NFI’s existing grocery concept, County Market, was not appropriately positioned for its newest site in Champaign, Illinois—a college town filled with food-savvy locals, well-educated families and adventurous students. NFI recognized an innovation opportunity to differentiate vs traditional grocers and big box competitors. For this more progressive college town market in the middle of Illinois farmland, NFI needed to find a way to balance its Midwestern roots and connections to local agriculture.
In the age of corporate factory farms and criticisms of “Big Food,” most Americans have lost sight of the value of farming and agriculture. People don’t know what asparagus plants look like or how ranchers raise cattle. Simultaneously, food culture is an American obsession. Harvest Market responds to these social currents by demonstrating the value of farmers and food producers, a cause most Midwesterners can get behind.
Harvest Market’s strategy uses identity, communication and experience elements to share brand stories and create tangible, differentiated experiences.
Brand identity is inspired by the tractor. Aesthetic combinations pay homage to the farmer, with a contemporary spin, such as tractor wheels with row crops forming an abstract “H.” An approachable sans-serif logotype paired with a nature-inspired color palette.
Environmental graphics tell stories overtly and as context, honoring farming traditions and looking to the future of food. Playful farm proverbs are set against reverent farm imagery. Graphics represent forward-looking farm iconography, neither rustic nor sentimental.
Experience design makes on-brand product innovations tangible. For example, the store features exclusive in-store butter churning, aligning with the brand’s cause and leverages existing dairy provider relationships.
Harvest Market represents brand-building in the broadest sense, encapsulating design, identity and aesthetics, as well as business strategy, culture-building and community. NFI’s CEO explains, “Harvest Market is not just a new store or brand, it’s a mission.”
Prototype sales results have driven internal optimism, fueling efforts for a scaled rollout. Positive social media feedback has further provoked customer excitement and new avenues for talent recruitment.