I don’t usually put on my graphic designer hat to write this blog, but tonight, the power of fast food compels me. While eating at a Jack in the Box for the first time since college, I spotted a history of the company logo on a placemat. The old logos had character! More than that, they actually had — get this — Jacks-in-the-Box! Somewhere between 1951 and today, Jack in the Box managed to pretty much screw the pooch when it comes to corporate identity.
Problem number one: I had no idea Jack in the Box had even changed its logo. A quick trip to Google reveals that the current abomination has been in play since late 2008. The exterior signage of the locations in my area hasn’t been changed, so this new logo was effectively invisible to me until I found myself craving a patty melt … more than a year later.
Problem number two: This logo suffers from severe multiple personality disorder. We’re not talking about mild, real-life, DSM-IV multiple personalities, either. This is a case of played-by-Jim-Carrey-in-the-movie-version multiple personalities.
The friendly, red six-sided figure and the inviting, old-school script evoke the kind of neighborhood hamburger joint my parents probably visited when they got good grades in elementary school. So far, so good. Then we come to the type for “in the box,” which blatantly aims for cool and contemporary. If the script “Jack” is 1962, the squarish sans serif “in the box” is 2002. It’s less Jack in the Box, more Jack in the XBox.
Conclusion? Jack in the Box has no idea what it really wants to be. Sure, they’ve got the cheeky spokes-clown who’s supposed to signal that they’re less stuffy than other burger places, but he’s asking you to believe a very 1950s proposition: that you should buy these burgers because they’re actually pretty good.
Whatever my feelings about Jack in the Box’s food (for the record: a Sourdough Jack, once a year, tops), the typography doesn’t lie. Jack’s a total schizo, and the dude needs to get his act together.
On this count, I can’t blame Duffy & Partners, the designers of the new identity. The brief they were working with asked for something more in line with the mascot, Jack Box. They delivered the design the client wanted, but because Jack is all over the place, so is the logo.
Essential reading if you’re curious about this sort of thing: