Packaged FINDINGS: Is Hellmann’s Building on Brand Strength?

Posted on Sep 14, 2016 by

BrandDirections Presents: Packaged Findings

logoThere are some products that have my undeniable loyalty, carrying on the traditions of my mother, grandmother as well as other family members. One of those products is Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Like most consumers, I have come to know Hellmann’s as much by the color and design of the package as by the product flavor. The bright yellow background of the label and bright blue ribbon supporting the Hellmann’s logo are permanently etched in my brain.

Since the original Hellmann’s appeared on shelf there have been a number of changes to the product line that offer lighter or healthier options to consumers. Now, the line has expanded to include organically certified products with flavors like plain, garlic roasted and spicy chipotle. It is great to see this expansion of product varieties, especially organic options, but I do find the package labeling system somewhat puzzling.


As we all know, there is a shift going on with consumers and their desire for organic or clean foods. It makes sense that labeling for the Hellmann’s organic products reflect that clean approach to product content. However, when you compare the “real” Hellmann’s label to the newer organic label, the reverse effect is generated – the use of brightly colored graphic elements with the emphasis on real have much greater visual impact than the small, two-color organic set up, making the new package pale and generic by comparison. The result is that the original Hellmann’s package stacks up a huge shelf presence against the competition but also against its “sister” organic products.

Hellman’s has also added a product that appears to be a competitor to Miracle Whip, a product that is virtually the same as mayonnaise but with the addition of sugar and reduced oil. I say appears to be, because the label and message hierarchy is also confusing. A single color Hellmann’s logo precedes Carefully Crafted. Below that, in small type is the line Dressing & Sandwich Spread. Is it mayonnaise or is it intended to compete against Miracle Whip? And what specifically does Carefully Crafted imply especially when Hellmann’s already offers the brand promise of “bringing out the best” in your foods? The label emphasizes a “free from” list including non-GMO sourced ingredients that from a clean standpoint should have appeared on the organic label yet was notably absent.

Hellmann’s has become an iconic brand – to the point where Hellmann’s and mayonnaise are synonymous. I understand the marketing benefit of adding style and flavor variations to an established brand but I do not understand why the branding on this packaging has been diluted as a way to distinguish a product or brand alternative. The format of Hellmann’s packaging has limited space for branding yet over time they have established a brand image with incredible visual impact and recall. I would argue it would make more sense to capitalize on that strength to draw organic customers to their new products.

If you are thinking of creating a new package or adding new products to your mix, our packaging experts can help you successfully connect with your customers. Contact us at 920-725-4848 or

 The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold, delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.


4 Responses to Packaged FINDINGS: Is Hellmann’s Building on Brand Strength?

  • Haruka Tenou says:

    I miss the way Hellmann’s used the yellow & blue color scheme that they used back in the 1980’s. It was simple and clear, not complicated and arranged differently.
    You brought up familiarity and since I brought up the ’80’s, I also remember when Heinz used a very bold and distinct color design for their Vinegar back then.
    Heinz used a green & gold vertical stripe design that went something like this in accordance to the width of the stripes and the arrangement; green-gold-green-gold-gold-green-gold-green-gold-gold.
    In associated to the ribbed neck style of vinegar bottle and with it’s Heinz logo there was absolutely NO mistaking when finding it on the shelves in the grocery isle. To be honest, I find the green & gold stripe design to be very sexy (appealing) particularly and especially on Heinz Vinegar instead of the vegetable on white background Heinz is currently using.

    • Jolene Johnson says:

      Hello and thank you for reading my blog article – I could not agree more with your response. I was so disappointed to see what I feel has been a huge compromise in their brand integrity with the new design system. I find it very hard to distinguish product variation with the new format. Not everything has to be made new; rather people need to parlay the strength of an established brand.

  • Jodie Banks says:

    Though when it come to familiarity Hellmann’s + Mayonnaise, Heinz + Vinegar, etc, etc. But when it comes to taste of mayonnaise, my allegences had changed from Hellmann’s to Heinz.
    Sorry Hellmann’s.
    But when looking at the ingredients, vinegar is the second ingredient in Heinz Mayonnaise giving it that seductively tart tangyness as would all other condiments containing vinegar would have. Hellmann’s Mayonnaise puts vinegar in somewhere in the middle of their list of ingredeients.
    From this comparison I would say Heinz is closer to what mayonnaise should taste like mildly tart and seductively creamy, not creamy and blane.

    • Jolene Johnson says:

      Hi Jodie – thank you for reading my blog article; the purpose of the article was to focus on packaging structure and graphic design. I do not offer opinion or comment on the flavor or content of a specific product except as it relates to its placement and appearance on a package.