In 2013, Natural Markets Food Group (NMFG) expanded their flagship restaurant and market concepts — Richtree Natural Market Restaurants and Mrs. Green’s Natural Market — across the US and Canada, and tapped iStrategyLabs to lead comprehensive website redesign and development, and social media strategy.
Before we started, Richtree and Mrs. Green’s had been operating independently, and NMFG was in the process of integrating them into a cohesive brand family. We were challenged to work within creative concepts that both maintained the companies’ unique identities and character, and refreshed them to reintroduce to new customers.
To meet the core needs of the project, we focused on three central objectives that would serve as a foundation to our approach.
1) Re-introduce a new, cohesive and unique brand identity. We needed to stay true to the companies’ history and core attributes, illuminate the best aspects of the brands’ character, and present a new identity that resonated with both long-time customers and new shoppers alike.
To accomplish the task, we knew we needed to make good food the star of the show. Beautiful photography of organic and all-natural foods are used front-and-center in our foundational design approach, complimented by supporting design elements of fresh colors and artisanal textures to provide a cohesive design concept.
From there, we were able to use the design framework to create a flexible, unique approach that tailors the core visual concepts to the individual brands. The result is a complimentary design approach that overlaps visually while maintaining a unique and independent visual character.
2) Create a customer-centered web experience. The heart of this project required us to reflect, compliment, and translate the in-store customer experience to the web. To do that effectively, what customers need to do first and foremost is experience the store in person — which means finding store locations and information, food options, and even complete online ordering in a simple, easy process.
To tailor the web experience for what customers need most, we focused on a few key elements. First, store information and locations are super-easy to find, making it as easy as possible to take the first step in experiencing these unique food markets yourself.
Second, an independent online ordering system was a top priority feature that informed our central design approach. While the integrations between platforms are simple, we designed them to result in a seamless experience from the customer’s perspective.
Third, the websites prominently feature the essential aspects of a good customer experience — like in-store events, promotions and specials, recipes, and more. These aspects of the customer experience are important to customers who care deeply about the foods they eat, while driving in-store visits.
Fully responsive website designs help to ensure that customers can find what they’re looking for easily from any device, from the comfort of home or on the go at one of the many store locations.
3) Bring it all to life with character. Our design approach needed to make Natural Markets Food Group stand out from the crowd among other organic and natural food markets.
To do that, we used the latest, most innovative interaction design concepts, grounded by a foundation of arresting, bold imagery. The result is a flexible design framework that puts core visual elements in the spotlight — with just the right touch of motion and interactivity.
On the Richtree Natural Market Restaurants website, we use a fun set of animation designs that highlight individual dishes from each of their unique eateries, and reflect the personality of the store.
For Mrs. Green’s Natural Market, bold imagery is complimented with full-screen parallax animation that highlights their core values around good health and good food.
And on the Natural Markets Food Group website, we used a unique slideshow format that combines bold use of color, imagery, and messaging to communicate the core values of the company and reveal what those values mean in practice.
Finally, we made it all social. In the design process, we accounted for how each of the concepts would translate into social media — and how social would integrate back into the websites.
The ultimate result is a visually consistent network of digital marketing channels, customized to the personality of each market, with social media content that feeds back to the websites in a meaningful way.
On completion of our initial project phase, iStrategyLabs has remained on board as an NMFG partner, for ongoing website design and development, and as their social media agency of record. It’s been our pleasure to work with a company so committed to an innovative customer experience that promises good food as part of a healthy lifestyle.