Not Berry Good…

Do not lose your mind just yet. The classic Smucker’s jam jar that you know and love is not going anywhere, yet (mellienal graphic designers might ruin that too soon). The J.M. Smucker’s company owns not only a powerhouse in the fruit jam, jellies, and spreads market, but also Jif, Folger”s, Milkbone, Meow Mix, totalling at over 40 brands. Looking at the previous logo, I would not have known that this company also makes dog treats, as well as a staple meal for kindergarteners and poor college kids alike. 

The J.M. Smucker’s Company has grown far beyond just jams and jellies; however, the corporate identity was too tied down with that association. The company’s biggest focus was separating the J.M. Smucker’s Company and Smucker’s jam and jellies. The previous J.M. Smucker”s Company logo features the Smucker’s name banner in a curved slab-serif typeface, two ripe strawberry illustrations, and the company name also in a serif typeface. This logo gives feelings of humbleness, family, and tradition with its almost storybook illustrations and the slab-serif typefaces that alludes to a cute little family farm. If the J.M. Smucker’s company were to just sell jam, this would be a great identity to have (they kept this identity for their Smucker’s fruit spreads) but the company does so much more than overly sugared squished fruits now. A new corporate identity was desperately needed to convey the other brands that are owned under the J.M. Smucker”s name. To prove that The J.M. Smucker’s company is in business with more than just what your toddler will eat for lunch, the company wanted to have a new identity that is “contemporary and modern” as described by the President and CEO of the J.M. Smucker’s company, Mark Smucker. 

The new logo has the easy, gimmie points of being “modern.” The illustrated strawberries have been replaced with vaguely berry shaped icons that are a nod to the company’s heritage, but it just looks oversimplified and then in turn lazy. Especially prominent in the promotion video that the company released shows the new logo’s evolution. It looks as if someone just got lazy in Adobe Illustrator, made one strawberry shape, command+c, command+v that, filled it as a whole color, lowered the transparency, and called it good. The use of transparencies in the new logo limits the background colors that the logo can be placed on which is another huge problem. The new logo can only really be viewed on a white background nor can it be replaced with one solid color.

 The new typefaces featured are a serif Cooper BT medium, and a sans-serif Brandon Grotesque. For a company that is now boasting their uniqueness, they should have gotten their own typeface design specifically for J.M. Smucker’s Company. The current type system looks beautiful, but is misaligned with their company values. Switching a company’s typeface to sans serif is a cheap way of making the company feel “new” “modern” and “chic but, despite the laziness, still  works in achieving those corporate buzzwords. The use of Brandon Grotesque in The J.M. Smucker’s Company logo does evoke that feeling of newness and moderness, but at the risk of starting to feel cold, industrial, distant, not like the humble family business that they were. The company also changed their name on their logo to read “J.M. Smucker’s Co” not “company” anymore, so, I will now refer to the brand as they intended. It seems like a small change, but I actually like the slight name change, for one I don’t have to type “mpany” anymore, and two, it gives it more of an edge and sophistication. I think dropping those extra two syllables helped me see the company in a modern light more than their half-assed strawberry illustrations. 

The promotional video that The J.M. Smucker’s Co released upon the reveal of the new logo and identity described that the red berry represents their heritage, the “spark” behind it represents inspiration, and the three leaves in the background represent creativity, culture, and growth. Do you also have a confused face right now? Good, so do I. Mark Smucker also explained in the promo video that this new logo conveys “participating in our communities” as the video shows pictures of people nailing wood together and 20 white people out in the forest.  Do you still have a confused face? Me too. The J.M. Smucker Co.’s website also highlights some woke pandering with empowering words such as “Be Bold” which to me feels cheesy. This and the vague statement of “giving back to communities” feels as if the company wanted to appear PC in 2021, without having to actually do and mention any social change. I can see where the design team was going with this new logo, but I think they missed their mark. When I see this logo, I do not see a multifaceted consumer staple product company that sells jam, to shitty coffee, to cat food, like they were aiming for, I still see a jam and jelly company. 

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