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Organic Cows Make Happy Yogurt

Reviewed Sep. 17, 2009 by Armin

Industry / Consumer products Tags /

Sonyfield Logo, Before and After

When it comes to yogurt I have no brand allegiance. Whatever brand happens to cross my line of vision that does not look like it will taste like creamy acid, I will grab. Granted, I don’t eat much yogurt, so I have no problem in brand continuity. Same thing with milk, whatever the house brand is at the grocery store near my home at the moment is the one I buy. For a while, in the halcyon economic times of 2007, we bought organic milk. Prior to writing this post, if you had asked me what brand of organic milk I bought I would not have been able to tell you. It was only as I was going through Stonyfield Farm’s web site that I realized the $5 gallon of milk I had been buying was Stonyfield Farms. This is not a knock on this particular brand but perhaps just my perception of the dairy category: A blurry landscape of cows, prairies and fruit drawings. Most likely, I’m not the target audience. Having said all this, Stonyfield Farm stands out from the crowd as a cow- and earth-conscious company since its modest beginning in 1979 as The Rural Education Center until 1983 when they began (pun alert!) milking their expertise and killer yogurt recipe as a consumer product. Today it is one of the most successful organic dairy product lines in the market, and it recently launched a new identity and packaging designed by Webb Scarlett deVlam

Sonyfield Packaging, Before and After

In 2007, Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield’s CEO decided to embark on an initiative to update the relevance and aesthetic of Stonyfield’s key messages, look, feel, tone, and equities as well as explore new campaign ideas, and new media. These would involve a new brandmark, packaging design, web site and advertising campaigns. The challenge was to create a distinct yet relevant point of difference within the yogurt category.

We started with research. Our analysis included a deep dive with consumers, key stakeholders and distilling needs and perceptions into brand truths and aspirations. Our design strategy was to bring consumers to the farm, so we photographed and printed the farm on the pack. Despite excellent quantitative test results, this execution took an extraordinary leap of faith for Stonyfield.

[The] the brand had lost the ‘Farm’ in the brand name. Our research concluded it wasn’t essential to the identity of the brand. Hence, Stonyfield Farm became Stonyfield.
— Briefing to Brand New from Webb Scarlett deVlam

Sonyfield, Logo Detail

The old logo had been in use since the early 1990s, with a few modifications over the years, and for the most part it remains the same but in a decidedly more contemporary execution. Dropping the “Farm” allowed for a non condensed type treatment, which made the old logo look a little bit dated. The new typography is very nicely executed, especially that “yfi” ligature. The cow (more on her later) is a little smaller, which I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, and the word “Organic” feels more subtle and less like a commandment that must be followed. The colors are richer and, for lack of a better term, yummier.

Sonyfield, New Packaging

While I do like the logo, I don’t like the packaging as much. The photographic approach makes it feel more ordinary somehow. Too colloquial. And I’m no packaging expert by any means but I feel the hierarchy of the information was easier to access on the old one, even though the information in the new one is more consistently executed. As a metaphor for my contradiction: The old product information was like a hipster with clashing colors and textures, and the new one is like an Ivy college professor, even tones from head to toe. But I digress, before the digressions become too much. The flat colors in the old packaging were more energetic and that’s probably what I’m reacting to.

Sonyfield, New Packaging

Report from the field: A comparison of old and new by Gage Mitchell.

Sonyfield, Cow Accessories

In 1992, Stonyfield held a contest to name their cow. Elizabeth Malakie of Church Falls, Virginia suggested “Gertie” so that when she was called she would respond to “Yo! Gert!”. Stonyfield took it one step further and named the cow “Gurt.” Yes, as in “Yo! Gurt!”. Throughout the packaging line of yogurts, Gurt appears in a bevy of accessories like a beret for the French Vanilla flavor. Above is a small sampling from nearly 30 options.

“Stonyfield Farm’s new package design clearly stands out on shelf, but more importantly, Webb Scarlett deVlam worked hard to understand our core values and authenticity to ensure that the new design reflects the Stonyfield ideals. We featured a photograph of the Wayside Farm, one of the many Organic Valley family farms that supply our milk for our yogurt. We are proud of the fact that our organic milk comes from real family farmers who run real, organic farms and make real food for real people. Our packaging, which is our most important consumer communication medium, now reflects who we are and what we have stood for for over 25 years. Not many companies out there can wholeheartedly say that and mean it.”
— Attessa Bradley, Stonyfield Brand Manager



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