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Valley Ford Wool Mill is the 2014 winner of Sloat Design Group's second annual Farm to Shelf Service Grant. We were impressed by Casey and Ariana’s steadfast commitment to sustainability and to their community. They process local wool to make a wide variety of wool products including yarn, bedding, clothing, yoga mats, saddle pads, and even housing insulation. Their mill and mercantile offers a resource and education center for local wool enthusiasts, providing sheep farmers with a means of locally processing wool that would have otherwise been discarded or shipped far off to be cleaned.
The project included developing their brand strategy, logo, hang tag and label design. Here’s how we did it...
First we visited their wool mill and mercantile in the tiny town of Valley Ford, where sheep probably outnumber people 10-1. We took many pictures and listened to the functional aspects of the business, their typical customers, competitors, and who they want to be as they grow and evolve. We also took inventory of their current marketing materials and talked about past and future trends in the industry. To dig deeper, we had their key decision-makers answer a couple survey questions to get a better sense of their personality and style and to ensure that everyone was on the same page as far as business objectives and desired outcomes for the new brand.
With a good understanding of our client and their products and business goals, we set out to gain perspective on their industry, consumers, and retail environment. We read industry journals, learned about fibersheds and discoered the “slow fashion” movement. We also looked over the aisle to other natural home product categories for inspiration and future trends. It became clear early on that our biggest challenge would be to appeal to knitters and ranchers alike, and to create a brand appropriate for the natural wool category without being bland and docile (Casey and Ariana are anything but that!).
The brand strategy is a culmination of our findings from steps 1 and 2, along with key insights, areas of opportunity and recommended brand positioning. All of this information is boiled down to the defined Brand Pillars, which represent the elements that are at the heart of the brand.
Within Brand Strategy, we define the brand pillars that represent the everlasting elements at the heart of the company. These pillars inform the brand personality and all marketing touchpoints so that the designs authentically represent the brand.
Before we start the design phase, we review a few different styles that could represent Valley Ford Wool Mill’s Brand Pillars, while also differentiating them from their competition and appealing to their target audience. We all agreed that the Indigenous theme had the greatest potential for differentiation and, most importantly, it spoke directly to the heart of the owners.
Several logos were presented, all representative of native wisdom and the symbiotic relationship between land and animal. The final design depicts the horned Navajo-Churro sheep that live on the founder’s ranch standing proudly amidst the grasses and estuary that flows through Valley Ford.
The new branding was seamlessly extended to price tags, sweatshirts, tshirts, hats, and so much more!
The health and environmental benefits of organic, local, chemical free wool is endless. Learn more about the benefits of wool on their website at valleyfordwoolmill.com. You can also visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ValleyFordMercantileAndWoolMill to keep up with the mill’s 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!