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Brand Strategy & Design

About Our Work

In the business since 1990, DRC has delivered design solutions for just about every kind of product, for clients big and small. Here are some of our favorites. To see more of our work, search by category or client, or check out our case studies.

Plentils

Taking the snack category head on

opportunity:

Enjoy Life developed a lentil-based chip with a satisfying crunch. The product required appeal to salty snack consumers unfamiliar with Enjoy Life, connection with existing consumers, and communications of allergy-free, gluten-free and all-natural dairy free.

solution:

DRC's solution emphasizes appetite appeal, healthy & natural and holds true to the Enjoy Life brand message: eat freely! Brand development included name generation, brandmark and package design.

results:

A 41% lift across the entire brand portfolio in 2012.

{ case study }

Doubling sales
in 90 days

opportunity:

A simple request to refresh Camelot water evolved into creating new opportunities: elevate a commodity by developing a meaningful and compelling mega brand, and extend to other products in the water product line, while differentiating between varieties.

solution:

PurAqua has a renewed brand presence and elegant design system that not only communicates quality but also brings consistency to a large range of sub-brands.

results:

50% increase in sales - from concept to on-shelf in 90 days.

{ old design } { case study }

The global leader - and acting like it!

opportunity:

Update the McCain frozen potato line to provide differentiation from competition, communicate the all natural benefit of the product line, and convey strong reassurance that these are real potatoes.

solution:

The authentic burlap bag and editorial style of the photography communicates good, all natural potatoes. Research confirmed all key communication points and dramatically increased purchase intent.

results:

"We are literally having trouble keeping it on the shelf." - Marketing Manager, McCain USA

{ old design }

Exceptional performance

opportunity:

An expanded assortment of tech-driven products provided an opportunity to refresh the Alphaline brand, making it more relevant to consumers shopping the 4,000 Sears and Kmart locations.

solution:

Market insights confirmed the benefit of leveraging orange. Product perceptions were raised with the use of black, silver and matte finishes - all more appropriate for the engaging consumer electronics category.

results:

Performing exceptionally at retail.

{ old design }

Taking a bite
out of Tyson

opportunity:

Retain the consumer-validated Banquet equity across new product offerings requiring differentiation: Boneless Wings and Whole Grain strips – while simultaneously transitioning existing offerings to new sizes.

solution:

In a price-driven category, all things being equal, better quality overall wins. The design architecture for the entire frozen chicken product line was restaged for strong on-shelf impact and enhanced consumer communication.

results:

Immediate lift resulting in Tyson reducing prices.

{ old design }
Solixir Botanical Beverages

New brand
New category
National distribution

opportunity:

Develop brand essence, visual positioning, packaging and brand standards for a new sparkling botanical beverage unlike any other functional beverage on the market.

solution:

Fresh, yet classic imagery was created that possessed key attributes of sophistication, approachability and authenticity. It was introduced at a major food retailer following sell-in on the basis of the packaging presentation only.

results:

Sold into our two coveted national retailers: Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe.

Repositioning a stagnant brand to drive sales

opportunity:

Illusions performance needed improvement. Insights showed high product interest, but sell-through was lackluster.

solution:

Relaunching as Faux Impressions provided an opportunity to start over and showcase the beauty of the finishes. The product inspires design and helps consumers imagine the possibilities. Dramatic lifestyle imagery sets the stage and differentiates each unique finish and an array of color options. An immediate increase in sales made the relaunch a major success.

{ old design }
Bem Wireless

Startup brand vision to global distribution

opportunity:

Build a brand for a line of wireless products, starting with speakers that broadcast Bluetooth technology to multiple wireless audio devices supporting a limitless lifestyle for every individual.

solution:

A compelling name, approachable identity and brand design telegraphically communicate the concept of mobile connectivity.

results:

CES 2013 launch featured enormous press, tons of product reviews, distribution deals from over 20 countries, and 1000's of positive comments.

Swiss Miss Decadent

From club multipack to mainstream

opportunity:

As the cocoa expert, Swiss Miss had the opportunity to leverage its equity to play in the premium cocoa space with more indulgent, gourmet flavors.

solution:

The design leverages the Swiss Miss equities but clearly differentiates from its baseline SKUs as a more premium offering targeting an adult audience. Initially designed as a 5-flavor pack for Club stores, the product has sold into mass stores as individual SKU offerings.

results:

Carved out new territory in the premium space in mass.

Reaching new
sales records

opportunity:

Simplify and strengthen the brand expression, creating a more impactful brand image while respecting the core equities and highly recognizable visual elements of this brand icon.

solution:

Retaining key equities, subtle changes were made to the DOTS and CROWS brandmarks. Simplification of elements resulted in improved flavor cues and established a strong architecture with the ability to extend to sub-brands and seasonal varieties.

results:

Increased brand awareness while reaching new sales records.

