dirt brand development // a case study
We’ve talked about DIRT’s brand development before, but have now created a complete case study to show how a brand’s identity has a direct impact on its success in the marketplace. Take a read + let us know what you think!
A budding restaurant concept in its infant stages came to us for full brand development with a goal to position themselves as the leading fast-casual, healthy lifestyle restaurant in Miami Beach. The brand would have to deliver a look, feel, and story that visually communicated a transparent, innovative, farm-to-table concept. In the end, we created an impactful brand experience through our signature brand development process – crafting the brand story + strategy, naming the concept, coining the tagline, creating the identity, icons + business cards, designing the marketing materials, as well as the menus, signage + packaging, and consulting on the interior design to ensure the restaurant accurately reflected the brand. The combination of these carefully crafted elements creates a cohesive brand that instills trust and a memorable, engaging experience that stands out in the consumer’s mind resulting in regular visits to enjoy a meal or beverage at DIRT. It essentially becomes the third place for people – Home, Work, DIRT.
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A new, fine food served fast dining experience in Miami Beach, DIRT is where clean eating and great taste co-exist. A farm-to-counter eatery and wellness bar combining fresh, great-tasting food with health, convenience, and simplicity. DIRT isn’t just a restaurant. They are part of a larger global community and, as a smaller local community member, they seek to provide sustenance and reward for farmers and diners alike. Being a fast, casual eatery, DIRT has the potential to become the third place for health-conscious diners, just as Starbucks is for coffee lovers. The go-to breakfast spot before work or during lunch, the place where everyone knows your name.
DIRT was an unknown, startup company planning to launch in a crowded marketplace in an extremely competitive and expensive location, South Beach.
The founder was planning to use the name La Vita Verde, which didn’t match the concept.
How We Helped
After much dialogue and brainstorming we landed on key points, values, and a brand strategy that helped us find the perfect name: DIRT. The tagline, EAT CLEAN, accompanies as a play on the name. We created an impactful brand experience with the identity, marketing collateral, packaging, and consulted with the interior designer to ensure the brand experience was consistent.
We received consistent accolades for an impactful brand experience and a number of design awards for the campaign + logo. Jeff LaTulippe, DIRT’s Co-Founder + General Manager, stated “Although we’ve only been open for six months, our sales are approaching our total first-year projections, and our check average is double what we had thought it would be, in large part due to the strong brand identification that helium expertly developed.”
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2016 Gold ADDY Award // DIRT Branding Campaign
2016 Platinum Hermes Award // DIRT Identity Campaign
2016 Platinum Muse Creative Awards // DIRT Identity Campaign
2015 Silver ADDY Award // DIRT Logo
2015 Silver Communicator Award of Distinction // DIRT Logo
2015 Gold Davey Award // DIRT Packaging
Jeff LaTulippe [DIRT’s Co-Founder + General Manager] //
“helium’s work to craft a unique, clean aesthetic for DIRT was outstanding. Virtually every day we receive compliments about some element of our branding, from our juice and shot bottle labels to our takeaway bags to the feature wall displaying our core values.
on the name helium selected for DIRT //
“We chose the name DIRT to be provocative: The intention is to be short and to the point – to get people to eat clean, healthy, unprocessed fresh food, a lot of which is local. We wanted the design of DIRT to reflect that clean theme and also provide some irony. The name is DIRT, but the design is clean, bright and airy.”- as seen in Modern Luxury Magazine
on the interior design //
“One of our big values is transparency, so we wanted a special way to show where our food comes from…we decided to go with this copper wall, so the first thing you see is a map of Florida and the world. Seldom Seamed, [introduced to us by helium creative] a husband and wife in Lake Worth, Nick and Ashley Nardone, created it. Transparency was the reason for starting the business, and it’s right there as soon as you walk in the door.”
2016 South Florida Rising Star Best New Concept Award //
q- “What’s the concept behind DIRT?”
a- “Fine food, fast. Chef made and driven, high-quality food. Fast casual setting with an emphasis on premium ingredients: local, organic, sustainable. We wanted to create a concept that brings everything together, not just chef-driven, local, etc. We wanted to create something that would have those elements, and that would be approachable from a price and dietary standpoint.”
DiningOut Miami: Eating Dirt Never Tasted So Good //
“At 1,300 square feet and about 40 seats, the space is intimate but bright and airy. Just past the main entrance, there’s a copper wall with an intricate map of Florida showing where DIRT sources much of its local food. “Our values include honesty and transparency,” LaTulippe says. “This helps keep people informed.”
