brand design & market strategy studio in los angeles

parlato design studio :: brand design + marketing strategy // los angeles


friday fun: word crimes

Weird Al’s newest video is both a typographic and infographic triumph, while also a funny run-down of all the grammar crimes we let slip buy every day. Point taken, Al, perhaps I’ll start capitalizing again. Enjoy!

creative inspiration: expand your brand touchpoints

i’ve been looking at some beautiful brand systems lately and i’m really itching to create one with all kinds of tools, gifts and clever industry aids. we fetishize these lovely spreads, but they don’t have to be designed from the ground up. if it’s time for a brand refresh, revising a list of touchpoints and applying a theme in-line with your mission is a great next project. we’ve written about how to brainstorm and build a list of brand touchpoints before, but i thought i’d post some selections that i think really carry a strong theme, and have potential for great add-ons.

device stationery



a simple example to start with, device creative collaborative’s stationery set. aside from a really bold design, this set is also rather interactive, with some nice surprises like a printed envelope liner for recipients of mailed items. they also have a designed worksheet with a custom punch, which looks like it might use some nice industrial binder. some of these items are clearly props, but it’s a starter set for so much more! we see everything together here, but in the client experience, they might get a business card upon first meeting, a nice mailer follow-up, project notes on the custom worksheets, and custom invoices in these awesome envelopes. see the full set at

idlewild books



this spread for idlewild books is a great rendition of library and vintage office ephemera with a travel twist. the stationery is full of surprises with color blocks on the back of the first sheet, a stripe down the 2nd sheet, and a converted envelope which allows for a topographic texture inside. little add-ons of date and logo stamps give the materials a handled and worn look. custom bookmarks and tickets with inspirational quotes about travel are a great connection point. see more at

litchy guitars



a classy collection for litchy guitars in cream with brown, craft paper and wood themes is a great example of style and simplicity. they have a few working logos that are used sparsely, and they’ve created all paperwork associated with sales in the same style. there are many tools in the music trade where these materials could expand into gifts or utility sets. similarly, they could create ink or emboss stamps for customizing secondary subsequent materials.

so, how do you get started? think about the tools of your own trade. can you make something useful that tells the story of what you do? think about the people in your target markets, can you make something that bridges what you do to what they do?

if you’ve been thinking about expanding your brand and you’re ready to take the plunge, let’s talk about the possibilities!



awhile back, my neighbor asked me if i’d ever had tepache, a homemade fermented pineapple drink. he does a few home fermentations, and this one is a family recipe he brought from mexico. he shared a glass of his latest brew with me on a hot day last year and i was hooked! tepache is a basic tabletop fermentation of pineapple skins and sugar in a large, wide-mouth glass jar covered with cheese cloth. it ends up tasting like a pineapple-scented kombucha of sorts, and is often brewed with a cinnamon stick.

a little online research revealed that there are lots of variations on the recipe, so i think anything goes so long as you like it. some people use the whole pineapple while others only use the skins. some favor piloncillo [an unrefined sugar shaped into a cone] others table sugar, and i’ve had similar success using honey and coconut sugar. some advise to add a beer to get it started and drink after 2 days, others stir regularly over a week or so using only the natural yeasts on the fruit and in the air.

i like my neighbor’s recipe best because it i get to reserve the tender fruit and make a live fermentation out of just the scraps! until i get to try piloncillo, i’ve been happy with honey, coconut sugar, and raw sugar. it seems the fermentation process eats most of it anyway, i should be clear, this is NOT a sweet drink. it’s more of a tonic, a wild fermentation with a bit of an aquired taste, and less than 1% of alcohol, if any. very refreshing on a hot day, over ice, mixed with ice tea, or even as a shandy with beer. i bet it would also make a weirdly wonderful tepache-mosa with champagne. here’s my neighbor’s method, below:

tepache – makes 1 gallon

skins and core of 1 pineapple
up to 1 cup sugar of your preference
.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt

1-gallon wide-mouth jar
mesh fabric or cheese cloth
large rubber band or chef’s string

gently wash your pineapple to remove dirt or debris, but not with soap in order not to lose the natural yeasts that come with the fruit, which will get the fermentation going. cut the top and base off the fruit and discard. trim the skins off the fruit, cutting off as little fruit as possible. cut out the core using your preferred method [i quarter the fruit lengthwise and cut the core out of each quarter lengthwise on an angle]. chop all these trimmings into large pieces, about 1″ square or so. reserve the remaining pineapple fruit for another use.

place pineapple scraps, salt & baking soda in a 1-gallon wide-mouth jar. add the sugar you prefer, up to 1 cup. i say this, because i’ve used quite a bit less with similar results. i use about half a cup currently. fill the jar with water, stir and cover with a mesh or cheese cloth, tie it down around the mouth of the jar, and set on the counter to ferment. stir regularly, “whenever you think of it” my neighbor says, to keep pineapple scraps from sitting at the surface in the air. you may see a thin white film form on the surface. this is common to countertop fermentations, just stir it back in and keep going.

taste after 5 days. it should be tart and robust, similar to kombucha. i’ve left it out up to 10 days, again with no problems. flavor should become sharper the longer fermentation continues. when you like it, strain and refrigerate.

my neighbor serves it over ice on a glass with a salt rim. try it straight first, and then pair it up however you like. enjoy!

friday fun: city lights

City Lights from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

for the LA lover in anyone, this is a beautiful collection of time-lapses of los angeles after dark … or before the dawn!

