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Celestial Seasonings Walks Back Rebrand

“The Magic is Back,” the Celestial Seasonings webpage proudly declares. Less than 18 months into their full-scale redesign, the tea brand’s new packaging design has been shelved in favor of their previous aesthetic.

“Last year, Celestial Seasonings made some changes to the packaging. We modernized the look and feel of the box in hopes of offering a more refreshed design. Many of you felt that with the removal of the iconic art, some of that special Celestial magic had disappeared.

Well, you spoke—and we listened. In response to such passionate feedback from fans around the world, we’ve brought the classic and cherished Celestial look back to our boxes. Our magical, imaginative packaging has returned! Look for our iconic, artful tea boxes you love know and love.”                                     – Celestial Seasonings

Modern, discarded packaging rests above new-again, classic packaging

I’m so torn, personally and professionally, on this decision. Personally, I adored the new packaging. I find the old design too campy, too Rockwellian. It’s busy and cluttered and I walked by it dozens of times because my scanners couldn’t find the pertinent info fast enough amidst the chromatic cacophony. At least for this copywriter/elastic tea shopper, legibility led to sales. However, I’m clearly an outlier, as public outcry and a steep drop-off in sales seemingly sunk the new packaging. Professionally, I’ll concede that the classic packaging had more character. Although I found it too eccentric and illegible at times, there’s a lot of goodwill baked into the old favorite illustrations. As to the new look, one commenter on a popular branding blog pointed out that it mirrors New Belgium’s aesthetic, and there’s nothing visually jarring about the now-discarded packaging. But wasn’t that the point? This modern design language, which I’m dubbing Neo Negative, is popular because it works!


Classic packaging mixed in with discarded packaging

Overall, I’m disappointed in the lack of faith given to the new packaging, and I fear Celestial Seasonings sold out for short-term margins over long-term health.


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