White dogs vs. the big dogs

The image above, in a NY Times piece today on craft-distilled White Dog whiskeys, got my attention.

In part because it is just a great shot by Joshua Bright, of some interesting packaging. In part because as a small business owner I have an affinity for the artisanal movement that is alive in all kinds of areas, from Vermont Spirits vodkas, to Ted Muehling’s candlesticks, to Old Chatham Sheepherding cheeses, to Richard Sachs bicycles, to RGM watches, to Z Sails.

We work with clients both large and small, and everybody sweats the same kind of details.

How do we communicate the qualities of our brand in an honest and compelling way?

How can we maximize our investment in the packaging materials we will be selecting?

How do we deal with the sustainability and lifecycle issues of our packaging process?

These kinds of questions come up every day, for both small companies and big companies, and yes the scale may be different but the issues are similar.

But the biggest difference with entrepreneurial brands, like the “White Dog” spirits shown in the photo above, is that usually the package is their first and often only communications vehicle. It has to work very hard!

For some very different thoughts on the artisanal movement check out Grant McCracken’s blog post today. I agree with his thoughts on the pompous nature of some, but think there is a very real need for the honest craftspeople at places like Z Sails, RGM, or Richard Sachs. Nice to have him back online.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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One Response to White dogs vs. the big dogs

  1. Chris Wentz says:

    Thanks for including Z in this! But after reading Grant’s comments, I think I’ll just keep my head down!


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