Walkers redesigns its crisp packaging to focus on Britishness

The 70-year-old crisp brand has a new look designed by PepsiCo’s in-house design team and Vault49, which features both the Union Jack and several landmarks associated with the UK.

PepsiCo-owned crisps brand Walkers has revealed new packaging for its main range, which looks to celebrate its British heritage through its design.

The new packaging has been designed by PepsiCo’s in-house design team alongside studio Vault49, and now features the Walkers logo placed “proudly” in the middle of each packet rather than centre-top, alongside a new series of illustrations.

The illustrations are laid out in the shape of a Union Jack flag, and feature icons and landmarks such as London’s Big Ben and red telephone boxes, and Liverpool’s Liver Building. Further illustrations, such as tractors in a field, aim to emphasise how the potatoes used to make the crisps are grown in the UK. These illustrations have also been turned into an animation by Vault49 for advertising and online use.

The new design will roll out across Walkers’ core range of flavours, which include ready salted, salt and vinegar, cheese and onion, smoky bacon, Worcester sauce, prawn cocktail, marmite, roast chicken, beef and onion, and tomato ketchup.

A wider spectrum of colours will now also feature across each pack, with a range of different shades of red featuring on ready salted, for instance. A new strapline of “100% great British potatoes” has been added to packet.

The packs are finished in both gloss and matte, which aims to help the packets “pop on the [supermarket] shelf”, says Vault49, while giving them a “modern, premium feel”.

“We’ve had great fun bringing storytelling to life, by creating a design that Britain can be proud of, while… communicating the heritage of such an iconic brand,” says Jonathan Kenyon, co-founder and executive creative director at Vault49.

The new packaging is currently rolling out on supermarket shelves. The Walkers logo has not changed.

Walkers was founded in 1948 by butcher Henry Walker in Leicester, England. It was then acquired in 1989 by Lay’s, a sub-brand of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) giant, PepsiCo. Aside from its core range, Walkers has several other crisp varieties and snack foods.

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  • mike dempsey January 31, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Are we really expected to view this as ‘design’ – really? Come on DW please have some credibility. This is commercial rubbish, along with the product. Why bother to show it?

  • Rob Andrews January 31, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Walkers should be ashamed of themselves.
    They are a global business cynically focusing on the current rise of British nationalism to flog crisps.
    Here’s a picture of this great “British” brand as I used to eat them in India – mercifully without out the sour taste of jingoism.

  • C-Dog February 1, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Smoky Brexit.

  • Dan February 2, 2019 at 11:04 am

    “Walkers redesigns its crisp packaging to focus on Britishness”

    Surely the focus should be on recyclability?

  • Des February 4, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Taking any kind of political agenda away for a moment, I quite like the new designs. I agree that coming up with an alternative to plastic packaging would likely be better time spent but these will look great on the shelf. Hey, I know, what about potato starch coated paper?
    Time for a nice cheese and onion crisp sarnie…

  • Tim Riches February 5, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    I’m really not seeing any British ‘nationalism’ here, just a twee cliché. Agree with Mike Dempsey to a large degree here. It doesn’t exactly convey modern British creativity and attitude. Missed opportunity? Nice crisps tho.

  • Paul Cockburn February 6, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    “British”? “English”, more like. Don’t see any iconic landmarks from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

  • Stephen Holmes February 6, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    I think Mike Dempsey needs to get off his high horse and understand that design is a commercial activity and not fine art or something to be aimed at the middle classes and his ‘taste’ only.

    As for the product being rubbish, in 2017 Walkers sold 77 million KG of crisps in the UK, which is a good 66million KG more than say Kettle Chips (source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/788119/leading-crisp-brands-ranked-by-sales-volume-in-the-united-kingdom/) which I suspect (but of course this only a guess and I may be completely wrong) might be more to his liking (although at a different price point and level of availability). Walkers have a position that I bet all the other brands would kill for in terms of sales, awareness (and I imagine) profit. Is that the only barometer of success, no, but it’s not a bad place to start.

    Over the last few years more and more brands have been pushing the ‘Britishness’ (e.g.: Vauxhall I think) and the sourcing of their ingredients (e.g.: McDonalds) and I don’t see a major issue with that (in this case I’d have thought lower food miles was generally a good thing?).

    And the use of finishes on packaging, well that’s a shock! Would it be nicer if their packets were easily recyclable instead? Yes. Although they do seem to have a specific scheme for this: https://www.walkers.co.uk/recycle (but gut feel is that probably not a lot of folk know about it / use it) and they aim to “make all of our packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025” (https://www.walkers.co.uk/faq/sourcing-sustainability) which can only be a good thing if the manage it (but would be nicer if they could make it sooner).

    Is the design unpleasant? I don’t think so. Seems fairly inoffensive to me, easy and cost effective to trott out in various colour ways / flavours. Would it make me personally more interested in Walkers crisps? I doubt it, I tend to go with what’s available at the time / flavour I fancy. But to be frank, I’ve yet to meet a crisp I didn’t like.

    (Just to be clear, I have no connection with Walkers, Vault49 or anyone else connected to this project)

  • Harrison Reed February 13, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Utterly rubbish design. Formulaic ‘burst concept’ with logo at centre (also used for Snack-a Jacks), and full of design clichés – (for British – insert Flag, Big Ben and a red phone box). At least the old design celebrated using home grown British potatoes with a clear single minded idea – not this cliché ridden, cluttered and noisy design. BIG FAIL!

  • Justine Jackson-Hickling February 13, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Lots of good points raised here for and against. Agree that packaging design for FMCG is completely commercial and all about answering the brief set by the client, which, if it’s worth its salt should be founded in deep customer insights. So if the insights and mood of the nation are about pride in heritage in the current climate then who can blame the client for exploiting this as a commercial opportunity? Who ever briefs a redesign be irrelevant? Like it or not, packaging design is marketing, and the role of marketing is about creating an emotional connection with the customer in order to drive loyalty… and ultimately make money.

    Everyone is looking for their own way to be distinctive in a saturated market where it’s becoming harder and harder to find a true USP – and a if brand such as Walkers can exploit the ‘British’ angle because its on trend then they will. And they can afford to redesign as often as it takes to stay relevant in their customer’s eyes… So when this flush of patriotism dies down they’ll be launching a new execution.

    I can understand Mike Dempsey’s point about whether its worth column inches though. Whilst its a decently executed design and has some on-shelf appeal I wouldn’t have devoted an article to it. It’s still overtly Walkers; politics aside it continues the British theme (as per previous iterations), and still rooted in their core colours so no real inspirational ‘new’ news here.

    I wonder if the publication should re-title itself ‘Re-design Week’ instead?

  • Harrison Reed February 15, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    There’s no single idea to the design. The previous comment by Justine hit the nail on the head by calling it an “execution”: i.e. a stylised approach to the design with a few clichés to make it look British.

    I think when you’re designing one of the nation’s best loved and iconic brands, you have a responsibility to make the design as good as other best loved brands, such as Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Baked Beans, HP Sauce, Polo, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Marmite, Dairy Milk etc and see if it stacks up against them. Clearly it doesn’t.

    Sure, I’ll look forward to the next design of Walkers crisps when this one dies its inevitable death within a year.

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