Smartly Branding in Target

Smartly Section at Hillsborough Street Target

In the fall of last year, Target released their new exclusive brand called “Smartly.” The brand is comprised of personal care and home essential products, all cohesively tied together by consistent minimal packaging. The simple packaging and pastel colors are what immediately caught my attention. Seeing home appliances like laundry detergent and cleaning wipes have such subdued packaging unlike their usual bold and extremely saturated exterior was a surprise. Nevertheless, the brand’s association with Target is made known with the usage of Helvetica. The visual hierarchy on the packaging is established with the varying weights, as the bolder typeface is used to state the name of the product while the thinner typeface is used for the description. In front of each straight-forward description is an arrow, almost making it seem like a side-note. It’s also interesting to see how instead of putting the scent of the hand soap as the main heading on the packaging, it’s instead placed as the caption for the whole product. The only other element other than the dark blue type is the iconography that varies with each product. I am personally a big fan of simplified icons and this perfectly is in line with that aesthetic. There is variation that can be seen in the positive and negative space, as observed below in the hand soapĀ  versus the shave foam. To distinctly separate the two, the designers have intentionally kept the icons as the negative space for the shave foam since the scents are the same.


Something I personally believe when looking at the packaging is that these items look better together as a seriesĀ  rather than as individual products. This could be purposeful, as it might entice the consumer to buy multiple products almost as if they are collectibles. The concept of a series/line-up of products is appealing to customers, and the designers definitely made the most of that in their packaging choices.

Sandwich Bag Packaging Comparison

Another notable brand Target has is “Up and Up,” and I think in this comparison it is quite obvious the choices “Smartly” takes to stray away from conventional means of packaging household appliances and needs. Instead of adding any images or actual photographs of a sandwich, the packaging merely has a rather abstract “rolled over” figure with a pastel green background. The philosophy of the branding overall is that the product names and iconography speak for themselves, and this simplicity invites the consumer to believe that the obvious choice is to purchase their products since it is the “smartest” option.

Discussion — 4 Responses

  • Samantha Wine 04/24/2019 on 9:16 PM

    I think this the release of the Smartly line of home goods is in line with Target’s more recent push to stream line and rebrand their company. The Target near me is currently under renovation and is converting the store from their older model to their new, standard model of design. From the exterior storefront, to the shelving and lighting within, all elements are being refreshed with a clean and modern design aesthetic. Instead of looking similar to Walmart or other super stores, Target is implementing design elements that are more reflective of an expensive department store. The layout has changed, with less products available for sale, making the shelves appear emptier and tidy. Instead of rows of shelves, the store is sectioned into more organic shapes that emphasize and highlight the individual products, making them more appealing to customers.
    As you pointed out, the designs of their Smartly lines are clean, minimalistic, and to the point. I think they are trying to improve on their consumer experience and making it easy for shoppers to recognize the products they need to purchase. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by busy bottle designs, with lots of superfluous design elements, they are providing the consumer with the necessary information and no more. Similarly, the Target stores are becoming less cluttered, making it easy for consumers to find what they are looking for without much consideration. Boiling the products and the store’s design down to the bare essentials makes consumers feel as though they are making an easy and effortless decision, that will carry onto their experience with the purchased good.

  • Haohao Yu 04/25/2019 on 11:27 PM

    I agree with you a lot that items look better together as a series rather than as individual products. I never noticed their new products but they look so nice. I personally like the simple packaged things comparing to the ones with too many fancy designs.
    I really like how for their hand soap they would write the flavor in a sentence instead of just say the flavor they print out “Smells Like (whatever the flavor is) “. This makes it less cold and makes me feel like someone is giving a comment on it instead of just saying the smell even though they only added two more words. I also like how they make the font bigger when they are trying to describe the products. This would catch customers’ eyes immediately. Also, they give each flavor a color that would make the customers draw the image in their head. They also match the color of the packaging to the color of the products and it looks really nice.
    I would definitely go in and check on their brand products!

  • Chloe Bain 04/25/2019 on 11:45 PM

    I really like the simple design of the Smartly brand and I think it goes along well with the general trend of “simple” marketing and packaging. That being said, I think it’s misleading. In this I mean that in the trend of simple packaging a lot of the brands following this trend are “good” brands, meaning they’re good for your body, your health, the environment, etc. Brands like Glossier, Common Good, Lush, Herbivore Botanicals, etc. But the problem with this is that some of these products really skimp when it comes to cost and ingredients, because in order to make cheap products you need to use cheap materials — so they still have ingredients like sulfates in their soaps and body washes that are advertised as “moisturizing” even though sulfates dry your skin out. As someone who’s done her fair share of research on skin care and body care and knows what not to use on your skin, stuff like this really bothers me because it’s harming the consumers in the long run and they have no idea or no other option because they’re on a budget.
    So yeah, the packaging is cute, but the ingredients aren’t as such.

  • Cheng Wang 04/26/2019 on 7:23 AM

    Hi Karuna Gangwani,
    I agree with you that these products are very nice. I love simple design and pastel colors. The personal care and home essential products with simple pattern and pastel colors will give people a feeling of clean. It is very suitable to use these kinds of deign.

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