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Logology

A deep dive into America’s long, fraught tradition of racist logos

A photo illustration with different line textures around a box of Pearl Milling Company pancake mix and a bottle of its syrup.
A photo illustration with different line textures around a box of Pearl Milling Company pancake mix and a bottle of its syrup.

The Black Lives Matter groundswell last year prompted reckonings across many aspects of American business, including branding. The criticism of long-established commercial icons like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s, which had been building for decades, finally reached a tipping point. The result was their removal from packaging in overdue recognition of their roots in racist stereotypes, and their eventual replacement. So it was announced this week that the Aunt Jemima brand will now be known as “Pearl Milling Company,” replacing the character’s portrait with a drawing of a 19th-century water mill.

Late last year we saw a handful of these…


Logology

A new wave of company logos all include the same three-letter word

A collage of logos including Humboldt, JC Penney, Kangol Vintage, The Shave, Coors Light, and more.
A collage of logos including Humboldt, JC Penney, Kangol Vintage, The Shave, Coors Light, and more.

Does your local craft brewery’s logo helpfully inform you that the business was “Est. 2019”? Is the sign outside the trendy coffee shop down the street proud to declare it was “Est. 2016”? Logos declaring the year that a company was founded are gaining rapid popularity. In particular, businesses like these seeking to adopt a hipster aesthetic appear to append an “Est.” to their logos just as often as they use crossed objects or mustaches in their trademarks. Why the sudden popularity of this visual quirk?

In recent years, “Est.” has made quite a comeback, appearing in trademarks at a…


Logology

From Marriott’s Bonvoy to Slack’s ‘swastika,’ the public has made it clear: Don’t dare change a logo on them

In January, Marriott International unveiled an exciting new rebrand that had been in the works since its acquisition of Starwood back in 2016. The hotel chain ordained its new loyalty program — a consolidation of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest — “Bonvoy,” an invented word sprouting from the whimsical “bon voyage.” “Marriott Bonvoy marks an evolution in travel,” declared Marriott International’s Global Chief Commercial Officer Stephanie Linnartz on the company’s website, “because it represents more than a loyalty program.”

The timing for a brand rehab couldn’t have been better. Recently, the $39.56 billion hotel chain had found…

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