With a name like El Amigo, it has to be friendly. A safe assumption is that’s the first thing brand makers Imaginaria checked off their list when considering where to begin with El Amigo. It’s a meat market with a significant Hispanic customer base, so it needed to be identifiable and relatable to those potential customers without being offensive, dumbed-down or inappropriate. I think they did a really great job with this work. It’s highly tailored since the job was just to create an identity and accompanying stationary, but El Amigo received a great homage to the past with a playful and respectful brandmark. The entire line has a community feel with the detailed imagery of the meat showcasing quality. It’s a welcoming place; the kind of place their potential customers will embrace. It’s a smart brand job catering to exactly the right clientele.
Everything in Texas is bigger, supposedly. The Dallas Cowboys stadium may not be bigger than any other, but it came with some big ideas, including a massive scoreboard that expands the entire length of the field. Dr. Pepper sponsored a “bar” inside the stadium, named the Dr. Pepper Star Bar and they wanted something with a Dallas Cowboys persona. BrandCory was hired to give them just that. First, BrandCory helped design a dominating space that will draw people in. The large arches and curves of the floating structure that is the bar is naturally inspired by the stadium first, but it also serves as an ideal destination spot, an attention-grabber. The most unique aspect of this project is the color choices. BrandCory didn’t have a ton of choice but to go with the color schemes of the two brands that are merging in this case, but they had to make it work, since burgundy, silver and navy blue aren’t naturally complimentary. They made it work in a huge way, blending elements of each brand into one double-branded upscale feeling locale in the stadium. The Cowboys players were used in the branding, stating comments and quotes about bigger than life and going big or going home. While these are inherently sports-centric things to say, they can definitely be applied to the Dallas Cowboys brand and because of this partnership, Dr. Pepper as well.
Mad is exactly the kind of club you’d expect to find in Beirut, one of the world’s top party cities. The designers, Paperview, ultimately only needed to create an identity that was strong and bold enough to match the energy of the club. They opted for a futuristic and powerful font for the primary logo. Visually it’s warped a little and that suits them just fine. The accompanying collateral is heavy on color, a sensory overload of sorts, accomplished especially with the kaleidoscope look they employ for a secondary logo, menu accents and placemats. The choice here is interesting, but again fitting for a club that knows how to have a good time. The identity has an edge and that’s continued throughout their designs for events and weekly themed nights. Paperview did an excellent job toeing the line of wildness and kept it constrained enough to portray the kind of high-end party atmosphere they celebrate.
I really enjoy projects like this. Dude, Sweet Chocolate, branded by Tractorbeam, is the chocolate brand of a chef with a few quirks to his personality. These quirks show in the branding and that’s the great thing about personal-driven lines of food that aren’t meant to be restaurants or someday sold in every Wal-Mart in the country. The name of course is what catches you right away. It’s one part manly, one part funny reference and one part modern slang aware. That’s a lot rolled up into one name and it’s a nice departure from some of the other more confectionery names that we see often. The packaging is clever and inexpensive and they have a handmade quality that counters some of the masculinity of this brand. Clever work from Tractorbeam.
Table No. 1 is one of Shanghai’s first (and many say best) gastropubs. They serve tapas-style Euro cuisine and their hook is community. Everything’s communal at Table No. 1, designed by Foreign Policy. It only makes sense when you serve table-friendly meals that are tapas based. The interior of the restaurant isn’t fancy. Instead it’s polished but minimal. The intent is to get diners interacting whether they’re strangers or not. The restaurant features long common tables that puts everyone elbow-to-elbow. If you want your space, this isn’t the space for you. But if you like your meal mixed with some stranger conversation, it’s perfect. This commitment to the art of conversation and engagement makes up a significant portion of the brand’s overall vibe. It prefers simplicity rather than the complexities than can come with high-end restaurants. That idea is also portrayed in the collateral throughout the job. Brown craft paper is used liberally and that creates a strong easy-going, homey feel. Business cards in brown craft paper color that fold like tables, basic clips and folders and blank newsprint for order pads rounds out this simple and honest brand. What could be perceived as a lack of design for Table No. 1 is actually a great example of cautious editing in the branding process and a focus on a few key details. The food and service should do the rest.
