August 20th, 2013

Iconic Tequila Brand Returns with Same Great Liquid Presented in Updated Packaging with Imagery that Celebrates
“Real Mexico”

SAN FRANCISCO (May 3, 2010) – Espolón™, the super-premium tequila that evokes the storied culture of “real Mexico,” is returning to the U.S. market. Skyy Spirits, the U.S.-based wholly owned subsidiary of Gruppo Campari and the definitive marketer and distributor of super-premium and luxury spirits brands in North America, is proud to bring this 100-percent Weber Blue Agave tequila brand north of the border again with a new look, yet with the same award-winning liquid.

Espolón was originally introduced in the United States in 2000, garnering praise from Tequila experts and winning a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition as well as a Platinum Rating by the Beverage Testing Institute. Gruppo Campari, who in 2009 bought the Espolón brand along with the San Nicolas Distillery where it is made, is reintroducing the brand following a three year hiatus in the US.

While Espolón’s liquid remains the same, the packaging and look/feel of the brand have been redesigned and repositioned, with a focus on trumpeting life in real Mexico. The new decorative label on each Espolón bottle illustrated by Steven Noble pays tribute to the Mexican artists who inspired the world with true portrayals of the country’s rich history and complex everyday life. Striking, stark block print artwork features the characters of Guadalupe, Rosarita and the proud rooster, Ramón, reliving Mexico’s rich cultural stories.

The Espolón Blanco label, entitled “Independencia,” illustrates Guadalupe and Rosarita joining Father Miguel Hidalgo’s valiant campaign for Mexican independence from Spain. The Espolón Reposado label tells the story of “recuerdo” (“remembrance”), in which Guadalupe and Rosarita grace the markets of Mexico City, the new metropolis built on the fallen Aztec capital. Here, the couple schemes to infuse elements of Aztec culture into every market to ensure the remembrance of that great society. The labels serve to provide history and offer insight into the rich and fascinating stories of real Mexico.


August 20th, 2013

Brief Explanation:
We were challenged to design a new, intriguing deodorant package that upset the consumer perceptions that all Old Spice scents smelled the same and that Old Spice scents were old and musky. The proposition had to be relevant to young people within Old Spice’s key markets of North America, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

“Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice brand was plagued by negative consumer perceptions that all the scents smelled the same, old and musky. Working as a part of a cross-functional project team, Landor Associates Cincinnati along with Steven Noble’s illustrations were able to deliver packaging that clearly communicated a range of unique fresh fragrance experiences from Old Spice.”

Describe the brief from the client:
Old Spice first hit shelves in 1937 and quickly became a top selling shave soap and aftershave. In the 1990’s, P&G purchased the brand and relaunched it as a male high performing deodorant. While the deodorant was offered in various scents, the early technology forced them all to have similar base note characteristics. By the mid 2000’s, Old Spice had lost its positive scent equity to the Axe brand, and was losing relevancy among young men, an important consumer target. We were asked to reinvigorate the brands fragrance heritage by developing packaging for a new line of four unique experiential deodorants based on the concept, ‘Scents inspired by the freshest places on earth.’

Description of how you arrived at the final design:
Following qualitative research, full colour imagery was identified as the best way to bring to life destination-themed fragrances. The classic hand etched style of illustration common to 19th century nature books was leveraged to communicate Old Spice’s 70+ years of heritage. Delightful surprises, including sharks and bears were added to each illustration, enhancing the consumer’s emotional connection with the fragrance as well as updating the traditional illustration style. Red, traditionally the brands dominant colour, was used sparingly after it was identified as a signal of heavy, musky scents.

Indication of how successful the outcome was in the market:
Early sales results indicate that the initiative is expected to exceed expectations

View packaging:

Driscoll’s: a ‘Fresh Look’ of Fresh Berries

August 20th, 2013

Driscoll’s, the leading provider of fresh berries, unveiled a new logo and label design that will be used throughout all areas of sales and marketing. The new look will begin to hit the U.S. market within the next few weeks.

