Target's Sun Squad private label packaging

Target’s Sun Squad Packaging Smiles Its Way Into Summer

As I walked through Target this past weekend to do a retail audit for one of our clients, I noticed their seasonal collection of outdoor and summer-themed products under their private label brand, Sun Squad. I don’t usually put too much energy into evaluating retailer brands, but I felt this one was worth noting.

Sun Squad products range from towels and blankets to outdoor games, inflatables, pool toys, sprinklers, bubble blowers, sidewalk chalk, cooler bags, lawn chairs and much more, available both online and in stores. According to a blog post, Target said that the product line’s design was inspired by natural elements such as clear blue water, summer sunsets and summer foods that we all know and love. But, what I love even more than the product line itself is its gorgeous packaging program, It was developed by Target’s Brand Design Lab back in 2019, and still holds up well today.

A brand mark that sets a summer tone with a smile

The packaging program’s tone is set by the circular yellow and orange “smiling sun” Sun Squad brand identity. The custom orange typography within the yellow circle forms a smile from the semi-circular “U” in the word “SUN,” then adds two additional smaller semi-circles above it to form the smiling eyes. It’s perfect for the package design system’s minimalistic visual aesthetic, which is contemporary, bold, and screams of summer fun.

Minimalistic design architecture that complements beautiful, inclusive product photography

On closed box packaging, its design architecture is a white vertical or horizontal band that takes up approximately 1/3 of the front panel, either down the left side or across the bottom. The remainder of the front panel is reserved for beautifully-executed product photography, either in wide shots in a grassy back yard or by an inviting swimming pool. But, my favorite product photos are the on the inflatable pool floats and tubes, where beautiful models of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities are posing with the product in front of solid-colored backgrounds of lavender, teal, pink and green, along with an accent of palm leaves peeking in from the top corner.

The white band contains the brand identity, which is locked up on-center with the product name and descriptor. This lock up straddles the edge of the white band when it’s horizontal, and is centered within the band when it’s vertical. The age grading lives within a small circle that’s color-coordinated with the product name and descriptor as well as the background color of the image. Or, it knocks out to white when it falls within the image. Product sizes are called out in a discreet banner in the upper left corner of the front panel.

A minimalistic, break-frame treatment for side, top and back panels

The top panel is solid yellow with a strip of summer-themed iconography – a kite, a beach ball, a cold drink, a watermelon wedge, a popsicle, etc. – in orange. The side panels are solid orange with the product name and descriptor knocking out to white and the product size within a centered yellow banner beneath it. The back panel is also solid yellow with minimal communication printing in orange. The product name, descriptor and product-specific marketing live beneath a sunrise icon, separated from each other by a wavy water line.

Other interpretations of the package design system include white backer cards with a wavy line pattern serving as the product field for pool toys, yellow window boxes for sidewalk chalk, a white bubble solution dispenser box with an array of overlapping translucent blue and green circles, just to name a few. Although a handful of interpretations deviate a bit from the core package design system we find on closed box packaging, the overarching look at retail remains visually cohesive and fun.

Sun Squad products are on Target store shelves now. Check them out the next time you’re winding your way through the toy aisles and let us know your thoughts on how it stacks up against the national brands in the category.

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