In 2023, brands would kill to have unbreakable brand recognition. Amongst aisles and aisles of consumer packaged goods to pick from at every grocery store, there has always been one that sticks out of the rows: Kraft Dinner.
The holy grail of breakfast, lunch AND dinner as a child, a teenager, a student, an adult. Cemented as the go-to brand of neon orange packaged Mac and cheese, no other brand could do. Even as a money-strapped university student, you couldn’t just buy the no-name brand because you knew it wouldn’t be the same. The tagline was right: Gotta be KD.
So when we heard about KD’s recent rebrand in 10 years, you could imagine our excitement. Here are 3 reasons why KD’s visual identity is changing the game for rebrands:
Depth in the flatness
First, a brief art lesson: The Kiki and Bouba Effect is a non-arbitrary association to the concept that the word “Kiki” feels sharp and pointed, while “Bouba” feels soft and squishy. While there is no exact connection between why our minds associate these connotations to these words, we all agree that some things sound sharp while others feel soft. However, we can also all agree that things are either Kiki or they’re Bouba — you can’t ever be both.
For the last 10 years, every brand has needed a flat logo in their toolkit, whether because they have an app or because they need the logo to work harder in tinier spaces (think Instagram profile images), flat has allowed these logos to become more legible and smaller.
With KD’s new visual identity, they teeter the scale to be both flat and have depth. Since flat is generally pretty boring — and since everyone does it — the really refreshing thing is that KD does both. They’ve added depth to a flat visual identity, inching it closer to detail but still staying very digital-friendly. That’s tricky, and KD nailed it.
Optimizing for digital
The rebrand has taken out a gradient background shine from their old packaging, and substituted for a flavour-specific colour. This is great for personal preference recognition on the shelf, and really makes the hero flavour shine in the aisle.
The interesting thing is that the new logo, while stunning on digital marketing collateral, looks “fine” on the box. Of course it’s still very recognizable on the shelf and maintains its key colours, but the box itself in-store won’t pop the same way.
You know where it will? In ads. On social. On the internet.
We’d be remiss to not mention the font. KD is getting the letters to shine with this navy outline, which forces the ‘KD’ to jump out to you with the cartoonish highlights. (Shout out to Juno Birch's iconic sunglasses!)
You can’t scroll on TikTok without being hit by the KD colour palette every time the ads swipe up. The richness of the blue and the iconic eye-sizzling yellow uppercut you in the face, and you know it’s a KD ad. Whether you swipe away right when you see it, or you watch the entire thing — it’s KD. You would recognize that colour combination anywhere.
Pack shots that are worth staring at
Consumers are tired of moody commercials that look like they’re lit in a dungeon. While some situations require bright lighting that showcases the pack shots, sometimes it’s giving…hospital. While not everything needs to be lit like a moody indie film, pack shots are such an evergreen asset for your brand that it should show character and accentuate the products, not interrogate them like a police investigation.
Plus, the pack shots aren’t forcing you to look at all the products at the same time. They aren’t perfectly sitting so nicely elbow to elbow (get it?) their positioning feels natural. Especially for smaller brands with less brand recognition, they feel the urge to show emphasis on each individual product like a spotlight. Instead, think of it more like a group photo of your friends: Smiling, arms around each other, some people are crouched, some are looking in different directions. Avoid the perp lineup at the police station, standing side-by-side-by-side. Each product will find its own place in the frame, naturally.
Brands should take note
Don’t be afraid of digital neon colours, even if you’re in consumer packaged goods. For years we’ve prioritized the package’s printing profile instead of the digital colour spectrum. Forcing ads to match the packaging. KD is flipping this priority, with strong digital colours that will simply exist in person. Putting the emphasis on brand instead of pack. Taking a firm stance on colours, and especially differentiating flavour cues through colour palettes, assists consumers with navigating their preferences and gravitate towards their flavour more easily.
If there’s only one thing to take note of in KD’s rebrand, it’s this: Be ready to optimize your visual identity for the online universe. Plant your flag and decide on a palette that resonates with your audience. Then, imagine all the ways it shows up on digital — does it pop off the screen? Will it attract new audiences? Stake your claim, even if it feels like “too much.” For netizens of the digital universe, it rarely is ever enough.
This rebrand is so simple and effective. It’s modern but retro, it’s human and likeable, but still recognizable as a product, not a person. So what if I’m gluten free? I’m still adding it to cart.
Co-Founder & Creative Director at Super Duper Studios.