Thursday, November 17, 2011

Facelift | Faceoff: Marc’s

Logos fascinate me.
They really are the physical manifestation of the company or product they stand for. What I really love is talking with the marketing and creative minds behind a logo. The passionate way they express the rationale behind every minute detail is invigorating. It reminds us that each color and font, every word and creative element, is heavily debated and painstakingly scrutinized.
And when a logo undergoes a major change, that’s when things get really good. That’s when all the lively/emotional debates are still fresh on everyone’s mind; the point where decisions were inevitably made of disagreements in intended interpretations.
And so, in that spirit, we bring you a new series aptly named: Facelift | Faceoff. It’s a spot where we’ll discuss both the before and after of a logo/brandmark revision; what was the intent behind the change and which version is better.
Our first subject comes from my childhood. Marc’s Grocery & Deep Discount Stores is just that, founded in NE Ohio with locations spanning much of the state (we promise to feature more national recognized brands in future posts).
Before the facelift:

Here, we see “Marc’s” in all caps; the logo made use of hard, black edge lines and a drop shadow treatment. The yellow-colored tagline, “Fun for your money!” was part of the company’s signature television/radio jingle: “Have fun for your money and sa-a-a-a-a-av-v-e…at Marc’s.” It almost looked like a cashier’s nametag (a cashier named “Marc”).
After surgery:
Ah! The new logo moves “Marc’s” into an upper/lower casing, replacing the apostrophe with a floating green leaf. All of the hard, black edge lines and drop shadow are gone, giving the treatment a fresh, clean look. The legacy tagline has been removed, along with it, the conflicting yellow. In its place, a bright, new tagline: “Fresh Savings. Smart Living.”
30k Ft Weighs In:
I mean, who pairs red and yellow with black? When set alongside the new, the original logo almost makes me squint. It’s so hard and abrasive by comparison.  For anyone who has been inside a Marc’s store, the previous tagline is accurate. Marc’s was a wasteland upon which larger retailers would dump their unsellable.  A veritable funhouse of surprises awaits anyone who dares meander down Aisle 1; all at ridiculous prices. And, oh yea, Marc’s has groceries.
With the soft green leaf and absence of hard edges, the new logo articulates a shift in business strategy and greater emphasis on fresh grocery offerings. The new tagline is conscious of the current economic climate. It also alerts customers that two things wrongfully assumed to be at odds, “freshness” and “affordability,” can be found in-store.  
For us, the change is a welcomed one. “After” prevails.
So, weigh in. Did our ersatz plastic surgeons botch the procedure?
Which look do you prefer?


  1. Who knew Marc's even cared about aesthetics? What a subtle and welcome change, albeit one that won't make any bit of difference in how people perceive Marc's. Not unless it's coupled with clean, polished floors, clean even lighting, organization, and efficient checkouts. All things Marc's needs far more than a logo revamp.

  2. I couldn't agree more James. The changes, while subtle, are a drastic departure from the true in-store experience.

    As the saying goes, "if you can't tone it, tan it!" Sometimes it's easier to work on superficial, exterior elements than commit to the heavy lifting required on the inside.

    BTW, I'll expect an MJ-inspired rendition of the new jingle over Thanksgiving. ;)

  3. The new logo is a definite improvement, but I think it could have been better. I feel that the new slogan "Fresh Savings. Smart Living" is a bit difficult to read; it is a fun, casual font, but too sloppy. The old fashioned cursive was more legible. Additionally the uppercase M comes across too rigid and skinny.. but let's face it, the average customer isn't going to care, they are just going to see an updated look. Hopefully the stores do some updating to match the logo as James mentioned, but I've heard through the grapevine that the one up in Bath is quite nice so maybe the stores are a reflection of their neighborhood locations?

  4. Good points, Ashley. The tagline (especially the "t" in "Smart" could be cleaned up a bit). What's the average age of a Marc's shopper? :)

    I seem to recall both the Westlake and Rocky River stores to be a bit more upscale then their Lakewood counterpart, so I am sure the brand experience varies from store to store. (Which is perhaps part of the store's charm?) Though some of the in-store improvements James mentioned shouldn't be ignored...

  5. I don't know how I missed this post. That leaf immediately makes me think Marc's is an organic grocer offering fresh food, free-range meats, vegan options, etc etc etc. We all know the food Marc's sells is nothing close to any of these things!!! To even call it "fresh" is a joke! But I'm telling you, when I see that green leaf, I start to think organic. Maybe it's because Ford uses that leaf for it's hybrid logo so I associate it with environmental stuff. I dunno. Anyway.....

  6. I think sometimes, a logo needs to be designed to represent an ideal-state, as much as a reality. For Marc's (hopefully) the refresh in branding will help set the tone for positive changes inside the store. Never underestimate the power of the logo. It's power over managing perceptions and setting the tone can be huge (when followed through on). :)