Case Studies

The Oak Stave Branding & Campaign

The founders of the Oak Stave, Anthony Insinna and Russ Gugino, are longtime friends and entrepreneurs. They saw opportunity in bringing the experience of a hip, upscale city-style restaurant to the suburbs, so they approached LUMINUS to design a handful of assets for an original brand they'd devised on their own.

As it turned out, the brand they wanted to create already existed. So Anthony and Russ decided to start from scratch with a new idea that could still deliver on that experience. They asked LUMINUS to help them build a successful brand that would resonate with their customers and stand the test of time: the Oak Stave.

We were able to build this brand from the ground up, starting with a name and moving on to more complex components of the brand like the creed, values, voice, and more. We also provided visual assets like a logo, website, icons, coasters, menus, and a variety of other assets. Working together with Anthony and Russ, we were able to create a brand that works hard and delivers on its promise.

Breakdown of services

Logo Design
Brand Identity
Responsive Web Design
Marketing Materials
Creative Campaigns
Social Media
1
NAME

The name of a business is an integral part of the branding process, and we wanted to be sure that the name of the restaurant properly addressed Anthony and Russ's vision. In order to do this, we discussed what they were trying to accomplish and how the demographic and location played a part.

More specifically, we needed to determine what kind of restaurant we'd be creating. 

Broadly, we thought the restaurant would best fit one of four categories:

  • Traditional: something everyone is already familiar with. They'd pick a type of cuisine (American, German, Italian, etc) and run with it.
  • New Age/Experimental: a restaurant that serves cuisine you can't find elsewhere, with drinks mixed by modern mixologists.
  • Hip: a place you go to find a new twist on the traditional. The trappings of the traditional, comfortable experience would be there but the bartenders and the chef would experiment with old favorites.
  • Traditional/Hip: we'd put less emphasis on experimentation and more on getting the best of a traditional experience right. Food and drink would be high quality and have a back story that connoisseurs would connect with. 

Working with the client to get the perfect name, we went through a detailed analysis of each option. We had a spirited discussion where we slowly eliminated names that didn’t pass the test. Every potential brand we pitched had its strengths, but collectively we felt like The Oak Stave represented our best chance of building a strong and lasting brand that would resonate with Anthony and Russ’s demographic. 

2
CORE FUNDAMENTALS

Brands capable of creating true connection and belonging are more than logos, icons and taglines. They are self-sustaining symbolic systems that communicate a variety of complementary meanings meant to support a consistent message and reinforce belief. The “core fundamentals” are the foundational aspects of these symbolic systems.

For the Stave, our basic mission was to build a brand that paid homage to hard work and a job well done. The core fundamentals gave us different avenues where we could explore that idea.

THE CREATION STORY

The creation story humanizes your brand while mythologizing your journey. It tells the story of where you came from and why you exist, arranging these elements into a distinct narrative that people can easily understand and remember.

For the Stave, the creation story begins when the founders, Anthony and Russ, approached us for help designing assets for a pub that would bring the feel of a hip, new downtown restaurant to the suburbs. They already had a brand in mind and were ready to present it to investors when they discovered that the name was already taken.

Many people might have been discouraged at this point, but Anthony and Russ’s lifelong entrepreneurial spirits have made them into men who view challenge as a necessary component of success. So they resolved to come up with something totally new and came back to us for guidance.

Together, we spent the next few weeks in a healthy debate over how to build the most successful brand possible. We went through lists of names and potential identities, all of which would have made viable brands.

In the end, though, we ended up building the brand that emblemized the hard work and reward that characterized the entire process: the Oak Stave.

 

CREED

The creed is a summation of the principles you stand for and the goals that you hope to achieve. More than a mission statement, the creed should speak not just to business outcomes but to the distinct values that your organization stands for.

For the Stave, we chose “Work hard. Savor the reward.”

The aspiration behind the Stave was that a job well done deserves more than just thanks. It deserves respect. This creed positioned the Stave as a brand that understood the struggle and satisfaction of a hard day’s work and the ideal place to visit when you deserve to be rewarded.

VALUES

Values do more than guide business decisions - they’re the foundation of the belief system that your brand creates, helping to craft a consistent identity and to give your audience something to believe in.

For the Stave, we chose the values that we wanted to live and honor the most with our brand: passion, craftsmanship, honor and authenticity.

ICONS

Much of the Oak Stave’s visual identity stems from the repeated use of icons that tell the story of the distilling process. These icons demonstrate just how much hard work goes into every single drink that the Stave’s patrons enjoy.

RITUALS

Icons are dense concentrations of meaning that also serve as shorthand for your brand. Logos are the most commonly recognized visual icons, but everything from sounds to scents to people can be icons as well.

We designed icons that would pay homage to the distilling process, telling the story of every drink that the bartenders at the Stave pour.

LEADERS

A brand’s leaders are not necessarily the people in charge of day-to-day operation. They’re the people with the vision that defined the brand in the first place and who best exemplify the brand’s values. The leaders for the Stave, of course, are the founders Russ and Anthony. They combined a good idea with the grit and entrepreneurial spirit necessary to make it a reality, showcasing the value of hard work, independence and determination.

BELIEVERS

Believers are those members of your audience that have become more than just customers. They’re evangelists for your brand that will actively promote it to their peers and fiercely defend it against rivals.

