Designing a virtual food hall in a language for all to understand

Pure Roots Provisions Virtual Food Hall Branding

The culinary world is full of flavors, techniques, and cultural inspiration. Yet, when it comes to dining, one must choose from the vast array and fully commit to that style of cuisine. With that focus is a sense of expertise, but what if there was a spot where you could select from multiple cuisines, each with a level of authenticity and expertise?

Thus was the ambition for a restaurateur and hospitality leader in the suburbs a Philadelphia. His idea was to take advantage of restaurant technology advances to create a semi-virtual food hall experience. A total of 7 restaurant brands, under one roof, serving focused culinary classics, was no small feat.

Location

Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania

Year Completed

2020

Team Size

Vigor 6 / Client 3

Services

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

While the culinary development was well underway, the strategy, naming and visual identities for the parent brand and its consumer-facing subbrands had yet to be created. The Vigor team was tasked with serving as a guide for the visionary team. To take them through the process of setting a sound strategic foundation, then crafting the brand experiences from that basis.

They needed a brand to be an umbrella-like northstar that bound the sub-brands with a common purpose and vision to instill a sense of believability and a natural relationship between the subbrand while allowing for each subbrand to be distinctly its own.

Restaurant Brand Strategy

Starting with the primary brand, the Vigor team guided leadership through a series of workshops that resulted in clear brand strategy definitions. The first of which was a clear identification of the Primary Patrons who were primed to love the concept: The Shareholders.

Labeling the group with a plurality allowed the team to focus not on the demographic data alone. Instead, it opened the ideation of this brand-to-be to focus on their behaviors: wanderlusters, successful, and health-conscious. These behaviors aligned exceptionally well with the primary brand’s Personality traits of simple, traditional, and variety-driven.

Layered in conjuction with the brand’s archetype, The Everyman, it became clear that this restaurant was to have mass appeal with ownership of simplicity, and a respect for culinary traditions. The combination would fuel the reinforcement of authentic cuisines, despite the varying categories for each sub-brand.

The brand’s epicenter came to light with a purpose statement reflective of those traits: To enrich memory, build community, and represent the heart of cultures.

Restaurant Brand narrative

Next in the process, we had to interpret the brand’s strategy into an narrative that would excite the intrigue of The Shareholders in and around initial and future locations. With platforms rich in meaning, we crafted the following:

We believe that the greatest meals of the world are made in a language that we can all understand. That’s why we’ve made it our specialty to provide classic dishes from a whole world of cuisines because we believe that food is the greatest unifier we have.

Food can be so much more than just a meal; it’s a shared experience that can blend people from every walk of life. When great ingredients and great love are at the heart of creating food, it becomes a shared language. A language that speaks to the past, the present, and the future in a way that’s wholesome and pure. When you give someone the gift of a great meal, you’re giving them a piece of your soul.

Restaurant Naming: Primary Brand

Approaching the name was a multi-faceted challenge. We needed something intriguing, yet semi-descriptive. It needed to encapsulate a broad array of restaurant concepts, yet make a statement and communicate the personality in a way that draws in The Shareholders. 

We found our inspiration in the honest, genuine passion portrayed by leadership. It was simple, but strong. Wrought with the innocent desire to connect with every Patron that would choose the brands. It was pure, to the very roots of leadership and their vision. Thus, Pure Roots was established as the restaurant’s primary brand name.

Identifying a descriptor wasn’t as easily prescribed. The brand demanded a bit more to help communicate the wide range of options and variety baked into its DNA. “Provisions” afforded us a number of benefits that positioned it as the best fit. For starters, the plurality of the word communicated the diversity of options. Secondly, the alliteraion between “Pure” and “Provisions” had connectivity linquisitically baked in.

Pure Roots Provisions virtual food hall restaurant branding by Vigor

Restaurant Visual Identity: Primary Brand

With the name set, the team set to designing a versatile visual identity and language that would community the offering and attitude of Pure Roots Provisions. We wanted to create a balance of classic to evoke the brand’s “traditional” personality trait. However, too classic and the identity would be perceived as dated. Additionally, the main brand would have to fit with multiple sub-brands, so it could not be too complicated. Nor could it be so unique that it would create a jolting mismatch when accompanying the other brands in the suite. 

