When & How to Hire a Branding Company. Joseph chats on Branding Brews Podcast
23/08/17 Branding & Marketing Strategy , In the press # , , , , , , , , , , ,

When & How to Hire a Branding Company. Joseph chats on Branding Brews Podcast

As the craft beer and spirits world reaches its tipping point, standing out in the crowd is becoming more difficult than ever. The fact becomes quite clear that handling your craft brewery startup’s branding tasks is a risky move. Continuing with your current, possibly dated look is also not going to fly. I sat with Ryan Wheaton to discuss how would-be breweries, and existing breweries can go about identifying, vetting, hiring, and working with brand identity studios. From the big guys to the small freelancers, there are things to expect and areas to scrutinize to ensure that your brewery is setup for success, and stays ahead of the pack.

Listen on iTunes, on the Branding Brews Podcast website, right here:

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Say ‘hello’ to Leah Ayer, designer extraordinaire
03/08/17 Agency News # , , , , , ,

Say ‘hello’ to Leah Ayer, designer extraordinaire

A few months ago we sought to find a rockstar designer who could challenge conventions and bring a fresh eye to our clients and their work. Ms. Leah Ayer walked through our door with a portfolio that demonstrated that, and so much more. Her work demonstrated great thinking and execution in design and creative. From her innovative packaging for Converse to her brilliant rethinking of The Great Gatsby, Leah’s work pushes the boundaries on the expected.

Leah spent some time at a few agencies with great reputations after graduating from The Portfolio Center. Crispin, Porter, and Bogusky, and Imbibe, were just two of her stops before landing here at Vigor. In between agency life, she found a love and passion for flowers and floral design, something that often comes through in her work.

As a way to introduce Leah to our audience, we had a short one-on-one chat about food, drink, and design. Get to know our newest design maven in her profound answers below, and check out some of her work below that!

What would you eat for your last dinner? Why?

Pizza! More specifically Antico’s San Gennaro Pizza, because if you have to ask then you need to try it.

What’s your go to beverage/cocktail? Why?

I’ve been into trying new beers lately and I have a lot of fun checking out breweries but I can’t turn down a margarita thats been made with fresh limes. Because tequila.

What do you love to do in your freetime?

I love being outside whether it’s hiking, camping, swimming at the lake, or wading in a creek. I also spend a lot of time watching movies, Tony and I have been working on watching all the movies on the top 100 list since we met 9 years ago. I was raised on TV and VHS tapes.

If you had to open your own restaurant, what would it serve? What would you call it?

Tough question. It would probably be a dessert restaurant, and we’d serve only the best cookies, brownies, cake, pie, and ice cream including adult/alcoholic versions of all these things. I could call it ‘Zerts, the name is a WIP.

Next time you’re in the office, please give Ms. Leah a big high-five and hello! Now, here’s some of her brilliant portfolio pieces:

Publication design and branding Food photography, styling, and design advertising Converse shoe industrial design and packaging design Cardinal Flour food packaging design and branding Great Gatsby book illustration and design

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3 restaurant & beverage logo designs accepted into LogoLounge 10
15/06/17 Agency News , In the press # , , , , , , , , ,

3 restaurant & beverage logo designs accepted into LogoLounge 10

We’re always excited to be included in a new publication. It’s even more validating and honoring when it’s one as notoriously brilliant as LogoLounge. This week we were honored to hear that three of our logo designs were accepted into the 10th edition of LogoLounge.

The three logo designs selected are for Defie Moi, Brick River Cider Co, and Fioro.

Logo design for Defie Moi restaurant popup branding in Baltimore, MD

Defie Moi was a pop-up restaurant that focused on Asian-French fusion. The vision of Chef Cyrus Keefer, Defie Moi has graced the Baltimore scene numerous times to much critical acclaim. Our logo design for this food experience is a representation of a classed Chinese dragon mixed with a street-style custom type design.

Logo design for Brick River CIder Company craft cider branding in St. Louis, Missouri

Brick River Cider Co is a craft cider brand based in St. Louis. They have yet to launch, but the buzz is building around this new craft cider experience. The brand identity is a visual representation of the name and it’s Americana roots. Stay tuned for more work on this project as well as announcements of their opening and availability.

Logo design for Fioro fast casual restaurant branding in New York, NY

Fioro is an Italian fast casual brand that launched last year in New York. Read the full restaurant branding case study here. We handled everything from strategy through brand naming and identity design.


