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General

Part 1: A little context & background: Why?

This is a series of posts about our recent website redesign. Click the links below to learn all about it. 

Every project starts with the simple words: “I’ve been thinking- we should…” or something along those lines and then grows exponentially from there. In our case it was “We should redesign our site.” To which we thought no problem! We’re designers – we can do this in our sleep. Plus it’s our own site! How hard can it be? Well it turns out quite hard.

Redesigning a site is not just a logistical decision that’s made, its also a deep down almost spiritual, inward looking path that is taken that requires some soul searching. We asked ourselves questions like: Who are we? Why do we exist? How do we present ourselves to the outside world? How do we present our work? These and many other questions are important to think about when you have this opportunity to refresh your look online.

When we started investigating who Buttermilk is we started to finesse certain aspects of our studio’s personality. We’ve always thought of ourselves as a “packaging design studio” – but what does that really mean? Well to us it makes perfect sense, but to many of the folks we met out networking it wasn’t clear what “packaging” actually is. Is it the substrate products go into? Are we product designers? Are we printers? So we tried to really dig down to the heart of what we do and that is:

“Helping brands speak to customers from the shelf.”

We really feel like this statement sums up the work we create at Buttermilk. And speaking to customers isn’t just limited to a product on a grocery shelf. All brands have “customers” and a “shelf” they sit upon and whether we’re collaborating with you to create a logo, a website, or our favorite; packaging design, we will help you speak clearly.

We also looked at how our work is presented and wanted a more uniform and elegant display of our portfolio. We pour a lot of heart and soul into our work and want to make sure we’re putting the best face out there for each piece.

So as you can see the decision to redesign your site is not one to take lightly or without preparation but if you use it as an opportunity to refine your presentation and your message it’ll be a success!

Stay tuned for next week when we discuss putting together a great team to help with the epic undertaking of a redesign!

Welcome to our new site!

Its been a long hard road but we finally have arrived at our destination and have a redesigned site! It took a lot of time, energy, and effort from not only us but helpful friends in the community. Over the next few posts we’ll share insights into the redesign process, what’s new on the site, spotlights on our collaborators, and other bits of knowledge we’ve gained on this journey. We want to share all of this because we feel like it will be helpful for folks thinking about heading down the redesign road.

Below are the sections we’ll be covering over the next few weeks:

Part 1: A little context & background: Why?

Part 2: The process behind the redesign

Part 3: The importance of assembling a good team

Part 4: Spotlight: Our developer and domain host

Part 5: Spotlight: The importance of amazing photography

Part 6: Learnings

As you can see we’ve got a lot of ground to cover but we’re excited to share this experience with you. Our blog is a weekly post so look out for new posts every Monday morning.

Enjoy!

Lowes Foods Redesign

At the risk of sounding hypocritical I’d like to discuss a logo redesign that was just unveiled. The redesign I’ll be digging into is for one of our local hometown grocery stores: Lowes Foods.

Growing up about 30 minutes west of where Lowes Foods started I was familiar with this brand early on, but I was always confused about the name. Are they connected to Lowes Hardware? Owned by the same people? After all Lowes the hardware store is also headquartered in NC but down in Charlotte. We never really shopped at Lowes Foods though when I was little so it wasn’t until I moved back to the area after being away that I really checked out the grocery store.

My first impression of Lowes was low end, basic grocery store. I had just left Florida, land of Publix, where I fell head over heals in love with that wonderful store “where shopping is a pleasure.” So my grocery store bar was set very high and Lowes just didn’t do it for me. At that time I felt like they did not have a solid and clear statement to the shopper about who they are and what they stood for. They were, you know… just a regular grocery store.

Over the years I’ve only dabbled with shopping at Lowes. Part because its not convenient for me personally, part because I just don’t like the place. I can count the number of times I’ve shopped at Lowes over the last 7 years on my two hands.

