I was in the dairy aisle when I knew something was wrong. Looking farther down the aisle, where I normally would see my favorite Tropicana orange juice (lots of pulp plus calcium), I instead saw a wall of unfamiliar OJ. Tropicana had re-branded, and I was lost.
That was dramatic yet real - after years and years of the same familiar packaging, Tropicana changed its product design, a change that made differentiating its varieties and flavors almost impossible. I originally thought the criticism was silly, but Tropicana then added visual keys to the shelves in supermarkets to help customers find their favorite OJ (and to not accidentally buy tangerine-orange, which I almost did many times).
The good news in this case is that Tropicana listened to customers and decided to revert to the old packaging! I think all the analysis in the blogosphere was both impressive and cut to the heart of the real problem - it's not that we love the old packaging, the new designs were just too similar and confusing. I'll be happy to have back the same old color-coded cartons.
Another recent case of a favorite brand re-branding is Pepsi, which moved from its lively blue and silver design to a dark blue (almost purple) packaging with a now-distorted version of the iconic Pepsi brand mark. While the similarity of color at least allows me to still find the product, this change is boring and really subdues the packaging. I would have much rather seen a retro look with the classic Pepsi mark untouched, rather than it being degraded this way based on popular trends.
(Ahem, Tropicana is a Pepsi brand and both projects were done by Arnell, NYC.)