essays

Zendeghi Case Study

Zendeghi Tea is a young Persian Tea company. Built on the belief that living should be around taking it slowly. Building connections with those around you. Getting back to nature. It is seeped in the Anceint Persian culture & history. Built off of the poetry, art and beliefs of Persians for centuries. Its symbol, fire. The tea nurturing and calming.

Website: Zendeghi Website

This is a case study of a project still in progress. It will be updated as more information and data is recorded.

executive summary

The Ask

How does a young brand stand out in today's world? It's an ocean of noise and consumers have low attention spans. What could a new Persian Tea company do to convey their message while standing out from the noise?

The Approach

To take the message and give it a visual story. Extracting not only the brand's beliefs but its roots. Researching into Persian culture. Finding common motifs. Figuring out exactly what the story is and who needs to hear it. Creating a brand that believes in deliberate living. A life built on beauty and spirituality like the ancient Persians. Coming back to ourselves. Tea as the center. Creating design and art that comes from these roots. Art that stands out and catches a consumer's eye. Giving the brand enough time to build intrigue and tell its story.

The Outcome

A current work in progress. So far it is a tea company that feels authentic. Using the beautiful art and vivid colors the packaging stands out in a crowd of tea companies. It's a brand with a story to tell. The message is derived on a strong foundation. The art tells of the rich history and beauty of sharing a cup of tea with someone.

table of contents


brief

How do you make a small brand stand out in a sea of noise? In today's world it's easy to be a self starter yet that means there are hundreds of brands competing for the same spot. The competition is stiff and it can be near impossible to get noticed when there are so many brands selling in stores and Amazon that do what you do only slightly different.

How do we grab the consumer's attention? We know everyone has a shorter attention span these days. They don't have time to do a ton of research and read everything about your brand. They need to quickly determine if your product will fill their need. Your product has to stand out in crowded shelves or on little square images in an endless online shopping list.

This was the question I was approached with when asked to help a small Persian Tea brand, Zendeghi, get off the ground. As always for me it's important to start with the story. What's the message of this brand? It has to be more than tea. We have to make an emotional connection and find the consumers that matter. We know we can't get everyone to buy our tea but if we can get the right consumers to buy them, then we have loyalty. Customers for life.

In a crowded world filled with noise and low attention spans visual storytelling holds the power. If you can create a brand that catches someone's eye then you can share your message. You have their attention if only for a few moments to convey your story. We live in a world of photo and video so we must continue to remember the power of the visual.

With that idea in the back of my mind I decided I needed to find Zendeghi's why and who. What was their reason? Their message? As well as who were they? What were the unique things that no one else could do but them?

the brand's why

Sharing a cup of tea with the owner we talked about the brand. I wanted to understand her why? What was important about getting this tea out into the world? Of course we all want to make money but when we build our brand underneath the profits and losses is an idea. An idea we want to spread to the world. Something we haven't yet seen expressed. A message we yearn for the world to listen to.

Here is what I uncovered from that conversation:

Zendegehi is Farsi for life. To Persians sharing a cup of tea is a daily ritual of life. Tea being involved in every conversation. From having talks with your Mother about your life and struggles to having friends over sharing stories and laughter.

There is a sense of history when you brew Persian tea. It takes time. Each step a process. It's slow. Methodical. The techniques unique to each family. Passed down the generations. Each tea having its own unique flavors.

Zendegehi was born out of the frustration of the hurry in the modern world. She was tired of getting tea in tea bags. Never finding quality tea in a cafe. The tea she drank felt hurried. It didn't have the nurturing effects of the tea she made at home. Yet in these cafes she noticed the same conversations. The Mom and son talking about life in the corner. A group of friends laughing over a funny story.

The shared experience was still there yet the product was lacking. So she decided to build a brand around her unique blend of teas. Starting with an Earl Grey mixed with Cardamom and freshly dried Rose.

She made the tea for me over a fire. This process took a while. Getting the fire lit. Letting the heat rise. The water taking its time to boil. Then, mixing in the tea. The brewing of the tea was like a craft. When I drank the tea I had a feeling of nostalgia. There was this nurturing effect from the tea. I thought about my Mom. My childhood. It had a calming effect on me.

Learning more about her she showed me her collection of Persian poem books. Pages filled with Rumi, Khayyam, Hafez. Throughout her home was beautiful Persian art. Artifacts with colorful and intricate patterns. From the rugs to the vases. The entire place gave off a place of nurturing spirituality. It felt like home. The depth of a rich history continuing to be told.

Persian Rug Persian Art

This is where I realized we can build the visual storytelling around the spirituality of Persian culture. The stories and poems shared from the years. The intricate art. The amount of beautiful colors and patterns used throughout everything the Persians created. Zendeghi's unique aspect was founded in the history of Persian culture. It was around someone who wanted to share the idea of living a deliberate and beautiful life with tea as the vehicle.

