Curious Portfolio Spotlight: Hollow & Ridge


 
 

People often ask us how our identity design process works — where do our logo ideas come from and how do our sketches evolve to become that final mark? While each client is unique and no two processes are exactly alike, we do have in place a reliable (and ever-evolving) system that carries us from concept through to completion. To give a little insight into how it’s done, here’s a sneak peek into how we created the identity for Hollow & Ridge, an essential oil fragrance company based in the Main Line area of Philadelphia.

After meeting with Issa, the owner of Hollow & Ridge, to discuss her needs and vision for the company, she then completed a discovery document for us. Our discovery document asks a lot of questions, such as, “What are some adjectives that describe your brand (or what you would like your brand to be)?” and, “Who is your target customer? Describe him or her, including age, aspirations, and interests.” This allows our clients to really pinpoint their place in their respective market, and it helps us immensely to understand what the client needs as we begin the design process.

We find that our strongest work comes from collaboration. It’s not uncommon for all three of us to work on concepts and pass them back and forth to refine and perfect. Each of us finds different inspiration in our clients’ discovery responses, which only improves our concept exploration process. We then narrow down our favorites to share with the client. Below are the concepts that we initially presented to Issa.

We like to show our initial design concepts in grayscale so clients aren’t distracted by color before evaluating the strength of each individual concept. Once we do introduce color palettes, we like to share the different ways those colors can be used and what we’d suggest as primary colors.

Issa chose her favorite design — the hand-drawn type solution that we think is a perfect representation of Hollow & Ridge and its rustic roots, inspired by Issa’s upbringing on a farm in West Virginia. In the subsequent proof rounds, we made revisions to both the design and the color palette, while also creating secondary marks for the Hollow & Ridge identity.

After the logo and color palette were finalized, we moved on to creating bottle designs for Hollow & Ridge’s essential oils. Issa chose darker colored bottles which reminded her of hazy beach glass. While much of our work is done on a computer, when it comes to creating a piece which will be seen on a shelf and held in your hand, it’s very important to see it and handle it. That’s when good old fashioned paper, scissors, and tape come into play. The mock-ups may not be pretty, but they’re essential in finalizing type sizes, spacing, and seal measurements. The final design was screen printed on the bottles in white ink and we also created sticker seals that are individually inscribed with the batch numbers.

This is one of our favorite projects — but really, we say that about every project! It’s so amazing to be part of the evolution of a brand, and we really love the process. Working to put all the pieces together to form one cohesive identity is truly rewarding and seeing our clients’ businesses flourish is the icing on top.

photos courtesy of Trevor Dixon

 

Why Work with a Professional Designer? | Waffatopia Case Study


 
 

We get it: deciding to work with a graphic design team (and choosing the right team) is a big commitment. It can be a big investment and, particularly if you’re just starting your business (or only a few years in), a scary one. Many people decide to cut corners and go the DIY route when it comes to their brand identity — anyone can design a basic logo, can’t they? And a great product should speak for itself, right? More often than not, that’s unfortunately not the case. We live in a world where new businesses pop up every day, and the ones that really stand out from the crowd are typically those that will thrive and find the most success. A polished and professional brand identity can make all the difference and set you up for huge success; a poorly executed identity can set you up for failure, no matter how amazing your product or service may be.

A great example of a company that went all in is Waffatopia, an artisan food brand that makes delicious caramelized waffles reminiscent of authentic LiegeBelgian waffles. They are sold both online in the continental US and at farmers markets in the Philadelphia area. In mid-2012, we met with owners Brian and Andrea Polizzi to discuss what kind of company they hoped to be, the overall voice and tone they wanted their brand identity to have, and the kind of product they planned to sell — all before they ever sold a single waffle. They wanted to hit the ground running from the first day they introduced Waffatopia to the world and knew that working with a professional design team would help them do that.

Brian and Andrea had an incredibly firm grasp on their product and were starting to develop their fun and boisterous company voice, but they did not yet have a solid visual to back it up or the design skills to bring one to life. They had created a simple mark on their own for the purpose of putting together their business plan, but it was just that: simple, and lacking a bold personality. The color palette was not extremely unique or unusual for a waffle company, and it felt a little dated. Brian and Andrea agreed that they needed something more representative of Waffatopia’s mission, product and personality, and we set off to create just that.

The result: a playful mark in a bold color palette that represents the savory and sweet waffle flavors that Waffatopia offers. The playful typography has personality, and is still legible from a distance — a very important characteristic when being sold at farmers markets. We developed secondary marks that complement the main mark, selected typefaces to best work with their identity, and then developed affordable solutions for packaging and printed materials to accommodate their startup budget (while still making a bold statement).

We initially created a simple website that reflected the Waffatopia brand identity for their launch at the beginning of 2013, and tackled phase two — a more robust e-commerce site — later in the year, after they had been working the farmers market and special event circuit for several months. Waffatopia’s responsive online storefront launched in November 2014, just in time for holiday ordering, and the orders came pouring in almost immediately. In the weeks leading up to Christmas they were at full capacity in their commercial kitchen space based on the volume of orders they were receiving. Their polished visual identity helped them to get noticed, helped to build a strong and devoted social media following, and piqued peoples’ interest in their amazing product before they even had a taste. (The fact that the waffles are amazing keeps the momentum going long after that important first impression is made!)

The greatest compliment they (and we) could ever receive is when Brian and Andrea are asked on countless occasions, “Is Waffatopia a franchise?” after someone has seen their sleek business card or stumbled upon their impressive farmers market display and packaging. It speaks volumes about the importance of design in driving success and taking a small startup to the level of an established brand. We don’t like to brag, but really, we can’t help it: they have told us numerous times that they simply would never have seen this kind of success without the strong visual identity we created for them, and we could not be more proud to have played a role in their amazing first year of business.

Learn more about this project in our portfolio and buy some delicious waffles at Waffatopia.com; packaging photo by Alison Conklin