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Archive for the ‘Product Labels’ Category

“We Just Got a Makeover” post card

Shortly after I opened my first shop, in November of 1984, Carol Hall moved her little restaurant in next door, in the north end of the old Coast Hotel. That was the first time I met her and it was plain love, right from the start. Those were lively days on Franklin Street, with the irresistible aroma of roux wafting out of her doors and into mine, driving us all mad with desire.

I had never even heard of pepper jelly before, and when i asked Carol what you are supposed to do with pepper jelly, she said, with her sparkly Louisiana accent, “Why I put it on my red beans and rice!” — like it was perfectly normal. Needless to say, I was a convert instantaneously. Sometimes we would just have a red-bean-and-rice attack around three o’clock, close the doors to my shop, and go over and beg.

Carol’s spicy New Orleans home cookin’ perfumed the street for blocks. Gumbo, jambalaya, andoille sausages…it was hard to pick one thing off the menu, once you had tried it all. Every single thing made you want to die from pleasure.

Lucky me…Carol asked me to make her logo when she started putting up pepper jellies to sell to the NOLA-starved throngs. I used a lead typeface i had bought from an old hobby printer, called Chic. I was just starting out on my own and everything was so exciting and fabulous. Sorry I don’t have any photos of that long-ago logo to post here.

Eventually, Carol moved over to a little shop on Main Street and called it by the same name, Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company. Her line of preserves grew and grew. And grew. By that time, she wanted the labels to reflect a more handmade character, so she had her husband Albert draw the label art that would last for years and years, with a darling, naive rendering of red and green peppers and vines.

Freshly jarred

She sold all kinds of jams and jellies there, mustards, chutneys, vinegars, and she brought in other products too, locally made wine jellies and salsas, interesting, food-related stuff, pottery, but the Red and Jalapeno Pepper Jellies, now joined by Ginger, Peach, Mango and Roasted Garlic Pepper Jellies, held their own, and still do to this day.

Fast forward: business was good, the name well-established, and many honors and awards had been bestowed on her scrumptious products.  Carol decided she wanted to slow down a bit. She had been working her tail off for a couple of decades. That’s when she passed most of the business to her daughter Leslie Hall.

The labels changed again when the Halls all sat down and together hammered out a really different look for their products that was a little more upscale. All the labels were on cream colored paper, with burgundy type, small gray drawings, accented with gold foil, and die cut in a distinctive shape. They were all the same color and the product name was a bit small to read from the aisle, but they lasted a long time too.

The storefront, too, was passed to a long-time employee, and now Leslie was just doing the wholesale end of things, with part-time help from Carol on bookkeeping and consulting. “Just” is the wrong word to use…Leslie figures she has made over a half-million jars of jam, jelly and preserves in the years she has womanned the stove.

Leslie is a dervish in the kitchen. She is so organized and fast that nobody can keep up with her. Four or five pots of various jams are bubbling away on the stove, she is sterilizing jars, cleaning up constantly, putting the labels on by hand, answering the phone incessantly, making plans for trade shows, and taking care of her granddaughter, all at the same time. I could go on but…

Well, finally we come to the actual point of this blog post: A few months ago, Carol and Leslie called me up and said they wanted me to redesign their branding, to spark it up with a more modern look. WoW! Was i ever happy to revisit this with them.

They had had a family meeting, without my being there, and talked about all the things they liked about past labels as well as what was not working. They knew they wanted an updated look, but it needed to keep that trademark handmade quality as well. With a lot of experience in redesigning labels (and a certain amount of dread — it’s really an upheaval, you know), they leafed through lots of clip art books, culling for that special wood engraving look they loved, thinking about typefaces, whether to use foil or ink, and etc., etc., and so on.

When I went over to the kitchen to meet with them, Leslie was all ready with a carefully drawn label on a jar to show me. She was pretty happy with it and wanted me to do something to adapt it a little bit — but she also said she wanted me to use my own imagination too… OK. I said, “You know, Leslie, this looks nice, but it has this wood engraving from what looks like the 1600s, of a woman wearing a snood, stirring a black pot over a fireplace. Umm…do you think it’s modern enough?”

I took the drawing away and lots of notes and ideas and went to work. Honestly, I don’t know how this happens, how i get these notions for designs. Really, I can’t even begin to figure it out. Something starts coming through, I play with type, colors, layouts…really I don’t know. The first thing that happened was, I made a square out of the long name, Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company. I tried a bunch of faces out. I got a little feeling about this. Something started to jell, as surely as a pot of bubbling plums and sugar starts to set up…

I took the idea over to Carol and Leslie to see how I was doing. At first, they were in shock. They didn’t know what to say. It was so different from their idea that they could hardly absorb it. They kind of had to push back against it. Then they started to look at it and think about it, warm up to it. Then they said a lot of stuff that I had not known about originally.

