When we were approached for fro yo restaurant branding for the NYC franchise 16 Handles, we knew this project was going to be cool, yo. See what we did there?! The more we learned about our new client, the more we understood just how passionate founder Solomon Choi was about his product and the frozen yogurt empire that he built from the ground up.
This project was unique in terms of a rebranding project. The logo needed to stay intact, and the client was only open to a slight refresh. They wanted to keep elements of the brand that they had established in 2008 to maintain the brand awareness they’d established in the markets they were in. Since they had an internal graphic design department, the client was looking for an outside firm to come in and elevate the brand so that they could continue to carry it out.
We started with a Let It All Hang Out session where our team traveled to the 16 offices in NYC to learn about the company’s goals and mission straight from the founder and his key leaders and to dig into what had worked in the past and had not worked. We also visited the stores to get a handle on what they had in place in their different stores throughout the various neighborhoods.
After our Let It All Hang Out session, we decided it would be valuable to deploy a customer survey to find out what the current customers knew and loved about the brand and what they felt was lacking. This allowed us to uncover the true 16 Handles target market. With this information, we were able to identify the quintessential 16 Handles customer.
We delivered three variations of brand direction to the client and worked with them to choose a direction to implement moving forward. One of the options was edgy, one was colorful and playful and one was more bold and graphic-based. The brand boards consisted of photos, colors, fonts, furniture and different elements that painted a picture of what the brand developed would look like upon completion. A brand board was chosen to move forward with, and from that board, we wove the look and feel throughout the materials and space (more on that below!).
Using the chosen brand board as a roadmap, we refreshed the logo to align with the new look, created menu graphics, designed new flavor screen graphics, provided direction and developed graphics for various promotions, established a food photography style for monthly promotions, and created an icon system. The icons were used to better familiarize the customer with the various product offerings. This was intended to address the fact that prior to the rebrand, customers only identified 16 Handles with fro-yo, when in fact, the restaurant had way more to offer. The icons were distributed throughout the space to bring all offerings to the forefront of the customer journey in a way that was visually appealing and on-brand.
We also redesigned the food packaging, including cups and cone wraps, and aligned the design of the flavor screens with the new brand. We came up with witty phrases for the cups that were in line with the brand voice, and designed a look that was a refresh of their existing cups.
We were also tasked with doing interior design for one new store including store layout, graphic design, tile selection, furniture selection, window displays, customer directives, and more.
We started with the customer journey and focused our efforts on ensuring that the layout would allow the product offerings and the brand’s pillars to shine, while encouraging the customer to connect with the brand through verbiage, color, texture and materials used.
First, we created mockups of the space, so that the client could visualize the changes within the space. This floorplan and accompanying mockup included details regarding everything from a redesigned facade to a complete redesign of all interior elements including wayfinding signage, colors, wall graphics, furniture, product display, lighting, and interior finishes.
In addition, we developed taglines and sayings that would connect with the customer, and these were used on a grand scale within the walls of the restaurant, as well as throughout the customer touchpoints.
In order to ensure that the products were showcased professionally, we developed the design for a custom merchandise unit at the request of our client. The merch wall consisted of dry shelving and freezer storage, and was created to modular and adjustable. This modular design would serve the needs and space restrictions of the brand’s 42 stores and would also accommodate the addition of new products as they’re developed.
Creating a system for the environmental branding of the various franchise locations was another aspect of this project that was important to our client. We devised a system that would allow franchisees to update their locations in stages, by communicating non-negotiable, priority, and lower level changes and by including interior options at various price points.
From a digital perspective, we took on a consulting role that allowed us to provide the client with ways to align on-going social, and directives to improve the user experience and design of the current website.
At the completion of the project, we developed a brand bible to provide the client with guidelines to reference for future development of promotions and on-going development of the brand.
All of the elements that we designed, as well as all of the strategies that we developed were handed off to the client to implement themselves within their existing stores and during new store builds.