Making waves in the energy drink aisle
Mother is an energy drink developed for Australia and New Zealand by Monster Beverage Corporation. It launched in 2007 and is currently distributed by Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA). As of June 2016, Mother has a 28% share in Australia’s $1.2 billion energy drink market, edged out by Frucor Beverages’ V (33%) Red Bull (29%).
Personally, I’ve been kind of fooled into thinking there were more Mother SKUs on shelves than there actually are, as new variations seem to come and go fairly often. Evidently, CCA has experimented with various pack sizes and brand extensions over the years, such as Mother Surge Orange (with 5% orange juice), Mother Big Shot (150mL with double guarana and taurine), and a “Fuel Cap Bottle” for various other flavours.
The new logo and packaging designs come with the introduction of a new flavour, Kicked Apple, to the current lineup of Original, Sugar Free and Frosty Berry.
The old logo was a reduction of the original brand logo which had some flourishes and other nuances. The drink itself was very much targeted at men and the logo and packaging reflected this. The logo was in a blackletter style and reminiscent of a tattoo, and the use of black, white and red in the core branding had a very Gothic vibe. As a non-drinker, I had the feeling that this would be my drink brand of choice if I was in a rock band, or if I was Satan himself.
The primary headline typeface was (and still is) Dynamo Bold, used on the packaging for the words “ENERGY DRINK”, the flavour names and can sizes. What set it apart were its protruding stroke details and slanted stroke endings, as if drawn with a broad-nib calligraphy pen (a nice connection to the logo). The jaggedness of it evoked lightning and the energy surge you would get from consuming the product, so it was very appropriate.
The old cans were identified by that bold lettering, amidst a (generally) black background. To differentiate between SKUs, the top portion of the cans, which held the names of the different flavours, were varied in colour.
Some special editions, such as Green Storm below, played with the logo/flavour boundary shape, as well as the primary can colour. I’m all for pushing boundaries (ahem), but I think these strayed a bit too far from the established visual language of the packaging.
With the new packaging, Mother seems to be doing the opposite of what Coca-Cola has done recently. Where Coca-Cola unified its range by emblazoning all products with its signature red, Mother has fragmented its look by using entirely different colours for each SKU, which are manifested in a new top-to-bottom wave pattern. It’s a far cry from the old look, and if you were quickly scanning the energy drink shelves at the supermarket, you might have to stop and focus to find the new products.
I’m curious to know the strategy behind having such varying colours of cans. Is each SKU intended to look like an altogether different brand? Maybe the strong presence of the colours have a psychological impact on the intensity of the respective flavours, and therefore desirability of the product? (Studies in this area, however, reveal that the evidence regarding this is rather ambiguous.)
Nevertheless, the wave pattern is acceptably funky for the category, and it’s apparent that effort has been put into it to make the “strands” look random in their thickness, length and shade.
The primary link between the SKUs is, of course, the new logo. It tweaks the old letterforms and adds dimensionality with highlights to produce a bevelled look. It looks pretty slick; however, on the cans, where it’s vertical and surrounded by those contrasty waves, it’s not as readable as before. It doesn’t help that the letters “oth” now touch each other and the counter of the “h” has been closed up, so that it almost resembles a “b”.
Overall, Mother has taken a step in a peculiar direction with its new packaging. The range, as a whole, has a somewhat psychedelic look to it now, and it does feel more “energetic”. Furthermore, those bendy waves give me the impression that each drink is not just a thirst-quencher, but something of a mind-bending experience. (I clearly don’t consume enough energy drinks to understand their effects.)
I would be concerned that each new edition will warrant a new colour, which will fragment the brand even further. So, much like the weird ingredients in energy drinks these days, the effectiveness of this new redesign for Mother is, for now, a mystery.