993: Brand Identity

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Brand Identity
Legally-mandated information would be printed on the back or discreetly along the bottom. In small letters under the nutrition information it would say 'Like our products? Visit our website!' There would be no URL.
Title text: Legally-mandated information would be printed on the back or discreetly along the bottom. In small letters under the nutrition information it would say 'Like our products? Visit our website!' There would be no URL.

[edit] Explanation

This comic presents Randall's idea for a line of food products all with clear black font on a white background. The products with black block lettering and white background stand out from the other items in this comic. The irony is that even though the branding isn't terribly creative, the lack of complexity is what causes the products to stand out. These product packaging styles resemble no-frills products and generic brands. For example, In Canada, the "No Name" generic brand of low-cost products sold by Loblaws general features a plain yellow label with the description of the product in bold black text, and occasionally an image of the product. The brand name is minimalized as are other legally-required elements (e.g. the weight of the product). Another of Loblaws' generic brands, President's Choice (PC) currently has a plain white background with black bold text for the labels on most of its products (usually with an image of the product as well as the brand name), although more recently, text in accent colours has been introduced.

In the title text, the lack of a listed URL relates to the lack of branding on the package. It is possible that omitting the URL the consumer's curiosity will be aroused, and they will spend time on the internet hunting for the actual site.

[edit] List of all products in the shelves

993 numbering.png

  • [1] Rainbow [blue packaging, green line on the top, with a rainbow and three white nachos]
  • [2] Ruffles [brown packaging, red corner on bottom-right, three yellow potato chips, unreadable text]
  • [3] [unreadable] [yellow packaging, three brown big nachos, unreadable text]
  • [4] Potato Chips [white packaging, big black letters]
  • [5] [unreadable] [olive green, three yellow big potato chips, unreadable text, seal in black and white]
  • [6] cheese crackers [yellow, pile of yellow cheese crackers, blue seal, white box with company logo (unreadable), unreadable text ; filling error (see #7)]
  • [7] cheese crackers [yellow, pile of white cheese crackers, blue seal, white box with company logo (unreadable), unreadable text]

... to be continued ...

[edit] Transcript

[The incredibly varied shelf of a supermarket aisle. There are many different types of products on this shelf. Each type has numerous different brands, all surrounding a very plain brand that has, as its only label, the type of product. A plain bag, labeled in plain black letters, says "Potato Chips" and is surrounded by all the other various brands of potato chips. The same exists for tissues, crackers, matches, peanuts, hot sauce, sugar, milk, pasta, coffee, black beans, lima beans, mayo, ketchup, tea, and bread. There is a stark contrast between the incredibly noisy and complex labeling of every other brand and this simple one.]
[Caption below:]
If I ever sold a line of supermarket goods,
this is how I'd build a brand identity overnight.

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Notice that the sugar is inverted? Weird. --Classhole 23:22, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Weird, the hot sauce is also inverted BlueRoll18 (talk) 02:38, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
While the sugar and hot sauce are unusual in that you can easily read the packaging, I don't think they are supposed to be in the same product range. --Pudder (talk) 16:25, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Possibly a reference to inverted sugar syrup. Liyang (talk) 05:44, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

NONAME in Canada uses yellow boxes with black text but basically the same idea. --Pundawg 18:56, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

I didn't get this joke because I grew up eating "Slim Price" food branded exactly this way. -lolo (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There's a brand called "Ja!" from the Rewe group in Germany that uses this exact concept somewhat, but nowadays, the packages contain pictures and illustrations of all kinds, and aren't as white, simple and plain as they used to be in the past. See: http://www.rewe.de/besser-einkaufen/ja/produkte-und-infos.html --Rolfhub 23:25, 14 September 2013

Here is some old image of the designs: [1]. It's not as simple as in the comic, but it's certainly the same idea. -- 20:25, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Ah, dear old "Ja!"... it saved my life back when I was a broke student. Anyway, also the M-Budget line from Swiss Migros recently started adding pictures to its product, but before that it was all green packaging with black writing. Wonerful -- 13:36, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
"Ja!" is a very successful brand sold in Germany (and more countries) offered by REWE. The products are presented in a white cover, just showing the word "Ja!" ("Yes!" in English) and much smaller the content of the product. Maybe this could also be mentioned at the trivia section. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:55, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

I think the lack of URL is just to troll the consumers. 00:33, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Actually several brands in the Netherlands did this before the comic was posted. They switched to a red/white two-colour scheme with the product in large letters in English. The problem was, that multiple brands did this, which made them look very similar. 16:09, 8 December 2014 (UTC) Hey, something seems wrong with the IP logging. The logged IP is not mine. -- 16:11, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

About multiple brands looking the same. Contrary to "tragedy of the commons", "prisoners dilemma", or "what if everyone act like that" https://xkcd.com/958/ , this is not a problem. It would actually be approaching utopia. When people look for distinguishing features, they would have to, like, read the nutrition on the back, or look for comparison prices. I.e. relevant info, instead of "oh shiny". /David A 05:36, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

For a couple of decades this exact thing existed: http://www.google.com/search?q=black+on+white+generic+brand+products In fact I'm certain that that is the joke. 07:38, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

I believe this may be a reference to the film Repo Man. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I don't know how common Muji stores are in the US (where I imagine most readers reside), but this is basically what they've been doing since the 1980s. Liyang (talk) 05:33, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Soylent 2.0 is doing this exact thing: https://soylent-production-herokuapp-com.global.ssl.fastly.net/static/images/drink_secondary_messaging_block1.3571d250b954.jpg Interestingly, that image is very similar to this comic.03:36, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

I was at walmart the other day and noticed a brand doing this, without even a brand name. Mikemk (talk) 20:31, 23 March 2016 (UTC)

/* Triva */

Randall made a mistake as the ketchup is labeled "kerhup" (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

No, if you zoom in it'sthe letters 'TC', which overlap slightly because of the cramped bottle. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Why is the tea box green except for inside the A?Bbrk24 (talk) 00:23, 4 May 2016 (UTC)

It's actually yellow; you may wish to check to see if you are colorblind. There are many errors in filling in spaces that should be colored, though. -- 01:33, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

This comics have spawned a thread on reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/xkcd/comments/nkytu/brand_identity/ . It appears there was a no-brand car i Japan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muji#History /David A 05:02, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

The generic milk is in a plain glass or plastic container on the shelves of the grocery section of this store, not in the refrigerated cooler. Milk stocked in this location will spoil rapidly. Only aseptically packaged milk can sit on a warm shelf for extended periods without spoiling. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk)

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