Elevating a city’s identity through cuisine and culture

Initial Q BBQ restaurant branding

A southern city was at the beginnings of a rejuvenation. Looking to make a statement about what it means to be from South Carolina’s high country, and what Spartanburg is truly about, a team of enterprising visionaries sought to create a multi-concept experience. Their goal: to elevate the city through their culture and cuisine.


Spartanburg, South Carolina

Year Completed


Team Size

Vigor 6 / Client 3


Brand Strategy, Concept Development, Narrative, Naming, Brand Architecture, Identity Design, Menu Systems, Uniforming, Wayfinding/Signage, Packaging

Creating three experiences under one roof

These days, it is very common to see multiple sub-brands spearheaded by one organization. With a high demand for diverse experiences, brands are becoming aware of the opportunity to offer a variety of concepts under the same umbrella—creating a series of executed ideas that are different in what and how they offer it to the customer. 

This project, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina resulted in three experiences, a BBQ Full-Service Restaurant, a bar/bowling alley, and an event space; all three coexisting under the same roof. But that great opportunity came with a number of challenges we needed to overcome in order to make this a successful project:

  1. How to create three unique experiences that would appeal to the same Patron, centered around the same brand strategy.
  2. How to approach BBQ in a way that is authentic yet unique, and relevant to the historic context of the city.
Initial Q bbq full service restaurant branding logo design

Rooted, refined, and inventive

Our strategy focused primarily on our market research; we were sure that we needed to thoroughly understand our Patron, their tastes, preferences, what made them excited, and what made them tick. From the beginning, we began to articulate our strategy in a way that would let us come to certain shared values and truths that would allow the Patron to relate and be drawn to the three brands, but give us room for both balance and variety. With that in mind, we established three personality traits that spoke to the Patron’s values and beliefs: Rooted, refined, and inventive. These would serve as our North Star as we continued to develop the visual identity of the three brands.

Initial Q (IQ), the BBQ concept, was the protagonist of the three brands. We interpreted the word ‘rooted’ in a way that would honor Spartanburg’s history, tradition, and culture. In researching Spartanburg’s history, we stumbled upon historic photographs, maps, and land surveys that lead to the idea of creating a “blueprint” of our own based on these shared roots.

Visually expressing each brand's unique approach

The concept of “inventive” played a major role in the way we visualized and built IQ, incorporating moments of surprise and delight. The blueprint concept, building off the history, suggests an air of invention and experimentation. The gridlines and layout, broken and reconstructed from piece to piece, visually represent this. Finally, “refined” was represented within the brands’ illustration style, and in our typographical choices.

For Underpin, the same personality traits acted as our guide, but with a mid-century-retro spin. Refinement and inventiveness were represented in the clean, sharp lines of the identity and the clever mark.

Finally, Magnolia Grand, the event space. As the most elegant and refined of the three brands, it features a visual identity that one would easily associate with weddings and other special celebrations but does not lack in its approachability or inventiveness. Elements of the visual identity layer and overlap, suggesting the adaptability of the space and adding whimsical energy to the look overall.

Magnolia Grand event space branding
Underpin bowling bar branding and concept development
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