Kanan Honey Labeling and Visual Identity System: a Design for Development (D4D) project

Beginning in 2007, we partnered with a newly formed organization—Integradora Apicola Kanan—of five established honey cooperatives (60+ beekeepers) in the state of Yucatán, México and interdisciplinary experts led by the Mexico-United States Foundation for the Sciences (FUMEC) to bring KANAN’s world-class Mayan honey direct to the Mexican and international markets. Our objective is for the beekeepers to earn fair market value and a living wage for their honey.

***A 2015 update of this project can be found here***

KANAN HONEY (meaning “to care for” in Yucatec Maya) comes from apiaries on indigenous lands in rural Yucatán—renowned for its environmental quality and clean air. Beekeepers learned the beekeeping practice from their parents and grandparents, who learned it from the generations before them.

The goal of this project is to support local economic development in rural towns in the Yucatán region of Mexico. Now beekeepers have access to training in small business development as well as new beekeeping technologies, all the while continuing the Maya tradition of beekeeping.

I designed the main labeling system for this new honey brand based on its attributes: Maya heritage and tradition, purity, quality, artisanal, and environmentally friendly. The process of developing the label included a series of design research activities, including field trips, getting to know the communities and beekeeper associates, presentation of ideas in the field and prototyping, iteration, and user testing in the United States and Mexico, all in close collaboration with the beekeepers, FUMEC representatives, and other D4D designers.

The final label design for two different kinds of honey jars was selected by users in the United States, Mexico, and also by the beekeepers. This system will go into production in 2012.

PROJECT COLLABORATORS (2007–2012): Maria Rogal, Doug Barrett, Gabriela Méndez, and Ciara Cordasco.