Number one thing: the word HOT is NOT a good selling point. People are often scared of HOT (I am not one of them). After thirty years of doing this business, they had a firm grasp of what did and did not work. HOT had always been problematic, and HOT was in the name of the company. In my first rendering, HOT was the biggest thing on the label.

OK, back to the drawing board with more notes and admonitions. As I said, this was jelling. The process, however it works, is always a back-and-forth, a conversation and a communication. I am a medium between what the clients want and what the logo wants to be. That is such a fun position to be in. Witchy!

After more messing around, I called them again, and went to meet with them, this time with a bigger concept. Each label would be a different color. All of them would have the product name in white letters on a black rectangle, with “HANDMADE” floating in a separate rectangle underneath. The “Hot Pepper Jelly Company” part of the name would only appear on the back of the label. The name Carol Hall was all that would be on the front. Each label would have the name of the contents in big enough letters to be read from an aisle. The colors would be vibrant and coordinated so they would look beautiful all together, or by themselves, or in a gift basket. Oh la la! They liked the idea more and more, warmed to it, and finally embraced it. It was thrilling, as exciting as the first time we worked together when I was brand new to having my own business and so was Carol.

Carol and Leslie went to work picking the color palette. I loaned them my Pantone ink books and they went on an exploration of colors, trying various hues on the various products to make sure the label looked good with the jam or mustard color, leafing through William Morris books in search of saturated, sophisticated combos, making sure that everything harmonized and popped.

At last, we put the whole thing together. Like this:

Cherry-Amaretto Jam label

Cherry-Amaretto Jam label

Carol Hall's Hot Pepper Jelly Company's products are Yumminess in a Jar

Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company’s products are Yumminess in a Jar

(The painting in the photo above is a portrait my friend Bob Ross did of me in the ’80s.)

So that is a kind of (not really “kind of”) lengthy synopsis of my relationship with Carol and Leslie Hall. A big, long love affair of mutual admiration and respect, with a happy ending. They love the twenty-six labels we have finished so far and they are getting rave reviews from most of their clients (some people can’t stand change, of course, but overall, it’s a home run), and orders are rolling in like crazy. We already had to order a reprint of some of the most popular items. This is the best news to me. That the labels are beautiful, exciting, popular…and, truly the acid test, effective.

If you are looking for really great presents for the holidays (with good looking packaging — wink, wink), I cannot give you better advice than to find Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company and buy a bunch for all your friends and yourself. As the seal I designed for the labels says “Still cookin’ — Small Batches — Family Owned — since 1985.” It’s an amazing product line that comes from an amazing family. Yummy in every way. I am so honored to have been given this assignment.jam group

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By anybody’s measure, Robert Goleman is a Renaissance Man: actor, amazing singer, magician, chef, pastry chef, wedding cake creator, nurseryman, chocolatier, orchid and cacti expert…the list is astoundingly long and his creativity endless. His most recent success story is Bolliver’s Fine Foods & Confections, take-home deliciousnesses — savories for dinner and sweets for whenever — that are flying out of his kitchen and farmers market booths faster than he can keep up. Robert came to me for a new logo and new look, and this is what we cooked up.

Stripes have been a long-time theme in his various businesses and shows, so we incorporated stripes, of course, in a pink and brown palette. We also did folding tags he attaches to his sumptuous candies. Soon we will have new labels, too, and his website is a work in progress, but we should have that within a month. (Studio Z Mendocino provides one-stop shopping for branding, just wanted to mention. From logo creation to business cards, ads and mailing campaigns to web site design and coding, stationery and envelopes to product labels, Studio Z can give consistency and elegance to every type of design and printed materials your business needs.)

We used digital printing for these, rather than letterpress. This design is not letteerpress friendly at all, but it shines with inviting color and typography at a fraction of the price. People say the new logo looks Foodie, and that is perfectly what we wanted.

We lucky locals get to have Bolliver’s treats every week. When you are in Mendocino County, look for Robert at Farmers Markets on the coast and in Willits and Ukiah. Bolliver’s is how you spell YUMMY.

 

 

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Oh, sorry about the length of the title on this post. I couldn’t stop.

Louis Bohannan and Alan Ahtow are my dear friends who recently took a media class through Fort Bragg’s local television station, MCTV, to add yet another layer to their already incredible skill sets, and gear up for additional services they offer through their marketing-hospitality consulting-graphic design firm, ImageMendocino.

Louis produced the video and Alan was the host. I am really impressed with the results of this first project. Not just because it’s about me me me, either. These guys are great at whatever they take on and I am very grateful they chose me as the topic of their first go-round with this new art form they have chosen.

Click the button below to see the video interview, which has a link on my home page.

Or you can also see it here on YouTube.

 

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Julie and Lewis, of Stella Cadente (shooting star) Olive Oil Company, decided they wanted to redesign their labels and came to me last year. We started with some already fabulous elements from the old labels, like the shot of olive leaves and olives and their arresting Stella Cadente logo, but the labels needed to “sing” from the shelves a bit more. You could hardly read “Stella Cadente” on the old labels from two feet away, nor was the information “Olive Oil” clearly evident on the front. The colors were also wonderful, so I had a lot to work with and a lot to reproportion and rethink. We are all happy with the outcome, which you see here.

