Workspace: Livestock Promo Banner

I’ve been slaving away on a design for a 3×5 promo banner for my in-laws small business. In short, they raise performance quarter horses from a pretty famous and desirable bloodline. The big stud (literally) you see above was the Big Pappa, and although he is no longer alive, it’s his genetics that still form the foundation of their breeding program today. I wanted to share with you the final product and a little bit about the process behind it.

The challenge: Create a promo banner to be displayed at an event, and future livestock events

The challenge within the challenge: Brand positioning. The website goes by one name, the Facebook page by another, there’s the literal Rafter W brand, and finally, customers who mostly identify with the Willinghams – the family name behind the product. The Willingham family wanted to shift identify away from their name and toward the actual Rafter W brand.

The solution: Because the clients wanted the banner useable for a long time to come, I suggested taking the plunge: not putting the Willingham name on the banner and boldly declaring that we are Rafter W. In the long run, this saves money and hopefully helps customers make the mental shift away from the sellers and focus instead on the product – the horses. Livestock can be literally living, breathing, walking advertisements: not a single animal leaves the program without a Rafter W brand on their hip. From the beginning of the customer’s search process to finally leading the horse in to their home stall, we wanted customers to recognize and remember “Rafter W.”

As a byline, we used “Foundation of Legends” – the name of the horse sale that established the Rafter W brand within the industry. This retains a little bit of the “old” brand image for previous and returning buyers.

The images: Only one truly useable, high-res image of the stud existed. It was Blue (the stud) as you see him above, but with people in the background and trees and grass and, basically, a bunch of distractions. I removed the background and simply eliminated the standard halter he was wearing around his face using the clone tool within Photoshop. Because his hooves were covered in grass in the original image, I faded them out in lieu of a hard crop or leaving the grass altogether.

I did not alter his form or color in any other way – I believe to do so would be unethical. I think removing a halter is one thing, and boosting the color or sharpening the image of the animal is quite another. Lots of agricultural insiders have opinions about this…What do you think? Tell me in the comments.

The background, a vintage paper texture, was found and purchases through this stock site.

The fonts: The taglines are in a font called Geronimo. Purchase it here.

Other components: Because the actual brand is important, I worked in a watermark of the Rafter W. I kept content information as to the point as possible. I created the illustrations on the corners, inspired by the leather tooling on western saddles.

Overall: I definitely think it accomplishes the goal, the pieces were used with intention and it fits within the frame and style of livestock advertising today.

The problem with being new in design is knowing when to keep going and when you put down the mouse and walk away. I could resize and rearrange the design pieces until the end of time. And then, of course, I decide enough is enough and package the design – only to remember how inferior I am to literally every designer to ever open Illustrator. But then I also remember that it takes years and thousands of hours to really get good at anything. And at the end of the day, as long as the clients are happy, it is a job well done.

Especially if the clients are your in-laws.

xo,

J.

P.S. – I really love this interview on the work process of another illustrator.

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