To weave words is to sew worlds.
A card, a note, a letter is a time capsule that is equal parts timely in this moment and timeless in the future. Paper bridges space and time; it can convey a quick reminder or imbue a lifelong memory. Scratches on a page turn into paragraphs that become portals. Like a garden needing water, the moment our handwriting touches paper, ideas and universes bloom.
From the first printing press to the devices in our pockets, humans create technologies to maximize our most precious asset — time.
Yet, technology always has a trade-off.
We see this play out in a culture obsessed with speed, productivity and ruthless efficiency, where we are trained to cut to the chase. We demand sentence-length explanations of complex ideas. The result is that we leave nuance, depth, understanding – if not ourselves – on the cutting room floor.
Algorithms, social media, and AI are all powerful tools that have shaped our world for both good and ill. But when you exchange thoughtfulness and thinking for speed and efficiency, you undermine our humanity. These new technologies haven’t existed nearly as long as paper, yet there is a growing desire to disconnect from them. To take breaks, sabbaticals, and to renew.
What are we renewing? Those things that make us most human.
Human beings throughout history have found significance through connection. Yet sincere connection doesn’t happen when we’re always set to “maximum efficiency.” When the world is burning, we look to nature to restore and repair our damages. When we’re searching for intimacy, we put our phones away and look at each other, face-to-face. When we want to be heard and remembered, we write a letter.
These are the moments of significance we drew upon when tasked to evolve the brand for Crane, the oldest company in the United States.
Crane has been making paper for over 250 years. Stephen Crane established the Crane paper business in 1770 and purchased the Liberty Paper Mill in Dalton, Massachusetts. Paul Revere was one of Crane’s first customers when he used their paper to print the first paper money for the American colonies, thus establishing the inaugural thread of Crane’s presence in American life. By 1801, Crane was the primary producer of banknote paper for local and regional banks and, eventually, for the U.S. government.
Today, Crane honors the heritage, craft, and legacy of their work by offering a vast array of products that allow for thoughtful communication through beautiful means.
Over the last year, COLLINS has worked closely with Crane’s teams to revitalize their brand, reboot their digital presence, developing a more relevant brand voice as well as enabling new products, artist collaborations, and customization capabilities. Crane is exploring new ways of expressing the depth and design of their timeless, premium-quality 100% cotton products.
In a world devoured by technology, where devices hold us and not the other way around, we looked to where the natural world could add balance and restore order. Given Crane’s history, we were inspired to visit their factories and dig into their archives.
Something from their past became a seed for their future. Around the 1840s, Crane invented the methodologies to prevent counterfeits by using complex, embellished engraving. By 1879, they won their first contract with the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. They became the paper supplier for all US dollars for the Federal Reserve Bank.
Around that same time, a push against the mechanization of humanity was taking place: The Art Nouveau movement, which influenced some of the Crane’s paper products at the turn of the century. Studying the two and their styles helped us define a set of principles to guide the world of Crane for today and tomorrow. It inspired a new tactile experience within Crane’s products, where engravings give weight and detail to the written note, meant not just to be read, but to be savored and cherished. Attention is honored the way time is.
We have committed to the classic Crane blue with a slight update – dialing up its vibrancy while showcasing Crane’s printing and engraving capabilities. The stationery box itself becomes an object of hope, never to be put in a drawer or a closet but proudly displayed on a desk, a shelf, or a coffee table. When displayed in a store and at retail locations, the larger presence of the Crane brand functions as a clear signal of where their quality products can be found.
While other companies allow themselves to be defined by how paper does or doesn’t fit into today’s world, Crane will continue to create products that enable you to express yourself with generosity, care, and thoughtfulness. Which is the most important role paper can play, especially today.
In addition to standing for the significance of their paper, Crane stands for the type of communication paper has always encouraged.
Precisely because it’s not a template or another “platform,” and because there isn’t a pulldown menu of stock replies, emojis, and images, a written note holds significant meaning. Whether it’s an invitation, a family recipe, or a thank-you note, we believe it can — and should — be personal, memorable, and enhance the meaning of whatever it is you intend to say.
Write a letter. Like machines that read the tremblings of earthquakes from miles away, the etchings on paper made by your hand will be felt now and for years to come.
What will you make worth keeping?
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