like a political campaign,” explained Lesley Stordahl, Creative Director at CBX. After all, She Should Run is so much more than that—it goes beyond pushing people to nominate other women to run for office but also encourages, motivates, and inspires women so they themselves feel confident enough to run. It’s no surprise that women are underrepresented at all levels in the 500,000+ elected offices across the country. And without women in these roles, the cycle perpetuates itself, leaving young girls without role models in political office.

So how could CBX design She Should Run to help change the culture of women in politics at its […]

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How Medical Packaging Can Stop Sucking and Start Saving More Lives

January 15, 2018

Belsomra is a hell of a drug.

For an insomnia medication, this was a real breakthrough. The pill is an orexin inhibitor that targets the pathways of the brain which keep us awake, effectively shutting them off and telling the brain to go beddy-bye.

But because of the type of drug it was, it had to be packaged in a blister pack, not just to keep a prying child’s hands away, but because it would ruin the efficacy of the drug. Seems reasonable enough, right?

Now imagine that you haven’t slept since you don’t know when. Maybe you’re worried about losing your job. Maybe you have a couple kids that take up every last minute of your day. Maybe you have a set of nightly rituals and if one goes wrong, you know you won’t sleep tonight. Did you draw a warm bath? That First Rain incense burning? The heightened state of anxiety that plays out is just as routine as the sleepless nights.

“These are people whose lives and health are in jeopardy,” CBX Strategy Director Brian McDonagh says. “So here’s a medication that may solve all of your problems, but best of luck getting it out of the […]

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Can Diet Coke’s New Skinny, Rainbow-Colored Cans Attract the Millennials It Covets?

January 11, 2018

A reboot 2 years in the making

Thirty-five years after making a splash with the introduction of Diet Coke, the Coca-Cola company announced that the marquee product is getting a “full brand restage.” Starting next month, consumers who pass by the beverage case will see Diet Coke in new product dress: A skinny silver can sporting a bold center stripe whose colors correspond to four new flavors.

According to a company statement, the new look and taste are aimed at “re-energizing and modernizing Diet Coke for a new generation of drinkers.”

The most noticeable part of the rebranding will be the package design, which Coke developed with a creative assist from U.K.-based shop Kenyon Weston. Though the new cans contain 12 fluid ounces just like their older counterparts, they sport a slender profile that’s more evocative of Red Bull or Starbucks Refreshers than mom’s standby diet soft drink. (Diet Coke’s original packaging will not be discontinued; the new cans will instead be offered as an option in the existing lineup.)

While slender cans may function as a kind of subliminal cue to the low-calorie beverage inside, Cola-Cola North America’s group director for Diet Coke Rafael Acevedo told Adweek that his […]

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Amazon: King of the Jungle

January 9, 2018

With its acquisition of Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in cash last summer, it’s evident that Amazon is hungry for a slice of the $668 billion grocery market.

But just how big of a bite does Amazon want to take of the market? And how much of a stake will Amazon, already a major player in several non-food private-branded categories, seek in the burgeoning consumer packaged goods store brands segment, which is reinventing itself with innovative and exclusive offerings every day?

Amazon representatives would not comment on the company’s goals in grocery and private brands for this story, but several industry pundits predicted after Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods that it was just a matter of time before Amazon ruled the grocery industry. But former Amazon decision maker Brittain Ladd, who left the company recently after working there for two years where he helped develop strategies to expand Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry, says that while Amazon has the potential to surpass Walmart and become the nation’s top grocer, he is not so certain the Seattle-based company will attempt to do so.

Through its 460 brick-and-mortar stores received in the Whole Foods deal and its online dominance, Amazon wants […]

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Designing For Women Without Being a Sexist Jerk

December 11, 2017

Remember all the hoopla over Bic Pens For Her? In one of the great, sexist product misfires of the past decade, Jezebel pointed out the sheer ridiculousness of a writing implement that could—gasp—finally be used by women.

Well, surprisingly enough, it was such a tremendous disaster that they’re still being sold. One quick Amazon search will give you all the proof you need that Bic For Her is alive and well, perhaps driven by the stubbornness of pen executives who refuse to think they were wrong and/or are possibly entertained by the hilarious Amazon comments they still continue to inspire to this day. It’s this particular kind of sexist branding and packaging that relies upon grossly outdated ideas and tired tropes that leaves many creatives asking:

How do we design in a way that will actually speak to what female consumers want?

Depot’s work on Bare skincare

“I think we look and listen to where women are at right now,” says design studio Depot’s founder Angela Spindler. “Things have changed and I feel we are now more than ever in a state of flux. Boundaries are blurring or disappearing. We don’t like being labeled or tidied into convenient categories, so […]

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When Disruption Happens, What’s the Best Way for Brands to Respond?

