Growing up in Los Angeles, the holidays were a special time as a kid, not particularly because of the Christmas gifts or the Easter baskets we expected to receive, but rather because there was candy involved. And, we never received just any old store-bought candy; our candy was See’s candy. Founded in Los Angeles in 1921 by Canadians Charles and Florence See, See’s Candy is a California staple and one that the state holds with great pride. It is now a national company with over 200 retail locations throughout the country, despite a majority of their stories being in the western part of the United States. While See’s Candy is known for its taste and for being the foremost leader in pre-packaged chocolates in the country, a large part of their identity is wrapped up in their brand image, consisting of a single family photograph of the company’s star, Mary See (Charles’ mother who died in 1939.) It is from a recent trip back to the west coast that I gained the inspiration to evaluate the brand of See’s Candy, auditing everything from the packaging of most of their products to the simple yet stark décor of the black and white retail locations they have through the States. I will evaluate the use of its website and its social media presence, as well as discuss slightly the relationship it carries to Berkshire Hathaway, the Warren Buffet-owned holding company of See’s candy since 1972. My final recommendations for how the brand can be extended will conclude this report.
About The Brand
See’s Candy was started in Los Angeles by Charles and Florence See, Canadian immigrants to the emerging western part of the United States. While the majority of the industry in California had not yet been developed, it was a peculiar move to not only start a business in Southern California but to start a chocolate-making business. For this reason, Charles knew he needed to make the best possible packaged product around, and for this he required the help and assistance of his mother, Mary See. Thus, the name “See’s Candy” came to be, establishing that it was a simple family-run company. In evaluating the name of the company, certain connotations come to mind:
Choosing to use the family name for the company established for the brand that it is the type of enterprise that is family-oriented, thus perhaps explaining why my family always offered See’s Candy to us during the holidays, the one time of year we spent the most time with relatives. It is a simple name, but a family name like See’s always establishes a “homemade” element for the brand. It gives the brand heritage to be proud of, even if the product itself isn’t very tasty. Using a family name for a chocolate company in California establishes its presence as the type of company that cares about the craft of making chocolate because at least two generations were involved in the founding of the company (Charles and his mother, Mary.)
As for the logo, See’s Candy has always been a distinctive memory for me throughout my life because of its visual appearance. I personally have not lived in California for over 10 years, yet I can still remember every detail of a See’s Candy wrapped chocolate bar for its distinct and simple design. The See’s brand consists of a simple typographic logo done in two fonts, one for the word “See’s” and the other for the word “candies.” These two words are then placed between two thick lines with a checkered black and white pattern. The word “See’s” is in a light and happy font, as the letter “e” in the word curves slightly upward and almost appears to look like cheerful, smiling eyes. The letter “s” in “See’s” is thick in form and has a large dot at the end of each ended curve of the “s”, almost like a period in a sentence. This seems to reflect the thick and fluid nature of chocolate, very creamy but not