It was time to research and dig deep into Persian history, culture and mythology.

history & culture

I picked up quite a few books on the Persian arts. Learning about their architecture. Their beliefs. The history of their kingdoms. The rise and fall of their Empire. Yet nothing stood out more to me than Shahnameh. It was the Persian epic. A tale thats lasted throughout all the turbulent times of the Persian world and continues to be the foundation of Persian culture. Everything from their poems to their beliefs could be found in Shahnameh.

Inside of Shahnameh is a rich collection of images depicting the scenes of the poem. All of it colorful and exotic. Showing scenes of heroes, great battles, wise and mythical creatures, ceremonies, festivals and filled with tapestry depicting poems. It was from this book we would be able to extract the feeling of Zendeghi. From the use of colors and the incredible scenes we could build a brand that was able to tell a similar visual story.

Shahnameh Page Shahnameh Page 2

Throughout Shahnameh there is a motif of fire. Fire burning away the old. Heroes coming through the fire to fight their greatest battles. Even the most powerful mythical creature plunges itself into the flame like the Phoenix.

Shahnameh Fire Burning Page

This powerful mythical creature known as a Simurgh caught my eye. She was the wisest creature on the Earth. Having lived long enough to see the destruction of the world three times over. After having lived for 1700 years she plunges herself into flames. The Simurgh is said to have the abilities to heal the land and purify the waters.

Shahnameh Simurgh Page

The foundation of Zendeghi was to be built off this Persian art. Through the use of beautiful color, poems, fire and mythology we would build a brand that told the story of wisdom through the ages. The idea of living a deliberate life. Tea being the center of the conversation.

creating the foundations

I began with creating the logo. The initial thought being to try and depict a small image from a scene in Shahnameh. A woman playing music. Ancient queens. Female warriors. Trying to build some of the animal line art they had in between the chapters. Yet nothing felt grounded in Zendeghi's story. To me it was still just art. It wasn't telling anything about what Zendeghi stood for.

Zendeghi Logo Sketches Zendeghi Logo Sketches Zendeghi Logo Sketches

That's when I had the thought of the tea being created over a flame. The process that it took. The craftsmanship. Deliberate, slow and meaningful. Everything about making tea on a fire goes against a world of instant. Especially the thought of making tea on an open flame vs tea bags.

Even in Shahnameh there is the continued motif of fire. Of being reborn. Allowing great heroes to come through the flames. Fire in a way means life for humans. It provides light, warmth, food and protection. The thing we originally gathered around to share our stories. The depth fire offers along with the tea being created in a slow and deliberate process lead to the final logo.

Kettle over the fire Zendeghi Final Logo

My first thinking in creating a color palette was the idea of royalty. The exotic feel of Persian culture. Their ancient history with great kings. It involved a lot of purple and golds. Yet again it had no roots. They were just pretty colors to play with.

I went back through some of the Persian poem tapestries and images of the mythical creature, the Simurgh. These images were filled with bright colors. Reds, blues and greens. It was a sense of nature and royalty. Being in the living world. For Zendeghi the idea of nature and bright vivid colors made so much sense.

An open fire is built out in the world. Built from dry materials of nature. The trees, leaves and flowers. The tea and its ingredients are also made from these dried materials. So it made sense to root the colors of Zendeghi in these bright colors coming back to Nature. The Blue and Gold being the common two colors to depict a feel of the exotic. Still giving a sense of royalty but not as loud as purple might be.

Zendeghi Colors

As for the typography I decided to go with two fonts. Lucida Calligraphy and Herman Zapf's Palatino. The Lucida Calligraphy spoke to me about the motif of calligraphy inside of Persian poetry & art. The elegant curves. Refined but still giving a sense of the sensual similar to Persian calligraphy. As for Palatino to me it is a refined type that has lasted for over 50 years. It works well across a range of Regular, Italic and Bold. Influenced by the Italian Renaissance it has the same sense of history and art. Similar to Zendeghi's own foundation.

Zendeghi Fonts

mockups

With a strong foundation in place I could now build the design assets. To create the business card I experimented a lot with a calligraphic Zendeghi and the Tea Kettle. I wanted enough space between the art and calligraphy so the card had room to breath. It still needed to convey the information of the person on the card.

I came up with a Hexagon composition on the front of the card, using the corners to depict the text and the center becoming the logo of Zendeghi. As for the back I knew instantly to use a poem. The idea being the card itself gave off an energy of beauty in life. Using the Persian tapestry as inspiration I made the back of the card like a small Persian tapestry. I hired a Persian Calligraphic artist to create the owner's favorite poem in a vector format.

