Restaurant Rebranding & Interior Design
Atlanta’s award-winning doughnut experience was at the threshold of entering the franchise world. The only thing holding them back was a subpar brand identity, and a “flagship” location that looked less than sublime. The Vigor team set forth to make happy happen with a positioning, identity and interior design strategy that would set them up for successful franchise marketing and sales.
When we were approached by Sublime Doughnuts’ newly retained franchise marketing and sales company, the brand was solely focused on the product with little thought given to the brand’s identity or visual communications. The Vigor team had to steer the thought process of the brand’s visionary owner/baker to focus on the outward facing image, and what that image says to the world. The idea was there, but there had been little to no investment in the brand experience beyond the offering. Additionally, the Vigor team was challenged with the following:
- Position the brand against key competitors in current and new markets to ensure a high level of differentiation akin to the brand’s vision
- Create a new experience that encapsulates the brand’s passionate purpose of “make happy happen”
- Refine the brand identity to be easier to visual interpret and elevate the look to the level of a franchise
- Create an interior storefront/retail design experience that felt like “another world” with a minuscule budget investment
- Furnish the franchise sales team with marketing collateral that properly communicated the brand’s unique offering to entice buy in.
Atlantans fell in love with Sublime Doughnuts because of their gourmet innovations from chef/baker Kamal Grant. Until then doughnuts had been pretty much run of the mill. However, aggressive competition made the gourmet doughnut more common making it difficult to compete and stand out. Furthermore, other gourmet doughnut brands were more visually appealing which helped the sales process from a franchising view point. In order to compete and grow franchise interest Sublime would have to become more buttoned-up with its image and experience. It would have to look different than the hipster-style experiences other doughnut shops featured. The product was solid, but the brand didn’t live up to the vision. Creating an alignment would be key to pushing Sublime ahead of the curve.
In initial sessions with Mr. Grant, visionary doughnut creator of Sublime, it was clear he wanted to give people an experience that was world’s apart. So far apart it should be another world all together. That was the essence and vision of Sublime. We used this direction to fuel refining the brand identity, and reimagining the blasé interior design.
The brand identity had been a bit janky with its execution and rendering. Thin, handdrawn line art had been the design style which made it hard to visually interpret and read. In order to bolster the brand’s readability we created a thicker type treatment, and refined the flying doughnut rendering. We also revisited the brand color palette and pulled it away from the typical, cliche go-to of warm “bakery” colors. Sublime is on another level with a visionary at the helm with is head in the clouds. Therefore a baby blue and navy blue primary palette made sense. Not only would that separate the brand from competitors, it would also help create a visual congruency between interiors, print collateral, and other touch points.
For the interior design our focus was to combine zany, happiness, and gourmet into an Atlanta-centric design aesthetic. We went for urban meets surreal world with the interiors that featured custom murals by BlackCatTips. The Vigor team injected other notes of “real world” like could-inspired lighting fixtures and carpeting that mimicked the look and feel of grass. The focal point remained at the point of sale and doughnut case that was relighted with LEDs to shine brighter on the main reason people come to Sublime: the doughnuts.
Finally, the franchise sales and marketing team was furnished with key pieces of marketing collateral that not only told the story, but also established graphic elements that could be used throughout future brand touch points. Graphic treatments like the white-washed wood texture, organic swirls, and directional shapes were designed to be reused throughout any brand touch point to create continuity across the brand.