How To Use Branding To Recapture The Magic Of A 20 Year Old Food Brand

Any legitimate exercise in brand development is an exercise in emotion. The soul, or brand, of a company should permeate outward into every consumer touch point. It should be an invisible experience; guiding, teaching, and delighting the end user at every step. With proper planning from the beginning, culinary experiences are a perfect vehicle for cohesive brand development and execution. From top-notch Michelin starred restaurants to fast-casual joints down the street, each set out to cater and deliver a unified experience to the diner. A restaurant’s brand consists of many parts: the logo, menus, and eating space are all areas that can be improved through branding, and can be further impacted by the staff, ambiance, and expectations. When all of these elements work together, they create a unique and rewarding experience for the diner.

FORECASTING OUR EFFECTIVENESS UP FRONT

Outside of budget and timeline, we consider many things before taking on a new project. At the very top of our list are values. Making sure our morals match up with that of a potential client’s helps weed out incompatibilities. We want to recommend our clients to friends, and shop or dine at these places on our own, and we’ve found that the work we produce is that much more impactful when we’re all closely aligned. A vision for growth, both on our side and the client’s, is also necessary — it ensures we both want to achieve the same end goals. We also look at where a brand is now in relation to their market to help forecast how we can help them sustain rapid brand growth. It is that initial connection, whether between us and a potential client or between a restaurant and a diner, that is made infinitely more effective through careful planning and attention to detail.

USING THE PAST TO INFORM THE FUTURE

In late 2015, we were approached by veteran San Francisco brand World Wrapps. Their restaurants had stagnated over the past 10 years, and they were looking for help breathing new life into their unique concept. Originally started back in the 90s, at one point the business had grown to include more than 20 restaurants in the Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle. Their patrons appreciated the fast-casual chain’s worldly food views, sustainable ingredients, and unique approach to street food. However, when the company was later sold to new owners, they faced difficulties for many years due to a lack of innovation, leaving behind a trail of closed restaurants and unsatisfied customers in the wake. In an effort to revitalize the brand, it was purchased back by the original owners who still saw potential in the concept. We were brought in at the very beginning to think about branding as the entire concept was reborn.

Critical to this process was ensuring that we didn’t approach the branding in a vacuum. Our goal from the beginning was to recapture the original look and feel of the company, along with the values that had been abandoned. The first step was seeking out individuals who remembered the brand fondly to get a sense of what made it so special. From that point on, we began to think about the new desired experience. We shaped our ideas heavily on what had worked so well in the past, using interviews as a key part of the process. An essential tool for rebranding, interviews are based on memories, and people tend to remember emotional events more than boring ones. Through this process we can extract the values which made the original brand so powerful.

STARTING FRESH

Our visual design began with inspiration from the worldliness of flavors represented in the food. Simultaneously, the menu selections were also being revamped, so this served as the perfect time to reset consumer perspective. The idea of travel also informed our work — we chose to simplify the font within the logotype, allowing it to more closely match up with the idea of flavor-rich street food. We also reworked the packaging, drink cups, menu boards, and wrapping paper to represent the same global perspective of the various dishes.

Today’s dining consumer is hyper aware of almost everything in a restaurant. With clear reasoning and intention behind the food choices, menu experiences, and staff interactions, we can minimize friction within the dining experience. Friction causes frustration, and frustration leads to negative emotional experiences with diners.

For more information our experience with World Wrapps, you can view the case study here.

Noise 13 is a lifestyle brand strategy & design firm based in San Francisco for sixteen years and counting. You can find out more about us and our work at www.noise13.com.