Learn more about our branding and concept development services for restaurants and our branding and design services for beverages »

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Restaurant Design & Development Magazine Article: 5 ways to bridge the branding & interior design divide
01/06/17 Branding & Marketing Strategy , In the press # , , , , , , , , ,

Restaurant Design & Development Magazine Article: 5 ways to bridge the branding & interior design divide

Originally published in Restaurant Design & Development magazine

We’re all familiar with restaurant interiors. We’re all also familiar with restaurant brands. But over the years, I’ve noticed something: More often than not, the brand identity does not align with the experience created by the interior design. Individually, both may be brilliant — each with their own moments of glory — but together, they fall short, and the gap created by various designers is visually obvious. I’m calling for a collective effort to end this disservice for the sake of our clients — and for our crafts.

When someone visits a restaurant for the first time, it’s a moment of truth. Will perceptions be solidified? From the service to the food to the ambience, there are numerous opportunities to dent — even ruin — the brand as a whole. Despite the particular event’s weight, one mustn’t forget that the impression a guest leaves with doesn’t happen haphazardly.

Trying out a new restaurant (and subsequent visits) often happens only after countless touches with the brand. The prospective guest must hear about the restaurant first. Friends might have praised their experience. The prospective guest might read a review in a magazine or online. Maybe he or she saw an advertisement. Before entering the restaurant, many people visit the website to learn more about it. They may have even followed the restaurant on social media before visiting. Only
after these impressions does a consumer move from unaware and uninterested to an engaged customer.

Advertising, word of mouth, digital outlets, reviews and more all culminate to build expectations, guide perceptions and usher a person through the front doors for the first time. Once at the threshold of the restaurant itself, the space via architecture and interior continues the storytelling. Do the architecture and interior design continue the experience seamlessly or do they convey a different story about the brand?

Often, the brand experience before a first visit is vastly different than the on-site experience. The reason for this is quite clear: There was a blatant lack of collaboration and communication between the interior designers and the branding team. Generally, no single entity is at fault for the divide. In some cases, the architecture is well underway before a branding professional is brought on board, or vice versa. No matter the scenario, it’s rare that these two crucial partners communicate and collaborate the way they should.

Most restaurant startup projects see a mix of creatives working in tandem. Each partner focuses on his or her own discipline and on the process of ushering the client through discovery, design and implementation. In this typical scenario, a restaurant opens with a beautiful space and a beautiful brand. However, these two crucial parts of the overall brand experience compete more than they complement. They are often visually disjointed. It’s not always a glaring difference, and sometimes it’s not even consciously noticeable. However, there exists a visual and emotional rift where a holistic and symbiotic relationship should exist.

There are five key steps to ensure the branding team and the interiors team work to create a seamless experience for guests.

Read the suggestions and ideas on RDDMag.com 

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QSR, NRN & Campaign all publish new articles penned by Joseph
01/02/17 Branding & Marketing Strategy , In the press # , , , , , , , , , , ,

QSR, NRN & Campaign all publish new articles penned by Joseph

2017 has started off with a bang. Our work has been recognized by industry leading publications, GD USA and Print, and over the last couple weeks restaurant and advertising industry publications have shared our thinking. We’re constantly pushing the envelope here at Vigor, and part of doing that is having a finger on the pulse of people’s behaviors and how it affects the restaurant and beverage industries. Both industries are constantly fighting in a sea of sameness; vying for just a modicum of attention from key markets. Whether startup, or growing brands, understanding how your brand fits into their world is paramount for success. The three articles recently published cover some key issues facing restaurant and beverage brands, today. Have a read, and please share if you enjoy.


Why Are Beer Brands Still Ignoring Women?

Campaign Magazine


4 Ways Restaurants Can Win Over Generation Z

Nation’s Restaurant News & Restaurant Hospitality


The New Rules for Naming Your Restaurant

QSR Magazine


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Selected for Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual
29/01/17 Agency News , In the press # , , , ,

Selected for Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual

2017 has already started off quite brilliantly with accolades and recognition from some of the design industry’s most respected publications and media outlets. Today, we celebrate our first appearance in Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual – a selection of the nation’s best in class design work for 2016. The brand we crafted for Urban Tree Cidery, Atlanta’s very first cidery, was deemed one of the best in a mix of thousands of entries.

