When we opened this month’s HOW magazine, we were so excited to see an awesome feature of the brand development we did for DIRT, a health-food made fast restaurant in Miami Beach.
We are so proud of this project and it made us smile to see “Outstanding Achievement” recognition in one of our favorite design mags! We want to make sure you can read the feature so we typed it out nice + neat for you. 😉
The helium creative team was handed a tall order back in 2014: “We were approached by the founders of [a] restaurant concept to create a brand that would have a bold presence within a saturated marketplace of organic, locally grown foods in South Beach, [FL], “says art director Ryan Sirois. helium tackled everything from the naming process to the brand experience and identity, and DIRT officially launched in December of 2015. “We knew the concept would eventually grow to multiple locations, so we made sure to achieve a look and feel with broad appeal,” Sirois adds.
helium aimed to ahieve a clean, modern aesthetic that allows the ingredients and food to be showcased, keeping in line with DIRT’s mission for quality ingredients, love for great food and transparency. “We kept the overall brand black and white, stripped down and linear so the vibrant colors and textures of their food and juices became a prime communicator in their experience,” Sirois says.
The client was on board with both the name and the identity almost from the start. “Of course there is always concern or pushback when you present a name like DIRT for a restaurant,” Sirois says. “But it works.”
Sirois says the studio is most proud of the response DIRT has received from customers. The founder of DIRT says they approached their Year 1 sales projections within the first six months, and he attributes that largely to the brand.
“The brand police did a great job here,” says judge Scott Maney. “It’s not easy designing something this elegant, this smart, this fun, this cool and [being] this consistent. Somewhere along the line it inevitable drops a turd. DIRT is clean. I love everything about it.”
Baird is a global coastal engineering firm based in Canada with over 3 decades of experience. The firm’s CEO, Kevin Macintosh, came to helium for a brand refresh.
We flew to Ottawa for a Discovery Session to kick of the process. Hours were spent discussing the company history, their core objectives, the the underlying passion and what they love about the industry. We were quick to find that Baird loves a challenge, the opportunity to solve a puzzle, the unknown. Finding solutions to advance science and engineering methods where water meets land. This approach to coastal engineering places Baird at the forefront of their industry as true pioneers who set forth to change the world; one shoreline, one coastline, one ocean, lake or river at a time.
And there it was.
The foundation for helium to begin building the framework. The new Baird story is inspired by the idea of pioneering. A company of true visionaries. From this core brand concept we developed a strategy [which we talked about in detail in a past blog post] and identity.
The idea of Baird as modern day pioneers of coastal engineering is a driving force behind the brand inspiration and style. We naturally found inspiration rooted in the ocean, old-school exploration, structure and weathered material.
Modern meets classic. Nostalgic tones and inspiration are countered with fresh perspective. Varied colors of water and mist dominate the Baird palette. Shades of blue align with cool grays to paint a moody, strong visual representation of a brand that appreciates tradition while constantly looking forward. Deeper tones are incorporated as grounding elements to offer an earthy feel with a powerful aesthetic.
The result is a timeless approach with organic elements that convey an appreciation for our environment. An identity to express the experience, trust, and authority of Baird.
We positioned Baird as a company who pioneers coastal engineering with an unyielding passion for discovery and creative solutions. With over 35 years of experience exclusively in coastal engineering, Baird has developed unrivaled ingenuity and expertise. They view challenges from every possible and impossible angle, creating cost-effective solutions that exceed client expectations.
The logo and tagline for Baird is intended to build off the brand history, capitalizing on the original Baird typeface by bringing it into a modern, timeless visual presence. A bold font selection punctuated with a period communicates the strength and authority of the Baird brand.
Business cards, letterhead, eye-catching brand elements and teaser website have been created to ensure this innovative brand is always putting their best foot forward.
Chris + Ryan flew to Canada for the annual company retreat to introduce Baird’s employees to the new brand. Everyone received some sweet swag – a S’well bottle, t-shirt, USB thumb drives and new business cards. The new logo was front and center on all materials.
For more brand development, inspiration and design, follow @heliumcreative on Instagram, Facebook + Twitter!
