Peter Saville, mentioned last week (as co-designer of Joy Division/New Order album, “Total”) also had a hand in designing this 1983 cover for New Order’s 12″ single for Blue Monday. (Some sources credit both Saville and Brett Wickens with the design. Others only mention Saville.)
The thing is, the information was there all along, only it was playfully hidden behind a Saville’s obscure color code—the nature of which was only fully revealed later, on the back of New Order’s subsequent release, “Power Corruption and Lies.”
The sleeve does not display either the group name nor song title in plain English anywhere; the only text on the sleeve is “FAC SEVENTY THREE” on the spine. Instead the legend “FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER” is represented in code by a series of coloured blocks. The key enabling this to be deciphered was printed on the back sleeve of the album, Power, Corruption & Lies. “Blue Monday” and Power, Corruption & Lies are two of four Factory releases from this time period to employ the colour code, the others being “Confusion” by New Order and From the Hip by Section 25.
The single’s original sleeve, created by Factory designer Peter Saville and Brett Wickens, was die-cut with a silver inner sleeve. It cost so much to produce that Factory Records actually lost money on each copy sold. Matthew Robertson’s Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album notes that “due to the use of die-cutting and specified colours, the production cost of this sleeve was so high that the single sold at a loss.” Tony Wilson noted that it lost 5p per sleeve “due to our strange accounting system”; Saville noted that nobody expected “Blue Monday to be a commercially successful record at all, so nobody expected the cost to be an issue.” …
Robertson also noted that “later reissues had subtle changes to limit the cost” (the diecut areas being replaced with printed silver ink).
from Wikipedia’s entry on Blue Monday’s Packaging
Of course, coyly concealing your brand’s name behind a puzzle-like color code can only work if your products are already eagerly sought ought by an enthusiastic fan base.
(Photo of the back cover of “Power, Corruption & Lies” sleeve with its decoder key ring, after the fold…)
See also: Color-Coded Bloodstream