Thanks mostly to the Morton Salt Girl, who has graced the brand’s signature pour-top canister since 1914, Morton is one of the most recognized brands in the condiment aisle. There’s only one problem: Morton’s products are actually in plenty of places that aren’t the condiment aisle.
“Most consumers know us best for the iconic round blue canister of table salt that made Morton famous,” CMO Denise Lauer told Adweek, “but there is so much more.”
The company not only makes salt for cooking and tabletop use (kosher, sea, Himalayan pink and so on) but also pool salt, water-softener pellets and ice melt.
Getting shoppers to recognize a brand when it sells products in multiple categories is often a tall order. The time-honored way to achieve it is with uniform packaging. After two years of work, Morton has finally taken the wraps off of its latest trade dress. It features what the company terms a “design system” with consistent elements that identify a product as Morton’s, yet enough variants to allow each individual product to have its own personality. This is the first time the brand has retooled its look since 2014.
“Morton’s portfolio is much larger than many people realize,” said Clark Goolsby, chief creative officer in the New York office of Chase Design Group, which led the overhaul. “To package all of these products they rely on a diverse range of structures. The elements of their previous design system were too rigid to create successful designs for all [of them.]”
The most visible element Chase developed was a large, navy-blue color block that takes its cue from the classic Morton Salt cannister and dominates the upper third of all the new packaging. A diagonal cutoff demarcates the block from the lower portions of the packaging, which vary according to product. It can be another band of color (in the case of the softener pellets) or a photograph (for the ice melt.)
Chase’s treatment also allows for a transparent window (for the sea salt and Himalayan Pink salt, for example) that allows customers to see the product inside. See-through windows have been a prominent feature on products like pasta for decades, but there are risks associated with using them if the goods inside end up looking less-than-appetizing. Fortunately for Morton’s, salt tends to always look like salt. Plus, according to Goolsby, the visibility is just good marketing.
“It’s important for consumers to see [the] salt for two main reasons,” he said. “First, Morton’s salt is incredibly pure and quite frankly beautiful. Second, it helps consumers shop the product because they can quickly identify the grain size they desire.”
Chase also gently modified the sans-serif typeface to increase its clarity, though the descender on the letter “R” still features an upturned tail to harmonize with leg of the Morton Salt Girl stepping her way through the rain.
As for that girl in the yellow dress with an umbrella over her shoulder, she received careful attention. While the mascot herself looks much the same as she did in 1968 when she traded her pigtails for windblown hair (a 2014 spruce-up merely simplified the character’s linework), Chase varied her proportions according to the product she appears on.
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