Alphabet’s packaging system for OnePlus overhauls the consumer brand’s physical and digital output
“The OnePlus red is one of the key iconic assets of the OnePlus brand,” Alphabet’s Creative Director Sam Lane tells us, “so it made total sense to lead with this colour on all packaging and use it confidently,” guiding us through their packaging redesign for the multinational technology company. “This allows the packaging to feel instantly recognisable to the OnePlus brand,” Lane continues, marking the latest step in the Manchester-based design agency’s long-term partnership with OnePlus, “even if the logo might not necessarily be the first thing that you see,” setting a precedent for the project’s systematic overhaul.
Tasked with reimagining the systems behind OnePlus, including the packaging for their smartphones, accessories and more, Alphabet began by tackling the lack of consistency across their design and messaging. Led by the notion of simplicity, the team introduced a comprehensive grid system built with hugely scalable flexibility to meet the demands of the identity’s scope – mirroring the system’s pragmatism through its practical use of typography. “The brand typeface is a bespoke typeface created with the OnePlus team,” titled OnePlus Sans, Lane recalls, “it is used across the whole of the OnePlus brand,” he adds, using the sans serif as the basis for the project’s introduction of iconography.
Both functional and characterful in practice, the bespoke iconography Alphabet crafted for OnePlus’ packaging system spans a vast library of uses and applications, leaning into the importance of accessibility for the brand and its global audience. Likewise, Alphabet worked closely with packaging engineers Instrmnt to create a cost-effective single box size, replacing the previous use of four separate internal moulds and three individual box sizes; resulting in a unified, sustainable solution unbiased to region or product. Maintaining and exemplifying the quality of the products, however, Alphabet also introduced a straightforward yet sophisticated spot varnish to the packaging, which, combined with the mix of coated and uncoated paper stocks, makes for a memorable, premium packaging experience.
Expanding into OnePlus’ campaigns and product releases, tying the physical experience and advertising closer together, the subsequent modularity of the project helps champion the breadth of the brand’s offering. As such, Alphabet’s approach creates a space where contrasting imagery can sit side by side and appear closely connected, as demonstrated through their selective use of photography and illustration as categorical differentiators.
“We utilised photography for higher-cost products, as working with the OnePlus team we determined that for these items,” Lane explains, “the way the actual product looks, in terms of colour, finish and form was a highly important decision factor in purchasing,” whilst taking a more practical approach for OnePlus’ more basic items.
“For the ‘essentials’ we used a simple keyline illustration style,” he recalls, “as these tended to be an easier purchase decision based on the product function itself,” whilst facing a significant inconsistency in its product photography. “The lower-cost products did not have strong, or consistent photography so we opted to utilise illustration instead,” he remarks, “creating a simple system to format imagery that would be highly controllable across many different formats;” an approach that in turn influenced the premium product’s photographic styling. “On all packaging, the angle of both photography and illustration is as straight as possible,” Lane concludes, “so the angular lines complement the underlying grid of the packaging.”
OnePlus Sans (custom)