Bulletproof Keeps Putting the Glitz Back in Ritz
by Casha Doemland on 05/16/2019 | 4 Minute Read
Introduced to the world in 1934 from none other than New Jersey-based snack company Nabisco, Ritz Crackers made themselves known as a buttery, lightly salted crisp cracker to satisfy your snacking needs. Over the years, folks have gotten a little extra by making mini pizzas for Family Game Night or turning them into reindeers with a little peanut butter, raisin and chocolate candy for your holiday movie nights, a reminder that somewhere, right now, someone’s crafty parental unit has been bitten by the inspiration bug.
Through all the brand renditions and introductions of new snacks, Ritz has stayed undeniably true to the core of their brand, which is a nod to Bulletproof, a design agency with offices in London, New York and Singapore, who was in charge of their revamp in 2013, as well as the most recent in 2019. To learn more about how they put the glitz back in Ritz, we spoke to Mark Link, Associate Creative Director at Bulletproof.
What’s the history of Ritz, and how has the brand transformed over time to remain a beloved cracker brand?
In 1934, Nabisco challenged an employee, Sydney Stern, to create a name and launch plan for a new cracker brand and gave him just a weekend to come up with a killer idea and strategy.
Inspired by the circular label in his hat, Stern created the Ritz brand supported by the positioning, "a bite of the good life." Launched at the height of the Great Depression, Ritz perfectly hit the mark with its optimistic stance. Stern also created the iconic, blue circle with yellow lettering logo which has become the enduring centerpiece of the design, and which has, over time, been optimized to reflect the changing consumer context.
What’s the motivation behind Ritz’s new look?
Bulletproof had already put the glitz back into Ritz in 2013 when it created the UK pack design that placed the iconic crackers shoulder to shoulder on the shelf. But despite its iconic status, Ritz was getting overlooked in the ever-growing snacking aisle, with more and more consumers seeking healthier alternatives.
With an improved recipe to launch, Bulletproof was again briefed to contemporize the branding, building in more authentic taste cues while communicating the new ‘From the Ritz Bakery’ positioning. Key to the project was the unification of the portfolio to create a better impact on the shelf by using the role of red more predominantly across the range.
Walk us through the design process. How did you go from start to finish on this project?
We set about exploring three brand world platforms, looking at design codes, typography, textures, and colorways to help set the direction for our concepts.
From there, it was a seamless process. We researched three concepts, and there was a clear winner – Bakery Wall – a concept that uses natural substrates, textures and styling to convey taste in a fresh, modern way.
Finally, we defined the role of red across the Ritz portfolio and built a clear system that heroed Ritz red for the core cracker product, and gradually gave way to sub-range colors. The result is a more unified, appealing range that still packs in the deliciously snackable flavor consumers know and love.
What was your biggest goal, and how did you accomplish it?
Our biggest goal was upping taste appeal in a more credible and authentic way while modernizing the existing, highly successful design. Mondelez International cited our 2013 redesign of Ritz as ‘best in class’ within the business, so our challenge was to create a sympathetic update to this iconic design.
How does a design agency celebrate a classic, legacy brand throughout its designs?
You have to respect a brand’s past in order to get it ready for the future. Our approach to design is through soul power. We look at the meaning behind the brand and then consider the right way to express it, ensuring we are true to their origins, yet making it relevant to today’s context.
Did you come across any challenges throughout the redesign process of such an iconic brand? If so, what and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge with Ritz was setting up a portfolio that can be futureproofed. The brand is continuously innovating, so we needed to create a flexible design system that balances brand impact with product navigation at the shelf. We achieved this by creating distinctive Masterbrand assets that are fixed and then balancing those with flexible elements by-product offer.