{ old design }
Corelle Boutique

New premium product for a new premium channel

opportunity:

With clear leadership in the functional and durable arena, Corelle was looking to launch a new premium line of dinnerware exclusively for department & specialty stores to elevate style credentials.

solution:

DRC developed compelling packaging for this new premium line. The dinnerware pattern is simply and graphically showcased to create consumer desire.

results:

Just launched in 2013, the design generated retailer excitement and strong sell-in.

{ case study }

From one regional retailer to many nationwide

opportunity:

Create demand for these high quality Spanish-inspired products made for today's avid "foodie" interested in trying new flavors. Existing brand visuals did not reflect the quality and authenticity of Rioja, Spain, for which the brand is named.

solution:

Keeping to its Spanish roots, the solution provides authentic cues and appetite appeal to inspire foodies and mainstream consumers to enjoy true Spanish taste.

results:

Immediate expansion into new markets.

{ old design }

We believe

Brands are not logos or designs, they are a set of principles, values and behaviors that exist in the minds, and hopefully hearts of consumers. Design reinforces these traits and come to stand for them over time.

We believe

Brands are not logos or designs, they are a set of principles, values and behaviors that exist in the minds, and hopefully hearts of consumers. Design reinforces these traits and come to stand for them over time.

We always look and think beyond the brief; we believe in challenging assumptions and making sure all the right questions are asked and answered.

We do our best work by partnering with our clients, leveraging their category and brand expertise and ensuring success at every step of the journey. We want our clients to be delighted, not surprised.

We regularly donate our time, talent and treasure to charities and the local community. It's our way of saying thanks.

Some of our recipients:

  • 360 Youth Services
  • Naperville Historical Society
  • Naperville Cares
  • Easter Seals DuPage & the Fox Valley Region
  • Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry
  • Hesed House, Inc.
  • Samaritan Interfaith Counseling Center
  • The Rotary Club of Naperville
  • YMCA
  • Project H.E.L.P.
  • Arthur Ray Foundation
  • Hear Us, Inc.
  • Naperville United Way
  • Project REACH
  • Make-A-Wish-Foundation
  • Naperville Marines

Yeah, we do that

Great design is all about connecting with consumers and understanding their motivations. Brand'ntel is our proprietary research approach that connects us with consumers in real time, enabling us to start the design process on a foundation of relevant insights. This is so important to us that we invest in insight gathering research for ourselves as well as providing it as a service to our clients.

Yeah, we do that

Great design is all about connecting with consumers and understanding their motivations. Brand'ntel is our proprietary research approach that connects us with consumers in real time, enabling us to start the design process on a foundation of relevant insights. This is so important to us that we invest in insight gathering research for ourselves as well as providing it as a service to our clients.

What's in a name?

Your brand or product's name is a critical tool in connecting with consumers and telegraphing your personality. We craft brand and sub-brand names, and even entire nomenclature systems, giving you viable and available top recommendations.

Yup, we do that too

Everybody has a process, and so do we. It means we think a lot before we start so we deliver the right solutions with surprising and refreshing efficiency.

  • 1

    Analysis

    1. Brand'ntel
    2. Ethnography
    3. Brand Equity Analysis
    4. Validation
    5. Conventional &
      Web-Based Qualitative
    6. Quantitative
  • 2

    Strategy

    1. Brand Positioning
    2. Brand DNA Visualization
    3. Visual Foundation Development
    4. Brand Architecture & Segmentation
    5. Naming
    6. Innovation Workshops
  • 3

    Creation

    1. Brand Indentity
    2. Package Design
    3. Stucture
    4. Brand Standards
    5. Merchandising
    6. Collateral
  • 4

    Implementation

    1. Final Production Art
    2. Photography Art Direction
    3. Pre-Press Management
  • 5

    Evaluation

    1. Trend Spotting
    2. Category & Brand Audits
    3. Emerging Technologies
    4. Benchmarking

About us

When a colorful bunch of smart, experienced and creative people get together, magic can happen and the combined brain power is far greater than the sum of the parts. At DRC, we are a diverse collection of individuals that each brings something unique to our insightful design solutions.

  • Meet our leadership team
  • { John Norman }
  • { Chuck Bokar }
  • { Cristy Lane }
  • { Renee Calabrese }
  • { Jay Duncan }
  • { Don Dzielinski }

John Norman Founding Partner

Random Facts

  • Favors people from lowa
  • Has experienced cow-tipping
  • Loves golfing, cooking and eating

John's passions are design, entrepreneurism, and connecting people with other great people. As founding partner of DRC, John lives and breathes the belief that great branding and design is rooted in consumer motivations, and has assembled a highly talented team of kindred spirits. His creative leadership enables DRC to consistently delight clients and deliver compelling design solutions.

