Creating renewed character for a fast casual brand

Erik’s DeliCafé fast casual restaurant rebranding

For over 45 years, Erik’s DeliCafé has been a Santa Cruz/San Jose mainstay. Over the course of its life, the brand became washed out and outdated from its messaging through identity and interior experience. With the help of Vigor, a dedication to collaboration across departments, and a passion for an ideal, we were able to reclaim that California quirkiness.


San Jose, California

Year Completed


Team Size

Vigor 6 / Client 5


Brand Strategy, Narrative, Brand Architecture, Identity Design, Menu Systems, Uniforming, Environments, Packaging


Where's the character?

Through an extensive audit of the current brand identity and messaging, mixed with research and interviews with stakeholders, it was clear that something was missing from Erik’s DeliCafé. That something had been there in the beginning, but through time and multiple approaches to the experience, the brand had lost its spark. It lost its character.

This truth fueled a year-long effort to define “character” across every facet of the restaurant organization including operations, leadership, and marketing. The key to success was in identifying areas that were inextricably linked to the core of Erik’s roots, and the visual and aural elements in which equity has been built.

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Crafting a unique, ownable identity

After a deep analysis of the in-market brand identity, Vigor identified areas where the brand could move forward while maintaining elements where equity had been built. Specifically, the typography used in tandem with the original logo, the “potbelly lockup”, had little to no recognition in market. The typography used within the “potbelly lockup” showcased the character this brand had, and planned to reclaim.

Springboarding from that quirky, ranch-style woodcut type, we crafted a custom typographical logo while updating the “potbelly lockup” to increase clarity, readability, and simplicity. The typographic design created immediate connectivity between the brand type and brand combination logos.

Simplifying the “potbelly lockup” also opened the opportunity to develop a secondary mark that could be used where one is already immersed in the brand experience.

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Creating character throughout the brand experience

Character isn’t simply something that manifests out of thin air. It has to be sparked and fostered throughout the experience from the people to the products and every touchpoint in between. Through heavy collaboration with the internal teams at corporate, Vigor uplifted the visual touchpoints across the entire experience to be chock full of character.

Employee uniforms were given a much-needed lift in personalty and color which had immediate positive effects on morale. The suite of takeout packaging proclaimed the brand’s position to viewers while adding vibrance to the Erik’s DeliCafé identity.

“With Character®” became a suffix to position every facet of the brand from catering through recruiting. Operationally, character became the lens through which new products were developed spawning new limited time only items like the Blue Plate Sandwich. The Blue Plate Sandwich featured smoked brisket, potato salad, and sriracha mayo for a decadent, delicious taste of character.

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Clarity characterized through simple, vibrant design

The previous menu systems were dated and cluttered making for a negative Patron experience. Collaborating with operations and leadership, we uplifted the menu experience through design driven by clarity, vibrance, and character. The result was a menu board system that continuously drove upticks in sales, and handheld menus that were easy to use, understand, and engage with.

Other organizational elements throughout the space continued the brand aesthetic to make for a seamless, pleasant Patron experience from beginning to end.

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