Innovator Interviews: Instacart’s Laura Jones

Innovator Interviews: Instacart’s Laura Jones

Over the past couple of years, Instacart has expanded its delivery service beyond groceries. Nowadays you can get almost anything delivered –printer ink, dog food, batteries, diapers, slippers, sunglasses, vodka and beyond.

To reflect this expansion into new retail delivery opportunities, Instacart has updated its branding with a new updated logo and brand identity. 

“Two key principles embedded in it were the principles of shop and savor,” explains Laura Jones, vice president of brand and marketing at Instacart. “The idea of shop being the functional aspect of the brand, the commercial aspect of it. And then savor being that enjoyment and that nourishment and joy that comes from a meal shared with family and loved ones.”

The new logo is composed of two different graphic elements – the top of a carrot and the fruit of the carrot. “The top of the carrot is also an arrow and that represents the shop and the transactional aspect of frictionless commerce, and then the root of the carrot is that savor piece,” says Jones. 

“These two elements have a lot of tricks up their sleeve,” she continues. “They can be used together. The carrot can be a full carrot or it can be planted in the Earth or plucked from the Earth. There’s a bidirectional motion that that transforms between the full carrot and the word mark which is planted carrot, as well as the ability for the edge of the arrow to be used as an independent element and serve as a kind of a cursor that can click on different aspects of a screen or be rotated to face forward and really serve as connected tissue connecting our retailer brands.” 

The update comes as the company is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary in June. “We’ve been on a journey as a company for almost 10 years old and this is absolutely a major milestone in that journey,” explains Jones. “It certainly speaks to the ambitions that we have going forward as we continue to show up as a world class brand and to continue to do really bold, eye-catching and innovative marketing.” 

Brand Innovators caught up with Jones to discuss Instacart’s new brand identity, the expanding consumer and service opportunity and what’s next for the brand. This interview has been edited for clarity.

Can you talk about the strategy behind the new Instacart brand identity and logo?

I joined Instacart back in June and one of the first things that I realized when I was joining is just how much the business had evolved from a decade ago. When I first heard about Instacart, it was about grocery delivery. As I was getting to know the business, it was so clear that there was this evolution that the business had undergone in terms of expanding the different categories and verticals, the number of retailers and the number of brands available. The strategy really was thinking about how do we stay rooted to this original impetus for the company and the spirit of the carrot –which was kind of a fun and friendly, approachable image – and also embrace the evolving brand identity to match that evolution of the business. 

We are an industry leader in fresh grocery but beyond that we also have so much more to offer. How can we make our brand identity reflect that evolution? That really was the strategic impetus of how we might evolve this brand system to reflect the business evolution and give it a lot of flexibility and dynamism so that it’s more than just a logo. It’s really a system that can stretch across marketing, across products, across physical touchpoints and really embody the brand itself and the value proposition.

Can you talk about how the company has expanded beyond grocery to other retail categories?

Insofar as our heritage is very much fresh grocery delivery, but today, we have, of course, all of our wonderful grocers, but we also have just a much wider array of retailers –everything from Sephora for Beauty or Lowe’s for home goods, pharmacy, electronics, office supplies, pet supplies. We have all of these different categories and that’s part of why we liked the idea of a carrier that could be both literal and more abstract. 

The two forms can represent more than just a carrot, the arrow, and the half carrot can become the half carrot can become a frame, and can really use that space to spotlight and any item, whether that’s a food item, or non-food item. That was really critical as we were designing the system is to say, how can we create a brand system that shows that you can get everything from produce to lipstick to lumber on on a single platform? That’s where that level of abstraction in the logo became really important. We’re excited to really show how we have such a wide spectrum of offerings. That’s a big job to be done for the marketing team in the coming years to help people discover all that we have to offer.

How does the new brand identity and logo show up in your marketing?

You will see it in all of our key touchpoints, both both our marketing, as well as our product. If you download our app from the App Store, you can see the  new logo. As it exists as an app as a web property, you’ll see the new branding there, you’ll see it and obviously those are consumer properties on our website, and both the consumer and corporate side. Then you’ll see it in our Shopper App, our advertiser website, and our new retailer website. It’s across all four of our key audiences. And then from a marketing standpoint, any advertising you see will have that. 

Where’s the marketing going to go from here?

Since I’ve been at the company, we kicked off a lot of different marketing initiatives and this branding and visual identity work, as well as really kind of starting to build our campaign muscles and going out with them in a more robust cross channel marketing, both across performance and brand channels.

We launched an integrated brand campaign on November 1st. In February, we had our first social first campaign for the Super Bowl, which celebrated the idea of people being here for the snacks, rather than the football only, which I resonated with. That was really a TikTok-focused campaign. We’re really excited for the work we have in the hopper for the remainder of this year. Hopefully the same kind of boldness and delightfulness that we were aiming for with this rebrand will be felt in our campaign work. 

Who is your target consumer and how does your new branding aim to reach this audience?

Going through COVID, as a business, was really interesting. I think it really showed the breath, target consumer that we can serve. There’s certainly the archetype that Instacart really appeals to kind of the the busy mom, but I think that COVID showed that actually there’s a much wider population that also really loves in benefits from the service. Everyone from college students to older folks that may have had challenges around what to eat and being able to go to the grocery store safely during COVID. 

I think what we saw through COVID was this just opening of the of the tent, if you will, and seeing how many different types of of consumers benefited from the service. A lot of what we’re doing from a marketing standpoint is opening that aperture and saying, let’s appeal more broadly, let’s speak to a broader audience than we might have spoken to prior to the pandemic, and really show how we can serve as use cases across a wide variety of demographics, geography and psychographics.

What are you most excited for the remainder of 2022?

There are definitely some bold plans ahead. I am really excited to kind of transform the brand. As you’ve seen, we’ve moved from being more transactional in the way we show up as as a brand in the way that our service functions to one that’s a bit more inspirational brand and really showing this broader role that Instacart can play in in folks’ daily lives. I’m really trying to lean into this inspiration discovery, showcasing all of these new use cases we have on the platform. 

We have new features, like our shopping for recipes on TikTok, and media integrations, like with Tasty and a lot of other really exciting properties. We have this incredible palette now between the brand partnerships and the way the products have evolved. From a marketing standpoint, I always get excited about brand campaigns. They help us tell our story and really speak to the role that we hope to play in culture and build those relationships with customers on a much deeper, more emotional level. Personally, I am excited to get another another epic brand campaign out into the world and really continue to tell the story and celebrate all the ways that that we can help make our customers lives better.