Modern Luxury Magazine article- The Beach: Getting Clean //
“The tabletops have sharp edges, and that’s a look that aligns well with our logo – the square around the letters and the tilt of the “I”. A Fort Lauderdale firm called helium creative helped us with our logo and labels and other branding elements.
A Detailed Look at Creating the Brand
When developing a brand’s strategy we ask ourselves, what makes the brand unique? How are they going to stand out from the herd, and who are they talking to? We developed positioning + mission statements and identified key terms to define who DIRT is and why they do what they do unlike anyone else.
DIRT is a progressive eatery focused on seasonal, local ingredients;
cultivating an approachable, transparent, community-oriented environment
rooted in a fully sustainable cycle of farm to plate then back to dirt.
DIRT’s mission is simple and straightforward: To deliver innovative, delicious, healthy cuisine with excellent hospitality in a clean, uplifting environment that you can enjoy at any time of day.
These keywords not only are used to describe DIRT, but also build the foundation for their core values. These terms act as the roots for who DIRT is.
Transparent, Authenticity, Sustainability, Gather, Local
Knowing your market is crucial when understanding whom to target. The DIRT customer is anyone and everyone who loves delicious, health-conscious cuisine, coffee, treats, juices or just a cool environment. The customer is the heartbeat of DIRT. People who care, who are excited by life. They are of all ages, races, colors, cultures, shapes and sizes. They are the vegans, the vegetarians, the meat-lovers, the tree huggers. Coffee addicts, juice fiends, beach bums, office dwellers, gym rats. Moms and dads, kids and pets. But most importantly, they are hungry.
Having the story + brand statements solidified and audience identified, we scoured the Internet for inspiration images to set the visual tone for the brand. Imagery was woven throughout all advertising, promotional, and brand related material communicating the brand story in a compelling and engaging way. These visual references offer insight into the mood of the company and how the market will perceive the brand.
DIRT’s tone is modern meets rustic: where emphasis on the fluid and organic lines of abstract textures contrast the precise qualities of sharp, sleek counterparts. An essence of comfort and freshness, hearty meals, and the feeling of an innovative community.
The DIRT concept was inspired by very minimal design, clean graphics, and strong typography. We wanted to enforce that feeling of transparency, allowing the design to be straight-forward and uncomplicated, simple in its aesthetic, but bold in presence. One that easily stood strong against competitors. Glass, translucent materials, light [white] colors aid in setting an implied feeling of openness and transparency. The vibrancy of fresh greens, plants and open space offer a brightness that will be a natural connection with DIRT from all design points. Black and white became the main graphic colors.
The logo for DIRT was intended to be stripped down, highlighting the modern and fresh approach to the restaurant. The slight angle of the “I” not only breaks up the linear and straight-forward visual properties of the logo, but also serves as a brand identifier. Knowing the logo would be used on juice bottles, signage, over digital platforms, and retail merchandise, we had to not only simplify the mark but also create something bold and memorable.
The DIRT icon set is loose and organic to contrast the linear and stark presence of the logo and materials. They reinforce the natural, handmade, organic feel of the brand while incorporating a bit of whimsy. These icons denote the various dietary and meal types at DIRT and can be used to identify accordingly or as design elements on branded material. They can be used with or without the associated word. The hand-drawn icons have been used on all of the packaging and have been brought to life by Nick and Ashley of Seldom Seamed [who we introduced to DIRT] in the form of copper wire sculptures that hold table numbers.
The overall approach to DIRT’s appearance relies heavily on the textures, paper choices, and emphasis on color that is used in its materials for packaging, marketing collateral, and stationery. Crisp, clear, modern glass ties into the transparency DIRT desires when presenting produce, while usage of environmental + vellum paper brings in a rustic touch. Lighter, refined woods that go against the ‘rustic’ feel are used. A mix of copper, glass, sheer papers, crisp lighting, and organic icons help define the overall brand look and feel of DIRT.
With the foundation created, we were able to carry out all additional brand materials. Cold-pressed juice bottle labels, cold brew labels, coffee bags, menus, cups, stickers, and a slew of other marketing materials have been designed to tie the DIRT brand together. The packaging, signage, imagery and collateral all communicate the brand. When these elements join together the true essence of the brand is expressed.
It was great working with the DIRT team and we’re happy to have created an impactful brand that accurately reflects the founder’s values.
Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear what you think!
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