For the last three years, I’ve been working on the project of a lifetime: refreshing The Hershey Company’s corporate brand, which dates back more than 125 years. To bring together new and old in the most befitting way, I’ve dug through reams of photos and advertisements in Hershey’s storied archives; I’ve led countless listening sessions with teams across different business units; and I’ve had many invigorating meetings with CBX — our brand strategy and design agency partner — dreaming up ways to honor the legacy of the company and Milton Hershey, himself, as well as consumers. Through it all, I’ve never felt more driven and energized by a project.
So when I learned that Transform Magazine recognized our hard work in their global Transform Awards with a gold medal for Best Implementation of a Brand Development Project in North America, along with commendations for Best Use of a Visual Property, I had to pinch myself. To receive such an award from a competition that celebrates global brand development, reputation management and rebranding is an incredible honor. It’s given me pause to reflect on how we got here and why this development is so important to Hershey as a company. The reason revolves around our purpose.
The road to refreshing the brand
When I started working at Hershey in 2018, I had no idea that this brand refresh project was on the horizon. None of us did. Back then, I was developing assets for our 125th anniversary celebration, which involved digging into our corporate identity and learning what worked, what didn’t and how we could use our designs in a more modern way. Soon after that project, I started to notice that there was a higher adoption of those new materials than our corporate-branded materials. Hershey team members were using the latest designs in their PowerPoint presentations and email signatures, and the updated branding also seemed to be getting higher engagement on social media.
So I started asking people about it. Throughout 2019 and early 2020, I met with retail, manufacturing, marketing and HR teams to get a sense of what assets they needed. What would help them tell better business stories? What would make their jobs easier? Through those meetings, it became apparent that team members proudly wear the logo of the brands they represent — like Kit Kat® , Reese’s and Twizzlers brands—but were less likely to wear a corporate logo.
That’s when I started asking myself a bigger question: How could we celebrate the breadth of Hershey’s brands, our employees and our legacy in a meaningful way while also looking toward the future?
I approached Hershey leadership with my pitch: to refresh our corporate brand in a more flexible, modern manner that showcases how Hershey has changed, while also celebrating its legacy. After all, today, we are so much more than a chocolate company. We’re a snacking powerhouse known for treats that are sweet, salty and sweet and salty — as well as better-for-you snacks. I realized that our brand also needed to embody our new purpose statement: “making more moments of goodness.” This new branding would help us keep the consumer at the center of everything we do. They were on board, so the work began.
Our agency partner, CBX, understood our vision from the start. We weren’t looking for an overhaul, because we knew we already had something special with our foundation, but we wanted an update. The agency helped develop a consistent voice and visuals, drawing inspiration from old photos, advertisements and typography. To bring a sense of modern whimsy and levity, we played with bright, energizing colors and lighthearted phrases (like “a kiss from me to you” for Kisses brand, “Oh, snap!” for Kit Kat® brand and “Chocolate, meet peanut butter” for Reese’s brand) — along with silhouettes of each brand to represent our whole array of products. All of this while keeping our corporate logo — "HERSHEY" with a Kiss silhouette — unchanged.
Putting more party in the plume
All told, it took a year, wrapping up in November 2021. The response and adoption has been uplifting. You can see our refreshed designs splashed across wallpaper at our Global Customer Insights Center and at our manufacturing facilities. They’re on our business cards and in our PowerPoints and fill the pages of our annual ESG report. And to accommodate changes ahead, they’re designed to be easily adapted by our international partners and when we acquire new brands.
And most importantly, the refreshed Hershey brand is in our hearts. The Hershey Company has always been a purpose-driven business, committed to making more moments of goodness for our consumers (and employees). We’ve always been a company that embraces our past while taking steps to evolve. I believe that our corporate brand not only represents that passion — it also feeds it, serving as the culture bearer for our entire business. When you design something right, it sparks excitement in all who see it. For us, that means bringing smiles to customers and consumers — and a sense of vibrancy and fun to the people who come to work every day to make Hershey what it is.
Playing a part in this endeavor truly has been such an incredible honor. I’m so grateful for all of the amazing talent at CBX and on my Hershey team. Together, we brought new energy and excitement into our brand, and our everyday work. That it’s been recognized by the Transform Awards makes it that much sweeter.