So you can imagine my absolute shock when I noticed earlier this past week that they had redesigned their logo- and it was pretty amazing. Retro inspired cool, the new script logo looks great. Feels historic but fresh at the same time. Has a great energy and is light years ahead of the old mark. 

Following the logo redesign I went over to their website and, to my delight, saw they had redesigned that as well. The visual language they’ve set up is consistent, interesting, and with enough variety to keep things engaging. 

My favorite parts of the whole redesign is what Lowes calls their “Originals.” These are basically “stores-within-the-store”. Whole Foods is famous for these — the beer bar that will fill your growler up while you sip on a pint, the BBQ shack right down the aisle from canned goods. But this concept at Lowes Foods? Who’d a thunk? The design of each “Original” is unique but consistent and contributes to the overall feeling of what Lowes is putting forth. The concepts are very cool- a craft beer bar, a sausage makery, a fried chicken joint, and a couple other community focused ones that holistically make Lowes feel like more than “just” a grocery store.

Images via Lowesfoods.com

Images via Lowesfoods.com

For me, “The Beer Den” tops my list. I’m digging the overall rustic, modern, hand crafted feel of the space as well as the bold type and illustrations used. The printed growlers add a nice touch of specialty and reinforce Lowes’ new position as craft beer experts. Just look at that bear art — bad ass!

Image via Lowesfoods.com

Image via Lowesfoods.com

Image via Lowesfoods.com

Image via Lowesfoods.com

Image via Lowesfoods.com

Image via Lowesfoods.com

Image via Lowesfoods.com

Image via Lowesfoods.com

I’ve yet to step foot in a newly redesigned Lowes. All of my conclusions have been drawn purely based on the digital work put out there by Lowes and their agency of record, The Variable. So will it all fall apart in the store? I’ll be very interested to see when I plan my next visit. What I’m even more curious about is what will these bold statements do for Lowes’ business? My hope is it works out for them. They’ve embraced design as an important factor to move the needle and as a designer I want badly for that to work out for them — if it does, other companies will take notice and the success story will raise our industry. Fingers crossed.

Kudos to the in-house team at Lowes Foods and the team at The Variable for doing such an amazing job on the redesign and on all the other work needed to make it sing.

Post Revisit: A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging

Its always good practice (and fun!) to take a look back and reread what we’ve written about during the life of our little blog. We recently revisited a post from August 2013 titled “A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging” (click here to read.)

The post focused on coffee packaging — where we’ve been, where we are presently, and where we predicted we were going. While it was good to revisit the whole post, we’d like to focus on that last bit — the part where we predicted where we felt the specialty coffee packaging was moving towards. Below is the actual snippet from our post:

“We believe the future of specialty coffee packaging will move away from the simple, clean, industrial look for a more expressive style that really shows the personality of the brand. We think customers don’t need to see another kraft bag to denote quality and an expressive bag will also do a better job telling the story, something that is resonating more and more with shoppers nowadays .”

The reason we revisited this post is because we’re seeing a lot of examples of the very thing we were predicting (which is very exciting) which means we might know a little bit about what we do!

Two great examples of what we predicted coming to life are Starbucks special Tribute Blend packaging and Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters rebrand and packaging. Both hit home the thought we put forth about “moving away from clean, simple industrial look” and move towards “a more expressive style.” We even had conversations about how cool coffee packaging would be with fine art prints on the label- something Brewklyn pulled of nicely. 

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Starbucks Tribute Blend

As you can see in the Starbucks packaging they are getting really conceptual with this design. Take a look at that bag. It’s just designs and elements with this beautiful painterly circle as the focal point. The asymmetrical design is very eye catching and grabs your attention on shelf. There’s no denying the contents are something special and unique. 

Starbucks is no stranger to expressive packaging and is one of the few specialty coffee companies whose packaging moved away from the kraft coffee bag look long ago — but the Tribute Blend feels new and fresh. We feel like it really embodies the vision we laid out back in August.

