BRAND DEVELOPMENT. DESIGN DIRECTION.
SmokeEaters Hot Wings
I was contacted by a restaurant group in the midst of being sued for copyright infringement. They had broken from their franchise group and were being forced into a soup to nuts rebrand. They had a successful business to maintain while needing to change everything. Within a few months, I helped them develop a brand they could call their own and created the tools that fueled further expansion.
During this project, I was responsible for coming up with the concept for the restaurant's theme, naming & identity design, brand design, interior design, website, display ads, menu design, posters, specials, and even a food challenge that was featured on the Travel Channels, Man vs. Food.
Before any ideas were discussed or concepts explored I spent hundreds of hours talking to their customers. Their restaurants had a hardcore following and the first goal was to uncover what kept this place packed all the time. The answer was the spicy heat of their food and the beer selection that put the flames out. The largest crowds came in during major sporting events so I used these aspects as the cornerstones of the rebrand.
When starting a project of this size it is important to understand a brand's connection to its customers. Drastic change is not always a comfortable process and if done without your customers in mind you could stand to lose the business you're trying to maintain.
The restaurants are bustling, seating is hard to come by, and square footage is limited, which creates a lively atmosphere. My goal was to translate this energy to their website while keeping a solid structure, so pertinent information was easy to find.
The majority of SmokeEaters customers were college students, so the vernacular was not only casual but often sophomoric and fun. The goal was to understand who their customers were and talk in their language. This targeted display campaign raised their home delivery business by almost 40%.
To reinforce the main brand attribute of having REALLY hot, hot wings we created the food challenge which became massively popular and attracted the TV show, "Man vs Food". Eat a dozen of the hottest wings on the planet in ten minutes and win a t-shirt and earn your place on the coveted "Hall of Flame".
The name "SmokeEaters" is a term firefighters use to refer to themselves. I felt this was a great subject matter for a sports team looking logo and the rest of the deliverables rallied around this idea.
SmokeEaters quickly grew as a chain after the rebrand, and with any significant expansion comes its own set of challenges. I built a brand book to share with vendors and new owners to help them hold the new brand together and keep the look consistent.
SEVEN LEVELS OF HEAT
In-order to reinforce that SmokeEaters sold the hottest wings known to man, we created a heat scale in the form of a towering inferno to illustrate what people were getting themselves into.
LET THE PUBLIC KNOW
So people knew that a change was happening we created posters, display ads, and reskinned the website as part of our brand launch. This campaign also included in-store signage and apparel design for all of the employees.