Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mr Kipling brand history


Earlier this year, you could read about a new design for Mr. Kipling, a classic British brand for ready-made pies and cakes. The history of its conception and subsequent development in the last decade is a somewhat interesting one.

The brand was created in the 1960s by Rank Hovis McDougall who wanted revitalize their cake sales, but also wanted to utilise a new bakery. When the brand launched in 1967, the range included 20 products that were sold in premium boxes with handles.

Mr. Kipling himself never actually existed, he was an invention by marketing men who wanted to give a traditional family feel for something that is actually industrially produced. This was reinforced through ads suggesting Mr Kipling was a small shop baker, specifically in TV ads where James Hayter did the voice of Mr. Kipling. A successful example of the perhaps a bit disingenuous tactic of implying great heritage where none exists.


Original Mr Kipling logo.

This 1968 ad archived by the History of Advertising Trust shows what must be Mr. Kipling's first package design. The "exceedingly good cakes" slogan has also been there since the start. Over the following three decades, the packaging would evolve slowly with incremental changes. The logo imitated traditional shop signs, and for a period it also featured the signature box handles.

From a 1985 advert, uploaded by AntarcticaTelevision.

From a 1994 ad, uploaded by TVajb.

After more than 30 years where tradition and heritage was at the core of the brand's identity, a fundamentally different design was introduced in 2001. Now, the brand opted for a new modern oval logo and mostly red packaging. The credit for this design goes to Brown ID, which is now a part of The Brand Union.


Around 2004/2005, Mr Kipling's brand design was overhauled once again. Created by Turner Duckworth, the new packaging went upmarket, and replaced the obligatory product shots with closeups on the product or its ingredients. Overall, the packaging was very clean with very little text on the front.


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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Although quite well-received by the design community, sales of Mr Kipling products dropped significantly. The company behind the brand blamed Turner Duckworth's redesign for steep sales drop, claiming it had alienated its core audience. One could argue that the new premium design didn't correspond to the actual product, as the cake recipes were left unchanged.

After barely a year, Mr Kipling was once again rebranded, this time by Vibrandt, who went for a "safer" design that reintroduced the red signal colour and clear product images. It was quickly pointed out that this new design slowed down the sales decrease.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

RHM was bought by Premier Foods in 2007. Vibrandt (today known as 1HQ) continued to work with the brand and would update the design later on (probably in 2008), refreshing the logo to include a smile extended from the initial K and writing the product names in a script typeface across the front of the packaging.


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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This design lasted until early 2012, when Mr. Kipling was once again overhauled, this time by JKR, who created new packaging that hopefully strikes the right balance between aesthetic sensibilities and commercial needs.

3 comments:

  1. The latest packaging certainly hits the right spot between aesthetic sensibilities and commercial needs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't believe Mr. Kipling doesn't exist. Is this someone's idea of a joke?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Today's branding is awful! I've been passing it by for ages thinking it was the store's Value range.

    ReplyDelete