Our People: Danell Murdock
Posted on January 12 2021
Farmer & Chemist is stylish. There’s no way around it. In an industry where many stores are characterized by blacked out windows and an oppressive aura, the familiar design of Farmer & Chemist’s packaging mixed with the open feeling of the physical store is something of an anomaly. Our products make you feel good, and they look good while doing it.
If you’ve ever appreciated Farmer & Chemist’s timeless design or chuckled at the name of one of our products, Danell Murdock is the person to thank. A partner and chief creative officer at Farmer & Chemist, Danell’s impeccable eye and creative vision have made her a veteran of the marketing and retail world. Her graphic design firm, Design of Today, works with clients such as Major League Soccer and NBC Universal, not to mention the various Hollywood films she has been involved in.
This week I sat down with Danell (via Zoom) to talk about the thought process behind some of the creative decisions she made for Farmer & Chemist. But first, some fun facts:
- Danell studied graphic design at Art Center College of Design and the University of Utah.
- Shopping is one of her main hobbies. Not only because retail therapy is a real thing, but because she loves to look at the different design choices made by different brands, both large and local.
- She has a tiny dachshund named Ace, whom everyone becomes instantly obsessed with.
How did you get involved in Farmer & Chemist?
I have arthritis, which makes working on the computer with a mouse all day really rough. I go home and can’t use my hand. One day, Doug sprayed some CBD on my hand and I just thought, “Oh wow, that’s really great! I need to get some.”
I had worked with Doug before, doing the logo and identity for a previous company. We started talking and he said, “I think we’re going to open a store. It’s going to be all CBD, and would you do the branding for us?” And I said, “Well, would you like a partner? This is going to be expensive, because it’s not just the brand—you need everything, and it’s got to be cohesive and consistent.” And the rest is history.
Where did you get the name Farmer & Chemist from?
My team and I were playing with all sorts of names! My team is super smart and really funny, and we were making up crazy names and laughing a lot. Ultimately though, we wanted it to feel personal. We wanted it to be something trustworthy, and something that people felt had been around for a long time.
The whole idea of the company is that we follow CBD from field all the way through formulation and distribution. This relies on a combination of farmers, chemists, doctors, and pharmacists. So, it made sense to go with something like Farmer and Doctor or Farmer and Pharma. We kept playing with it, but when I put Farmer & Chemist out there, it just made sense. The name evokes a lot of feelings—you think about the dichotomy between farmers and chemists. Not that farming techniques are old, but farmers have been around forever. They are the backbone of our economy and our lifestyle. It’s a very established profession. Then there’s the idea of chemists as advancing society by being innovative and modern. Put the two together, and you have Farmer & Chemist.
Tell me a little bit about the branding. Why did you choose the style you did?
Before I got involved in Farmer & Chemist, I would be at lunches with these executives and they would ask if anyone had ever used CBD. I would just listen to these people, who are all from various religions and various ethnicities, and they would all say, “I don't want to walk into a shady store. I feel dirty when I'm buying it.” It was funny because I thought this sentiment was just going to be a Utah mentality, but it stands true across the boards that many people don't want to go into a marijuana shop. So, we wanted to create a space and a brand that made people feel comfortable with the product and confident in their purchase.
Farmer & Chemist is built to feel very established. It's built to feel like you've known it forever. The imagery appeals to not only my age and older, but to a younger audience as well. It feels comfortable, and immediately warm and engaging. I was traveling a lot at the time, so we started checking out what was going on in Brooklyn and other interesting places and got a lot of our inspiration there. It’s a little bit Brooklyn, a little bit Salt Lake—a little bit CBD.
Another part of the fun here was naming all the products. Everybody’s CBD product is called “Calm” or “Relax.” They all have similar names and similar looks. Farmer & Chemist, on the other hand, is out of left field, doing its own thing. We wanted to have names that emphasized how helpful CBD is, and how it is not something to be afraid of. For example, Today is Grape—because today can be great. Or Orange You Happy because you tried CBD and it worked for you. It’s just little things to kind of make you think about what you’re using and what it’s doing for you.
In regard to the packaging, I wanted it to feel like it’s something special. In a sense, to feel ritualistic. You open up one thing to find something else beautiful inside, that you then open up again. Then you use it. I don't know how many people go home and throw an outer tube away from the All is Gel, for example, but I doubt many do. You then take your fabulous piece and you put it back inside and you store it!
It all becomes kind of this moment of not only happiness, but almost reflection. You think I'm opening and I'm moving through. For many, I hope it's like opening a gift over and over again.
Last question—what Farmer & Chemist products do you swear by?
I have arthritis. I had back surgery three years ago and get migraine headaches—you know, my body’s breaking down, just like everybody else.
So, I really, really like the Problem Salved. It’s immediate! When I get migraines, I put some Problem Salved on my temples it will ease my headache and remove it quicker than almost anything! I put it on my hand and it’s an immediate release of intense pain. Then my back will start to go out and I’ll put it on, and I just think, “Okay. Amazing.”