Alce Nero begins its collaboration with ArteficeGroup and then MAD-E Packing Ecosystem between 2015 and 2016, and it’s immediately one of those customers you work with for business, sure, but also for passion.
Alce Nero’s history is, after all, a History with an uppercase H.
Even the name itself commands respects, in those who understand its origins: the company is founded in 1978, a pioneer in the organic food market in Italy, and chooses the name of the famous Oglala Sioux spiritual guide, for the relevance the founder finds in the book “Black Elk Speaks”, translated into Italian in 1968, which inspired the most ecologist-naturalist schools of thought of the Italian counter-culture in the ‘70s.
More than a company name, it’s a declaration of intent, the name of a social project: it’s Black Elk, Alce Nero, the shaman who rode his horse while facing backwards.
These antagonist innovators brought the organic culture to Italy, and by the beginning of the new millennium understand that the market segment, which was originally a “reserve” with few “in-the-know” customers,
is becoming an undifferentiated market: everybody is doing “bio”. The organic food market is growing, and it’s hard to convey the difference between newcomers, jumping on the bandwagon only for the business opportunity, and those who had been ploughing and seeding that land for almost 40 years, driven by ideals.
And Alce Nero has never been just a bio-food brand. It was about telling the sustainable and ethic (beside organic) provenance of each ingredient and the original cultivar used in its products. And doing it through the packaging of all lines of all products: more than 300 references, in 20 product categories.
The company history, the social project it was founded on, the quality of the ingredients and cultivars needed to find a narrating voice, and visual code, to bring them out of the incoming red ocean of the undifferentiated organic mass market.
Through the communication design project, all these elements combine in an unprecedented form of communication: the invention of the NARRATING LABEL.
Round, it had to be round. Like the tee-pee shape, where, in a circle around the fire, the oral tradition of Native Americans was passed on. And so the label embraces the logo, it keeps it in the centre and surrounds it with dowels which contain the story of the ingredients, which become the main characters in the story of each product.
Each ingredient description, provenance, cultivar and all the information which makes the Alce Nero product stand apart from the rest of the market leave the shadow areas at the back of the packaging, and come to the fore, building the mosaic which tells everything that needs to be told, element by element.
And the whole becomes one of the most recognizable visual identity systems ever.
A VIS which tells the difference, and that – still today – is the distinctive mark of a brand, which is an important part of the history of the organic and ethic food market.