Proudly born and raised in Iowa, John holds a BA degree in Visual Communications from University of Northern Iowa, and continued with graduate studies in Design at Illinois Institute of Technology. He is an influential leader in the community serving on several boards of directors, and actively contributes DRC time and services to making a difference in the world. Married for more than 25 years to his wife Beth, John's greatest privilege in life is being Dad to his four children.

{ more } John Norman

Chuck Bokar Founding Partner

Random Facts

  • Married to a psycho... therapist, that is
  • Grand Master Scotchmelier
  • Related to a rocket scientist (seriously)

Chuck is the business leader of DRC, bringing sales and management skills, indefatigable positive energy, and extensive entrepreneurial experience. Serving as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from DePauw University with a BA in Economics, he is a natural born leader and inspires the entire DRC team. Chuck continued with his studies in the MBA program at Pepperdine University and is a graduate of the Center for Entrepreneurial Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chuck also applies his leadership skills to the community, sitting on several non-profit boards and regularly volunteering his time and resources. Chuck's idea of a perfect evening is hanging with his wife, Dr. Laura and his golden retriever, Peyton, enjoying a cigar and a good scotch.

{ more } Chuck Bokar

Cristy Lane Senior Vice President Client & Business Development

Random Facts

  • Can distinguish between an ale, pale ale and india pale ale... blindfolded
  • Knows the best restaurant in any geographical area
  • Every year travels to buy Glogg

Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs and armed with a degree in Journalism from NIU, Cristy joined DRC in 1995 (as a child). She has seen the company grow from fledgling start- up to design leader, and her tenacity and conscientiousness have played a vital role in that success. In her role as SVP Client & Business Development, she constantly challenges DRC and clients alike, ensures that client relationships flourish, and leads the team in providing exceptional service, smart thinking and great strategic design solutions.

By day, her entrepreneurial spirit and infectious laugh drive the business. Outside of work, she experiments creating new recipes, plans the family's vacations and although she'll deny it, has been spotted riding a Harley.

{ more } Cristy Lane

Renee Calabrese Senior Vice President Design Services

Random Facts

  • is COOL
    (Chief Of Organization and Logic)
  • Loves all things Curious George
  • Was formerly a registered Dietitian

Often thought to be part Vulcan, Renee has been a key contributor, growing and transforming DRC since joining the team in 2003. As SVP of Design Services, Renee is responsible for the day-to-day operations, development and deployment of all human resources, and management of every project that comes through our doors. She is also responsible for Brand'ntel, DRC's proprietary approach to gaining consumer insights, ensuring that the consumer knowledge and motivation is distilled and shared with the team, providing insights that influence creative strategy.

Renee's background in project management and production provides a solid foundation for her role in resource and workflow management. In her spare time, Renee enjoys cooking and watching independent films, which include badly produced zombie movies. Her last vacation was spent at a rodeo watching spider monkeys ride on dogs.

{ more } Renee Calabrese

Jay Duncan Senior Vice President

Random Facts

  • Kid in a candy store
  • Best buddies are his dogs – Ozzie & Casey
  • OZ aficionado
  • PEZ collector
  • Loves the sun, Caribbean waters, music and a book (preferably at the same time)

Jay was involved with DRC from the beginning. He is a formidable strategic thinker and business builder. Over the years, Jay was a VP at major ad agencies including BBDO and Grey Global before serving as President and CEO of Duncan & Hill for 18 years. Jay officially joined DRC in 2004 after he merged his agency with Grey Global's J. Brown Marketing Group.

{ more } Karen Lassiter Bryan

Don Dzielinski Creative Director

Random Facts

  • Has an extensive collection of Batman stuff
  • Shot a 77 in a round of golf, achieving his lifetime goal to break 80
  • Hosts Bad Movie Marathons with his buddies

Joining the company in 2008 as Creative Director, Don drives DRC's creative vision, challenging and inspiring the design team. With more than 25 years experience in leading branding, package design and merchandising for iconic brands in every category, his classically trained approach means that a brand's design always tells a story. Don previously held senior creative positions with Launch Creative, Simon Marketing and FCB/Impact.

A graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Don's design work has earned him numerous awards including American Graphic Design, POPAI, Davey and Mobius. When not at work, Don spends his time with his wife Becky, and their two sons. He can also be found out on the course, working on his handicap.

{ more } Don Dzielinski