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North Coast Heritage Grain Alliance is a non-profit based in Petaluma, CA. Formed in 2014 and headed by Deborah Walton of Canvas Ranch, the group has four key objectives:
- Provide education, resources, and support to new and existing grain farmers.
- Connect grain farmers and users: farmers, millers, bakers, distillers, brewers, and consumers.
- Grow infrastructure and access to and equipment for grain farming, processing, and distribution.
- Raise public awareness about amd demand for whole grain products
The project included developing their brand strategy, logo, and website design. Here’s how we did it...
We set out to gain a deeper understanding of what heritage grains are, their history, how they are grown, and how they differ from modern grains. During our research, we found that wheat fields outnumbered vineyards in Sonoma County until the mid 1800’s, and that the North Coast climate allows many grains to be “dry farmed” (with little or no irrigation). We attended a grain growing seminar and listened to the functional aspects of milling and selling grains. We also familiarised ourself with the growers and artisans that make up this heritage grain community – farmers, millers, bakers, distillers, and brewers – and fully immersed ourselves in all of their tasty products!
With a good understanding of our client, their products, and their business goals, we set out to gain perspective on the heritage grain industry as a whole – where the grains are grown, processed, sold, and how they are typically used. We went into boutique markets and natural grocery stores to see how heritage grains are retailed and what marketing claims were being made on their products. We also looked at how similar organizations educated their audiences in the value of their products, built a brand loyalty, and supported their members.
The brand strategy is a culmination of our findings from steps 1 and 2. We presented our key insights, along with areas of opportunity and recommended brand positioning. All of this information was boiled down to the defined Brand Pillars which represent the enduring elements at the heart of the organization. These pillars inform the brand personality and all marketing touchpoints so the designs accurately represent the brand.
Before we started the design phase, we reviewed a few different styles that could represent North Coast Heritage Grain’s Brand Pillars while also differentiating them from other similar organizations and appealing to their target audience. Everyone agreed that the logo should steer clear of a corporate feel while maintaining a bold credibility. A warm, earthy feel, as well as a slightly nostalgic feel of a past era seemed appropriate for this heritage grain community.
Several logos were presented, all with a sense of history and representative of the artisan feel that relates directly to the products and people that the organization stands for. Ultimately, the final design was chosen for its feeling of community and success in conveying a variety of grains.
The new branding was extended to a robust website that provides education and resources for new and existing farmers, and connects grain farmers and users through a forum where discussions range from growing techniques to pricing. It also includes a member directory with an interactive map. Learn more about the benefits of heritage grains at www.grainalliance.org.
You can visit North Coast Heritage Grain Alliance's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/grainalliance to keep up with all of their current events.
If you are a local farmer and have a product to sell, we would love for you to apply for our next grant!