Chris Yaneff’s deceptively simple packaging for Windsor Salt remained unchanged for almost forty years. Despite the fact that his design still looks fantastic today, the company recently ‘updated’ their packaging, so you won’t see this beauty in the grocery store any more.
Windsor Salt started in 1893 as the Canadian Salt Company and Windsor Salt Mine in Windsor, Ont. Its packaging went through a variety of box shapes and more cluttered branding over the decades, but in 1962 graphic designer Chris Yaneff was enlisted to create its most iconic iteration.
Yaneff was an influential presence in Canada’s graphic design industry. The Ontario College of Art grad and former art director of the Financial Post founded his own agency in the late 1950s. He specialized in corporate identities and was the designer behind the rebranding of Brewer’s Retail in Ontario to the Beer Store.
Among his other understated corporate identity work, Yaneff created the heavy open rectangle logo for Canada Trust in 1971. Another of his similarly memorable – though perhaps more unsettling – graphics is the perpetually smiling Conko the clown, the logo and mascot of the Conklin Shows travelling amusement company. It, too, is a masterpiece of a less-is-more approach to communication design, merely composed of dots, arcs, dashes and plus signs for eyes.
The 1960s saw a boom of modern identity design and visual communication, mostly due to the hype and ubiquity of the logo for Canada’s last big anniversary, the Expo 67 world’s fair in Montreal.
For Yaneff’s early-’60s salt box design, the Windsor name is in modish lowercase Helvetica with “salt” in all caps. The lower carton is emblazoned with a grid of large bronze and blue dots. Another branded strip on the side below the retractable dispensing spout evokes a tooth-shaped castle parapet and that other famous Windsor, Windsor Castle, an hour west of London, England.
The motif lasted nearly 40 years before the Pointe Claire, Que.-based company’s marketing department decided to give it a makeover. Windsor recently refreshed its logo and product packaging again, adding a photograph of fresh produce to the package.