We were pretty psyched when we were contacted to create the brand development + website design for the next major e-commerce brand + website for backpacks; a lifestyle brand to stand behind the name Backpacks.com.
We equated this brand development project to our favorite coffee brand. When someone wants coffee, it is known that a Starbucks run is on the horizon, without thought of going anywhere else. Not that cute cafe around the corner. Not even that old donut shop, I mean, Dunkin’ Donuts. Sorry double D.
When consumers think ‘backpack’ we wanted them to think Backpacks.com. The company got started on the right foot, seeing they owned the domain backpacks.com. With this strong foundation, helium had a solid platform to position the concept, create the story, define strategy, design the identity, set a tone for photography + videography, coordinate copy writing, then design the website. Backpacks.com was off to become the next big lifestyle brand with a tailored online experience and curated selection of backpacks to carry on your journey through life.
During our discovery meeting, a Backpacks.com team member told us his backpack was like a best friend. It traveled the world with him, carrying his most prized possessions. The necessities of life, the things he did not pack in a suitcase for fear of losing them.
The Backpacks.com story and its audience began to shape like the congealing of jello in the refrigerator. Nice use of simile, huh? We realized the root of this brand is the relationship a person has with their backpack. Throughout life transitions the one constant, the one continuous resource along the way is a backpack. Always there for the adventure; to support and carry the load so you can enjoy the ride. More than a backpack, it’s a companion for life-travelers.
Once the narrative was composed, the brand strategy fell into place. We positioned Backpacks.com as a brand for life-travelers seeking the perfect backpack to accompany their journey. Backpacks.com offers a curated selection of top brand products through an online tailored customer experience.
Backpacks.com is a timeless brand set to stand strong as the top online backpack retail experience. A refined brand emphasizing the idea that a backpack accompanies you along the journey through life, from childhood to adulthood.
Naturally the identity followed these footsteps. The logo was designed to pay homage to the patch found on so many backpacks throughout history. A functional design element one thinks of as inherent to the traditional backpack, this diamond shape became our icon. The goal was to own the backpacks space, so why not own the symbol associated with it. We paired the logo with: Along For The Journey. This tagline speaks to our initial story that the backpack is with your on your journey through life, it is the constant accessory that ‘has your back’. And the Backpacks.com brand is with you on that journey.
We drew visual inspiration from all over. A mood board was created to dictate future brand photography, the overall brand mood and style, color palette, language and typography.
With six lifestyle categories, we identified each with a corresponding name and color. The intention was to keep the color tonality sophisticated with the brand while speaking to the individual category. The Outdoor sector, for example, was assigned a deep green to resonate the feeling of nature.
Taking a cinematic photographic approach to visually tell the story of the Backpacks.com lifestyle, we asked our photography + videography team, The Guild Five 45, to make the audience feel as if they are watching a film, peering into intimate life moments. The tone is timeless with a sense of wanderlust + nostalgia. Gray, desaturated cool undertones juxtapose vibrant warmth for visual and verbal imagery that is cinematic. The images below are from the photoshoot for the Backpacks.com brand + website.
In the end, we crafted a unique, curated e-commerce brand experience designed to support a brand with aspirations of dominating the online backpack category, a brand competing with the likes of Amazon.com + Ebags.com. Strategy, identity, still imagery + video, and website design = a brand development + design project we are mighty proud of.
For more design, inspiration + brand development follow @heliumcreative on Instagram, Facebook + Twitter.
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!
Executive Summary 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.
About 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.
Challenges 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.”
2015 Silver Communicator Award of Distinction // DIRT Logo
2015 Gold Davey Award // DIRT Packaging
Testimonials 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 // http://www.starchefs.com/cook/events/rising-stars/2016/south-florida/jeff-latulippe 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 // http://dirteatclean.com/dirt-eat-clean-news/0416-eatingdirtnevertastedsogood “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 // http://dirteatclean.com/dirt-eat-clean-news/ “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
The Strategy 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.
Positioning 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.
Mission Statement 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.
Keywords 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
Audience 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.
Inspiration 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.
Mood 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.
Design 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.
Logo 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.
Icons 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.
Materials 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.
The Results 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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