November 30, 2017

For the longest time, the mattress industry seemed impervious to the digital disruption rocking so many business sectors, from hotels to music. Then, in 2014, Casper Sleep introduced the bed-in-a-box, a mattress ordered online and delivered, neatly compressed, in a cardboard box. Initial orders were impressive and media coverage loud. After that, a slew of other online rivals, like Tuft & Needle and Leesa, entered the market with their own competitive versions.

According to Warren Kornblum, interim CMO at Serta Simmons Bedding (SSB), one of the leaders in the industry and seller of the Serta and Simmons mattress brands, Casper’s success came as a proverbial wake-up call. Consumers, the company realized, found mattress shopping annoying, time-consuming, and confusing, and were, in fact, thrilled that there was an easier alternative.

So SSB stepped up its game, enlisting marketing as a big player. Working hand in hand with product development, it launched a new social media effort to establish the brand as a thought leader in the sleep space. In June, the company also introduced its own direct-to-consumer line called Tomorrow Sleep. “The first reaction of many companies in this situation might be to throw up your hands and say, ‘woe is […]

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Valvoline Unveils Cutting-Edge Innovation with Launch of Easy Pour Packaging

October 3, 2017

A leading worldwide supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services — announced today the retail launch of its newest innovation, the Easy Pour Bottle. Valvoline™ worked alongside consumers to develop the game-changing design. The brand’s patent-pending Easy Pour Bottle will make changing oil easier while offering a simplified shopping solution for the automotive Do-It-Yourself (DIY) audience.

“Valvoline’s goal for 151 years has been to use our expertise for the benefit of our customers. Each part of Valvoline’s Easy Pour Bottle has been engineered with our DIY consumers in mind – reimagined, redesigned, tested and proven to make changing oil easier, faster and cleaner,” said Heidi Matheys, Valvoline chief marketing officer. “Our technical team integrated an abundance of consumer field research and feedback, which ultimately resulted in this one unique design.”

Highlights of Valvoline’s new Easy Pour Bottle include:

Easy Pull Tab™ – Makes opening the bottle clean and simple. Precision Pour Spout™ – Provides accurate pour and clean cut off for a mess-free experience. Anti-Glug Tube™ – Provides a glug-free pour for a faster, cleaner and easier oil change. Resealable Overcap with No-Slip Grip™ – Helps prevent spillage and provides safe storage. Centralized Handle – Makes for a more […]

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Editor’s blog: Kroger-Lidl Dispute a Good Sign for Private Brands

August 1, 2017

Brand expert Todd Maute says lawsuit shows how far store brands have come

Brand expert Todd Maute says the lawsuit that The Kroger Co. filed against Lidl, which goes to trial in January, is a good sign for the private brands industry.

In July, Cincinnati-based Kroger filed a federal lawsuit against Arlington, Va.-based Lidl claiming that the German retailer, which at the time had just opened its first U.S. stores, was infringing on Kroger’s well-known “Private Selection” store brand with its “Preferred Selection” store brand. Last week, a U.S. district judge denied Kroger’s request for an injunction that would have forced Lidl to stop selling Preferred Selection. The judge noted that “private” and “preferred” have different definitions and set a Jan. 11 date for a bench trial.

The lawsuit has created much attention and drama in the private brands industry. It is the new kid on the block (Lidl) taking on the veteran and venerated grocer (Kroger).

Maute, a partner at New York-based CBX, a brand agency and retail consultant, says the lawsuit reminds him of years ago when the owners of top consumer product brands always went after what they saw as trademark infringement on the part of private […]

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Brands IRL: How Brands Are Experienced in Real Life

July 6, 2017

Branding Roundtable 32

Our original intent was to make this Roundtable about a particular type of experiential branding, environmental branding, the kind that brings brands to life in physical spaces. But the topic of brands and experience refuses to be neatly contained in any kind of space, physical or conceptual, and so you will shortly discover the wide (and still only partial) range of what is involved in strategizing, activating and communicating brands as they learn to thrive across an ever- expanding landscape of touchpoints.

Read the full Roundtable discussion here.

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What does Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Mean for the Future of Grocery Shopping?

June 29, 2017

You’ve probably heard this piece of not-so-little news: Amazon has acquired Whole Foods. And while the prospect of having fresh foods, specialty cheeses, and flax seeds delivered straight to our door sounds pretty amazing, we also wanted to dig a little deeper to learn what this acquisition might mean for the future of grocery shopping. We spoke with retail and branding experts Gregg Lipman and Todd Maute, Partners at CBX to gain more insight on what consumers can expect.


Gregg: Amazon is continuing to expand its reach and ubiquity as a supplier in all aspects of a consumer’s life. They’ll continue to lead with their disruptive model—using and creating progressive technologies to make services and products that will further entrench themselves into a person’s life and transform not only the way people shop but how they live.

Todd: Amazon’s goal is to be the world’s foremost customer centric company. Its muscle has always been its well-oiled logistical operations powered by the most sophisticated of data mining capabilities. With the acquisition of a 430 retail-location strong behemoth that has mastered […]

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