Zendeghi Biz Card Sketches Zendeghi Biz Card Comp Zendeghi Biz Card Final Zendeghi Biz Card Mockup

The most important design asset was the packaging. How would the packaging differentiate itself from all the other teas? What shape would it be? What would it be made out of? As the tea itself has a beautiful look to it. We needed to create packaging that gave that visual story. This was the first point of entry in a customer buying the product. It had to stick out and quickly convey the story of Zendeghi.

Going through many mockups I realized having only the labels and tea wasn't going to be enough. Though the description of the tea sounds exotic, Earlgrey w/ cardamom & rose there was still something missing. Thankfully we had all of these intricate scenes from Shahnameh and Persian Art to work off of.

With the amount of color used in the artwork. Along with intricate patterns it was bound to catch people's eyes either on store shelves or digital images. When I thought back to the tea on the flame. The nurturing aspects. The message Zendgehi was trying to tell. That's when I came back to the image of the Simurgh. The wise mythical creature that plunges itself in flames. Her abilities to heal and purify. The colorful way the exotic bird was depicted.

I spent the next 20 hours sketching and illustrating a Simurgh to use with the packaging.

Zendeghi Simurgh Drawing Zendeghi Simurgh Vector

Now, coming back to the packaging we had a colorful image to use as the point of entry. Going through many different styles of packaging I landed on two I really liked. One being a pouch and the other being a box with a window.

The box with the window was nice to show the beautiful tea inside. Yet it felt kind of crowded with the Simurgh, the label and the tea. In the end where would the eyes of the consumer go? The story felt slightly jumbled with the box yet remained an option to try.

Zendeghi Box Mockup

The pouch reminded me of coffee beans. It was familiar, light and easy to work with. Having enough room to show the Simurgh illustration and the tea label without clashing. Something about the pouch felt elegant. Though you couldn't see the tea it invited you to explore it. Sparking the imagination of what could be inside. To maybe pick it up and read the label. Maybe buy one bag just to try.

Zendeghi Pouch Mockup

We decided to go with the pouch. As for the labels I decided to design a sticker label so that if the packaging changed it was still easy to label. Keeping to a minimal sticker label, I used a Full Cross Octagon composition. Depicting the company name, the tea blend and the weight.

Zendeghi Sticker Label Comp Zendeghi Sticker Label

Launching

This is a current ongoing project. We are in the process of launching the brand based off of these foundations. This area is subject to change based on feedback and data we get from the customers.

Thus far the owner is really happy about the logo and art direction. She feels her brand has come to life. That the history and story she wanted to share is being expressed through the visual. She tells me that what has been created so far feels authentic and true to Zendeghi's roots. To me that's the highest compliment I can recieve. I care deeply about keeping brands authentic.

I've continued to love the image of the tea being brewed on the fire. It goes against everything you'd expect. Completely different than any other tea or coffee process. I saw using the video of the kettle on the fire as the initial story of Zendeghi. It was to be a common image across web, social media and ads.

For the website I've always enjoyed elegant websites that focus on type and purposeful layout. I decided to make a site based off an asymmetrical grid inside a golden rectangle. Telling the story of Zendeghi and using the video of the fire as a place to draw interest. Below it gives you the option to purchase a bag of tea. Telling the story of the Simurgh and what this blend stands for.

Zendeghi Site Comp

website: Zendeghi Website

As this is an ongoing project I'd like to flesh out the website more. I'm thinking of using more images & videos. Such as a video of pouring the tea. Sharing the process of how to make the tea on a fire if you are inclined as well as how to brew the tea at home with a stove. Making more artwork to catch customer's eyes.

I want to keep the online shop minimal and clean. Able to quickly go through the products and know the story. We don't need cluttered websites in this modern age. Very few people read and most are either looking to buy something, ask the company a question or find information like store hours.

As for the Ad Campaign, the ideas and foundation of Zendeghi make it a breeze to visually tell a story. We plan on creating a campaign around brewing the tea in different ways. Such as the fire or over a stove. As we share more of the tea we can also begin to share so much of the Persian art discovered during the research phase. Translating some of the poem tapestries. Sharing quotes from famous poets such as Rumi. Having Zendeghi as a brand show the idea of living. In this beautiful way of expression. Being lost in the art and words. Taking time to brew and enjoy a cup of tea.

Future Plans

I am currently waiting on getting the packaging printed and shipped. Once we are able to have some of the physical packages and business cards I plan on hiring a photographer to help do a lot of product photography. Using the photos to continue telling the story throughout the website and social media. Tea continuing to be a center of the conversation.

We hope once we have some photos and packaging ready to start selling through Amazon. I am intrigued in experimenting with grabbing a customer's attention when all you have is a title and small square image. I find Amazon as a wonderfully unexplored world in branding. Creating products to stick out in the sea of noise.

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