Before & After: Morton Salt Branding
by Andrew Gibbs on 02/26/2014 | 9 Minute Read
Addison and Pause for Thought refresh one of America's most well loved brands: Morton Salt. Addison developed the masterbrand positioning and 100 anniversary branding. Pause for Thought designed the new logo and soon to launch packaging.
The company is launching a year-long campaign in honor of the Morton Salt Girl, who marks her 100th year as the face of the brand in 2014. Morton Salt is also refreshing its brand this year by updating its logo and introducing a new packaging design system.
The Morton Salt Girl has been a staple in hearts and homes all across America for 100 years, and she’s still the one that people trust to be part of their life experiences. That’s because she is more than just a symbol of our brand. She’s an American way of life.
- Christian Herrmann, Chief Executive Officer of Morton Salt
The Birth of an Icon
It was 1914 when the little girl with the umbrella was introduced on the familiar blue round package of Morton Salt and in a print ad in the October issue of Good Housekeeping. The Morton Salt Girl and “When It Rains It Pours®” slogan were created over a century ago for the company’s national advertising campaign to help illustrate that Morton Salt could flow freely even in damp weather, a major product innovation at the time.
Since then, she has grown to serve as a trust mark on a full range of Morton Salt products for consumer and industrial uses. And she still remains a source of inspiration. Even after 100 years, her appeal has stood the test of time as she continues to be brought to life by children and adults in parades, at costume parties, in school art and science projects and in social media.
“The Morton Salt Girl has been a staple in hearts and homes all across America for 100 years,” Herrmann said. “And she’s still the one that people trust to be part of their life experiences. That’s because she is more than just a symbol of our brand. She’s an American way of life.
From Birthday to Brand Refresh
Like its iconic Girl, Morton Salt has been a symbol of Americana. After 165 years, it is one of the country’s oldest and most well-known brands still today. But even iconic brands need an update.
“Morton Salt has evolved as a business and a brand since introducing that familiar blue package of table salt over a century ago,” Herrmann said. “Today, we’re enhancing everyday experiences in more ways and places than ever before through a full range of culinary salts, ice melters, water softening products, Epsom salt and even salts for business and industry.”
He added: “To help signal the company’s continued growth, this milestone year was the perfect opportunity to refresh the Morton Salt brand with an updated logo and packaging design system.”
• The Morton Salt logo is widely recognized for its bold “Morton Salt” word mark. The new logo now features a fresh and friendly font, while maintaining the leadership qualities of the original word mark, specifically the bold, all-caps type style. The letter “R” in the new “Morton” word mark also carries a slight kick to mimic the Morton Salt Girl’s step.• In addition to the word mark, the company updated its Morton Salt Girl icon as part of its brand refresh – but in small, subtle ways. The new Morton Salt Girl has cleaner, simplified linework to fit better with the new “Morton Salt” word mark.
“We constantly listen to consumers to ensure that we continue to meet their changing needs,” Herrmann said. “Through our latest market research, we know that the Morton Salt Girl is synonymous with the brand and her timeless, classic look still resonates with consumers today. However, we also knew there was an opportunity to make the brand look and feel more modern and approachable.”
Along with the new logo, Morton Salt is also rolling out a new package design system for its consumer products, starting in the first quarter of 2014. The new design system preserves the iconic elements of the Morton brand, while using contemporary fonts and simpler communication hierarchies.
The new design system will be applied to all Morton consumer products. For Morton’s iconic Iodized and Plain culinary salt products, in 2014 only, the company is featuring the new Morton logo with a birthday graphic treatment in honor of the Morton Salt Girl’s 100th Birthday. This limited edition packaging will be sold in retail and grocery stores nationwide.
Morton Salt is also marking this milestone year with the first of many new product innovations to come. In 2014, the company is launching two products: Morton® Garlic Sea Salt, an industry first; and Morton® Sea Salt, Roasted Garlic Sea Salt and Black Peppercorn Grinders in stylish, table-top ready glass bottles. These products will be available nationally in 2014.
Morton Salt Girl History
Ever since the introduction of anti-caking salt in 1911, the Morton Salt Company had been trying to develop a concept that properly illustrated this innovative feature. To solve this problem, Morton hired advertising agency N.W. Ayer and Company to develop a marketing campaign that would promote the anti-caking properties of their salt. The result of which would become one of the most iconic and enduring brand figures of all time.
While several plans were proposed, an originally disregarded alternative concept was noticed by Sterling Morton, the son of founder Joy Morton. This idea was that of a young umbrella-toting 8 year old, who was accidentally pouring salt while walking in the rain.
While this concept demonstrated the value and innovation of Morton’s anti-caking salt, it also added a symbol of innocence and purity. The Morton Salt Company adapted a new slogan, “When it rains, it pours.” inspired by a well-known proverb of the time.
The ad debuted in a series of ads for Good Housekeeping in 1914, and the Morton Salt Girl was introduced to the world.
To correspond with the fashion of the day, the Morton Salt Girl received an updated look after her debut seven years prior. Her curly hair was straightened and darkened, and she was given a wide and friendly smile. 1921 also marks the first appearance of the upturned foot, a component that has lasted ever since.
1933 saw the Morton Salt Girl’s curls return that some say was a result in the rise of child star Shirley Temple, who donned a similar style to her hair. Thus, the 1933 version of the Morton Salt Girl is referred to by many as the “Shirley Temple Version”.
In 1941, the Morton Salt Girl got her first dash of color. The yellow dress that she was given is now as synonymous with her as the salt and umbrella she is carrying. Additionally, design updates to her hair added golden blonde braided pigtails and removed the prominent bow from previous versions.
15 years after the first addition of color, even more yellow was added when the Morton Salt Girl began to carry a yellow umbrella. Her overall appearance was simplified and brightened in order to create a more inviting tone that corresponded with changes to the Morton Salt round can, including the addition of yellow to the top and bottom of the package.
1968 gave the Morton Salt Girl her some of the most significant changes to design since her inception in 1914. In March of that year, “America’s favorite 8 year old” was reintroduced to the world with short, windblown hair and a high-waisted, short yellow dress. She also for the first time was looking away on the label.
This version of the Morton Salt Girl is the most familiar to consumers today, as she has been a staple of households everywhere since.
While 2014 is a year to celebrate the 100th Birthday of the Morton Salt Girl, it is also a year for slight updates and modifications to her look.
The Morton Salt logo is widely recognized for its bold “Morton Salt” word mark. The new logo now features a fresh and friendly font, while maintaining the leadership qualities of the original word mark, specifically the bold, all-caps type style. The letter “R” in the new “Morton” word mark also carries a slight kick to mimic the Morton Salt Girl’s step.
In addition to the word mark, the Morton Salt Girl was updated in small, subtle ways. The new Morton Salt Girl has cleaner, simplified linework to fit better with the new “Morton Salt” word mark.
New Logo (top) & Previous Logo (bottom)
100 Year Campaign Branding