Brand Strategy

Magnolia Bakery unveils its first rebrand since before the iPhone

CMO Eddie Revis goes behind the scenes on the brand’s new look.
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Magnolia Bakery

· 5 min read

If Eddie Revis, CMO of Magnolia Bakery, had a nickel for every time he’s been involved in a corporate rebrand, he’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice, right?

In 2017, Revis was part of Chobani’s shift from a stark to a soft look. Now, he’s partnered with his former Chobani coworker Lisa Smith and her team at Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR) to redesign one of the most well-known bakeries in New York City—its first rebrand since 2007.

“The perspective I keep giving my team is like, that’s before the iPhone, so try to comprehend how long ago that was in the world of branding and identity and [visual] ID,” he told Marketing Brew.

Before Revis became CMO of Magnolia Bakery a year ago, he said a rebrand wasn’t even on the table. Rather, he said the company was interested in what it could do to ensure success for the next 25 years. “Unfortunately, the identity and the brand guidelines and the visual identity that we had in place was not going to be a tool to help us get there faster.”

Magnolia Bakery before and after its 2022 rebrand

Magnolia Bakery

Freshening up

Over the next 12–18 months, the look and feel of Magnolia Bakery will change. The brand has stayed true to its pastel color palette, but now uses a simpler, more modern font. They’ve also taken the storefront illustration that used to appear above the logo and moved it to the bakery’s shipping boxes. “We said, ‘Okay, if it’s Magnolia Bakery showing up at your doorstep, does an illustration of the bakery maybe make more sense there?’”

Magnolia’s patented cupcake swirl has also been incorporated into the rebrand, as seen in the swirls around the new M logo. “We dug through the archives and we found [the swirl] as a point of inspiration, and so you’ll see that really be elevated out into the forefront of the brand and the identity,” he said.

All in all, the new look of the brand isn’t a far cry from its old one. Revis said that was intentional as a way to honor the brand’s tradition. He also wanted to ensure that the changes made weren’t so trendy that they could become outdated.

In the market-research stage, Revis said some people couldn’t tell the difference between elements of the new and old branding, which helped his team let go of things they were hesitant on. “Throughout the consumer research, the best thing for us was to say, ‘Do people really care about that? Or do we just care about it?’” he said.

Brick-and-mortar stores will be getting a refresh to match the brand’s new image. According to Revis, there will be functional changes, like equipment or floor-plan updates, as well as cosmetic updates to match the brand’s new visual ID.

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Right now in the US, there are eight locations across New York City, as well as one in Chicago and one in LA. Internationally, 19 Magnolia Bakeries can be found in India, Jordan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. After former owner and CEO Steve Abrams sold the company last year, in part because he was struggling to expand Magnolia Bakery without additional cash, the company confirmed it no longer plans to open as many as 200 franchise locations by 2023.

However, the company still plans to expand to Turkey soon, and Revis said its first store in the country will be built with the brand’s new look. Revis said one thing he learned through this process was that it’s not so easy to renovate when stores are in some of New York’s landmark buildings. “Bleecker is a landmark building, Columbus is a landmark building,” he said. “And so it takes a little bit more time to create impact there from a signage perspective.”

One thing that’s not changing at all? The food, including its famous banana pudding. “I think a lot of times brands want to change, like, their core DNA when they do a rebrand or like a new identity, and we just said no,” Revis said. “We know who we are. We just want to find another way to express it.”

Spread the word

To roll out the new look, Revis and his team have created a six-figure, nationwide campaign, marking one of their most expensive to date, that will run for the next two to three months in cities across the country, including New York City.

Outside of New York, he said they’re targeting places where New Yorkers have moved, especially since Covid, like the Bay Area and South Florida. The hope in those markets, according to Revis, is to make people aware of their nationwide shipping and e-commerce offerings.

Ads will run in various formats, including a full-page ad in the New York Times print edition, nationwide billboards, and more than 40 “wild postings” around Manhattan. “We’re gonna be really proud about it and be really loud about it,” Revis said of the campaign.

There are also some collabs on the horizon, including but not limited to phone cases, beers, and body wash inspired by banana pudding. “The body wash one’s a little out there, but it’s fun and it actually smells really good,” Revis said.

The proof will be in the pudding scent.

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