Guest reviewer Fred Hart is a graphic designer and strategist in the consumer package goods industry. Explore his design review of Aquafina FlavorSplash, both the original namesake as well as the relaunched sparkling water version
Previously discontinued flavored water brand Aquafina FlavorSplash has been revived by PepsiCo and is set to hit markets within the next year.
The all-new branding and packaging is a huge departure from its previous iteration and looks to target the teen demographic more effectively.
The previous packaging was sub-brand heavy, with the FlavorSplash wordmark overpowering Aquafina. Utilizing small color coding along the top with flavor specific photography along the bottom, the design was water-centric with minimal emphasis on flavor. Structurally, FlavorSplash used the same proprietary bottle as Aquafina, and from a product standpoint, it was clear in nature, as well as still, positioned as a flavorful water alternative.
The renewed product and packaging has radically shifted from its previous execution. The structure looks like a slightly taller and skinnier version of the Aquafina water bottle, implying health and fitness. No longer clear nor still, FlavorSplash is now carbonated and colored, positioning itself directly as a CSD alternative and competitor to Talking Rain's Ice, Glaceau's FruitWater, and LaCroix's Spree. The move away from water to fill the effervescent 'refreshment gap' makes sense, with young and health-conscious consumers growing by the minute and abandoning both regular and diet sodas.
As a result, the branding and packaging reflect these product and consumer changes. The label is a simple two-color execution, with the primary flavor color flooding the entire label area. Both Aquafina and the FlavorSplash sub-brand are reduced to a surprisingly small scale, taking an unconventional back seat in hierarchy to the witty flavor name/copy, which is displayed prominently in a bold and expressive script that accounts for all of the brand character.
This feels like an explicit attempt at anti-branding, in an effort to appear authentic to ad and marketing conscious consumers, notably savvy up-and-coming teens with a keen sense of awareness. It's a bold and strategic move, zigging graphically while the category zags, and almost makes you forget that it's made by 'the man,' Aquafina & PepsiCo.
In all, this is much more than a simple package refresh; the positioning, product development, branding and design have all been retooled for a renewed shot at success on shelf. If nothing else, it abandons the play-it-safe mentality of a large corporation, which I applaud. However it makes me wonder whether PepsiCo would be better off creating an entirely new brand rather than carry along all of the baggage, both good and bad, that comes with Aquafina.
Does Aquafina have enough brand stretch to get into CSDs? Does it bring relevance to the water enhancement category? Clearly a newcomer approach like MiO holds merit, so it'll be interesting to whether Aquafina's backing hurts or helps, but judging by the way they've treated it, it seems to be the former.