& finally — it’s here. The chocolate we’ve all been waiting for. The rebrand we didn’t know we needed. The oh-so controversial (?) M&M’s overhaul.
Over the course of about three weeks, starting in mid-January 2022, Mars Wrigley hijacked almost every news network, Twitter feed, and Slack thread announcing their intentions to bring the beloved M&M’s animated characters into the modern era. Amongst this noise, a full M&M’s brand update consisting of packaging, color, type, iconography, tone etc. fell to the wayside. So, here we are to shine a light on what was done, how it looks, and how to feel about JKR messing with our favorite choco-treat.
For starters, let’s take care of probably the most important piece of this puzzle — an update to the iconic M&M’s brown. What started as a darker, chocolatey brown covering the surface of the classic packaging, is now a brighter, warmer brown. We like this as it falls right in line with the larger brand aesthetic overhaul that went from a 50’s candy brand stuck in the past to a pseudo-retro, 70’s-ish inspired afternoon treat for your eyeballs.
Unabashedly taking these retro design cues from similar brand updates like Burger King (also a JKR original) and Pizza Hut — it seems that food/CPG brands we all grew up with are not afraid to leverage nostalgia and good looks to get a little bitta recognition.
A slab serif coming in all weights and sizes, dubbed the “all together serif,” shows up in wonderfully bright greens, reds, yellows, and oranges that makes for a truly warm and welcoming feeling. (Something a candy with this level of cultural relevance deserves.)
Now, while colors and typefaces and character are of the utmost importance, what is the thread that ties them together visually? Well — Jones Knowles Ritchie has interestingly decided to make the ampersand sandwiched in the middle of M&M’s the hero of this new story. Through the central usage of the ampersand to tie together copy lines, create patterns, and one would believe eventually tell stories — we can surely expect to see it being pushed and pulled like a piece of taffy (no pun intended) to make new work.
Overall, the effort is balanced. I like balance. Balanced in the sense that they didn’t fix what wasn’t broken, and polished what had the potential to be just a bit better. Without balance, a brand either is too heavy and topples over, or trips over itself trying to relearn how to walk the walk. The only thing to have reservations about is whether or not the retro lipstick can outlast its trending nature. I guess we will have to wait and see.