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Pushing the boundaries

New logo for MasterFoods by Keith Morris

MasterFoods is “one of Australia’s largest and best-loved food brands” with its range of herbs and spices, recipe bases, table sauces, marinades, mustards, relishes and finishing sauces. You’d be hard-pressed to find a pantry in an Australian household without a MasterFoods product.

The brand was created in 1945 by the Lewis family who were initially involved in marketing specialty food items imported from overseas. In the 1950s, they started manufacturing their own products and by the 1960s they had built a business with a reputation for innovation and quality. In 1967, MasterFoods became part of the Australian arm of Mars, Inc.

New MasterFoods logo
New logo

The old logo featured a graceful serif typeface that had an air of quiet confidence. The typeface was sharp yet soft, with the pointy, bracketed serifs of the s and M contrasted by the warm roundness of the ball terminals in the a and r. In a way, these opposing qualities were also reflected in the swooping shape of the holding device, with its curved edges and acute corners. It was this shape – and its maroon colour – that were the logo’s key distinguishing features.

The new logo’s brush lettering style is a nod to past, when the MasterFoods logo evolved through various script or handwritten styles. Some of these can be seen below.

MasterFoods products over the years
MasterFoods products over the years

The help maintain the familiarity of the logo, the text remains white and also has a maroon holding device behind it. While the shape of the holding device has been tweaked, the most notable change is that the lettering breaks the bounds of the device.

On one hand, it looks like a mistake as the padding of maroon around all four sides is uneven. I’m sure the logo would have been just as effective if the text was completely contained. On the other hand, breaking the box makes the logo look less rigid. There is also a nice sense of depth achieved by the application of the drop shadows which define the two outermost letters.

Old and new packaging
Old (left) and new (right) packaging for the MasterFoods Mild Chicken Curry recipe base

Naturally, the new logo is followed by new packaging. The main changes are the use of white as the base background colour, overhead photos of dishes and ingredients, and a multitude of new typefaces.

Unfortunately, a key feature of the previous packaging is lost – the maroon “wave” typically found on the left side of nearly every product face. The wave and the logo together anchored the packaging design and had great shelf impact. I would be concerned that the lack of a prominent colour and shape combination across the refreshed range will hurt recognition, but it’s still early days.

MasterFoods’ latest marketing campaign encourages home cooks to “Go Rogue with Flavour”, to ditch recipes and be creative with ingredients, and I think the new logo aligns with the creative nature of cooking with its casual appearance. After much thought, however, I do think the lettering should have been entirely contained in the maroon shape. It’s fussy enough as a script typeface and it just needs more space to breathe.

Overall, a brave but flawed update.