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters

Brewklyn Grind has really embraced expressive fine art for their new packaging and redesign. What’s really neat about Brewklyn Grind is they are collaborating with local Brooklyn artists to help create the art for their packaging. It’s not just some random digital design they’re using. We find this to truly embody “artisan” and take it to a whole new level. Why not make each bag a little work of art? Those who appreciate fine coffee are usually the same people who appreciate fine art. 


So there you have it. We’re very interested to see how this trend will play out in the coffee packaging landscape over the next year or so. Who knows- we might have to revisit this post!

#buttermilkinboston – Day 4

Thursday was our final day at HOW Live. We headed out to the airport later in the day so we  were able to catch a few good sessions as well as visit some neat stores.

Dana Tanamachi-Williams' beautifully designed packaging for Wiliams Sonoma

Dana Tanamachi-Williams’ beautifully designed packaging for Wiliams Sonoma

The first session of the day was by Dana Tanamachi-Williams, the famed chalkboard lettering artist. We were really looking forward to her session- we just knew it’d be amazing. She basically ran down her whole career from the early days of lettering her friends parties in their apartments to working with Oprah on her magazine and events. Dana is beyond inspiring and her story of where she’s been was so interesting. Her biggest takeaway for me was her question: “Who’s flourishing because you’re successful” Which we think is a great thing to keep in mind in a partnership business. We hope to both succeed and flourish and pass that back and forth, and then extend that out to our clients. Dana was beyond humble during her talk, making us fall in love with her all over again.

After Dana’s session we headed to the Dieline Conference to see Christopher Durham’s talk on innovative private brands. He poses interesting points that make us question our perception of what a private brand is. He pulled some of the highlight brands from his book and talked about what made them unique. We were proud that he even singled out a couple of our projects to discuss.

We left the the conference to seek out some lunch and brainstorm some things. We landed at Trident Booksellers & Cafe. We had already been there twice! We really loved the place, and their food was super tasty! After a couple of bubble teas we headed back out on the street to take in a few shops. We visited Zara and got our kiddos a couple of things, their baby clothes are beyond adorable. 

We did end up making it to Camper, one of the places on our list of things to do. Camper has an interesting retail environment. Theres one large long table right in the middle of a fairly small and narrow store. All their shoes are on display, men on one side, women on the other. You tell the employee your size and they scurry to the back to retrieve it. It was a great set up to pick up and hold and compare a bunch of different shoes.

The other store we made it to was Madewell. We had been there before, but we had to head back. They have really neat style and products, like a quirky J. Crew. But what we really like is their store. They have great POP displays, sale signs on clip boards, and interesting fixtures. We left inspired and ready to head back to the conference just in time to attend a session by riCardo Crespo.

This was the last session of our conference, so we sat back and listened to what riCardo had to say. riCardo is a veteran of the creative industry, and spent most of his time in-house so he’s got a unique perspective to share. We loved his energy and found a few takeaways to bring back.

We headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Greensboro, which ended up being quite an ordeal, but it gave us a little time to reflect on our week in Boston. Time flies when your having fun, but we’d also say it flies when you are inspired! We found so much inspiration over the past week- from Make & Matter to Dana Tanamachi-Williams. We are so proud to have presented at The Dieline Conference and really enjoyed sharing our story. And we loved talking with everyone throughout the week who enjoyed our session, very humbling. And of course we had a great time catching up with old friends and new friends as well. 

Buttermilk is back from Boston and ready to hit the ground running! 

#buttermilkinboston – Day 3

#buttermilkinboston is a daily recap of our experiences at the HOW Live Design Conference in Boston. Follow the hashtag on our Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with all the excitement. Click here to read our Day 1 Recap and here for Day 2.

