When images of Apple's new Snow Leopard packaging were leaked this summer, many doubted they were legitimate because they seemed so...unApple. So when the authenticity of the pictures was confirmed with the August release of the new operating system (the box featured an actual leopard, lightly dusted with snow), it was too much for some to swallow.

The popular Gizmodo tech blog ran the headline, 'Eight years of great Mac operating system box design end in a stupid clipart cat,' whereas Wired's Charlie Sorrel managed a more reserved but just as painful critique, saying 'This is what happens when Steve Jobs goes on leave.' Consumers were equally unforgiving in tech forums, on Amazon and on Twitter, where the biting commentary streamed in real time. It's all been u ncharacteristically unApple!

Rather than marking the point where the brand veers off track, though, this will likely be just a tiny blip for Apple. But it's a teachable moment. Or a reminder, really, that a brand can never rest on its past success. If you're an up-and-coming indie brand, this should spur you to go beyond the singular concept that brought you notoriety. If you're a heritage brand, you might consider a refresh. Even if you're the go-to brand in your category, you'll want to consider each packaging project as if an underwhelming concept means you'll be taken to task. Because when a design darling like Apple becomes the subject of packaging parodies like this, it's clear that no one is immune.