Top 10 Redesigns of the Year
by Rudy Sanchez on 12/21/2023 | 6 Minute Read
This year, we had a bumper crop of brand refreshes, and there was no shortage of extraordinary work, whether it was storied soft drinks that hit the spot or upstart cleaning brands that are doing a solid for the environment.
And when I say we saw a lot of exceptional redesigns this year, it's so true that Pepsi just missed the cut. I liked it a lot, and after 15 years, PepsiCo's flagship cola was undoubtedly due for a shake-up. Besides finding ten better refreshes, we all talked plenty about Pepsi's new look when it was unveiled anyway.
Also, we just liked another soda redesign in their vast portfolio of beverages a whole lot more.
Other refreshes in the NOT-PACKAGING space sparked a lot of design-Twitter (er, X) discourse like Johnson & Johnson dropping its decades-long cursive wordmark. Retailer Eddie Bauer followed suit shortly after, though it did add a duck to the logo, which I think was a nice touch that adds some character to the otherwise boring serif wordmark. Lippincott's Nokia refresh took a big swing that most saw as a strike, but looking back, I think it works. It's grown on me like Kia's 2021 new logo has over the last couple of years. It's not revolutionary, of course, but also not deserving of all the hate it received.
Aside from that high-profile Pepsi redesign, most packaging updates make smaller waves. Maybe that's because CPG products can't really rock the boat or commit to something as drastic as chopping off whole-ass parts of logomark letters. Shelf recognition and equity are still pretty gosh-darn important.
Of course, snagging a spot in Dieline's top ten takes more than generating design talk or taking risks; it must be great. It takes a lot for a rebrand or refresh to get shared on Dieline on an average day. For a project to make the cut, that work has to be exceptional. There are no hard-and-fast rules; it's a subjective list based on what stood out over the year. But the rest of the folks at Dieline and I take this list seriously.
So, break out those clutching pearls, and let's count down the top ten refreshes of the year that was.
10. Diamond Crystal
Not since Chef Tony's (RIP) Kitchen Confidential have normies had such a look into the wild, mad, and hot world of restaurants and the Back of House (BOH) (thanks, FX and The Bear).
I'm not sure that salt brand Diamond Crystal timed their refresh from Enlisted Design with the renewed interest in the BOH look and those working the line making our food, but this year was undoubtedly a good time to do so. Folks have been cooking more at home, partly thanks to the pandemic and the not-a-recession and associated price increases we've all been living through.
Cleancult has an almost religious devotion to eliminating plastic from homecare products. The refresh retains the brand's unique paper packaging, but it also gives them a more refined look.
Starting as a crowdfunded DTC brand, Cleancult has grown a significant enough following to find itself in a handful of big box stores. Cleancult tapped the talented folks at Robot Food to give the brand a slick, retail-friendly visual identity that stays true to its plastic-free mission while playfully evoking religious themes that remain true to its core.
Kraft Heinz heritage brand Jell-O lost its jiggle, which is perhaps why they tasked creative agency BrandOpus with reinvigorating the snackmaker's identity. BrandOpus leans into the jiggly fun of Jell-O's gelatins and puddings.
The new logo is contemporary and drops the beveled shapes for a flatter look that's more exciting and modern. Kraft Heinz, like PepsiCo, has been refreshing its extensive portfolio lately, and Jell-O's makeover follows new looks for Oscar Meyer, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and Kraft Singles.
7. Pure Protein
Most branding for fitness and protein supplement companies feels the same. But Pure Protein's refresh, by agency Beardwood & Co., pushes its brand identity past the gym and chewy protein bar tropes and elevates the visual identity.
The result makes Pure Protein more accessible to its expanded customer base beyond bro-tatos that live for lifting plates. Because sometimes, all of us could use a protein pick-me-up.
Pepsi Cola's refresh was a big deal, but it's not the best soda rebrand of 2023. Coca-Cola's update to the fruit-forward brand Fanta is also worthy of praise and attention.
The new look is energetic and mighty, and the blocky logo with big drop shadows works wonders across different markets and in other languages —a big deal considering Fanta's global reach.
Italian food is a beloved cuisine worldwide, including in the UK. It's also where Dolmio debuted in the 1980s as traditional pasta rose in popularity.
Enlisting creative agency Elmwood to refresh its brand, Dolmio's latest look is contemporary and vibrant. The new logo incorporates an exclamation point to bring excitement, and the labels emphasize the tastiness and heartiness of classic Italian sauces.
4. Big Country
Austin-based Big Country Organic Brewing refreshed its brand identity and launched a new line of regional-inspired beers, working with exceptional folks at creative agency Land.
The new labels feature exquisite typography and graphics with a vintage vibe that also recalls the type of signage one sees on an epic road trip. It's a perfect look for regional styles of beer.
There's a plethora of better-for-you sodas on the market today. However, Zevia is one of the earlier players and recently felt a need to refresh its brand identity.
Zevia tasked Turner Duckworth to contemporize its brand and packaging. The new visual identity emphasizes Zevia's plant-based bona fides. The new logo takes inspiration from Zevia's use of stevia as a natural, low-calorie sweetener.
This is the first major refresh of the Zevia brand and comes as it moves from a niche to a mainstream brand with a more prominent retail presence.
While Pepsi's flagship brand garnered a lot of attention, it wasn't the even best refresh from the New York soda shop and its vast portfolio of products.
Outside of the US, 7UP is marketed and distributed by PepsiCo, and it recently gave the lemon-lime beverage a renewed visual identity. Pepsi's in-house Design+Innovation team captured the effervescent essence of 7UP, citing "UPliftment" as inspiration for the new look.
The new logo sports reenergized typography with a wonderfully shaped "7," and like other refreshes on the list, a flattened look with deep shadows. The color palette is updated, but the core green, yellow, red, and white stay the same, maintaining brand continuity.
Of course, while I love brand mascots, not bringing back Cool Spot feels like a missed opportunity for an otherwise fantastic 7UP refresh.
I’m filling freely and picking the Slurpee update as my favorite redesign of the year.
Safari Sundays has been busy helping the convenience store update itself to give it more Zoomer appeal, including recent work on core categories like its to-go coffee. But the Slurpee refresh stands out to me as being just so cool.
The new cups are colorful and bright, and the wordmark looks great in different forms across different media, celebrating the youth culture icon that it has always been. I especially love that new, thick logo with that "S" that features an upturned shape on top that captures the essence of the icy, cold, sweet treat that is Slurpee. Better still, that “S” monogram also works alone as a pretty nifty logo. What's not to love?