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Posts Tagged ‘Identity Programs’

“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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Recently I was contacted by a photographer from the Velvet Strand, in IRELAND [I love the modern world]. David McNeill is a wonderful photographer who wanted a new look, new brand, new, new everything that would actually reflect the kind of work he is doing now. He had a DIY logo that was very outdated and he knew it wasn’t working for him. We discussed design and various printing options by email, and established quickly that, because he was still in the throes of establishing exactly what he wanted, that this project would be a stopgap measure. The budget wasn’t there and neither was the commitment yet for a full-on rebrand with fanciest letterpress business cards on thickest paper, which is what we do here at Studio Z most of the time. I suggested that we do a modified approach to get him through the transition. I would design a new logo at the lower end of my design fee range and we could do a digital card for now that could be adapted later on for letterpress. David agreed and we started the process of giving him a brand makeover. It was really fun to work with David. He is so open and pleasant and kind and fun. I can see why people love to have him do their weddings and baby portraits.

I went into my creativity trance and came up with this design that incorporates the present name of his business, the place he lives (Velvet Strand is a famous beach), with swirls suggesting water and waves (but not TOO obviously) and a grayed-pale-blue color (or colour as we like to say in Ireland). It is modern and romantic and a ton hipper than his last logo. I also modified his kind of long tagline to “more precious with time.” David loved the new look. It was a go.

The backs are done in a gray colour with reversed out type for the contact info.

I had them digitally printed on thick, glossy stock and shipped them across the Pond. These will carry David through the transition he is in right now, giving him time to consider every nuance, yet is something he can be proud to pass out as he negotiates through the rethinking of his entire brand and establishes himself with a new identity.

Total makeovers CAN be hard, but this actually was a lot of fun and not stressful in the least. Digital cards can be very beautiful. Actually, with a good design, any kind of printing will carry it through. Letterpress is the most beautiful thing to my eyes, of course. It always will be. But I often will do a digital card like with great results that I end up love, love, loving. It’s great to get to have clients all over the world, don’t you think? I am amazed by this. Twenty-five years ago, a negotiation like this would have taken months and months. This zoomed through so quickly and smoothly, even getting samples to Ireland so he could see the various treatments and papers available. Those covered-wagon days are long gone. International business cards: no problema!

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Seth Sirbaugh is a terrifically talented graphic designer whose new letterpress business cards carry the message of the new “tribe” brand he’s developed, in the most stylish way imaginable. We did two versions, which you see pictured above. The first was the more complicated. We used French’s Gray Durotone 80# cover, a mottled, slightly gnarly-in-a-chic-kind-of-way sheet. It’s not very thick, so to add substance (and mystery), Seth had us make a “sandwich,” laminating the backs and fronts of the gray Durotone, with a “filling” of pumpkin-colored Durotone. You can see the little, subtle, yummy orange stripe when you turn the card sideways.

The fronts of the cards were printed in black glossy foil with the “tribe” logo and the uber-hip tagline, “design. cultured.” I love that. The backs have the contact information foiled in white opaque foil. With darker colored papers, white ink will not block out the background color entirely. There is always some bleed-through, so to alleviate that, we always use opaque white foil, which is much more opaque.

The entire laminated card is still not as thick as, say, 600 gram Lettra, which we use most often here these days for our most premium jobs. He didn’t want them to take up that much room in his wallet. At first. But then there was a small crisis, which I won’t go into right now, which allowed us to make another, smaller batch of cards on white 600 gram Lettra. On this run, we edge painted them in the same pumpkin-y orange. And, oh la la, baby. How can he decide which version to pass out?

Working with a designer of the professional caliber of Seth Sirbaugh is a pleasure beyond pleasure. Collaboration is always necessary on a job (jobs) like this one. He had the vision and I acted as mediator between that and making the vision into something he could hold in his hand and be proud and assured that it represented him well. When the crisis occurred, Seth was gracious in the extreme. Often, with letterpress, patience is a virtue, and Seth’s virtue showed up in the form of little wings sprouting from the shoulders of his tee shirt.

