Josh McBride contacted us about a bbq restaurant branding for a barbecue concept right in our backyard, and we simply couldn’t resist. BBQ, Nashville, and restaurant branding are three of the things the Nice Girls hold close. So, this project had us all heart-eyes from the get-go.
Josh and his team have a background in restaurant operations, so they were pretty well-suited for running a restaurant. Since this wasn’t their first rodeo, they already knew just how important restaurant branding would be to the success of their venture.
The concept already had a name and a logo. See, Hogwood was the brainchild and creative endeavor of a chef named Michael. Michael had traveled the world and landed in Colorado. He established a catering business that killed it with aromatic smoked meats and sides that are just as good as your grandma used to make. Josh and his team were bringing Michael’s food to Franklin and delivering it via a fast-casual restaurant concept with a brand to support all the goodness.
We started with Brand Direction and created a brand board to depict the visual direction. The board was filled with natural rough wood tones, industrial hardware, aged recipe cards, wall installations, black-and-white focal tile, and the tiniest hint of mustard. The tiny details are what would help set the brand apart from your typical black-and-white BBQ joint.
This brand board became the roadmap for the project, and we began to craft restaurant branding support for Hogwood based on this brand direction. To accompany the visual direction, we created a message that would set the brand voice and provide written interest to what we were creating. The brand story nodded to the origins of Hogwood and spoke to the true soul of BBQ — the fire.
See, when we met with Michael, we realized that the heart and soul of BBQ isn’t in the South or in the sauce or in the chef even. It’s really in the role the fire plays in the process. Including in cooking meats to temperature, lighting and warming the kitchen, and ultimately, creating the unique taste in each dish.
Typically, during a restaurant branding project, as soon as we have the brand direction established, we get to work on interior branding. Also known as environmental branding, this is where we work to weave the look and message through every customer touch point. It’s imperative that we support the brand by creating moments. These moments should be throughout the customer journey that not only prompt a sale, but also immerse the customer in the brand and create a connection.
Any element that’s even just a little bit off can really hinder this connection and cause a disconnect that not even the customer can really explain. We’re sure you’ve experienced it both ways. And after reading this you might be more in tune with these experiences when you step into a restaurant. You’re welcome / we’re sorry.
For Hogwood, we were able to implement many of the items we referenced in Brand Schemin’. We proposed a wood storage area that would reinforce the importance of the fire to the brand. Above the wood, a large wall installation communicates the brand story. The story literally tells customers how to feel about the brand. When we presented the story to our clients for the first time, they got goosebumps, and we’re hoping that reaction is universal.
We incorporated custom-made wooden community tables and industrial seating. We also used focal tile to guide the customer journey, break up the wood, and bring interest to the flooring. Our team proposed a counter faced with geometric wooden tiles to bring in a modern take on rustic. And we used an array of different industrial light fixtures to create layering within the space. We proposed that Hogwood use recipe card boxes and vintage jars to house service ware on the tables. The food was to be served on wooden cutting boards.
A menu was designed that could be used for dine-in or take-out. The menu would be easy for the customer to navigate and simple for our client to update. To further communicate the offerings and make it seamless at the register, corresponding menu boards were developed. This menu was also used in web-friendly format online at www.hogwood.com. More on that later.
From there, we launched into creating a suite of restaurant materials. This included cups, attire (for merchandising and staff), take-out bags, a gift card, and more.
Before we worked on the design of each of these pieces, we were able to communicate to the client the value in a logo refresh. So, while we loved the existing logo, we were able to make a few tweaks. These edits would ensure that the brand mark would work well in application and adhered to logo development best practices. We presented a refreshed logo. However, we also showed a secondary support design, and the client was in agreement that the update was necessary.
While we were building out the brand, we were also busy building a website for Hogwood. The concept for the site was to create something super simple in order to accomplish the goal of getting users to eat the Hog. Our primary calls to action are to “Get Directions” or to view the menu.
However, we didn’t lose sight of the fact that, as a new restaurant, it would be important for customers to connect with the story of the brand and understand that Hogwood was more than your typical finger-licking, sloppy joe-type of BBQ place. So, we communicated this by highlighting the Brand Story. The story shows just below the fold and is followed up with the primary differentiator — smoked meats and artisan sides.
Hogwood was a super-successful project. And there are a few specific factors that contributed to this success. First, our clients were experienced restaurant owners and operators. They knew the business backward and forward. Second, we were able to work with an architect to implement the interior restaurant branding. It’s crucial that the project is handed off to an architectural professional. You’ve already made an investment in developing the brand, so it’s imperative that it’s carried out correctly. And third, the Hogwood team really trusted the branding company they hired (that’s us!).
By allowing us to create an entire brand for them and relinquishing creative direction to us, they walked away with something that will not only pique the interest of the community, but will create a connection with customers that will result in repeat business.
We loved working on Hogwood and are so stoked that they’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from our Nice Branding Nashville office.
If you’re in need of a restaurant branding professional, we’re only a quick email away. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org and we promise to reach back.
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