I think it’s safe to say each restaurant has its thing. It has a No. 1 something. It’s the kind of thing that separates that restaurant from everything else. It could be a special dish, or a philosophy, but it’s still something different. At one point in time, choosing to open a restaurant that focused solely on quality ingredients with healthy eaters in mind would be the kind of concept a place could hang its hat on. But these days, concepts like that are alive and well. Except there’s one thing about so many of these places: they seem to follow guidelines in the Designing for Organic & Healthy Food Brands handbook. No, these brands aren’t carbon copies of each other, but many of them feature similar and like-minded ideas in the presentation of their brands. Urban Plate, designed by Chris Yoon is a little different. First, they adhere to the idea that “exceptional and healthy food” should be accessible to everyone. But the vibe they project is quite different from many of their peer restaurants. Yoon incorporated pops of color throughout and witty comments on t-shirts and other items that project a truly playful, but incredibly kind, brand. The primary logo of a fork between a U and a P inside a badge has a slightly folksy appearance, but the rest of the design picks it up a little more with fun icons and action. Quite frankly, this brand could not only stand side by side with its organic neighbors, but could quite possibly compete in the larger market of fast casual, healthy, organic or otherwise. It’s got enough familiarity that it could latch on. This brand’s got some guts and for that, they got a brand that sends a new kind of message.
I can appreciate the quiet simplicity I believe Tiffany Hsu was going for in her branding of coffee shop the Rabbit Hole. The brand is shrouded in white, a suitable color for a brand influenced by the gentle nature of the rabbit. Unlike many brandings I’ve seen for coffee houses, the Rabbit Hole takes a different turn in vibe and tone. I don’t think I’d say other brands in this category have a buzz-inducing brand, but it’s clear many of them have tried to incorporate colors and other energetic aspects into their branding. I get it and I think it’s an appropriate brand choice, but I commend these folks for going a different way. There’s starkness to this brand with all the white and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It works to create an upscale feel, but some of the personality they show on various paper products like tea bag packaging and napkins is downright brilliant. The juxtaposition between clever and hospital clean is one of the surprising parts about this branding. This brand was built for symmetry and they project a calming influence. It’s kind of the opposite of what you’d expect from a coffee house and that’s what makes it so great.
Ahh, classics. The original Star Wars–that’s the one originally released in the 70′s–will always be a classic. The best Ford Mustang? The original, of course. Great firsts are almost always classic, so why not try to recreate that kind of elitism in a restaurant brand? Classic Burger Joint, branded by Wondereight, did just that. Located in Lebanon, Classic Burger Joint does exactly what it says it does: serve a laid-back, New York-style burger. Using a black and yellow color scheme, Wondereight produced a brand that appears familiar without being a carbon copy. The familiarity comes from that color scheme and it calls to mind McDonald’s, a brand that may not have the reputation it once did, but is still the unquestioned leader of burgers and fries in many parts of the world. The brand has a tongue-in-cheek vibe, with the name leading the way. They’re stating the obvious and allowing their name to clearly explain to each potential customer what’s in store. The interiors are a departure from places like McDonald’s, which is probably a good thing, and everything is presented with a classy angle. All in all, this brand is presented cleanly with little confusion. I appreciate the straight-forward approach taken with Classic Burger Joint.
The movie theater Screen is part of a three-part experience at Chicago’s boutique hotel, The Wit. It works in a trio with the hotel’s three restaurants and full-service spa along with the location’s rooms. Three is part of a theme of the unified brand vibe of The Wit and its offerings and it shows up in the logo of the Screen. I really like what Boy Burns Barn created for Screen, specifically their logo. There are only a few movie theater brands in this country and they all have a certain look, a welcoming-enough appearance, but it’s primarily rooted in fantasy, bright lights and larger-than-life appearances. Screen has a posh appearance, perfectly suitable for its location. The logo’s centerpiece is a 3-2-1 image that has a transparent quality. It’s intended to mimic the old-school 3-2-1 countdowns on film reel movies and it does just that. I love how the logo references that, but isn’t nostalgic for that time period. It’s simply a reference and a jumping-off point for the brand. The logo draws in the eye and it captures the imagination. That’s what it’s all about.
The pre-packaged food market will always be big, but it’s also highly competitive. Everyone’s on the go and dinner is usually something folks try to squeeze in around other events of the day. Sweet Earth didn’t want to do anything to change that. In fact, they fully embrace the on-the-go lifestyle, but in a much more California way. We all know the stereotypes about west coast people–they’re laid-back, easy-going and sometimes a little kooky. That’s the kind of stuff they wanted to portray in their line of packaged foods (now sold in California in Whole Foods) and Brandcory helped them shape a brand that speaks all that and comes across as cool and comfortable as a San Francisco morning. The brand vibe here speaks California cool. The colors pop, the textures are refined and environmental and the brand’s tag line says it all: “Enlighten Up, Man.” This brand is also vegan, which of course makes them a little unique and more complicated in some ways, but the brand projects an easy-going feel about their nutrition beliefs. The food photography they use is also truly extraordinary. That’s how food should look on any plate in any restaurant in America, yet it’s coming pre-packaged from the refrigerator. It’s dependable and high-quality, exactly what you want in a product line like this and Sweet Earth is positioned to dominate this very specific category.