The conference is flying by. We are a little sad as we come to realize we will only be here for one more day. Today was another great day full of inspiration, meeting awesome new people and seeing a few of our trusty favorites. We started the morning off with an absolutely incredible session by Trina Bentley from Make and Matter. We’ve been adoring fans of Trina’s work for the past year or so when we first discovered her blog. This session was at the top of our “not to miss” list! We were front row as she shared her experiences in designing her own personal design aesthetic. She walked us through her processes and showed us some techniques. I can probably speak for the whole audience when I say that her candidness and willingness to share was appreciated and helpful.  Her talent is such an inspiration, it’s hard to believe she’s a one-woman operation.

Trina had some great quotes she shared but our favorite was:

“Dreams don’t work unless you do”

package design by Trina Bentley

package design by Trina Bentley

Right after Trina’s session was Dan Pink’s general session. This was another major heavy hitter that we were really looking forward to. Pink discussed the fact that, whether we like it or not, we are all in “sales.” Just accept that. And he discussed ways to navigate this new found role we’re in. He redefined the age old adage “A = Always, B = Be, C = Closing” to “A = Attunement, B = Buoyancy, C = Clarity.” We learned that “ambiverts” are the best sellers out there and the good news is most of us are exactly that. He also brought up a very interesting study that said to add a tiny, insignificant negative with all the positives and folks gravitate to that more than just a list of positives, Very interesting stuff. Oh and Alex won Dan Pinks book so when we get back in town its going straight onto the bookshelf.

Our dinner spot tonight was a cozy little bohemian jazz club called The Beehive. It was perfect. Our drinks were well crafted, the food was phenomenal and the atmosphere was lively. There was a live jazz band playing on a stage in the midst of dining tables, eclectic chandeliers and rustic tapestries. Everywhere you turned, there was art to be enjoyed. Our dining companion tonight was Tim Cox, Director of Creative Strategy at Publix. It’s become an annual tradition of ours to catch up with him during the HOW conference and the conversation was a pleasure as always!

The check holder at The Beehive. Amazing!

The check holder at The Beehive. Amazing!

We have one more day at the conference and it looks to be another packed day of great sessions. 

We’ll be posting one more day of recaps- keep an eye out for our Day 4 post tomorrow.

#buttermilkinboston – Day 2

#buttermilkinboston is a daily recap of our experiences at the HOW Live Design Conference in Boston. Follow the hashtag on our Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with all the excitement. Click here to read our Day 1 Recap.

We’re putting day 2 behind us and it was a blast and a blur! What an amazing day. We presented our session at The Dieline Conference, got interviewed by Package Design Magazine, and attended some great sessions at HOW Design Live.

We started the day off at an amazing little coffee shop called The Thinking Cup. We just found it wandering down Newbury St. on the way to the Hynes. We were able to grab a great breakfast that filled us up and sustained us for our presentation at 10:15. Highly recommended if you find yourself needing a good cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast pastry while in Boston. 

Our breakfast from The Thinking Cup

Our breakfast from The Thinking Cup

Then it was off to present our session “Oops I became a Package Designer” at The Dieline Conference. We were the opening session so our stomachs were in knots until we took the stage. Based on the packed house til the end of our talk and the lively Q and A we really felt like we resonated with the audience. It was great to hear from everyone and check out the lively discussion afterwards on Twitter and Instagram. But we sure are glad we’ve got that behind us so we can focus on the rest of the conference.

The crowd! Such a great group of folks!

The crowd! Such a great group of folks!

One of the most well received slides we presented was our “Discovery Brief”. Basically this is a form we created to use at the beginning of a project. We customized it for our projects to help keep us on track with asking the right questions and to really experience the product before we start designing (we insist on tasting everything before we design for it). We shared the file with The Dieline, so feel free to download a copy of it here and customize it for your own use!

Our Discovery Brief

Our Discovery Brief

After our interview with Package Design Magazine we headed back to the conference to attend Peleg Top‘s session about Marketing Strategies for Attracting Your Ideal Clients. This great session got us thinking about how best to market ourselves to the right audience. Peleg Top shared his calendar which his firm sent out every month for 14 years as a promo piece as an example of creating something that keeps you in the forefront of your current and potential clients minds. Definitely got us thinking about our upcoming promo piece and how to make it into a series we send out every couple months instead of a one off piece. 

