In 1914, design history was made in the form of an illustration that graced Morton's cylindrical package. It featured an image of a mop-headed little girl rendered in yellow and blue; she carried an over-sized umbrella warding off rain in one hand and a canister of pouring salt in the other. But what made this illustration so remarkable was neither the style nor the craft; rather, this was the first time a logo was developed as a telegraphic metaphor in order to describe a product's innovative benefit. The image of the Morton Umbrella Girl was a puzzle to be figured out, and her enigmatic stance has since influenced marks such as I (Heart) NY, Fedex, and Amazon.com.
Rumors have long abounded about the Umbrella Girl's origin, but executives at the Morton Salt Company insist that she is simply a figment of a long-forgotten artist's imagination. She's been redrawn numerous times over her long career, but her iconic attributes remain: the skip in her step, her joyful expression, and the fact that after nearly a century of selling salt, Morton has never given the Umbrella Girl a name.
The history of the Morton brand will be featured in the book Brand Bible, The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands coming out in 2012. Stay tuned.