Mark Smucker is the great-great grandson of J.M Smucker Co.’s founder. Jerome Monroe Smucker started his company in 1897, selling apple cider and apple butter from the back of a horse-drawn wagon. He based his company in Orrville, Ohio, where the company is still headquartered.
Smucker made a name for itself with jams and jellies. It then grew through deals including the acquisition of Jif and Crisco in 2002, and Folgers in 2008, from Procter & Gamble. Later, it jumped into the pet food category, first by adding brands including Milk-Bone with the 2015 purchase of Big Heart Pet Brands, and then adding brands including Rachel Ray Nutrish with the 2018 acquisition of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition.
While Smucker's is still best-known for jams and jellies, they are now a small part of its overall business. Pet food is the biggest piece of the portfolio, followed by coffee and then by the U.S. retail consumer foods segment, which includes the Smucker’s fruit spreads.
“We were a branded house, and now we’re a house of brands,” says Smucker.
Beyond jams and jellies
Smucker admits the general public doesn’t recognize Smucker beyond jams and jellies. Fruit spreads, however, accounted for only 4.7 percent of sales in fiscal 2020. “Consumers think we’re just a jam and jelly company,” he says.
Smucker’s began using the slogan, “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good,” in 1962. The line, from the agency Wyse Advertising, is still used today.
The new corporate design might help outsiders realize the company's breadth.
“The strawberry reference is a nod to our heritage, but we really wanted it to be much more and to not represent any specific brand we have in our portfolio,” says Smucker.
The design process took more than a year, and included interviews and outside research, including having MBA students share their feedback about the corporate identity. The branding agency CBX came up with the new look.
“The new identity uses the familiar strawberry to anchor the mark, a pivot point to convey change, and the movement of shapes to express the future,” Rick Barrack, chief creative officer and co-founder of CBX, said in a statement. “We think it captures the essence of their organization, while giving a nod to their heritage.”
After studying a variety of designs “it was almost unanimous,” Smucker says of the chosen look.
No plans to change brand
The new logo will be used in places including the company’s Orrville, Ohio, headquarters, on its corporate website and in presentations for investors and retailers. It won’t replace the Smucker’s logo on products such as jams and jellies.
“Each brand has its own identity and should stand on its own,” says Smucker, who adds that there are no plans to change the Smucker’s brand.
Under Smucker’s leadership—he’s been CEO since 2016—the company has pushed beyond its past. It consolidated its agency lineup with Publicis Groupe, bringing fresh energy to advertising for brands such as Folgers.
“We always say our lines are in the water,” Smucker says when asked the potential for further acquisitions, without naming specific categories where it might want to expand. “The opportunities that exist out there are pretty thin right now,” he says.
The company planned to launch its new look at the beginning of the summer. It opted to wait a few months as it was busy dealing with a massive surge in demand for some of its products, including Folgers coffee and Uncrustables frozen sandwiches.