Ground to glass

What We Did

  • Brand Identity
  • Brand Activation
  • Product Design
  • Strategy & Vision
  • Experience Design

Overview

The anti-vodka vodka

Equipped with a unique idea, a great name, and a compelling story, High Desert was ready to push the brand further and develop cohesive, well-designed branding for the new vodka product.


Inspired by the beauty of the southwest, co-founders Logan Sligar and Ryan Springer had a brainstorm to make a spirit out of the prickly pear cactus fruit. After a meeting with Goods & Services, a new kind of vodka brand—and a beautiful partnership—was born.



The High Desert Advantage

The vodka market is a competitive one, particularly in Austin, where High Desert is based, but High Desert had a handful of key advantages that set them apart. For one thing, as the new spirit on the block they were fresh, different, a new jolt to the vodka space. For another the cactus element gave them a unique aspect that allowed them to straddle both the vodka and tequila markets. For another the prickly pear, and the method of farming they employed, proved to be highly sustainable so their story included the angle of a renewable resource. And in this case, a surprisingly abundant and perfectly timed one.


In a stroke of luck, Ryan and Logan had met Roberto Garfias, a farmer who owned 7,000 acres in San Luis Potosi, a small colonial town in the highlands of central Mexico. Garfias had the foresight to plant thousands of acres of prickly pear cactus.


“He literally had a forest of prime prickly pear cacti on his property,” Springer said. “Thousands of acres of thirty to forty foot trees everywhere. Thank god for Roberto. He really is a hero in this venture.”


A vodka born in Texas and made from cactus fruit, harvested in Mexico, required a unique brand story and bottle design.

Scott Jennings, Chief Creative Officer



Don't Touch the Bottle

When the High Desert founders reached out to Goods & Services to help them with the branding and design of their new spirit concept they had a unique idea and a compelling story. They even had a custom designed bottle that they had dished out a significant chunk of money for. In fact, so invested were they in the bottle design their one caveat to the Goods team was “Do anything you want, just don’t touch the bottle.”


But...


“As the first thing people recognize, the bottle is vital to the brand,” Goods Chief Creative Officer Scott Jennings  said. “We saw an opportunity to design a distinctive silhouette and complimentary label that tells High Desert's authentic brand story. Because cactus vodka is a bit of a new category we took visual cues from both tequila and vodka to create a bottle that stands out." We all heard and respected the concerns about the bottle, but we also saw this as an opportunity to build something from scratch and make sure every design element was in harmony.


So, of course, the team began exploring new bottle ideas for a fresh perspective.


Working with hand blown glass, they imbued the bottle with the qualities of a rich and deep local heritage. They designed a label to emulate the high desert mountain range of the area so that it felt authentic and born of the region.  And they combined it all to suggest elements of both the tequila and vodka notes of the spirit itself.


Capturing the Spirit of the High Desert

For the graphic design and packaging, the team leaned fully into the source material. San Luis Potosi’s dynamic geography determined the dusty gray and brown color palette. And the mountain ridge lines informed the torn paper edging of the label. A custom stamp and cork bottle stop put the finishing touches on the handmade authentic feel of the brand and helped to elevate the final product to a top shelf price point.


Along the way the team landed on the tagline “It’s in the making,” to capture the essence of the craft and care that went into every aspect of producing High Desert. The tagline became a Northstar for all work moving forward.


This came to life through a promotional video, shot in the San Luis Potosi desert, to accompany the new brand identity and bottle.


“We wanted the video to convey the story of the brand and the beauty of where the product came from,” creative director, Jason Nitti, said. “We wanted it to capture the rugged beauty of Roberto’s farm and how the plant is grown and distilled from such a pure source."


“High Desert is a great example of a brand that was created authentically from the ground up. Everything about the story is true and accurate. No part of it was manufactured or staged. It’s simple, iconic, and honest, and I think that shows in the results.”

Jason Nitti, Executive Creative Director



It's in the Making

In fact, so successful was the entire creative experience between both groups, that High Desert Vodka became one of only a handful of companies that Goods & Services has decided to invest in. By all accounts the new branding and design was a hit.


“This was an exciting project for us at Goods,” said Jason Nitti, project lead and executive creative director. “It presented a perfect example of what we can do as a holistic agency, including defining a brand from scratch, developing the entire design and marketing strategy.”


“Goods & Services changed the outcome, we couldn’t have done it without them”,  said Logan Sligar, co-founder of Higher Desert. "We look forward to being partners for years to come.”

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