The opposite of believers are pagans, those who will never understand or be a part of your brand.

Believers for the Stave, basically, were hardworking folks interested in an elevated, engaged experience. They’ve earned a reward and they intend to have it.

Pagans, on the other hand, were people without the time or the desire to sit down and really savor an experience. Maybe they need to feed the whole family, fast. Maybe they’re more interested in getting drunk than enjoying their drink. In any case, they’re better off stopping somewhere else.

VOICE & TONE

Brand voice and tone helps to determine what you say and how you say it. Defining the voice and tone makes the daily task of writing copy easier, but it also provides consistent guidelines that help your brand to come a little bit more to life every time it speaks.

For the Stave, we devised two brand voices: one for written communication and one for spoken communication.

Written brand copy speaks from the position of the master to the apprentice. It is authoritative and respectful, empowering the patron to be their best self.

Spoken communication, on the other hand, should treat each patron as a valued individual and as an equal. Authenticity is encouraged. Questions should be answered honestly. Regulars should be remembered. Pride in serving the customer should always shine through.

3
LOGO

The idea for the logo came directly out of our initial conversations about the name The Oak Stave. We knew that we wanted to serve the types of people who cared not just about drinking their drink but about where it came from and how it was made. We traced that process back from bottling to distilling to the barrel itself and finally to the figure of The Cooper, who would become the face of the Stave.

Before we put pencil to paper, we spent some time researching other pubs to find visual identities we liked. We were drawn to designs from the first half of the 1900s that shared a rustic, industrial feel. They were designs that we could just as easily imagine on whiskey bottle labels or branded onto the sides of barrels.

Logo designer John English took this feel and started hand lettering out some potential logos. 

Meanwhile, Mike created the illustration of the Cooper that would become the logo's centerpiece. After Mike sketched the Cooper out by hand, English helped him to clean it up, producing the final, simplified illustration that would make it to the final logo. 

The logo ended up going through many variations as Russ and Anthony offered their feedback.

Finally, we settled on the Oak Stave logo that we have today.

4
TRADITIONAL ELEMENT DESIGN

To extend the brand's message into the physical realm, we took time to design branded elements that would be used within the restaurant. 

ICONS

Icons are dense concentrations of meaning that also serve as shorthand for your brand. Logos are the most commonly recognized visual icons, but everything from sounds to scents to people can be icons as well.

We designed icons that would pay homage to the distilling process, telling the story of every drink that the bartenders at the Stave pour.

COASTERS

Coasters are a small but present way to communicate the Oak Stave brand values. We designed coasters with unique quotes to the Oak Stave, supporting the brand’s messaging in the voice of the Cooper. 

MENU

Our main focus was to design a menu to be in line with brand standards and remain easy to read. We opted for ingredient listing instead of flowery descriptions, which was more in line with the Oak Stave’s brand: keeping things simple and letting the work speak for itself.

Choosing a type of paper for menu was a big decision for us. Instead of choosing a “rustic” feel which would feel used and worn, we went with a pristine white paper. The perfectly white paper would contrast the dark textures and dim lighting of the restaurant, but also paid honor to the craftsmanship in making something pure, bright and pristine.

In order to print the menus, we had to find printers who would be able to deliver exactly what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a pristine look, but we also knew there was a potential for foil or letterpress. We sought out two craftsmen in Orchard Park: menus, business cards and coasters would be printed on 100 year old letterpresses, made with attention to detail and precision.

To deliver the menu to the tables, we designed a menu board that was interesting, functional and completely on-brand. In order to do this, we created a wooden, hand-cut menu board branded with the Oak Stave logo.

MISC

We also designed uniforms, drink tokens, merch, website and other small pieces of collateral.

5
DIGITAL ELEMENT DESIGN

We wanted to support the Oak Stave's brand with a strong social media presence. Before the grand opening of the restaurant, we generated buzz on Facebook and Instagram by using branded digital elements and sneak previews of menu items. We were able to grow the Oak Stave's following on Facebook to over 1,000 followers by opening night. 

6
ENVIRONMENT DESIGN

The design of the restaurant is a major way to communicate the brand without seeming kitschy. If the brand were to be implemented incorrectly, an entirely different message would be conveyed to the clientele. In order to promote purposeful use of the brand, we created a brand styleboard that the client could use as a reference while designing the interior of the restaurant. 

Additionally, we put together some idea boards for the client to reference, such as bar types and lighting ideas. We wanted the interior to draw on concepts from the overall brand without being too obvious.

Finally, Mike and John went on-premises to add the finishing touches. They painted the icon set on the wall, as well as a mural of the Cooper behind the bar to visually tie the brand together.

7
CONCLUSION

The Oak Stave branding project wrapped up with the creation of a brand book which Anthony and Russ could use to shape their restaurant going forward. 

Brand books are, essentially, the brand's bible. They lay out the brand's core fundamentals, story, value and mission in exact terms so that the leaders of the brand always have reference point for their decision making. The brand book also included an extensive style guide that ensures any assets the Stave creates in the future will be on brand.

The core of the brand is hard work, and we definitely worked hard to make the Stave a reality. So did Anthony and Russ. When their first idea for a restaurant didn't pan out, they could have done any number of things. They chose, however, to persevere and work with us to create something totally new.

That hardworking spirit and devotion to craft is exactly what we intend to honor with the Oak Stave, both as a brand and as a restaurant. 

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