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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 signage and collateral for Shore Gardens was handled by dozens of different print shop employees over the span of several decades, likely with no reference to any of the existing design work.

A Business With Deep Roots

Since some of the materials had been around for decades, naturally there was some emotional attachment and community recognition to parts of the existing branding, while some other things the new owners were eager to improve upon. The challenge was to incorporate the heritage of the nursery with a fresh, contemporary look that would bring everything together in one defined, considered, and cohesive brand.

Shore Gardens - previous branded materials

Some of the existing signage and materials in use at the nursery prior to rebranding.
None of the stuff looked too terrible, but none of it looked like it belonged together.

A Forest of Competition (or, It's a Jungle Out There)

Before sketching any 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 (such as avoiding the use of palm trees or other commonly used plant imagery, certain shades of green, etc.), this part of the process gives me an idea of how the competition looks, and how I might position Shore Gardens to stand out from the pack.

Logos of some nearby and similar nurseries.

Logos of some nearby and similar nurseries.

Sowing the First Seeds of an Idea

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.

A few of the initial logo directions

A few of the initial logo directions

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. 

A New Identity Blooms

With the client's input, we mixed and matched our favorite bits from a few of the initial concepts, added some color, and arrived at our final mark relatively quickly.

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.

The logo was also expanded into a few alternate lockups, and without the yellow shadow on the red script for smaller reproduction or when a more simplified version was required (such as laser cutting or stamp engraving).

With the core of the identity in place, we were ready to start rolling out the branding to the various printed pieces and signage!

Concept for new wooden entrance sign

Concept for new outdoor wooden sign on side of building

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