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Brand Review: Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors gets a Branding Refresh by Looking at the Past.

Legacy companies are finding success in transforming their brands by looking to their past, but the quality of the new “BR” brand falls short.

Admittedly the Baskin Robbins 31 flavors logo probably enticed me into the world of graphic design—at least on some level. It was fun and playful, yet, somehow serious enough to be considered a corporate logo mark. It brought excitement to kids walking into their cotton candy and vanilla sugar-centered stores. The design beauty, of course, is that the “BR” secretly hid the number “31” forming what the design world calls a gestalt—beautiful. 

While I'm personally nostalgic about a Baskin Robbins visit signifying the end of a soccer weekend, baseball tournament, or school performance celebrated around frozen treats, the brand has grown tired and needed a refresh. My first thought when looking at the new “BR” monogram that still has the “31” hidden, though not-so-hidden anymore in the middle, was a disappointment.

While doing visual research and learning more about the direction of the brand and decisions the branding agency ChangeUp Inc (who had support from 22Squared). was trying to make, I found an original version of the Baskin Robbins logo and can now see the attempt but still exclaim that the new monogram is clunky and poorly drawn

The new “BR” monogram now features a heavy serif “B” mashed together with a clumsily drawn numeral “3” next to what would seem to be a capital “R” hacksawn together with a very obvious numeral “1”. The characters take up some of the brand palette reminiscent of Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, or other brands with recent redesigns that are leaning into their sense of nostalgia.

While the new “BR’ “31” monogram is rooted in original design dating back to 2006 and pays homage to the heritage of the brand of 1947, it's so clumsily drawn that it’s distracting and feels like the first sketch of a second-year design student. The idea is right, so very right, but the execution falls short. 

A Baskin-Robbins spokesperson told Insider that the new logo paid homage to its early beginnings, and its original 1947 logo, which "featured circus-inspired typography in pink and brown."

A Baskin-Robbins spokesperson told Insider that the new logo paid homage to its early beginnings, and its original 1947 logo, which "featured circus-inspired typography in pink and brown."

This clunky new monogram, with its 1950s-inspired woodblock style serifs, is paired with a sans serif typeface to try and give the look and packaging some normalcy. It’s even mildly reminiscent of the previous brand, whose wordmark looks like birthday candles on an ice cream cake. Usually, this is the right move—to pair a serif font with a sans serif font—so that one can pick up the slack where the other might fall short. Interesting and beautiful combinations of types can be made to extend the brand into new and interesting environments. An example for Baskin Robbins is their new clunky logo on an ice cream cone wrapper, freezer displays, and birthday cake boxes. The work of the sans serif font, in this case, is to help in readability while keeping the tone of the brand whether it be labeling vanilla, cookies, and cream, or any other 29 flavors on any other product.

This font, however, seems fresh out of the box and as ill-proportioned as the monogram—not relevant to the brand other than trying to continue on some of the motifs of the previous logo which felt more like a birthday cake topper than an ice cream store. Looking at the old mark of 1947, I yearn for the opportunity that was missed in the typography of their seal.

There’s beautiful woodblock-inspired typography in the original mark that is screaming as loud as kids for ice cream. That sentiment tried to make an appearance in this new version but doesn't have the craft or care of the original woodblock cutters. Unfortunately for a company like Baskin Robbins, that might echo their lack of quality and care in their ice cream—an explanation for the rise of competitor brands like Ben and Jerry's who have grown blown up in recent years.

The new Baskin Robbins 31 flavors rebrand seems as if it's trying to do similar work to the Burger King and Dunkin Donuts rebrands. Both of these projects more successfully feature a nostalgic return to typography and look backward in order to develop a new brand. In these two cases of success, the branding agency turned to professional type designers who had the craft and quality to develop phenomenal typefaces that married nostalgia with contemporary visuals. 

A shining moment in the new Baskin-Robbins brand must be their "Sieze the Yay" tagline and accompanying videos. In a world where negative headlines take the front-seat nearly everyday, a small ode to joys big and small is a welcome change. 22Squared worked to develop a few initial media spots that celebrate moments like riding a bike, or the first day of school—moments leaning into the nostalgia of past and present childhood experiences.

All told, the Baskin Robbins logo is a missed opportunity to revive beautiful typography, a missed opportunity to beautifully execute a long-standing gestalt, and a missed opportunity to breathe new life into an aging brand. They may have seized this moment in design to look backward toward nostalgia and messaging, but they didn’t seize any “Yay” in the new logo. I can't imagine the new brand for Baskin Robbins will harm the brand in any way, but it won't be worth replacing the 1000s of signs outside of stores or interiors with an uninspired “BR” and “31” monogram.

Client
Sector
Credits
New Baskin Robbins Logo, Change Up Inc.
"BR" and "31" monogram gestalt used variously beginning in 2006.
New Baskin Robbins Packaging, Change Up Inc.
Baskin Robbins Bags, Change Up Inc.
Baskin Robbins Ice Cream and Sleeves, Change Up Inc.
New Baskin Robbins Apparel Suite, Change Up Inc.
Baskin Robbins New Marketing Campaign, Change Up Inc.
Digital Media for Baskin Robbins, Change Up Inc.
Baskin Robbins Storefront mockup, Change Up Inc.

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