Can Good Branding Make Food More Delicious?

4 min readFeb 27, 2017


Danny Miller, the aesthetic brains behind Warby Parker, spills on his fundamentals of good design.

Just as food has evolved past cooking and eating, design has evolved past the purely functional. Gone are the days when a bunch of text on the side of a building was enough to get people’s attention. From the color of the napkin beneath your plate to the tonal scheme of your Instagram feed, food and design have merged into a kind of experiential sandwich. It’s in this context of the heightened value of good design that I founded High Tide, a NYC-based creative studio. My team and I are best known as the aesthetic minds behind Warby Parker, but we’ve also helped a number of food businesses and restaurants stay on top of their design game. Quality design should be digestible and accessible, so it’s only right to share the goods. When we’re approached to help food meet design, these are my guiding principles:

01. Create A Virtual Atmosphere

Design can elevate and enhance the experience of food by pushing the visuals forward. Just as the interior of a restaurant is carefully considered to account for how light and sound travels, the design of a food brand’s website must consider the diner/user’s experience with the same level of detail. Like food, design itself can be the vehicle for a new experience, and if used thoughtfully and deliberately, it can enhance the food experience in unexpected and exciting ways.

02. Collaborative Inspiration is Key

Developing brands like Warby Parker taught me many things, including the power of inspiration and collaboration during the creative process. I learned to step away from the computer and look around outside. Walking through the Lower East Side and photographing old store signage, then trying to imagine how we can impart the quirky details and character-developing imperfections onto a very contemporary brand was an important part of the exploratory phase. Collaboration goes hand-in-hand with inspiration, and working closely with the founders of Warby day after day meant that our visions were always aligned.

03. Develop a Clear Brand Voice & Visual Identity

Another lesson has been about consistency. Once a strong brand voice and visual identity has been created, it’s hugely important to apply it thoughtfully and consistently, or the brand feels disjointed, diluted, and loses impact. Having High Tide design the packaging, lookbook, print campaign, and website means a consumer encountering the brand, deciding to purchase, and starting to use the product has had a seamless experience and understands exactly what the brand is all about. Sharp attention to detail and consistency across all touchpoints is key.

“Food has the power to transport you — regional cuisine can take you across the world, while eating fresh, local, and in season keeps you in sync with wherever you are. It’s important that branding supports and reflects the nature of the food itself.”

04. Find What Makes Your Brand Unique

It’s really important to first understand the vision of a brand’s founders — what inspires them, what do they want the brand to achieve, and why does it exist? The answers to these questions make branding authentic. Next, we consider the desired consumer and the open space in the market — who is the customer, and how can we speak to them? How can we make their life better or easier in some way? This line of thought makes branding strategic.

05. Yep, Moodboards Are a Thing

After we’ve nailed down step four, we look for inspiration in unexpected places — art books, museums, music — and create moodboards to inspire our team as well as the clients. They’re a ton of fun to put together. Moodboard assembly is creative, collaborative, and dynamic — and most importantly, it facilitates a conversation between us and the client.

06. Avoid Trends

The most exciting thing about branding a food business is the added sensory element. Food has the power to transport you — regional cuisine can take you across the world, while eating fresh, local, and in season keeps you in sync with wherever you are. It’s important that branding supports and reflects the nature of the food itself. The key here is to avoid trends and aim for what is true, classic, timeless. Aim to create iconic branding that is both recognizable and unique, yet purposeful.

07. Make it Memorable

The landscape of culinary culture has changed significantly over the past few years. Eating and drinking are increasingly social activities, and the spaces in which people socialize have become more important than ever. Where someone chooses to eat reflects their personality. Our goal is to heighten the experience of eating by curating everything from a wordmark to the lighting of interior spaces. The dining experience should be memorable, whether it’s at a high-end restaurant or a food truck. Our goal as creatives is to connect the dots and create a comprehensive and distinctive vision for the brand that helps consumers recognize and enjoy the product more deeply.

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