Good ideas and smart design choices go the distance. They endure and keep the best parts of themselves, even through multiple design refreshes and refinements. Those kinds of creations become influential, even legendary, and eventually (we think) iconic. Tide detergent is one of those creations—a brand that found their niche, worked hard on their offering, and constantly sought ways to improve their products and their packaging. That’s why we think they’re more than worthy of inclusion in our iconic packaging series.

Tide detergent launched in 1947. A brand-new offering from Proctor & Gamble, it was the result of 14 years of spare time tinkering by one of their scientists, David Byerly. It was so effective and successful that by 1949, Tide became the leading laundry detergent in the United States.

Tide Box

Tide Detergent: Tide Box

Tide detergent was billed as the first heavy-duty detergent in the United States. Its first box bore an orange and yellow bull’s eye designed by architect and famous industrial designer, Donald Deskey. These vibrant colors were in complete contrast to the subdued colours used by competing detergents, making it stand out on grocery shelves and creating an iconic look that still persists today.

As part of its efforts to appeal to homemakers, Tide began sponsoring TV serials that aired during the day. The inclusion of Tide detergent in both the commercial breaks and the plot of the TV serials themselves led to the nickname everyone knows them as today: “soap operas.”

Liquid Tide

Tide Detergent: Liquid Tide

Tide gave competitors a run for their money in 1984, debuting Liquid Tide. With twice the number of ingredients and their competitors’ formulas, Liquid Tide treated clothes better and cleaned them more effectively. Perhaps one of the most welcome additions to their packaging was the self-draining laundry cap, which helped customers avoid leaks and drips once they were done using the detergent.

Tide to Go

Tide Detergent: Tide to Go

Released in 2005, Tide detergent went mobile with the Tide to Go Stain Releaser Pen. Meant to be carried by busy moms and professionals on-the-go, its formulation is designed to help remove fresh food and drink stains. The pen-inspired look means it fits in bags, purses, briefcases and office drawers, and its versatility has made it an effective and eagerly adopted cleaning product.

Tide Pods

Tide Detergent: Tide Pods

2012 marked the debut of Tide Pods, single-dose packs that contain all the detergent you need for a load of laundry. It removes the need to measure doses and avoids the potential for spills and messes that comes with the act of pouring from a jug. The result of 8 years of research and development, it went through more than 450 product and packaging sketches and involved over 6000 consumers during its testing.

It’s also well-known for being (unwillingly) used in the Tide Pod Challenge, a social media-based phenomenon that brought into question the common sense of a small chunk of modern day society.

Tide E-Commerce Box

Tide Detergent: Tide E-Commerce Box

As visually compelling as most iterations of Tide Detergent packaging are, their unexpected shapes need some extra shipping packaging. A corrugated box and some bubble cushion aren’t a problem, but they certainly add to Tide’s delivery footprint. Enter the Tide E-Commerce Box. Designed to make direct shipping to customers easier, the e-commerce box style turns the easy pour plastic jug into a robust, self-standing dispenser box.

Inside is a sealed bag full of liquid soap, supported in a slanted position to ensure every drop can be properly dispensed. There’s an easy-pour tap and a plastic measuring cup included as well. This novel construction uses 60% less plastic than the 150-ounce bottle of Tide because it doesn’t need the additional layers of cardboard or bubble. Manufacturing the corrugated contained also takes less water than the standard jug dispenser.

As you’ve likely guessed, this change was prompted by one of the world’s biggest online shopping sites. Their desire to find ways to more easily pack and ship items helped inspire this interesting packaging development. Humorously, this new box does look a little like boxed wine.

With its smart and innovative packaging design choices, Tide detergent has proven itself to be a lasting and iconic brand. And as appreciators of e-commerce packaging choices, we’re especially big fans of its e-commerce box creation. What’s a brand that you think is worthy of the iconic packaging mantle? Be sure to let us know—we’re always happy to showcase strong, clever and legendary packaging.