branding process

Shore Gardens Nursery

Nestled in the heart of downtown San Clemente in Southern California, just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Shore Gardens Nursery has provided this laid-back beach community with a wide selection of gorgeous plants since the 1950s. When one of the nursery's long-time employees and his wife stepped up to purchase the business in the early 2010s, they decided it was time to update the identity of the nursery.

More accurately, it was time to actually create an identity for the nursery.

Like many small businesses without the luxury of time or big marketing budgets, the look of the collateral for Shore Gardens was rendered in a design style I call "Whatever Font the Print Shop Has."

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A wide variety of good (and not so good) stuff...but none of it looks like it belongs together.

Since some of the materials had been around for decades, naturally there was some attachment to parts of the existing branding, while some other things we were less exited to keep. The challenge would be to incorporate the essence of those elements that represented the heritage of the nursery (and might feel familiar to long-time customers), while giving the new owners a fresh, contemporary look that would bring everything together in one defined, considered, and cohesive brand.

Easy, right?

Before any work began on sketching new logo ideas, I wanted to take a look at what some of the nursery's closest competitors looked like. Besides wanting to avoid inadvertently copping someone else's look, this part of the process gives me an idea of how good the competition looks, and how I might position Shore Gardens to stand out from the pack.

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Lots of green, as you might expect

Once I'd learned all I could about Shore Gardens, where the business had been, where the new owners wanted to take it, and what competition they were up against, it was time to work out some initial logo concepts. I presented a range of ideas that incorporated elements of retro, upscale, and modern design, but aside from the difference in style, all of them were generally pretty clean and simple.

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A few of my initial logo concepts

While we did initially explore some palm tree imagery as the nursery had used quite a bit of it in their materials over the years, I ultimately encouraged the owners to go with one of the bromeliad icons I crafted. For one, palm tree iconography is EVERYWHERE in Southern California (restaurants, dry cleaners, stereo repair shops, etc.). But more importantly, bromeliads were one of their favorite plants, which would give the new mark a more personal connection to the new owners, while still keeping in line with that tropical SoCal vibe. After a bit of mix-and-match from the initial concepts, we arrived at our final mark fairly quickly:

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The final logo

The vintage-inspired script is a tribute to both the history of the nursery and the funky beach-vibe of the community, while the rest of the typography and the distinct bromeliad icon are clean and modern. The logo suggests that Shore Gardens is all at once approachable, community-oriented and fun, but also contemporary, classy, and professional. Color choices were mainly derived from the bright colors found in Guzmania bromeliads, with a green that is a bit more muted and tropical, meant to stand apart from the usual bright, primary greens used by many other plant nurseries.

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