The new brand identity will be incorporated in various brand communications from labels on individual clamshells, to the trays used to ship the clamshells as well as signage at the company’s headquarters. The new brand identity will unify and strengthen the look of Driscoll’s destination Berry Patch displays in retail stores.

The company tapped San Francisco-based Michael Osborne Design for the task. Osborne and his team retained key brand and label design touch points, such as the familiar triangle shaped label, and the vibrant yellow and green background colors, while restructuring messaging in a hierarchical fashion on the labels. The new label also incorporates an illustration, created by Steven Noble, of a farmer in a field of berries and most important, berries overflowing in a basket.

“This is the evolution of this brand,” said Douglas Ronan, VP Marketing at Driscoll’s. “The Driscoll’s brand is one of the most recognized brands in the produce industry. Our heritage is in strawberries. Now, by using all four berries on our package, we are reinforcing our leadership position in fresh berries while highlighting the special efforts of our farmers.”

Kahlúa Package re-design

August 20th, 2013

The world’s number-one selling coffee liqueur, Kahlúa has long occupied a prized position in the world’s liquor cabinets. Consumers everywhere associate its distinctive name and taste with an appreciation for fine spirits.

The new design builds on the existing equity of Kahlúa by introducing premium metallic accents denoting excellence and quality, along with Meso-American cues that evoke the brand’s heritageCyril Claquin, senior vice president of marketing, Malibu-Kahlúa International
Of course, all great brands grow and evolve over time, finding fresh ways to extend their appeal in the marketplace. And, in 2007, Malibu-Kahlúa International began a series of strategic innovations, starting with a new packaging system.

How do you build on a favorite? This was the critical question facing Malibu-Kahlúa International, the Pernod Ricard-owned company that shapes the brand’s global strategy. The company’s goal was to refresh the brand, while maintaining its existing store of affection and appeal among consumers around the world. This meant infusing the existing brand image with a more contemporary feel, and laying the groundwork to extend the line into exciting new flavors.

The design team at The Brand Union, along with Steven Noble’s illustration expertise, began by diving into Kahlúa’s roots, while simultaneously looking forward toward new possibilities. They conducted research in Kahlúa’s top markets, reviewing how consumers perceive and interact with the brand.

The team identified a number of priorities for the brand’s new look. This included the careful blending of existing and new visual elements. Meso-American cues evoking the brand’s birth in the heart of Mexico were given new dimension with premium metallic accents denoting excellence and quality.

Armed with this fresh palette of design elements, the Brand Union team crafted a new premium packaging system that serves as a rich celebration of the brand. Their work centered around four key factors.

Premium quality

The bottle’s well-loved elements have been revitalized with premium cues, including the addition of deep hues, metallic accents and a smooth satin luster. A simplified logo incorporates the updated color palette and increases contrast.

Meso-American authenticity

Illustrations created by Steven Noble of the Mexican landscape and topography are included on the new label while Colonial architectural influences in the illustration have been replaced with more appropriate Mayan and Aztec cues. Intricately detailed Meso-American cues on the neck label speak to the brand’s authenticity and origin.


The intriguing and little known Kahlúa story celebrates the brand’s origins, while tasting-notes highlight the spirit’s distinct flavor and premium quality.

Outer-shipper case packaging

The updated color palette, refreshed Kahlúa logo and intricate Meso-American illustrations are brought to life on the shipper packaging’s premium quality stock.

Kahlúa’s new packaging perfectly balances the brand’s distinct personality and heritage with fresh notes. The traditional coffee flavor and the newly launched Kahlúa Hazelnut and Kahlúa French Vanilla flavors are all dramatically headlined by the new system. The rich pleasures contained within every Kahlúa bottle are now more fully expressed through the outward elements of design and packaging.

White House Logo

August 20th, 2013

The White House (WHHA) Logo

The stately new identity utilizes LTC Caslon, an updated version of the 18th century font used for the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, and a specially commissioned engraving by illustrator Steven Noble.

Previous incarnations of the White House Historical Association’s mark, ranging from the traditional to the ornate to the more contemporary, were used interchangeably, presenting an erratic identity. After initially considering a contemporary design, Hayman decided a more traditional approach would better suit the organization’s mission. Inspired by a pre-existing mark, Hayman had illustrator Steven Noble redraw the White House to create a more active composition.

