For those in the culinary arts, one of the competitive advantages these days is the ability to “one-up” the competition with the presentation of their creations. Taste and quality are no longer the only differentiators, now everything else around that matters too. It makes sense then, to extend the idea of presentation to all that embellishes the experience of eating out.
This is why the top players in the game have given more importance than ever to how they brand every touchpoint – from service, to environmental ambience, presentation of the product and packaging, to menus and signage. Even if you have a smaller “eats” establishment, you can leverage your position in the market by distinguishing your restaurant with these same principles.
Take one very successful entrepreneur and one smart design team, blend them together and they can make a beautiful outcome.
Just when Green Bean was on its last chapter with the former owners, along came Artur Koczur, a visioneer with the energy to redefine the business. Serendipity also prevailed. Starbucks across the street had decided to shut down to renovate for a few weeks. They were changing their model and streamlining the space with less lounge area and more of an in-and-out setup. Artur took this opportunity to create a better option. This seemed to be the pivot point when things turned around for Green Bean. He refreshed his space in advance of their renovation, creating a very warm, inviting cosmopolitan environment with lots of seating; opening up the outside patio in the town square; and introducing a great lunch menu, free wifi and good music. He leveraged his strategic location to create a must-go-to destination, right across from serious competition.
Once all was in place, it seemed appropriate to rebrand the effort. We were contracted to design a new identity that was less vintage and more streamlined with an icon that could be used as an independent branding element.
Packaging their main transportable commodity was the big challenge – cold/hot drink sleeves. These cup wraps are quite a high-profile advertisement for Green Bean, so making sure they were interesting and recognizable was very important. Yes, they also insulate the drink and prevent your hand from extreme temperatures, but they are a great branding opportunity as well. Originally we designed four cup sleeves, one for each season, with custom illustrations on each – very whimsical. After much deliberation, production costs over-ruled and the client opted to stick with a single, more generic sleeve.
We’ve worked with a number of such entrepreneurs who are great client profile fits for us on two accounts: we love to eat out and we love to design brands that represent them as well as the food they prepare – not to mention, chefs and restaurant owners who are amazingly creative with food are quite likely to be tastefully open to good creative branding.
This longstanding establishment is now in the hands of the second generation. Having just embarked on a serious renovation to refresh their space, they wanted to have a brand identity and signage that better reflected the newer look. We worked with their architect and the municipality for the exterior signage application, and with the owner on the other interior applications. The greatest challenge was working with the municipality and their convoluted process and the politics pertaining to public areas and code to protect from possible liabilities by passersby, who might be injured by a falling sign. After several rounds to guarantee compliance with all concerned, we think we still managed to produce pride-worthy signage.
These menus were designed to house a replaceable insert, based on a template we created for them to print themselves internally. The outside case was tactile and luxurious, and like the restaurant, it needed a certain panache. There were three menus developed: Wine, Lunch and Dinner, each with its own colour and personality. The liner was letter-pressed with type and graphics that declared Julia’s philosophical approach to life and her promise of a unique dining experience.
When former Relais & Chateaux Chef, Andrew Taylor, came to us needing an identity for a new restaurant called “Smoke”, we thought the name might be the better place to start. There were two reasons, really; one, “smoke” only represented a part of what they were about and two, the name isn’t really a grabber for hungry people looking for a fresh, clean place to dine. Given the trend to a smoke-free world, especially when going out to eat, we were concerned about the stand-alone word “smoke” evoking a negative response. Also Miriam Folkins, Andrew’s partner, is one of Canada’s top pastry chefs. This provided a clue in taking the edge off, by adding the word “sweet” to “smoke”. The new name reflected the partnership and helped to better contextualize the experience, while still keeping the cool factor. SweetSmoke offers food lovers a unique combination of traditional American Southwest barbecue and delectable desserts.