Monthly Archives: January 2021

King Arthur Baking Company: a Comparative Critique of their 2020 Logo

King Arthur Flour has a special place in my cupboard, as it has in many other homes over its 250-year history. In 2020 they underwent a brand overhaul which involved renaming their company to King Arthur Baking Company and getting a whole new set of graphics. Unlike many companies that try to do away with their historic charm, King Arthurs’s redesign is classy and modern while maintaining the dignity and sophistication that should come with a well-established brand.

The existing logo on the left with the 2020 logo on the right

There was no “grand vision” for this as far as I can tell, they just wanted to recognize that they had expanded to sell more than just flour and to better reflect the range of the company. The website description of why they changed the name includes this charming image of their 1996 website design, which really cheesily plays into the old-timey castle vibe of the brand. Although I personally love the unabashed embracing of the tacky medieval theme, their new website is sleek and modern without being too sparse like so many are these days.

King Arthur’s old website homepage

The design was done by Little Co, who has worked with the likes of Target and Lowes. Their website has one of those popular animations of the old logo turning into the new logo which is actually quite cute. It shows the horse on the old logo riding out of frame and then gives us an image of a wheat stalk growing into what becomes the front of the crown. Little Co. states, “At the center of the new logo, the wheat crown. Representing King Arthur’s heritage, quality, commitment to agriculture and, most of all, baking.” And honestly? It totally works for them. It gives a strong nod to the root of their company, the flour, and still acknowledges the name of the brand and the medieval theme. The crown is very well done in my opinion, there are plenty of ways to draw a simple crown that might fit the modern times but the extra detailing of the wheat, as well as the splash of red underneath it to tie in that color, speaks to both the old and the new.

The wheat symbolism was used a lot in the launch, Little Co had a large social media campaign since they launched it during a pandemic. We got to see the wheat pattern in most of the deliverables, from Instagram stories to swag, to even seeing real wheat laid next to bread.

One of the ways wheat was visually present in the launch

This didn’t come across as “we get it you sell flour” to me at all, it was very tastefully done and was variant enough that it tied it together without overdoing it. I think their mock-ups and brand photography was really well done overall. There was lots of variety with it, from a rustic measuring cup to a well-loved cutting board to a very charming and sleek delivery van. Really, I can’t get over this van. It only uses the neutral colors from the branding so it wouldn’t be a driving hazard on the road but it still somehow perfectly captures the spirit of the redesign. 

The world’s best delivery van

The brand photography we got with this had a very comfortable amount of diversity. You can tell an effort was made without them completely overstepping. Not only did we get race diversity but there was also a good amount of age diversity which I probably wouldn’t have thought of but it encapsulates the spirit of baking really well.

Launch photo shoot with diverse models

The color palette used in all of the places I have shown so far is tasteful and subdued, perfect for the natural qualities of the brand and the deep rich colors for the richness of the company history. However, in a few spots on the launch, they used this awful eye-attacking neon red. I see that they needed a brighter and a darker red for the packaging as well as some of the merchandising, but this other red is a particular eye-sore. At this point, I believe there are four different reds being worked with which is altogether unnecessary. I can’t quite tell which red is used for the red on the flour bag, but it works well in contrast to the simple colors or the rest of the bag and to stand out on the shelf. I was very particularly grieved by this set of graphics, which I’m not even sure was used anywhere other than Little Co’s website but they really stood out as bright and tacky in contrast to everything else I saw. I hate them.

Ugly gifs from Little Co’s website

It looks like some of these designs were also applied as a button set but those are much more subdued and work much better.

The button set I would totally put on my apron

In conclusion? I think this brand overhaul was very successfully done and was pleasing to me as a customer and designer, with the exception of the tacky little animations that were included with the launch packet.

Thoughts on Marshall McLuhan

People gather around a television in their living room in the mid 50s.
Credit: Press Association Images

McLuhan makes a lot of good points in his communication theory but as technology has changed, a lot of the ways he categorized different mediums has become irrelevant. The tribal and fragmentary way of categorizing different technologies still holds some relevancy; we do interact with different formats in different ways. The novelty of certain mediums and the way that society interacts with technology has not remained static since the years that this theory was formulated. For example, when McLuhan was working with these ideas, television was a relatively new idea that captured a lot of attention from people. If your family had a television, it was frequently a group activity in which the entire family would sit together and watch one of the few programs available at the time. Because of the limited selection of programming, watching television was a big deal to humanity in a social aspect. If you had to miss an episode of the popular program at the time, it could make someone feel left out, since there was no way to go back and see it. Therefore there was a lot of social pressure and interest in consuming television, making it a tribal media. Moving into the future, television became much more affordable and easy to access, leading to more people having access to them. The real shift came when programming essentially boomed, suddenly there were hundreds of options of things to watch. People still had to tune in at a certain time to see what they wanted to watch, so there may have been some tribal aspects if your social group was all invested in the same program. There would have been less congregating to consume this media at that point. With the introduction of streaming services, McLuhan’s placement of television on this scale became almost completely flipped. Suddenly every individual can watch whatever they want whenever they want on their own personal devices. Television as a media no longer refers necessarily to the big screen in the family room- it becomes shows as individual bits to consume wherever you have access. This is even the case in countries where big pieces of hardware like televisions may not have been as widespread- smartphones are much easier to acquire and are more versatile so there is virtually nowhere where television viewing is still a major tribal event. There are, however, certain instances like major sporting events where many many people are tuning in at the same time. I still think that I would categorize television as fragmentary in this instance because every individual’s environment and viewing experience may vary. Some could be watching it on cable TV with one set of ads while others are streaming it from their ESPN apps on their phones. Considering all of this, I wouldn’t put television as strictly fragmentary, but it is important to notice its evolution away from tribal as just one example of how McLuhan’s theories may need to be updated to fit the changing technology.

I’m Laurel

Hey everyone, I’m a third-year Graphic Design major double minoring in Photography and Art History. I honestly have no clue what I want to do with design but I know that I enjoy creating physical products and following exact directions. I am merely in the field to be the hands to create other people’s ideas. Just another cog in the corporate design machine.