16 Handles

successful restaurant rebranding

We’re thrilled to present one of our favorite successful restaurant rebranding projects! 16 Handles had been operating under their existing brand for years, and had attempted rebranding with other firms before coming to Nice Branding Agency. In addition to our usual rebranding process, we addressed a few of the frozen yogurt chain’s specific needs. We reworked the logo and brand support, plus we were able to engage in brand and consumer insights, merchandise wall design, and a tiered system for interior implementation throughout the locations.

We were thrilled to complete a successful restaurant rebranding for 16 Handles, a popular New York City-based frozen yogurt franchise. We began our process by learning about founder Solomon Choi’s passion for the product and the empire that he built from scratch.

This rebrand was unique in that the logo needed to stay intact. The client wanted to keep elements of the original brand to maintain the awareness and fanbase they had grown since opening in 2008. The client also has its own internal graphic design department. We were coming aboard to elevate the brand in a way that the company could continue to carry out.

Successful Restaurant Rebranding: Discovery

We began this successful restaurant rebranding project with a discovery session. We traveled to New York City to learn about 16 Handles’ goals and mission, as well as what’s working and what isn’t, directly from the founder and his team. We talked about the brand differentiators, the quality of the product and the brand’s fun personality. Though it all, we focused on the target demographic. The team had some target personas in mind, but they were curious to find whether they were correct.

We visited a variety 16 Handles locations, during which we were able to experience the stores firsthand. Like typical customers, we engaged with the layout, menus, staff, product, and overall environment. By sitting in the stores, we could observe the customer journey and demographic. We kept an eye out for pain points in the customer experience and ways to incorporate brand communication into the space.

Brand + Consumer Insights

We decided it would be helpful to survey customers to find out what they knew and loved about the brand and what they felt was lacking. With this data, combined with our in-store observations, we were able to define the quintessential 16 Handles customer, a key ingredient to a successful restaurant rebranding. We composed a visual board and narrative that illustrated the typical 16 Handles customer a.k.a. “16 girl.” Her preferences were held up against the existing brand to identify opportunities to improve with the customer in mind.

Branding Direction: Successful Restaurant Rebranding

We created a visual direction for 16 Handles using the information we learned about the business and its customers. To create brand boards, we gather images, typography, text, colors, and textures. The boards are a a visual reference for what the brand can become. The client chooses one and it becomes the basis for the brand.

For successful restaurant rebranding project, we developed and presented three brand directions to the client. One was edgy, another was colorful and playful and one was more bold and graphic-based. Their team was initially drawn to the first board, but they were hesitant to make such a big shift away from their existing brand. Ultimately, they settled on the third option. Though the winning board featured a lot of bright yellow, our client asked that we prioritize pink and green, with small inclusions of blue, and use black as an additional color.

This color selection aligned with the existing brand, but the tones took it to a new level. The additional colors brought a level of dimension that wasn’t previously apparent.

successful restaurant rebranding project
restaurant rebranding 16 Handles
Restaurant Rebranding Experts

Logo Refresh + Icon System

Using the winning brand board as a guide, we refreshed the logo to align with the new look. We focused on bringing balance and legibility to the logo and the icon. The exterior signage would be a main application for the logo. In the pre-established brand, the word “handles” and the number 16 appeared within the icon. We wanted 16 to stand alone in order for customers to begin to associate the number with their frozen yogurt. We imagined the target customer saying, “let’s get 16.”

We also developed an icon system to communicate the product offerings to customers at a glance. Prior to our successful restaurant rebranding, customers only identified 16 Handles with frozen yogurt, when in fact, the restaurant had numerous offerings. The icons were featured on visually appealing interior graphics to aid in the customer journey. We also used the icons for custom patterns for use on social media, restaurant materials, attire and merchandise.


successful restaurant rebranding 16 Handles
Expert Restaurant Rebranding
Restaurant Rebranding Icons

Environmental Branding

A different element of this successful restaurant rebranding project was addressing the customer experience and ensuring that the brand was woven throughout the store interior. We created an interior design plan for a new location, including an ideal store layout, an interior branding plan, environmental graphic design, and the selection of fixtures, furniture, colors, customer directives, custom installations, and more.

To enhance the customer journey, we focused on ensuring that the layout would bring the product offerings and brand pillars front and center, while also inviting the customer to connect with the brand through verbiage, color, materials.

We created mockups of the space first, so that the 16 Handles team could visualize the changes. They included everything from a redesigned facade to a total redesign of the interior with new wayfinding signage, colors, graphics, furniture, product display, and lighting.

We wrote taglines and sayings that would connect with the customer and placed them on the restaurant walls and other touch points.

To ensure the products were showcased professionally, we designed a custom merchandise unit at the client’s request. The merch wall consisted of dry shelving and freezer storage, and was created to be modular and adjustable. This design would accommodate the needs and space restrictions of the brand’s 42 stores, as well as the addition of new products.

We devised a system that would allow franchisees to update their stores with the new environmental branding in stages, by communicating non-negotiable, priority, and lower level changes and including interior options at various price points.

Successful Restaurant Rebranding Interior
16 Handles Restaurant Rebrand

Successful Restaurant Branding: Materials

Restaurant materials represented a big opportunity to connect customers with the brand and to encourage sharing on social media. We redesigned the food packaging, including frozen yogurt cups, cone wraps, and to-go cups. We also incorporated the new brand into the design of the flavor screens on each frozen yogurt machine. We wrote witty phrases in the brand voice and utilized the custom pattern to improve the look of the packaging. Since the frozen yogurt cups are often pictured on social media through user-generated content, the brand reach grows daily.

Frozen Yogurt Rebranding
frozen-yogurt-cone graphic design
restaurant cup design

Digital Design + Consulting

We took on a digital consulting role that allowed us to provide the client with ways to align ongoing social media management and content creation. We also provided ways to improve the user experience and design of the current website.

Successful Restaurant Rebranding: Brand Standards Guide

At the completion of this successful restaurant rebranding project, we developed a brand bible with guidelines to reference for future promotions and ongoing development of the brand.

All of the design elements and strategies that we created were handed off to the client to implement within their existing stores and during new store builds.

Restaurant Brand Guidelines

NOTE: Pictured portfolio items do not necessarily represent final client selections and images are intended solely to showcase the work of Nice Branding Agency.

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