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Anatomy of a Cigar Band: Alec Bradley American Classic & Sun Grown
I spoke to Jeff Moss, Creative Director/Art Director for Alec Bradley Cigars. Now with “ABC” for more than a year, Jeff has quite an impressive resume:
Over 25 years experience working in advertising, branding and design as an Art Director and Creative Director. His past client list would be easier to weigh than count. Among them include Steven Spielberg & Jeffrey Katzenburg with GameWorks, Polygram Records, Diageo, Cuervo, Bailey’s, Ciroc Vodka, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff, The International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, The Dial Corporation, Sara Lee Foods and numerous other creative concepts and brands seen worldwide.
Jeff is also the recipient of several Addy and Telly Awards, including having his work published in several international design publications.
Since joining Alec Bradley Cigars, Jeff has been responsible for creating the company’s new brand identity. His first assignment was creating the now familiar red badge “Crown” icon and logotype that would be used on everything brand-related for the company. After that lengthy process came his first cigar band and packaging design: The American Classic.
In addition to the Art Director, I wondered how much input comes from the top. According to Sam Phillips, Marketing Director for Alec Bradley, it’s a “team effort.” Alan Rubin, Ralph Montero, and Phillips, himself, are all closely involved in the creative process.
“For the American Classic design, Alan gave me the concept that it was to be ‘reminiscent of the cigars of the 1940’s and 50’s, like the cigars your father or grandfather smoked’,” said Jeff. “I wanted the design to feel ‘authentic’ to the period, so I began by researching within that specific era.”
Due to the highly complex nature of the design, the entire process took several weeks. Once Jeff had the initial design fleshed out, he and Alan, along with input from the others on the team, worked closely to finalize the artwork.
“Alan has an amazing eye for design and a great sense of what works in the consumer’s mind,” added Jeff. “That insight helped me ensure that the artwork would translate as conceived on such a small canvas, while commanding the most attention. The ‘feel’ for both the American Classic, and the American Sun Grown that followed, was vintage American heritage and needed to look legitimate, not kitschy.”
For the American Classic band, Jeff chose images of the American Heartland that include a red barn flanked by an American flag on the left, and a Western mountain range on the right. He enhanced the box label design by using the image of George Washington on a white horse in the center of the artwork.
Jeff went with similar icons for the American Sun Grown band: a farmhouse and a corral on the left side of the band, with the image of the Grand Canyon on the right. On the American Sun Grown box, he used the classic image from Archibald M. Willard’s painting, “The Spirit of ’76” featuring the fife, drum and flag. Both boxes are flanked by medallions, which are commonly found on hundreds of cigar bands and boxes.
“These images felt ‘traditional’ to me,” said Jeff. “All of the elements were specifically laid out for an overall attractive visual flow.”
At a glance, both cigar bands look identical. It’s not until you look closely that you notice the difference in the images as well as the choice of colors for the words “ALEC BRADLEY” at the bottom of the bands – red for the American Classic and white for the Sun Grown Blend. Another feature they share are the Latin words Libertas/Aequitas, which translate to Freedom/Equality.
“Attention to minute detail was paramount, and the visually correct use of the new “badge” icon [at the peak on both designs], not only had to work on this band, but every band in our portfolio moving forward,” added Jeff. “This band was the foundation of all designs to come.”
Jeff also created the bands and packaging for the Alec Bradley Black Market, the Connecticut, the new Tempus Maduro, Nica Puro, and Fine & Rare cigars.
“For me it’s all great fun!” said Jeff. “The working connection that I have with the team is unique. Alan’s creative mind works very similarly to mine, and I know this combo is going to produce some great work moving forward.”