With the many strictures for legal labeling, I worked with Julie to get the information required by the FDA AND information a potential customer wants to see, all in the right order, then organized the information in a more easily readable (from the grocery store aisle), and aesthetically pleasing format.

I think graphic design is really a form or organizational thinking. What are we aiming for? What is needed and wanted? To whom is the product marketed, what demographic? For what is that market looking ? THEN, what is pretty? All this has to fit together for a successful, salable, easy-to-understand product labeling. Food and wine labeling particularly provide challenges because of strict labeling requirements. On this label we also got the nutrition information label on the back and a blurb about the company and its fantastic products.

The labels, printed at Collotype, in Santa Rosa, were done on a medium with an oil-proof finish that carries a gorgeous sheen. I am in LOVE with this paper!

The six bottles work together in a pleasing interplay of color and design that does what I aimed for: they sing from the shelves.

I love to walk down the aisle at Harvest Market and see this new look harmonizing away into the aisle!

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a-piece-apart-front

I don’t know how they manage it, but Laura Stefania and Starr Hout make clothes for you and me…even if you are twenty-something and I am hmm hmm hmm…their mixable, matchable, impeccable pieces just work and work together. They can look hip or homey, biz casual or Hepburn glamorous, perhaps depending on the attitude with which they are worn or maybe just the many environments into which they fit so naturally. Laura and Starr’s couture line of women’s clothing, Apiece Apart, is like that…chameleon-ish, beautifully cut, polished, easy to wear and to look at, and they stretch wardrobe options with a terrific mixability. We are crazy about their smart, beautiful, modern clothes for modern people of any age.

Last summer, when Laura was out visiting from New York, she came into my shop and love, love, loved the look of deep-relief letterpress on thickest imaginable papers. It was a mutual admiration society all of a sudden.

The resulting cards we made for them puts their understated logo in pearl foil on the front of an slim horizontal card. Their logo looks so good this way that they replicated the subdued look on their home page. Here is the back:

Apiece-Apart-back

Gray ink in a modern typographical layout. One more view…

Apiece-Apart-on-wood

Shall we shop?

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John Ford Poster

Have you seen the movie, Food, Inc.? If not, run, do not walk, to find it; watch it; take your kids; put its admonitions into practice, ASAP, for the good of your health, your family, and the planet. OK, advice column over. This post is actually about the branding campaign we did for the John Ford Ranch, which for years, and long before the sustainable movement took the world by storm, has lived and worked a sustainable, compassionate animal husbandry. Because it was always right, not because it was a trend.

After we created Amy Ford’s business cards for her own project management business, she had an idea that she wanted to surprise her mom and dad by having Studio Z Mendocino design and print up a unified look for her parents’ Grass Fed Beef business.  John and Charline Ford sustainably ranch in Willits, California, and sell their amazing product in farmers markets around the county, living the localization movement as well. They meet their customers face to face, every week.

Amy had drawn a silhouette of her mom and dad when she was just a teenager (“Honestly, I never drew another thing in my life!” she said) and we incorporated it into the logo with great results. It really has the perfect look for what we wanted to achieve, which you can see on their box label below.

John Ford Box Label 2

And here is the front of their digitally printed business card:

Pastured BC_Page_1

and the back:Pastured BC_Page_2

As you can see, Studio Z Mendocino, though famous for letterpress printing, has many ways to get ink onto paper, and these days, digital printing is one of them. It’s a different look with a letterpress sensibility, honed over the last 35 years of our chequered past. It also has a lower price point and four color, so there are advantages to all the ways we have to get your work into the public eye. If it’s a good design, it is a good thing, and we love the outcome for John Ford Ranch.

We made their meat labels too, and a sign for their truck and for their Ranch too, so everything has this recognizable, attractive, rustically sophisicated look. Call us for your branding needs too: 707.964.2522.

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Sangiovese_07_front_TTB

Most wineries these days want their labels on rolls, but once in a while something special comes along, a smallish run, something so beautiful and perfect, that it demands the extra juju of letterpress. We have been making Chance Creek Winery’s labels for many years and winegrower Lou Bock keeps coming back for new designs. It’s a little more trouble and a little more this and that, but the results are very distinguished. Above, this year’s Sangiovese pops off the shelf with this gorgeous two colors plus gold foil label.

Here is one of the stellar Sauvignon Blanc offerings, their most popular wine.

SauvBlanc_07_front_TTB

For a very special vintage of Lou’s Redwood Valley appelation Sauvignon Blanc, which he called “Terroir” — the character of the land the grapes grow on, I devised the following label. What could possibly define an area in this day more than a zip code? What’s in a ZIP? Try a sip!

95470-Front-for-TTB

We have other wine labels we have made for Chance Creek that I will show in another post. Must get to work!

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