Fast growing lunch spot with
58+ locations across America
LONG STORY SHORT
The design challenge was to create a cohesive, refreshed brand for Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery while it was rapidly expanding. Being on a small design team tasked with aggressive marketing initiatives allowed me to design in multiple mediums across all customer touch points. I problem solved in digital and physical space from e-mail marketing campaigns to in-store signage.
Let’s start with the in-store experience
Branding starts with the in-store experience
Specialty’s ran monthly marketing promotions which needed to sync across all verticals from the bakery decals, digital menu boards, and printed offers to the kiosk ordering stands and mobile coffee pickups. On top of rolling out monthly promotions, Specialty’s was aggressively opening at least one new store a month. We were responsible for the launch materials of a new store (flyers, mailers, email) all the way to printing out the artwork that hung on the restaurant walls. There were many touch points and our design team had full ownership.
The most unique part of the design challenge was all campaigns were designed from start to finish entirely in-house. I had multiple opportunities where I conceptualized campaigns from start to finish. Typically it started with a feature food item or seasonal messaging. The visuals would be conceptualized in-store first.
The in-store experience included…
Animated digital boards
Tabletop & counter signage
Coupons, flyers and stickers used / transacted by employees
Specialty branded products on shelves
Artwork on restaurant walls
Designing across the entire spectrum sharpened my understanding of brand identity.
Now let’s translate all that online
The second largest touch point was the desktop website, mobile application and email marketing materials. The bulk of Specialty’s catering orders came through an online channel. It was imperative the online experience mirrored the enjoyable in-store experience. Work in the digital space also included customer retention campaigns through emails and social media.
One of the most important campaigns rolled out was the launch of Specialty’s very own mobile application. It was a grand roll out that was introduced via in-store digital signage, printed materials and email announcements. Even the in-store staff had to be debriefed on the mobile launch because the restaurant is the first customer touch point.
Select digital materials:
Let’s also throw a
brand re-design into the mix
At the time Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery was undergoing a branding overhaul. With the help of a consultant, we landed on a new re-brand for Specialty’s. The next task was to adopt and promote its new look across all touch points. The main style difference was moving from away from the browns tones to brighter, light tones with a controlled use of negative space.
Take out all the brown tones from the food photography
In addition to slowly swapping out on the assets, one major effort was re-shooting the entire Specialty’s food photography library. The effort included not only re-photographing all menu items, regular seasonal promotions, ongoing campaigns and lifestyle branding for in-store use. All of Specialty’s food photography was shot in-house.
I worked closely with the Lead Photographer acting as a Food Stylist learning all the tricks of the trade. In the beginning I knew very little about the framing, composing and fickleness of food photography. Within months, I researched, learned and practiced all the nuances of working with food. I can now confidently say I can prepare a sandwich to be camera-ready.
One of my favorite tools was the industrial heat gun.
The industrial heat gun found in hardware stores was typically used for construction projects was perfect for melting the cheeses in our sandwiches. The optimal timeframe for food to remain photogenic was small. It was harder still when the food was heat sensitive. The heat gun gave the food its beautiful crispy, melty, sheen .
Add more lifestyle food shots with the new Specialty’s voice
The most challenging photoshoot was coordinating a lifestyle shoot for our catering goods. The aim was to add more lifestyle photography to our collection for promotions and campaigns. Business catering was the largest customer base for online orders.
I sketched out the shot list, acquired props, ordered food and recruited models. At the time it was the largest photoset executed in-house. Running a photoshoot of such a large, collaborative scale strengthened my operational and communication skills.
Creative ownership from beginning to end
The most amazing aspect of working at Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery was the full creative process from beginning to end. Typically I only receive one piece of the creative process of a much larger effort. Being able to touch the entire customer experience at every point really drilled into practice the importance of brand consistency. It was the first time I framed a creative concept from the nuance detail of a print material in-store all the way to digital mass production. Although it was exhausting, I was extremely proud of what our tiny team could produce.