When specialty food retailer Stahmann's set their sights on the gourmet market, they enlisted branding and packaging graphic design firm Mark Oliver to pave the way. "The road from New Mexico family ranch to Nieman Marcus is not an easy one to walk. No matter how rich the tradition or how sweet the pecan brittle, no company moves its product into select stores without the 'look,'" explained Mark Oliver, CEO of Mark Oliver Inc.
Begun over seventy years ago, Stahmann's (the largest privately-owned pecan producer in the world) had established a successful catalog business and country store, but wanted to expand into fashionable gourmet retailers nationwide. The problem, however, was stale packaging that failed to reflect the quality of the product. Awash with muted beiges and featuring Texas-style western fonts, the look was a pioneer - but decidedly not gourmet.
"When we asked Mark Oliver Inc. to reposition and brand our product line, we had two focus points: our heritage, and appealing to a high-end customer base. Incorporating both was the challenge," reflects Stahmann's General Manager, Beverly Hart.
With this in mind, staff members traveled to New Mexico gaining access to the family, ranch, employees, and landscape. Privy to tales covering seven decades and to photographs of annual ranch events like a mock bullfight, they cultivated a visual story and timeline that would beautifully illustrate the Stahmann heritage. The strategy for introducing the company into the homes of high-end consumers became clear: illustrate the heritage - make the illustration a package.
"They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and nothing could be truer in the Stahmann's case. We asked illustrator Jeremy Sancha to recreate the family history in his linocut style, and we ended up with eleven scenes capturing the ranch both as it was, and as it is today," shared Oliver. "Each handsomely illustrates life on the ranch and brings a sense of connection between the target audience and the product's origins."
Since redesigning, Stahmann's no longer worries about walking the road to Nieman Marcus, they're already running -- the value-added packaging has evolved to include 50 SKUs.
Photo: Mark Oliver