A couple of days ago, Brandweek featured an interview of Peter Clarke, CEO and founder of Product Ventures, a Fairfield, Connecticut design firm that has created packaging for Heinz, Folgers and Febreze, among other brands:

Brandweek: You believe that packaging has become simpler of late. Can you describe what you mean by that?

Peter Clarke: Simplicity is one of the tenets of today’s values. It’s based on a need for clarity in this very complicated, untrusting world that we’re all living in right now. Brands are distilling their product messaging to the product essence. In a way, in this overcrowded marketplace, many brands are finding that less is actually more.

Not always easy to accomplish, but it certainly makes sense. After all, we have discussed before, the importance of brevity and, for example, how the Google homepage is a model of brevity. We also have discussed the trend toward truncation and some of the pitfalls of single letter brands. GuestBlogger Mark Prus of NameFlash has discussed the Long and Short of Name Develeopment. Brent has pointed out how NASCAR and others have not gotten the "less is more" memo, in his entertaining Sensory Overload post. And, GuestBlogger John Reinan of Fast Horse, may have identified at least part of the need for simplicity of design, in his insightful post Thriving in a Speeded-Up World.

Although Mr. Clarke did not specifically mention Schroeder Milk, it would appear they got the memo, as did our friends at Capsule, who designed these sleek and minimalist milk containers for Schroeder:

In stark contrast, another brand that appears not to have gotten the "less is more" memo is Tropicana, perhaps not surprising given all the missed memos of late for that suffering O.J. brand. The current half gallon carton promoting their 2010 Juicy Rewards program, is busier than any cereal box I’ve seen before, and it is reminiscent of the sensory overload images posted by Brent. I’ll make sure to update this post with images once we finish the carton.

Ironically, AdAge reported just yesterday that PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi has vowed to learn from its mistakes, specifically citing the Tropicana rebrand controversy from 2009, and asserting "we won’t make the same mistakes." As the comments to that report show, there appear to be more than a few skeptics in the crowd, and given Tropicana’s 2010 Juicy Rewards O.J. packaging, the pundits may be closer to the truth.

UPDATE: Packaging Diva on Does Simple Packaging Sell?