Sustainable Branding Influences Consumer Behavior

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Recently, Ellie McKenzie of Farmhouse Design was asked to illustrate creative ways to encourage small businesses with sustainable design ideas. Paired with Scott Gasch of Fey Printing, they brought to life the power of sustainable branding and digital printing in Neenah’s newest promotion, Explore 7: Sustainable Retail. Here, they offer a rare insight and a behind the scenes look at branding and printing this epic promotion.

Says McKenzie, “All of the brands in Explore 7 are 100% original. We used the paper as inspiration for the design then developed each piece specifically to promote the sustainable ideas of supporting local businesses, responsibility in action, and designing with purpose. With all that is going on in the world today, these thematics will only become more relevant. This was such a fun process. I picked a few of my favorites to showcase for GDUSA readers.”



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McKenzie: “I imagined Cooke’s Greenhouse as a local market with a curated, artisan experience. When you stroll the aisle in most small marketplaces, you typically find provisions from regional bakers and wineries. It’s the ultimate one-stop-shop in town for all things local.

 I also wanted to feature some of the smaller brands that would be found in the neighborhood market. When you visit one of these shops, you are presented with accouterments like bottles of olives or bruschetta toppings. There are also complementary knickknacks like straws and toothpicks. All of these items need to stand out on display and invite shoppers to pick them up and interact.

For instance, with Juniper Farms olives, we chose a wonderfully textured label with a unique die-cut shape to create interest and stand out on the shelf amongst the other olive choices. For the Blue Seas straw box, I designed the branding featuring a holographic foil on a pearlized paper. The effect was simply stunning and sure to grab consumer attention at the market.”

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The Blue Seas Straw Box

McKenzie: “We used a creative mix of papers for the straw box, including a natural-looking desert storm with a pearlized wrap. It’s like the meeting of sand and sea. The reflective properties of the holographic foil were just the chef’s kiss.” 


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McKenzie: “For the Wild Petals florist shop, we wanted to show how to stand out in an already colorful industry. With such a bright paper, you really don’t need a lot of flashy design, so I kept it simple. The bright yellow envelope is meant to reflect the cheerful nature of giving flowers. If you picture this envelope nestled in a beautiful bouquet, it would inevitably draw out instant emotions from the recipient. Over time, it becomes a signature part of the brand and signifies to recipients where the flowers came from.

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The Wild Petals Handwritten Message Card

Gasch: “You don’t see a lot of handwritten script on florist cards. Using digital printing makes all the difference allowing brands to creating personalized appeal from first glance to lasting impression.”


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McKenzie: “I noticed some initiatives from local/smaller retailers where they enticed shoppers to bring in old clothing to exchange for new. I always thought it was a great idea, and I knew it would be a fun focus for this promotion. Fun fact, we actually shot this in my studio. After I had the initial concept sketched out, I enlisted my friends to model various denim.

 When you are branding a clothing company, it vital that you stay true to the brand all the way through the printed materials. Using various colors of denim and natural fabrics, I layered different papers and textures, much like clothing, throughout the piece. It turned out beautifully.”

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The Ink+Thread Hangtag

Gasch: “This hangtag is a masterpiece in and of itself. We printed it on cotton papers, which tied into the jeans messaging. That, paired with the linen cover of the brochure, gave the piece a real-life fabric feel that entices touch. The rivet was the icing on the cake, it looks like the metal button on a pair of jeans.”


For small businesses, it’s imperative to stand out with creative design and spectacular sustainable messaging. It’s important to thoughtfully consider every consumer touchpoint for brands before going to market. Consumers are savvy. They want to support brands that make great products AND share their personal values.

Concludes McKenzie: “I’m so pleased with the way these brands came to life. All of the different and unique paper choices and print techniques are strung together by a universal concept, small business. There are so many little details and elements to revisit many times and still be surprised. I hope it provides small and local businesses the inspiration they need to develop sustainable marketing materials that stand out.”