The team opted for a primarily typographical solution that had a mix of classic and contemporary visual feel. Edita, a type family designed by Pilar Cano from TypeTogether, over-delivered on the need, providing letterforms that were unique and confidently sturdy all at once.

To communicate the variety aspect of the brand, an infinity loop device was introduced in the double “O’s” in the word “Roots.” This subtle, yet profound, graphic device communicates the offering and personality without impeding on readability. It also offered an opportunity to serve as the basis for secondary marks due to its strength in communication and uniqueness in design.

Color Palette

Color is an amazing way to reinforce the brand’s personality. For Pure Roots Provisions, we not only had to communicate the personality but also ensure we don’t create a bold statement that would take away from the sub-brand identities. Furthermore, we had to steer clear of color combinations that convey culinary or cultural offering.

To communicate the variety aspect of the brand, an infinity loop device was introduced in the double “O’s” in the word “Roots.” This subtle, yet profound, graphic device communicates the offering and personality without impeding on readability. It also offered an opportunity to serve as the basis for secondary marks due to its strength in communication and uniqueness in design.

Visual Language

As we collectively planned the future for Pure Roots Provisions, we identified needs for primary brand level components. These would play a roll specifically in the case of a storefront opportunity, as well as wayfinding within the footprint. Additionally, there existed opportunities for brand level communications that required a language broader than logo suite and color palette.

We explored patterns and type treatments that establish a notably ownable visual approach. The treatments combine the typefaces in the brand identity to create unique, but measured lockups that communicate the offering.

A brand pattern was designed taking inspiration into classic wall paper patterning, but simplified to create that contemporary touch. The effect is subtle, yet strong and easily sets the framework for building out more lockups that are on brand.

Pure Roots Provisions virtual food hall restaurant branding by Vigor - Type Treatments
Pure Roots Provisions virtual food hall restaurant branding by Vigor - Type Treatments
Pure Roots Provisions virtual food hall restaurant branding by Vigor - Type Treatments

Restaurant Naming: Sub Brands

With the primary brand identity and visual language set, the team charged ahead in the creation of secondary brands. The process began with name development for the suite of flagship restaurant concepts that included: barbecue, breakfast and coffee, comfort food, sushi and poké, Italian, burgers and wings, and salad and protein bowls.

Building from the Primary brand we set to identifying unique characteristics for each of these seven restaurant concepts. We approached this by blending positive categorical stereotypes with light research to excavate potential inspiration for the direction. As an example, chicken wings were invented in upstate New York. This became the inspiration for the burgers and wings concept name, Upstate.

While that example is on the nose, some of the other names were more ethereal and less obvious. Wonderleaf, the name for the salads and protein bowls concept, expresses an elevated approach to the basis of the product, leafy greens. 

Sparq and Hook’d played off of a more action-oriented approach to naming. Sparq is reference to the act of starting up the coals for barbecuing and Hook’d is a reference to line caught, fresh seafood.

Finally, Sunup was inspired by the brightness and energizing moment of the day that aligned with the food offering. Breadbox nodded to the comforting nature of the classic home kitchen.

Restaurant Visual Identity: Sub Brands

Each brand in the suite of sub-brands was given special attention and a unique identity approach. The goal was to evoke unique personality attributes that reinforced a sense of traditional simplicity inherited from the parent brand.

When looking at each of the sub-brands a clear sense of place and culture can be seen. Upstate has a notable Americana feel to the identity where as Grazia is undeniably Italian in its style. Sunup is as jovial and warm as the morning sunrise and Sparq has a chunky woodblock approach reminiscent of Texas clichés.

Conclusion

The suite of sub-brands effectively creates a sense of place while combining to convey the core brand’s personality. They set a standard of design to be carried on into the future with new concepts and marketing and advertising initiatives alike.

Pure Roots Provisions successfully launched in late 2021 in the Philadelphia area. Since opening, leadership has already identified a number of additional locations for future growth.

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