Welcome to the story of Sassafras! We get asked a lot around here: “Where does the name Sassafras come from?” In 2000, Jenny Holton, our founder and CEO, told us, “I spent countless hours brainstorming and I racked my brain to come up with a name. And then, on the inside of an Aerosmith CD was the lyric: Kiss my Sassafras. I loved that word and it turns out that Sassafras is a flavor tree grown in the South—how appropriate! So, Sassafras Marketing was born; our logo inspired by its name and 'add a little flavor to your business' was the tagline."
Our name isn’t all that sets us apart. “We are good storytellers, but not just ordinary storytellers. We add the flavor of Excellent Design. That combination makes us Story Designers. We have a methodology that steers us to take a step back, understand the objective, really dig into the audience, and design the story of the brand, product or customer in an easy to understand and very visually relevant way. We design stories to influence our audiences and drive action.”
In line with what sets us apart is our new brand, which is actually made up of conversation bubbles. What better way to portray that we are Story Designers! The bold colors are the flavor we add to the marketplace—we want to stand out.
We knew that turning 20 was the perfect time for a fresh new look. We wanted a brand that told a better story about what we stand for and who we are. This brand refresh is very different from our last two—some of our clients might not even recognize us!
When thinking through a rebranding for our 20th Anniversary, there was no one better at Sassafras to lead the charge than Creative Director, Allison Heather. When asked what she hoped our new brand would communicate, she said, “We are story designers. We understand the artful combination of storytelling and strategic design. We believe in the importance of visual identity. We value an emotional connection. We love problem-solving because we get to gather information, build strategy, brainstorm, craft a story, design the story and commercialize.”
This branding better represents the direction and goals of Sassafras for the next 20 years. “We have a fresh new team and new goals, but in the end, it is all about the people and this new logo represents those who make it happen every day. The abstract conversational shapes seen within the tree represent us, the story designers. It is our collective genius that makes it whole—similar to our work. This new logo represents the culture we work hard to maintain at Sassafras. Collective, bold and unique.”
As a company, Sassafras’ superpower is our culture. We are people first. “As owners, Geoff and I work hard to maintain a culture of people first. Agency life can be a grind but the work we do is fun and fantastic and our culture should be also,” Jenny explains.
We asked Jenny where she sees our brand going in the next 20 years and she said, “We like to keep things fresh and relevant but we will always stay true to our Tree. That is our foundation. I love where we are as a company and as a brand, so you will always see hints of yesterday with a bit of tomorrow in any brand refresh we do.”
Finally, if there’s a moment in Sassafras’ history that Jenny is most proud of, she says it’s “When we were a very young company in 2005, we made the leap to become 100% virtual. This was unheard of as a marketing agency, but we pulled it off and it made us better! We also became one of Ingram’s fastest-growing companies in KC and over the past three years we have won several awards for our work.”
So there you have it...the story of the Sassafras Marketing brand in a nutshell. We have loved the first 20 years, but we are just getting started.