The ampersand is one of the more memorable logograms in written language. The sign for “and” isn’t just for brand names or excessively long law firm handles—it brings two separate entities together. In its own unique way, the conjunction feels symbolic of a collective.
And that’s not an idea lost on one of Mars Wrigley’s flagship candy brands M&M’S.
Today, the button-shaped, candy-coated chocolate treat beloved by type-fiends and font-fetishists everywhere for its tribute to the lowercase “m” unveiled not only its global redesign from Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR) but its new brand purpose—a renewed focus on creating a world where all of its inhabitants feel a sense of belonging. The blatant stab at inclusion is best seen through the visage of the ampersand that brings the candy’s two M’s together.
In press materials, the brand cites Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in guiding the redesign, a psychological theory of human motivation that states that, once we take care of our physiological and safety needs, we need to feel a sense of belonging. And that’s why JKR centers much of the consumer’s attention on the ampersand, a not-so-thinly veiled attempt to bring folks to the same table. Or, perhaps, in this case, the candy shop. Additionally, the last iteration of the logo appeared on its side; now, they’ve leveled its orientation to bring more focus on the ampersand.
Throughout all of the new brand assets, the agency purposefully pulls different varieties (or lentils—did you know they called the candies lentils?) of M&M’S together to symbolize unity. What’s more, they manage to capitalize on the brand’s well-documented love of color, using all of the candies across various brand assets. From the looks of it, JKR also developed a proprietary typeface for M&M’S—the immensely joyful All Together Serif.
“M&M’S has long been committed to creating colorful fun for all, and this purpose serves as a more concrete commitment to what we’ve always believed as a brand: that everyone has the right to enjoy moments of happiness, and fun is the most powerful way to help people feel that they belong,” said Cathryn Sleight, chief growth officer at Mars Wrigley, in a press release. “As one of the world’s most iconic candy brands, who better to commit to a world with more moments of fun by increasing a sense of belonging around the globe than M&M’S?”
“We’re excited to reveal our new M&M’S brand look and feel, which fans will see come to life across all M&M’S touchpoints around the globe,” said Jane Hwang, global marketing vice president of Mars Wrigley, in the same press release. “From new product innovations to brand campaigns, our evolved characters, and our experiential retail stores, we’ll incorporate colorful visuals, inclusive messaging, and our purpose into all we do to prove that all together, we’re more fun. In fact, this purpose is already on full display at the new M&M’S store in Berlin, which features multiple languages on signage as an invitation to all and our most diverse Associate base that celebrates those from different cultures, backgrounds, and generations.”
The new identity has already gone live online, and other changes will get rolled out later this year—likely the packaging, too. Consumers also got an eyeful of the revamped mascots today, showcasing their personalities while emphasizing community. Additionally, the female M&M’S are not only getting more prominent placement in ads, but they’re wearing more sensible shoes. Brown gets a lower heel while Green opts for sneakers and ditches the Nancy Sinatra boots-made-for-walking.
So, the only thing left to really ponder is whether the new identity and ethos are, well, kinda corny? Is it a little too Don Draper yoga-meets-cute-with-TM to buy the world a Coke and live in perfect harmony? I’m hardwired for pessimism, but that doesn’t mean I’m not the kind of sentimental fool that doesn’t cry at holiday coffee commercials or very specific John Darnielle songs.
Better to ask again later.