The 2022 German Packaging Dialog’s “Packaging of the Year” award goes to “Haribo Goldbären.” The iconic brand with worldwide recognition is 100 years old and still presents itself in a modern, classic design, according to the expert jury. The award ceremony took place during the 25th Packaging Dialogue at the Heidelberg Packaging Museum.
The birth of the Haribo Goldbären brand coincided with difficult times: 1922, shortly after the end of the First World War. These were the years of hyperinflation, when confectioner Johannes (“Hans”) Riegel founded his company “HARIBO” in Bonn in 1920. After two years of self-employment, he came up with an idea that would later prove to be the basis of an iconic brand with global fame. The candy maker from Bonn produced a fruit gum which, for the first time, he gave the shape of a bear. These were the world’s first “gummy bears.” At the beginning, the fruit gum bears were still called “dancing bears” and were a little larger and slimmer than the “Gold Bears” we know today. However, cheerful bright colors and fruity flavors were already part of the first generation. The initially slimmer shape was to become somewhat rounder and smaller in the 1960s. Of psychological importance was a design innovation of the product piece, which was introduced in 1999: that year, the colorful bears received their friendly smile.
Since 1960, the bears have been called “Gold Bears.” The oldest surviving package bearing the German name “Goldbären” is a blue cardboard box from 1960, which served as a sales tray. The basis for the innovations that followed was the change in consumer behavior brought about by the newly introduced self-service in food retailing. Initially, the bears were sold by the piece, but now they were sold in consumer packs. Haribo had already used foil packaging in the 1930s, which at that time was still made of cellophane. Over the years, the company has continued to use all conceivable forms of packaging, from cardboard boxes to tin cans. In the case of the “Goldbären” brand, however, the flexible packaging in the pouch proved to be the defining feature of the brand. According to the company, the bag is now made from the mono-material polypropylene and can be almost completely recycled.
Bears as brand ambassadors
So, it was back in 1961 that the “Gold Bears” received their first pouch packaging, on which the bear with a red bow was allowed to sit (in analogy to the posture of the product). From the very beginning, a viewing window – just like in a kiosk – provided a view of the “Gold Bears” in the pouch and has since generated the so-called “appetite appeal”. It wasn’t until 1968 that the viewing window became the wide, transparent “window strip” that shows off the bears’ color scheme to good effect. The sitting golden bear soon lost importance for the appeal. From 1979, a graphically modernized form of the bear was used as a brand ambassador in brand communication, the “Presenting Gold Bear”. The new bear, which also wore a red neck ribbon, was no longer confined to a sitting posture. He could actively handle the product, as seen in sales folders of this era, and point out the product to customers with his paw. The yellow (“golden”) bear proved to be a strong ally of the brand. And so, it is not surprising that from 1980 onwards it was allowed to take the place of the sitting bear on the package, according to the jury’s statement. Today, the combination of the wide viewing window with the friendly “Presenting Gold Bear” is constitutive of a brand icon of worldwide renown.
Consistency of the design language
Legally protected as a patent and trademark since 1967, more than 160 million “Gold Bears” are currently produced worldwide every day. What is important is the consistency in the appearance of the brand design, which expresses perseverance and generates (and binds) trust, according to the jury. “What is impressive is the consistent validity of the design language, which continues to be used without compromise.”
The award announcement took place on Thursday, October 27, during the 25th Packaging Dialogue of the German Packaging Museum in Heidelberg. “Surviving the Crisis with Strong Brands” was the motto of the event. High-ranking representatives of well-known brands attended the anniversary event at the Packaging Museum.