The next and last session of the day we attended was from John Nunziato of Little Big Brands about 35 points to think about when starting a design firm. Some points resonated with us more than others but it was still neat to get some insight into the history of LBB and know that he was at one point working out of a tiny room in his house- something we know all about! Some of the other standouts from his presentation were:

  • Institute a “No Asshole” rule. There’s too many beautiful people and things in the world to worry about these types of people.
  • Respect yourself! Don’t do spec work!
  • If its not a show, its not a go! 

Listening to John’s talk got us daydreaming about what and where Buttermilk will go in the near future. Very exciting stuff.

John Nunziato presenting.

John Nunziato presenting.

We wrapped up day 2 with an AMAZING meal at Island Creek Oyster Bar (first destination we can check off from this wish list) We had the pleasure of dining with our friends from Theory House and My Private Brand — it’s always such a great time geeking out with other fellow creatives!

Insane raw platter from Island Creek Oyster Bar!

Insane raw platter from Island Creek Oyster Bar!

So that closes our Day 2 recap. We’ve got a couple more days of insight and inspiration and can’t wait to see what else we learn.

Keep an eye out for our Day 3 recap tomorrow!

#buttermilkinboston – Day 1

#buttermilkinboston is a daily recap of our experiences at the HOW Live Design Conference in Boston. Follow the hashtag on our Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with all the excitement.

Well we made it! We’re here in the fine city of Boston to present at the Dieline Conference and get inspired with all that HOW Live has to offer. We couldn’t be more excited.

Even though our trip up was a little rocky (we had to go through security twice in LaGuardia!) we still made it here safe and sound and on time! We made it just in time to check into our hotel and grab a quick bit to eat before we attended the first session – a conversation between Dee Dee Gordon and Malcolm Gladwell.

Dee Dee Gordon and Malcolm Gladwell on stage.

Dee Dee Gordon and Malcolm Gladwell on stage.

We were pretty giddy about the opportunity to be a fly on the wall while both of these highly influential people chatted. And the session did not disappoint. Topics discussed included:

  • we designers introduce balance into what people think and see
  • the concept of “Desirable Difficulties”- making something better by making it more difficult
  • how one can apply “desirable difficulties” to their own work?
  • the importance of being disagreeable
  • innovators are usually disagreeable
  • theres more to gain by being scrappy

These bullets represent only a few of the topics discussed. Dee Dee Gordon gave Gladwell a wide birth to speak on length about a number of interesting topics. This was a great session to kick off the HOW conference for us- the right amount of theories and inspiration to get those creative juices flowing.

That was the only session we were able to make it to. We’ve got quite a long hike from the hotel to the Hynes Convention Center so we are making it a point to take in all the architecture along the way. Boston has such beautiful buildings – its hard to see where you are going because it feels like you have to keep locking up or you’re going to miss something.

Beautiful architecture in Boston

Beautiful architecture in Boston

One day is down and we already feel very inspired. Once we present our session we’ll really get to let our hair down and take in all that HOW Live has to offer.

Stay tuned for our recap of Day 2 tomorrow!

Buttermilk in Boston – 1 Week Away!

Well the time is almost upon us! We’ve been working away on our presentation as well as putting together our itinerary for our trip to Boston. We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to present at THE package design conference, The Dieline Conference. 

We invite you to follow along here on the blog as we recap every night each day of the conference. We’ll be sharing insights about what we’ve learned during the sessions we attended as well as the other things we’ll be up to in Boston. We’ll also be tweeting non-stop over at @heybuttermilk and you can also follow along visually on our Instagram at @buttermilkcreative – we’ll be using the hashtag #buttermilkinboston to collect everything.

We’ll see you in Boston – either in person or virtually!