A taste of Unreal branding

unreal candy packaging

This is an unsolicited review of the candy that goes under the name Unreal. But instead of the taste, I’m addressing the design and the branding.

My wife and I both have a sweet tooth. So it’s easy to just grab the most sugary, processed thing that can be considered edible. Being a design addict and interested in advertising and branding, I somehow stumbled on a youtube video a few months ago for the “unjunked” candy alternative. I thought it was interesting, then forgot about it and never thought to find them at the store. Until I went to the discount grocery filled with failed, novel, or oversupplied goods. I decided that the discount made it worth trying mystery candies that were Snickers-like, one like Peanut M&Ms, and chocolate peanut butter cups. When you know what’s in their products and the taste compared to the usual candy, you might feel a bit less guilty scarfing down a candy bar. My experience got me thinking about what the company is trying to do, where they are now, and the role design and advertising has at improving what I feel is the weakest link: design.

What the company has right

  • Comforting ingredients, quality taste, and balanced sweetness
  • A worthy story and good intentions; they fill an interesting gap for consumer-conscious treats
  • Recognition; endorsements from recognizable people can’t hurt (unless maybe you’re Lance Armstrong)

Where the company can improve?

Clarity Please.

Exemplify value at all points of interaction and exposure. Copywriting and visuals excel at communicating. While the point-of-purchase text contextualizes the candy and suggests candy that is healthier, I didn’t quite get what was physically behind the wrapper, yet alone what was on it.

The logo is sideways on the wrapper. That is both a user-experience issue and a graphic design concern for composition. It’s important to design for the context that a candy bar will be–here it is displayed horizontally in the stores like all other candybars. As a logo, it’s very difficult to decipher and illegible as a blocky maze. I read it as cul-oln. The logo on the containing box is displayed in a single row format, but to me it reads “unpeal” (which also made me think “unappeal”). Candy doesn’t need to be dry and boring, but it should at least make sense unless it’s sold as an eye exam.

Express a message that fits and excites snack seekers.

Unreal doesn’t necessarily mean good. An earthquake can feel unreal. Is it worth calling a company unreal when it has little context and is probably unknown to potential customers except as a hyperbole? Monster Energy drinks uses a word that can signify something negative, but the essence of the drink caters directly to edgy people. I didn’t get those type of vibes with Unreal’s youtube video though, so there’s a disconnect. My emotions are toyed with. Is it unreal because it’s genetically engineered? Or has unrealistic flavor combinations that aren’t evident in the product photos? I decided to take a risk that I wasn’t purchasing a rabbit-flavored food in a chocolate shell.

There nothing human-readable or natural about a product named UN77. United Nations? UN- as a prefix for deprivation? Using numbers connotes a science experiment and removes the emotion and indulgence out of it.

The brand position sits a bit close to edible condoms and the cheap thrill of glow sticks and ecstacy. Intense dayglow colors are cheery and may grab the attention of your children, but also goes combats the notion of “natural” and pure ingredients. The demographic seems a bit juvenile and limited in style.

It seems like more companies these days are putting design on the forefront of priorities, and I’d like to see brands with good intentions benefit from doing so as well. Google shifted its lop-sided focus on “big data” to incorporate the proven benefits of design. Strategic design, UX practices, visual design, and marketing can expose the benefits and appeal of a good product. This brand deserves a facelift.