It’s not usual to get to give a design two entirely different treatments like this, so as a way to show off the amazing versatility of letterpress’s many virtues, there could not be a better example. The entire mood is changed, the vibe, maybe even the clan, in these two very different versions of the same design.

We all wanna be in Seth’s groovy tribe!

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4 of Chance Creek Wines Studio Z Mendocino Labels

Lou Bock is the Winegrower behind the crisp, gorgeous offerings from his winery, Chance Creek. Grapes from his own vineyards in Redwood Valley, California are raised and tended by himself, and the wines he creates express not just a refined palate but a love for and dedication to the land he has farmed organically for many decades.

I feel very lucky to have encountered him at a party some ten years ago. It was very funny because we actually had dated in high school over thirty years before our re-introduction. Life. Very crazy.

Lou happened to be looking for a new graphic designer right then and guess what…of course, it was perfect timing and perfect serendipity and perfect Universe falling together as usual. Since then i have designed and printed up many, many labels for Chance Creek and my old friend.

Not many labels nowadays get the hands-on treatment we give these. They are printed offset and then we go back in with foil on the Heidelberg lettrpresses in my shop.

This label is his new Terroir 95470 SangioRosso, a red table wine he just added to the Terroir 95470 white we loved so much the last two years. The Redwood Valley zip code takes center stage on this…what better way to talk about terroir, the essence of the land the grapes are grown on?

The new SB label looks wonderful on the golden hue of Chance Creek’ sauvignon blanc. They offer THREE sauvignon blancs, each with its own undertones, overtones and degree of yumminess. The gleam of gold foil against a dramatic black background enhances impact from the shelf.

Last year’s Sangiovese showed up on all the right tables. Another winning offering from Chance Creek and Lou Bock.

Lastly, this is Lou’s Chance Creek Classic Sauvignon Blanc, his most popular offering. We love love love it with salmon and especially crab, but i could drink it with anything. It is perfect.

Wine label design is only one of the areas Studio Z Mendocino exercises creativity. Call us when you need any sort of design expertise — from a new logo or branding to a website, we are certainly happy to speak to you about what you are dreaming up.

Here are Lou Bock’s business cards, which i derived from the above label.

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I love love love Annette Thurmon’s wedding dress designs. They are sooo dreamy and gorgeous, and I am lucky to say that Annette is also a dreamy and gorgeous client of mine.

I got to work with Annette when I did her business cards a while back, and today she posted an interview with me on her beautiful website: Chaviano Couture.

I hope you will go see her beautiful designs and read my interview!

xo Zida

 

 

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Danny and Loreta Kash are the principles and great talents behind Danny Kash Photography, which operates out of Connecticut and is available for worldwide destination shoots. It was an incredible experience working with them to develop their new brand because they were so specific about the tone they were looking for, and at the same time so ready to listen to my ideas and inspirations. It was an ideal collaborative experience. Loreta was amazing…she sent me a kind of vision board to work from…showing colors and passions and attractions, moods, and just things that made her heart beat faster. She is so organized and creative at the same time. Look how fab:

It was always fun to confer with them on the phone, always excitement, curiosity into the mysterious process of creation. When I sent them this design, we all just KNEW: this was IT. They definitely wanted this gorgeous pale Caribbean blue-green color, and there were other accent colors we considered, like a sunny orange-ish shade, but in the end we opted for a charcoal gray as the second color.

We deeply impressed the type into 600 gram Cranes Lettra, with the contact information on the back to keep the brand really pure and important. This is my favorite way to make a card really sing. The edges were painted in the same watery-green-blue color, a little accent that pulls the WoW factor up several thousand notches, as we all know.

O, EDGE PAINTING!!!

And yummy shots of the business cards by Danny.

The flowing lines and swooshes of the “dk” monogram set an elegant, celebratory mood behind the classic-yet-slightly-quirky Roman typeface. It’s a fresh, distinctive look for two very special people. And it is always a big treat for me to participate in redefining a company’s graphic look from the ground up. An honor, and a super-fun and exciting adventure. I love the creative trance that brings me to a finished product like this. Do you like it?

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