Urban Tree Cidery approached us in 2015 with the vision of bringing authentic cider to the South. Their passion for perpetuating a 100 year old legacy in the form of a family farm in North Georgia, combined with their desire to create a new legacy with their cider. This passion fueled our thinking for visually communicating the brand through packaging, brand identity, interiors, and various other touch points. Checkout the full case study on Urban Tree Cider’s branding and design here

Our recognition is shared by many other amazing designers and agencies who did some stellar work. We’re quite honored. Print also saw fit to include a pull quote from our supplied explanation of the thinking and direction. A little extra ego stroke for our team.

Have a look at the full group of selected work online, and definitely subscribe to Print. You won’t regret it.

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GD USA recognizes our work for Smoke & Duck Sauce
27/01/17 Agency News , In the press # , , , , , ,

GD USA recognizes our work for Smoke & Duck Sauce

When we set out to help our friends over at Smoke & Duck Sauce get into the world, we had one focus: Get people to pay attention to things they thought they knew. For us the opportunity came in Americanizing common Asian food items like the zodiac placemat and takeout menus. Our big thinking led to a redesign of the zodiac mats bringing it up to today’s world. The takeout menus serve as the perfect shape for folding 1 of 1000 origami cranes.

GD USA recently recognized this work via their website. “We’re honored to have the work recognized by such a renowned publication. As readers of GD, we have found the content shared to be of the highest quality and greatest value for the design community. Now, we have a little piece of our hearts and minds contributing to that level of design,” chirped Joseph Szala, Principal and Brand Strategist of Vigor.

From all of us at Vigor, to the GD USA team, thanks a million, friends!

View the full case study for Smoke & Duck Sauce here.

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Featured Article in QSR Magazine: The New Rules for Restaurant Naming
07/01/17 In the press # , , , , , , , , ,

Featured Article in QSR Magazine: The New Rules for Restaurant Naming

Our principal and creative director, Joseph Szala, authored an article focused on successfully naming a restaurant. It starts with the passion driving the restaurant forward. Passion deeper than “good food, good service” table stakes. QSR Magazine picked up the article as an Outside Insights feature. Read it here.

Although published in QSR Magazine, the foundations for name remain relevant for other restaurant formats including Full Service (FSR), Fast Casuals, Casual Dining, and others. Furthermore, the beverage industry from craft beer to spirits and wine can glean the basics of good brand strategy and naming from the article.

Here are some quick quotes to spark your interest:


…you’re probably sitting in a room with a committee throwing the proverbial spaghetti on the wall and hoping that something sticks. Design by committee usually ends in a frustratingly boring result. When you have to appease multiple personalities with varying opinions the common result is vanilla.

The strongest brand names are bolstered by detailed, visceral meaning beyond product and service. In today’s world, “good product, good service,” are tablestakes and bottom line expectations. They’re not differentiators by any stretch.


Read the full article by Joseph on QSR Magazine’s website »

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Grits X Grids Podcast – A must listen
22/11/16 Agency News , Branding & Marketing Strategy # , , , ,

Grits X Grids Podcast – A must listen

We’re officially 12 episodes deep into the Grits X Grids Podcast – a spinoff of our acclaimed blog at www.gritsandgrids.com. We’ve had everyone from brand strategy experts like Denise Lee Yohn to beverage gurus like Dennis Malcolm Byron, better known as Ale Sharpton. Every week we chat with brilliantly creative minds about the creative and food and beverage industries. Each month is themed for focus and our chats are truly discussions on topics that help inspire, spark ideas, and give some sound advice to our listeners.

This is an invite to you to have a listen. After all, it’s absolutely free.

Listen on iTunes or at GritsAndGrids.com

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Bagels, Bands, and Bravery – Joseph chats on Obsessed with Design podcast
24/06/16 In the press

Bagels, Bands, and Bravery – Joseph chats on Obsessed with Design podcast

Have you ever wondered how I got started in restaurant design and branding? Ever wonder how to find a niche and become an expert in an industry? Ever wonder what The Net is? 

I recently had the honor of speaking with Josh Miles, the host and visionary behind Obsessed With Design. The episode aired today and we cover some great topics for those designers looking to get into the world of restaurant branding and marketing, the design world, and one man’s journey discovering it all.

Listen & Download this Episode, and subscribe to Obsessed with Design »


Here are the show notes:

As the founder of Vigor Restaurant & Beverage Branding and the blog, Grits and Grids, Joseph has found a home in branding for the food and beverage industry. His passion for great design and great food is evident in his blog, as well as our interview. You can follow them on Twitter here.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How his agency found the food industry and turned it into a specialty.
  • The importance of finding your niche.
  • The creation of his blog, Grits and Grids.
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