Salt Spring Coffee – Classic

Salt Spring Coffee is a well-established coffee roasting company founded on Salt Spring Island in 1996 by a family of doers, artisans, farmers and craftsmen.

After relocating its roasting facility from its original namesake location to Richmond, British Columbia, Salt Spring Coffee sought a brand strategy and packaging design that better communicates its overall brand story.

From the beginning, Salt Spring Coffee’s history has been rich with bold new ways of doing business. The company’s owners were early adopters of organic farming and owned a successful wood mill framing business using local wood. From these pioneering roots grew a coffee roasting company dedicated to responsible partnerships with coffee farmers and deeply committed to quality and sustainability at every level. Founder of its own Fair to Farmer™ program, Salt Spring Coffee constantly strives for improvements—both within its own company and for the broader industry.

Despite being a well-known industry leader and a credible authority of advocacy for social and environmental programs, Salt Spring Coffee has generally sustained a more reserved position, or quiet voice, in regards to its ideology and successes. But after relocating its roasting facility to the mainland and completing some internal restructuring, the coffee company saw the opportunity to better communicate its story, past and present, and deliver a more visually engaging brand experience. By way of an agency-of-record partnership, Exhibit A: Design Group set out to help Salt Spring Coffee write the next chapter in their story.

Our studio initiated the project by thoroughly researching and evaluating Salt Spring Coffee’s history, communications and consumer touchpoints. The comprehensive and systematic approach included completing customer intercept surveys at point-of-purchase within varied grocery stores across BC’s lower mainland. The feedback provided insight into the buying behaviours of coffee consumers including their perceptions of Salt Spring Coffee, and several other leading and non-leading coffee brands. Additional information demystified the purchasing influence and importance of organic farming, fair-trade practices, coffee origin, tasting profiles, farmer fairness program certifications and general sustainability.

After our complete brand audit, we identified qualities and characteristics of a distinct brand position that celebrates Salt Spring Coffee’s authoritative voice and pioneering spirit. The positioning comes to life through new packaging design delivering the story of a distinct corporate culture while expressing the handcrafted individuality of each type of coffee. Background textures reveal the company’s rich history through a visual timeline of layered photographs of Salt Spring Island, coffee origin, and the company’s first roaster.

The bold type treatment applied on the packaging—and brand applications throughout—is inspired by a combination of varied text styles that references wood type, travel tags, coffee sacks, industrial shipping signage and West Coast island boat culture. The typographic hierarchy clearly displays blend type, coffee name and other information as it flows over the sides of the bag, creating intrigue and inviting consumer engagement. To completely satisfy Canadian packaging requirements, English and French are equally prominent on opposite sides of the bag. The colour palette is a combination of lively, rich, earthy and edible.

With so much dramatic change to Salt Spring Coffee’s business, we retained its long-standing logo and tagline to assure loyal customers that the company’s ownership, corporate culture and core values have remained intact.

As Salt Spring Coffee’s long-term creative partner, Exhibit A: Design Group applied the new brand strategy to all areas of Salt Spring Coffee’s business. The creative platform adds to Salt Spring Coffee’s story at every brand touchpoint, confirming distinction and adding depth while contributing to the goal of building long-term brand equity, increasing sales distribution, and growing café partnerships.

GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards: Packaging – Winner, Salt Spring Coffee, 2013

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