Stonemill Kitchens Cooks Up Smaller, Higher-End Design

The idea: Jumbo tubs were fine for Stonemill Kitchens’ line of six indulgent party dips when it was sold exclusively at club stores such as Costco, where everything is industrial-sized. But parent company Reser’s Fine Foods, Beaverton, Ore.,  knew this supersized approach wouldn’t work for the new channel it hoped to penetrate: supermarkets. While it was downsizing, it also decided to go for a more upscale look to attract burgeoning foodies to the brand. “The previous design wasn’t getting across the appetite appeal and the high-quality of the ingredients—they’re really thick, savory dips that can be put in a casserole dish and broiled, but that wasn’t clear,” said Karmen Olson-Stevens, category manager for Reser’s salads and dips business, which includes the Stonemill Kitchens brand. High quality and versatility were the two key things we wanted to get across.” Enter design agency Murray Brand, San Francisco.

What was broken? Olson-Stevens wasn’t married to much in terms of the folksy original design for the line of dips. “When it was designed, it was meant to be craftsy, but it looked country,” she said. She was happy to kill the mill as a quaint sketch logo, but she thought the word itself had resonance. Stonemill was retained for the brand name. The photography of clunky vegetables and blurry cheese chunks wasn’t doing the dips any favors either, considering they come in succulent-sounding flavors such as Artichoke & Parmesan, Cajun Seafood and Crab & Roasted Corn.

How it was created: “We did a lot of mood boards [to determine] how we were going to stand out in the category,” said Scott Knudsen, director of brand strategy and project management at Murray Brand. “We wanted to take an editorial style with our food photography, [reminiscent of] Bon Appétit or a high-end food book. We wanted to present it in an artful way with design elements and neutral colors that communicate a natural, healthy  and handmade artisan look.”

Results: New packaging debuted in September and supermarkets are nipping at the dips this holiday season. Safeway, Ralph’s and Fred Meyer recently ordered.