PROJ: Alishan Organics

Alishan had been running for over 20 years when I was introduced to the company. It had
an established logo, but there was a distinct lack of unity across all the advertising and
packaging media. I wanted to bring all the different areas of the company together and
make a more unified design, and revamp the style and image portrayed by the company.
I did this by not only analysing the target market, revamping the logos and removing
variations (there a two joined companies – see PROJECT: Tengu Natural Foods (link)) but
changing the printings process, color output and materials used to get the most out of the
designs and their impact on customers and potential customers.

I also made more radical changes, for example the URL of the company, so as to further solidify the understanding of the company (changed from www.alishan.jp to www.alishanorganics.com ) so people could understand what the company does without researching, and used a .com to give it a more global feeling (of course I kept the old domain and now I monitor the impact of old versus new advertising using analytics gateways). The new URL also provides better google ranking through it’s search engine.

The Alishan logo – added golden sheen and removed all variations of the logo so it always
says “Organic Center” so people know that the company has an actual location that is an
integral part of the puzzle, where there is a Cafe, event space (for yoga/cooking classes/
live music etc). Finally I also chose a more realistic imagery for the food and stopped the
use of the vectorization shading logo.

All if these updates, while making the logo more visually pleasing , would not confuse any
past customers, as the overall design and shape stayed the same. as we had been
established for so long, this is extremely important.


As explained, I made no structural changes to the logo and packaging, but increase the
saturation of the colors, and recolored the logo, recolored all the photography and added
unifying color bands on food items. All things that beautify the packaging and presentation,
but each change would be imperceptible/imperceivable unless you saw the old and new
packaging side by side.

Over time i changed other aspects.Some products I changed one aspect of them up to 3
times in one year, each time making a change so that the design now is quite different
from when it started, but no one really would notice the change. All but the most perceptive
of consumers would just notice a better “feeling” about the products.
•••show packaging photos example from old to new•••Insert Image Alishan new in the
middle and all variations on the outside

(this example is an HTML5 conversion of the original flash, so take a little longer to load on some networks)

Click to see this splash animation in a new tab

Click to see Alishan site


I also did a complete redesign of both websites, reflecting these previous changes. the
website was in a huge state of disarray, with major problems with integration between
different areas of the site. There were 6 different login areas making updating it even more
difficult, and I could see it was certainly holding back the interaction process that the
company should have been having with its customers. This is especially true of a business
like this that’s so community connected.

The new Alishan website ( made in 2010 ) -integrates all areas of the center. After some
debate and research we decided not to integrate English and Japanese. Foreigners and
Japanese are interested in different issues, so making a bilingual site for Alishan did not
make sense and would only force irrelevant information on both sets of customers.
I did however make the interface of each site mimic each other, so for bilingual people they
could surf both sides of the site with ease. There were many other changes to the website
including RSS driven calendar updates, news update widgets, random posts and
newsletter integration that I did that would take too long to explain here.


This was a complete revolution for the company. Done all in black and white and
photocopied, the printed material for the company was basically for functional use only.
I made a complete upgrade of all printed material. Carefully choosing a new printer with
the availability of high quality recycled paper to cut costs by over 50% and also deliver a
better quality product.

This was consistent across the board, so I had no trouble convincing people that an
upgrade was necessary. When I show most people what i’m thinking, they usually say,
“That looks amazing, but I, not sure we can afford it”. In almost very case in the past few
years, I have got a cheaper price each time on every product while still increasing quality.
how’s them apples! I am also aware of externalities cost scenarios, so take Care in
researching companies I do business with to make sure the operate legally and ethically.
•••show card example old to new

Once I had redesigned the card and chosen a paper style, I had the card printed by a few
different companies in small runs to search for the best result we could get, factoring in
budget, and environmental concerns.

By far the biggest print job I did there was 5000+ 64page full color catalogs , which I will
explain further in the PROJECT: Tengu Natural Foods (link) portfolio.

A simple animated splash screen for Alishan Organic center Home page, where you can
choose to go to the web shop or choose language for the blog.

I wanted the new home page for Alishan to have more impact than a static screen, and as
we had concluded that almost all of our customers would be viewing the site from home on
a PC, there was no problem in using flash. It needed to be simple but catchy and looping
forever, while still keeping a small file size. All of these things I consider a “value add” item
that increases the users enjoyment without affecting their purpose on the site. I am
currently updating all these images to be HTML5 compliant and run on iOS devices.

ONLINE ADVERTSING- Facebook & Twitter

Another thing I did to drive sales and knowledge about them company was make it have a
social media presence. Without being preachy and cheesy, I made it possible for a much
wider audience to fond out about us, and by studying and experimenting with google ads
and Facebook ads I expanded the customer knowledge and interaction to levels never
seen before. Using targeted ad campaigns, I kept costs down by advertising to only relevant
customers. I could write for days about it, but for now let’s leave it at that.


Working at Alishan for me was not only a great design experience but great life
experience. I was allowed a lot of freedom to explore any avenue I thought necessary. The
environment was very peaceful, and situated about 1.5 hours for Tokyo, next to a lovely
river, and park with horses running, where I spent most of my lunch breaks made it an
inspiring place to work. Being able to drastically improve the social outreach and quality of
advertising there was a fantastic added bonus