Full Circle packaging by O Street

Are drinks brands taking minimalism too far?

With San Pellegrino and Lilt embracing stripped back looks, we discuss what’s going on in drinks branding, the dangers of minimalism, and how brands including Full Circle Brew Co and Sprite are getting it right

Design, like many things, is cyclical. Trends go back and forth between one thing and another – one minute it’s all about sans serifs, the next it’s quirky 70s-inspired type, and inevitably, as we bore of that, it becomes something else.

However the ‘flatification’ and stripping back of design is an enduring conversation point. Companies from across sectors have embraced simplified branding, often in response to the demands of digital environments. Inevitably the phenomenon has also reached the world of packaging, which faces fresh challenges as more of us shop online – often viewing products as tiny thumbnails.

Newcomer drinks brands, such as Trip or Dash, have launched into the market with minimal designs, while established companies have also reconsidered their cans. This includes San Pellegrino, which prompted discussion earlier this year when it revealed a new slimline version without the much-loved peel-off foil top. Lilt and Fanta have also simplified things, with Lilt abandoning its illustrated pineapple and sloping type for a sans serif face and more abstract fruit.

San Pellegrino packaging
Top image: Full Circle Brew Co branding by O Street; Above: San Pellegrino’s previous packaging design. Photo by The Image Party, via Shutterstock

“The [San Pellegrino] foil is a ritual, and that’s one thing that does hurt my heart a little bit,” says Turner Duckworth creative director Chris Garvey. “A little bit of any change is going to upset people, point blank … but the ritual remains an emotional moment. That’s where you’re maybe stripping one element too far.”