New York Times Gets Salty Over Diamond Crystal Rebrand

Diamond Crystal Salt - Brand redesign by Enlisted Design

It’s almost comical how mainstream brand redesigns are at this point. Being in any creative field, you’ve experienced random folks having an opinion on your work. The nosy executive, the random PA, or in this case, the amateur home chef. The New York Times, or more specifically, journalist and cookbook author Marnie Hanel, has decided to wade into the murky waters of branding, asking, What Happened to Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt?

To summarize the piece, Diamond Crystal hired Enlisted Design to work on a fresh look for the brand, as well as create smaller boxes for home chefs (it was previously only sold in very large, 3 lb. boxes). And ultimately, the piece tries to say that things shouldn’t change. That because Diamond Crystal is in some TV shows like The Bear, Ina Garten swears by it, and that it was used in the (toxic and abusive) Bon Appétit test kitchen years ago, it is somehow sacrilegious for the outdate design of the box to change.

Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one. Over the years, I’ve learned that everyone is entitled to their opinions, they don’t affect me or hurt my feelings. It does bother me though when there’s a lack of understanding on how branding, marketing, and capitalism connect in our modern world. It clearly states that Diamond Crystal “aims to increase the annual revenue … from $3 million to $50 million.” It cannot grow 16x with that ugly, old, 3 lb. box that was hard to find in most grocery stores. This is primarily, a business decision, a growth strategy, that happens to include a redesign.

A design comparison between Morton, Diamond Crystal, and Maldon salts

Speaking to the design itself, it’s nice! In the article’s byline, it’s described as “minimalist branding.” Sure, it’s simple, but minimal it is not, with bold, typography that bring an interesting bit of personality. The color palette is almost a direct opposite of Morton Iodized Salt, probably the best known brand of salt in the U.S., and distinctly different from the green and white color palette of the other major flakey salt brand, Maldon. Is the design following some rather well-worn trends? Sure, though I’ll assume that most consumers of salt wouldn’t be aware of that, only us design nerds. Some of the comments in the article stated, essentially, that the new design will “blend in with all the other salts on the shelf.” From my point of view, that is not the case here.

I give props to Enlisted Design for their great work, andI totally feel for them right now. The amount of weird spam they’re going to get from this clickbait-ridden article is going to suck. Context and insight is important.