In 1999, the appearance of adidas was different in every continent across the globe. There were no clear brand colors, nor was there a standardized corporate design for use at the point of sale. Similarly, the many technical features of the products were not explained adequately or uniformly. In terms of profitability too, the brand’s appearance had fractured because it had grown so fast. There were 100 different types of sock packaging alone. The objective for MUTABOR’s Identity Design division was to present the brand uniformly throughout the world. During the “new global corporate packaging” project, a momentous decision was also made: it was decided to create a separation between adidas Performance and Originals. The task was to give this new strategy a face.
In a two-year process, all the packaging assets were cataloged, analyzed and optimized: cutting dies, materials, types of packaging, colors, technical instructions, pictograms and illustrations. In addition, categories were recombined and defined. Various challenges needed to be overcome, particularly in terms of worldwide availability and harmonized quality standards. A number of test phases were carried out jointly with the customer before the concept was rolled out worldwide in 2001.
The biggest decision is still effective today: adidas Performance turned black and Originals was given the color blue – inspired by the blue shoe boxes of the 1970s. The Originals look was defined by the jagged stripes and the purist, simple retro design. The trefoil logo was originally used on the shoe boxes without adding the word Originals. The Performance design, on the other hand, was characterized by a technical graphic principle: photos of the product in action, combined with a function pictogram. This also aimed to prevent the packaging being torn open. The two fields were combined with the brand originator, the Performance logo (now the Badge of Sport). This principle was applied on all packaging from ball pump valves to goalkeepers’ gloves. All the hangtags and the technical nomenclature were also harmonized globally. And finally, there were only 10 different types of sock packaging across the globe, instead of 100.
Brand design, packaging design, styleguide, pictogram design, illustration, production