Noble based his image of the White House not on how it appears today, but on how the house appeared in the 1950s, after President Truman had the entire building reconstructed due to serious structural flaws. This post-renovation period is considered by historians to be the most recognizable and historically appropriate representation of the White House. Adding to the appeal of this depiction is the landscaping, which at the time was modest in size and density (whereas today it engulfs the building, creating an overcrowded background).

The organization’s long name, which lacks an attractive acronym, had been an awkward stumbling block in earlier incarnations of the mark. Creating a more aesthetically pleasing composition, Hayman divided the moniker into two lines. In keeping with American typesetting trends from the early 1800s, italic small caps were used, with the words “White House” being printed in bold Roman letters for emphasis.

A major drawback of the original logo was that its fine details made it hard to reproduce in smaller sizes. In an effort to remedy this problem, Hayman devised three marks: a highly detailed version for larger uses, a simplified version for smaller print pieces, and a logotype-only version for especially small applications such as book and CD spines.

Scratchboard Illustration

August 19th, 2013

The scratchboard (scraper board) technique requires very precise strokes applied from a precision carving blade (knife) whereby the artist works in a negative fashion by scraping away the black ink to reveal the white clay board underneath. It’s almost like reverse psychology. You have to think the opposite of what you normally think. You’re adding light and taking away the darkness one stroke at a time. Scratchboard is merely a medium and not a style. It can be translated into a variety of styles and treatments such as woodcut, pen and ink, engraving and steel engraving styles, as well as a variety of other stylized scratchboard techniques including very fine traditional “18th -19th century” vintage engravings.

See scratchboard styles:

The Woodcut style is defined by simulating the old fashioned woodblock carvings of the 18th century and often re-creating a retro modern version to fit today’s needs for advertising,  packaging design, publishing and logo identity purposes. The technique requires the use of the scratchboard medium which works most effectively to accomplish this end result. Furthermore, the style is mostly associated with “bold” , less detailed, line strokes along with loose uncleaned cuts along the outer edge of the illustration. This is a clear distinction from the other scratchboard styles such engraving, and steel engraving styles.

See woodcut samples:

The scratchboard engraving style is more closely associated with the old traditional engravings of the 19th century with some slight variation. The line work is semi to highly detailed with the lines flowing in a parallel fashion with cross cuts to form breaks in the tapered tips of the lines and cross shaded lines to form the darkened shaded areas. The style encompasses what some people associate as the “Wall Street” journal style. Line engraving is a similar process in that the black and white lines are applied positively onto the “white” (un-inked) scratchboard. The lines can, thereby, be scrapped off to create broken lines in order to soften and taper an edge. The second process is accomplished by using a  knife to negatively remove the pre-inked blackened scratchboard to reveal the white board in closely controlled and parallel strokes to create the effect.

The “steel engraving” style is created similarly to all the above techniques. However, the line style is more closely associated with the “currency” bills such as the US Dollar currency and other bank notes. The “original” technique employed the use of a chisel and a steel or copper  plates in which a small bar of hardened steel with a sharp point was used. This is pushed along the plate to produce thin strips of waste metal and thin furrows. This is followed by a scraper which removes any burs as they will be an impediment to the ink. It is important to note that engraving must be done in the reverse or mirror image, so that the image faces the correct way when the die prints. One trick of the trade was for engravers to look at the object that they were engraving through a mirror so that the image was naturally reversed and they would be less likely to engrave the image incorrectly. Steel plates can be case hardened to ensure that they can print thousands of times with little wear. Copper plates can not be case hardened but can be steel-faced or nickel-plated to increase their life expectancy.

Many clients request a customized illustration for their TradeMarks and logo identities because of their need for a very specific image that is closely associated with their corporate identity. For example, Land’s End required a very specific type of lighthouse to represent their company. Aerial Funds needed a turtle illustration that was closely tied to the central theme of their company which was the story of the “Turtle and the Hare.” The White House Historical Association wanted an illustration that represented the specific perspective that they wanted to achieve with the White House building.

See logo samples: