For more than 50 years, Valeo’s has been a trademark Wisconsin pizza joint. After acquiring the restaurant from its founders, owners Christal and Eric wanted to expand into a multi-location pizza company, yet pay their respects to the history the company had built for generations upon generations. Inspired by innovative branding that has taken over the pizza industry, as well as their love for people and community, they knew full and well a solid brand direction was a must.
Being that Nice Branding Agency specializes is restaurant branding, Christal and Eric selected our firm to lead them on the branding journey.
Typically, a branding project kicks off with strategy, visual direction, and logo development. The Valeo’s Pizza branding project started off with two of the three, since the logo was not on the table to redesign.
The client wasn’t open to changing their logo because they had just refreshed it 5 years prior; however, the Nice Branding team felt strongly that some changes did need to be made. Not a crew to shy away from the hard conversations, we may or may not have tweaked the logo a little to show the client the goodness that a bit of strong design could bring to their brand.
After presenting a visual direction to the client, we informed them of the limitations and violations of the current logo, and presented them with a similar, yet updated design, that would meet the requirements of a logo a bit better. The refreshed logo would support the new brand direction, all while paying homage to the history the brand had built.
Well, our clients ended up being all heart-eyes for their brand new logo, just as we knew they would be.
Once the brand direction was dictated, it was time for the Nice Branding team to get to work on the environmental branding. Valeo’s really did it right when it came to timing. They came to Nice Branding before construction was started and before an exterior sign was hung.
The new Valeo’s location was going to be more than just a carbon copy of their existing store. It would be the company’s first dine-in location. The existing Valeo’s joint was a ‘take the pizza and run’ kind of place, which had garnered the restaurant regional acclaim and a solid customer base. Now it was time to translate that into a fast-casual dine-in restaurant.
Inviting customers to spend time in the restaurant changed the relationship from transactional to relationship-based. It would allow each patron to really connect with the brand on so many levels, through each of the customer touch points within their journey. The interior space within the restaurant is a big opportunity to extend the reach of the brand, and that’s something that really gets the Nice Girls excited!
We started with customer journey. Our team worked with the layout provided by the client’s architect to consult on seating and layout, and to provide insight into how we could separate front of house from back of house, without completely closing off the kitchen. We also examined the bar area and worked with the client to determine the proper location and set up of the bar. The layout of a restaurant is something that can seriously impact your bottom line, and while our team consults on the customer journey and aesthetics, we love working with a restaurant architect who specializes in maximizing capacity while keeping the customer experience intact for your concept.
We then moved on to interior design planning. The Nice Branding team defined wall color, flooring, furniture and textures, light fixtures, countertops, decor, and every other little detail that would be visible to the customer. By considering each part of the interior from a branding perspective, we were able to align the interior with the brand direction, thus connecting the brand to the customer through the things they saw as they encountered the space.
The design was based on the brand direction that the customer selected early on in the project. We incorporated exposed industrial lighting with distinctive and unique red cords, hung from a rough-hewn wooden beam, black matte gooseneck lamps, and opaque white glass pendant lighting with red detail that harkened to pizza parlours of past years.
We also proposed using several types of flooring to create interest and dimension within the space, since the restaurant was essentially one big rectangle. We used interesting floor tiles with transition areas into natural hardwood or concrete, and proposed a custom tile inset near the entrance to communicate the brand voice.
Big, booth seating anchored the space while two and four top tables with red, industrial chairs were placed strategically to maximize seating. A custom wooden bench flanked the left side of the restaurant, backed by a concrete textured wall. Above the bench, large, red marquee-lit letters spelled out SAY CHEESE. This brought a fun and instagrammable moment into the space.
It’s important to keep in mind that the term ‘branding’ doesn’t refer to any one element, rather it’s the culmination of everything your customer perceives about your company. And for a restaurant, the interior space has a lot to do with how a customer forms their opinions and perspective about your company. At Valeo’s we truly sought to envelop the customer in the brand from the moment they walked in the door, and we think that we were totally able to do this through the interior design phase.
From here, we passed our plan off to the client and they worked with their general contractor to get their space ready for pizza making. During the construction process, the Nice Girls were always on call to consult as questions came up.
Please note that bringing this vision to life doesn’t happen overnight. During the construction phase, we feel that the empty storefront offers an opportunity to communicate with the public, even before you open. For Valeo’s, we created a custom design for window papers that would cover up the construction mess, all while getting Pleasant Prairie excited for pizza.
This created a buzz in the community and was the first piece visible to the public that encompassed the new brand direction. The paper foreshadowed for future customers what was coming and was a simple way to introduce them to the goodness that this brand would convey.
The next slice of the branding was a food photo trip to Wisconsin, with cameras and props in tow. The Nice Branding team needed to capture really, really great images to use throughout the brand.
These images would be used on website, on the menu, in the promotional materials, and everywhere else. The images needed to entice customers to try the food and they also needed to align with the new brand direction.
Our food photography process starts with prop purchase. You see, we can’t just plop the pizza on the counter, snap a photo and head on home. We have to set the mood. Create a scene. Build the brand.
Before the shoot, we got busy buying up all the things. This included backdrops, flatware, bowls, plates, accessories; everything you see in the final shots. It seriously makes our mouths water just talking about it.
On shoot day, we worked from a predetermined shot list that had the kitchen servin’ up picture-perfect dishes all day long.
With the photos edited and the brand direction solidified, it was time for the graphic design team to work their magic on the branding project. There’s not a detail too small to be considered, and we addressed them all as we worked to create all the materials that a restaurant needs to operate, such as menus, pizza boxes, cups, kids menus, menu boards, etc.
Menu design is crucial in restaurant branding. You’ll be hard pressed to find a customer who doesn’t interact with your menu, so it’s important to get this piece right. We spent hours upon hours making sure that each section of the menu was designed with optimal ease of use.
Your employees (and even your customers!) can be walking billboards for your brand. We design attire that can be worn by employees or sold on your merch wall, and this attire is one of the ways that we reach out to customers and potential customers to communicate a message.
For Valeo’s, we created several designs that displayed slogans and sayings that connected directly with the customer from the brand voice. Not only was the design important, but the style and color variety of the shirts played an important role in making the brand feel relatable and approachable.
Attire design is often overlooked in restaurant branding. It’s an important customer touchpoint and should always be addressed, with a goal to carry out the desired brand.
Ok, so if you’ve stuck with us this long, then you really deserve to hear about the website design and development portion of this project.
When we build a restaurant website, we want the user experience to be guided by mouth-watering images and well-placed calls to action. In this case, the calls to action were to ‘order online’ or ‘get here now’ because, as you might imagine, our client’s goal was to sell pizza.
We started with wireframes to provide the client a blueprint of the website so they could get onboard with where our heads were at. After walking the client through the initial proof, we made some modifications and moved along to the website design phase.
During the website design phase, we carefully crafted brand fonts, colors, images, sayings, and voice, to create something that would carry the brand out on the www.
Once design comps were approved, we moved into website development where the website began to take a life of it’s own online and fully function.
Wondering what the difference is between website design and website development? Learn all about the two very different roles in website creation on our blog.
The site was staged for the client to review. This allowed Valeo’s to move through the site as a user would and provide feedback and approval on the functionality of the newly branded website.
View the pizza company website.
Once the brand direction, logo design, and brand support were fully in place, it was time to talk marketing. Once you have great branding (and amazing food), you’ve got to drive people through your doors.
It’s not “if you build it they will come.” It’s “if you build it and market it, they will come.”
The Nice Branding strategy team came together to build a launch marketing plan with action items and budgets. Once approved by the client, the launch marketing initiatives were deployed.
When developing and deploying launch marketing plans, Nice Branding uses a multi-pronged approach, backed by top-level creative and graphic design, and Valeo’s launch marketing project was no different.
Both the client and Nice Branding Agency view the Valeo’s branding project as a success. The company is now fully equipped with a brand strategy, a visual brand direction, a refreshed logo, brand support, and a new website. Each and every item was developed to connect with customers and help them understand what Valeo’s Pizza is and does.
If you’re opening a new restaurant, or are interested in rebranding your existing restaurant, give us a shout – we’d love to build your brand!
PS. Although we do love pizza, like really love pizza, we’ve got other types of branding projects we have completed. Flip through our portfolio of branding projects to see what else the Nice girls have been up to.
Get Your Nice Swag On.