Nineteen, one of our favourite Edmonton restaurants, used to be a dining room for members of the Blackhawk Golf Club. They opened their doors to the public several years ago, but they still had that reputation for being a "fine dining" restaurant. And as a result, people were surprised when they got inside and discovered a pretty casual atmosphere.
We sat down for an interview and discovery session (all right, there was some menu sampling, too) with Chef Andrew and General Manager Nicole Hewson. Over dinner, we discussed what they considered their weaknesses and what kind of message they wanted to send out to the public.
We looked at the entire scope of the brand, figured out what people’s perceptions of the restaurant were, and identified the stress points that could make or break a customer’s decision to eat there. It became clear that what Nineteen needed was a friendlier brand image that matched up with who they were: a great dinner choice for jeans and power suits at the same time.
Adjust Nineteen's brand to align with the restaurant's personality.
The identity itself was great: simple, bold, and clever. The more we looked at it, the more we loved the simple shapes, the Roman numeral abbreviation for 19, and the near-symmetrical type. In fact, it was so great that we didn’t want to change a thing. All we did was add an alternate lightweight logo to balance out the page in certain designs.
But there weren’t many supporting graphic elements that could span the entire brand. The menus and website seemed to be independent of each other; we wanted to unify all the different pieces under the Nineteen umbrella.
We were inspired by a version of the logo on the original menus. The letters XIX formed a set of triangles, which fit perfectly with the geometric logo.
We expanded on the idea to create a changing tangram pattern that would be slightly different for every piece of the Nineteen brand. That way, whether the customer was visiting the website or the physical location, the brand would be consistent wherever they went.
Everyone who comes to Nineteen loves what they see and keeps coming back. But Nineteen’s old ads and imagery weren’t communicating the right tone to the outside world. Both Nicole and Andrew wanted to fix that. The messaging needed to be unpretentious and accessible, and it had to challenge the "fine dining experience" image that people associated with Nineteen.
"We are happy when people just feel like having a tuna twist and a beer. We are a comfortable place." —Chef Andrew Fung
When we took a look at the ads Nineteen had run in the past, we saw that they were geared toward upscale clients with statements like "Be demanding." With that line, it was no surprise that Nineteen was getting a reputation for high-class dining. If they wanted to reach a wider audience, the message needed to say, "Be content."
We worked with Curtis from Curtis Comeau Photography to develop these ads. This took the form of a top-down shot with no cutlery or extra clutter, just strong lighting and a sharp focus on the food.
The images of Chef Andrew’s incredible food can’t help but grab attention. The images assume the hero role, while the messaging takes a supporting role as the sidekick. Together they emphasize Nineteen’s menu and atmosphere with a clean, crisp look that makes it immediately apparent who they are, what they do, and how they do it.
When we started work, Nineteen already had a solid web presence. They were active and engaging on their social media accounts, and the well-built website made for a nice handheld experience on mobile devices.
We also lightened the overall tone of the site to align it more closely with the real physical location. The original photos on the site were classic "fine dining": white tablecloths, fine china, low lighting. We chose newer, brighter photos to show off how cozy and eclectic the space is.