Iconic brand Toblerone needs to change
Everyone knows them: the stackable Pringles chips, the glass bottle of Coca-Cola or the finger design of the Kit-Kat chocolate bar. Each of these are product and packaging forms with a design that has stuck in consumers' minds for years. While food products as such are not eligible for trademark and design protection, product and packaging forms are. That maintaining iconic status cannot be taken for granted is proven by the cases on the packaging and product design of the Toblerone chocolate bar.
Manufacturer Mondelez's Toblerone brand occupies a special position. Since 1997, it has gained cult status for its unmistakable triangular packaging with the image of the Matterhorn as well as the capricious, jagged shape of the chocolate reminiscent of mountains. That both the packaging and the product design make the brand an icon, is rare.
Mondelez, however, recently had to change its packaging design. The reason is the so-called ‘Swissness rule’ that has been in force in Switzerland since 2017. The ‘Swissness rule’ states that the terms ‘Switzerland’, ‘Swiss’ or the Swiss cross, as well as other motifs typical of Switzerland, may only be used to label products for which at least 80% of the raw materials (100% for milk and dairy products) originate from Switzerland and for which the main processing steps were carried out in Switzerland. Toblerone no longer complies with these criteria, as Mondelez had decided to move its production to Slovakia.
In the future, Toblerone will appear with a more modern and neutral mountain design without any reference to the Matterhorn and the Swiss cross on the packaging. The indication of origin ‘from Switzerland’ will be replaced by ‘based in Switzerland’ to continue to benefit from the good reputation of Swiss products.
The triangular product shape itself and the Toblerone brand were also recently the subject of a legal dispute. Mondelez had filed a lawsuit against the product launch of a chocolate bar by Swiss confectionery start-up Cocoa Luxury called Swissone. Mondelez believed that Swissone was too similar to the Toblerone brand and its jagged design. The court disagreed. Rather, the shape of Swissone chocolate was inspired by shells and dunes, and the Sydney Opera House.
A design protection of the new packaging will have to help Mondelez preserve the uniqueness of Toblerone.
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