creative inspiration: illustrated beer packaging

crooked fence


a few of my favorites from idaho brewery, crooked fence, illustrated by kelly knopp. i love the heavy-hand style and texture blends. these pieces have both modern and vintage qualities to them. see the whole set at

great raft


great raft boasts a design-forward approach of researching their target market and how to stand out in an ever-growing sea of craft beer—bravo! their work packaging is both bold and detailed, quite endearing to the vintage eye. see more at

lift bridge brewing


this packaging for getaway from lift bridge brewing immediately looks relaxing and refreshing. their goal was to communicate the local culture, described as relaxed and a bit of a throwback, and it looks like they did just that. read more at

happy monday—we’re back!


okay, so it’s been awhile. i got in a rut and lost steam, had to prepare talks for 3 events in 3 weeks and started shopping for a home, and blogging fell off my to-do list. then the waffling came. the eternal waffle about how to come back. then i remembered that overthinking it would put it off indefinitely. so here i am!

first thing’s first: motor turns 19 this month! my beloved little mascot has been with me a long time, and now is our last remaining cat. it feels a little weird to be a cat lady with only one cat, but the geriatric doting she requires allows me to still bring the cat mania with aplomb.

second thing is, we’re back with a new take on blogging. the round-ups of inspiration will still happen, but there will be more about business, management and brand strategy. as much as i love talking about aesthetics, the bigger picture is the story that got us there, which bridges you to your final design. so we’ll be doing more of that.

lastly, happy monday! let’s rock!

creative inspiration: big design for small markets

this week we’re looking at 3 small specialty shops that have big brand ideas, leaving no touchpoint unturned. these suites bring taste and flavor to the forefront with striking packaging and multi-use labels and stickers, leaving no question as to where you picked up these fine food finds.

the dirty apron

the dirty apron


the dirty apron delicatessen uses a clever system of branded bags, hang tags and package closure tape with various versatile fill-in labels for an identity system that appears much bigger than it is. the branded items allow for multiple placements, and the labels allow for one collection of shapes to serve as fill-ins for every item in the store. see the whole collection at




grazia, specializing in sweet and savory delicacies, uses a wonderful system of branded boxes, bags and stickers, all in their signature 2-color palette, featuring cross-sections of raw ingredients. i find this system to be stunning in versatility and simplicity. see more at

f. ménard

f. menard


this family-owned butcher specializing in ethically-raised pork products has an identity system that pays special respect to the art of the craft. soft duotone photography is paired with a strong color palette and bold type, mostly using a label system for products in the store, and branded bags for your groceries. see more at

creative inspiration: type-driven beer labels

there’s nothing like a strong typographic treatment over a simple color palette. this week we’re looking at 3 label series that make bold statements with type and color front and center.

great divide: yeti

great divide: yeti


great divide’s yeti series uses a standardized-yet-versatile type treatment that allows them to include the minimal graphic elements that indicates the yeti line while making room for longer titles or alternate treatments for barrel aged brews. see the whole collection at

private brewery: bob

private brewery: bob


the bob [best of british] line from private brewery uses unconventional colors and unique brew names to draw interest and curiosity. each bottle is easily identifiable, with a nice 3-word descriptor. see more at

turkey mountain brewhaus

turkey mountain brewhaus


this collection from turkey mountain brewhaus uses a series of 2-color stamp-finish designs that allow for clear and prominent logo placement and brew name, relegating the brewery name to the neck label. nice, strong presentation. see more at

creative inspiration: wine wraps

it seems like wine wraps are popping up everywhere—whether as packaging for a product, decorative wrap for personal gift-giving, or branded overlays for client gifts, wine is getting wrapped up everywhere!

waddeson wine wraps

waddeson wine wraps


just one component of the rothschild’s wine distribution company, waddeson wine, these wraps manage to show a modern take on the map of the estate, blending historic and contemporary influences. see the whole brand package at

truett-hurst wine wraps

truett-hurst wine wraps


truett-hurst takes a different approach with these buyer-themed wraps, studying reasons and seasons when buyers buy, and designing wraps in the strongest themes. the wraps add an engaging and image-heavy narrative that allows the brand to communicate in a new way with potential shoppers. see more at

filirea gi wine wraps

filirea gi wraps


great for home brewers giving client gifts or short production runs, this 1-color wrap is budget-conscious while still adding a layer of interest. this piece illustrates the home winemaking process. see more at

design am chiemsee wine wraps

design am chiemsee wraps


a very nice collection of wine wrapping papers from design am chiemsee, these wraps are reversible and offer decorative surprises for the recipient. see the collection at

creative inspiration: thai-inspired branding

in my never-ending design research, i saw a few pieces of thai-inspired design that caught my attention. i say thai-inspired because these 3 products and places are far from thailand, but each are borrowing their own elements from the design landscape and making them their own with great results.

my thai

my thai cordials


this series of brightly flavored and colored cordials are just one aspect of the branding for brazillian restaurant, my thai. the color palettes are outstanding, and a lovely contrast from the cordials inside. see more at

pak pao

pak pao branding


dallas-based pak pao has a lovely logo & wordmark with shapes that echo each other in a uniquely satisfying way. they have done a great job of mounting clean & simple menus to painted boards with lots of orange-over-orange reverberations. see more at


sway branding


austin-based sway is a very extensive environment brand experience right down to the last detail. starting with the wordmark, the voice of sway is bilingual from the wayfinding to the menu. the stark and clean design of both print and environment is accented with bright color in coasters, placemats and matchbooks. see the whole profile at