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3 tips to establish a brand voice


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Sensory Branding Video

Table tent uses

In honor of National Beer Drinking Day…

Establish consistency with a brand handbook

Going green? Font matters

Wine Tasting- A sensory experience

Creative QR codes

Establish consistency with a brand handbook

A brand handbook is essential in establishing consistency within a brand. It is an internal document that conveys the company mission, vision, and visual standards. The following is a little bit more about the handbook:

What’s in it?

A brand handbook can contain various things. In general, it should have at least the following:

  • Cover
  • Table of contents
  • About the company
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values
  • Logo Usage – where and how the logo will be seen
  • Color specifications – Pantone, CMYK, RGB, Web Hex
  • Uses and Misuses of the logo
  • Typography – including font type, alignment, headers, sub-headers, etc.
  • Design Elements and/or variations of the logo
  • Publication examples
  • Contact information

Why is it important?

A brand handbook is important to have because it lays down rules for the elements that visually represent a brand. It is a resource for the ways in which a logo should and should not be used, what colors represent the brand, stock imagery that should be used in association with the brand, and what the company stands for.

The brand handbook also reflects the foundation and essence of a company. The brand handbook should serve as inspiration for not only marketing and design projects, but for strategic decisions about the growth and goals of the company.

Why standardization?

The elements in a brand handbook are important to standardize because these elements are the pillars supporting the brand. Standardizing the elements in a brand handbook ensures that their usage aligns with brand messaging, and that the brand is not diluted by inconsistencies. Logos, fonts, typeface, and layout are easy to distort, and if a brand doesn’t regulate the usage of these elements, the brand’s core message of  is harmed.

Establishing standards can also help reduce research and design time.  While still permitting certain creative liberties, standards ensure that messaging is consistent.

More on brand handbooks here and here

How typography influences menu design

In a previous post, we discussed a little bit about how typography can impact a menu, but we barely scratched the service on the influence it has on the restaurant brand experience.

A menu’s typeface, when put to correct use, can be the window into a restaurant’s kitchen, environment, and even its culture.  It can form the impression that keeps your guest entranced by your brand after they are greeted and seated, but before they taste the food you have to offer. While it may be tempting to get fancy and elaborate with fonts and typefaces, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, your guest must be able to read the items on your menu. This means that when choosing a font it is best to keep the lighting in the restaurant and the age of your customers in mind. You should also try to avoid clutter by spacing items and sections so guests can process what is on the menu. Everything associated with your specific restaurant brand should target your niche market and reflect its needs and tastes, including the readability of your menu.

There is some debate on the perception people have when they have trouble reading a menu. Some menu engineers say that the harder a menu is to read, the perceived value of the items increases, with some restaurants going so far as to hand out reading glasses to patrons, while others have seen a sales increase that coincides with better legibility.  Identifying your brand and target audience will help with choosing a specific theme for your typeface.  Keep in mind that if you do choose a hard-to-read font, you do not want to cross the line from “difficult and intriguing” to “impossible to see, I’m not coming back.”


Have you seen any menus that are hard to read and deterred you from returning? We’d love to hear about it!

Microsoft default typeface

When Microsoft changed its default typeface from Times New Roman (Word) and Arial (Powerpoint, Excel) to Calibri, you might have assumed that Microsoft decided it was time for something different. But in business, there is always a reason for change. In this case, the change reflects a culture shift. Do you print every e-mail you receive? Probably not. In our blog Font vs. Typeface, we discussed how sans serif typefaces increase readability on computer screens.

Calibri is a san serif typeface created specifically for Microsoft by Lucas de Groot. It is part of Microsoft’s ClearType technology. ClearType technology was created to “improve readability on LCD screens.” Because LCD screens are the status quo for computers, tablets, smart phones, netbooks, and notebooks, the shift to sans serif was the right choice.  Our culture thrives on mobility and adaptability, and Microsoft aimed to increase readability with the default typeface change.

Did you notice when Microsoft changed to Calibri?

Widows, orphans, and rags- Oh my!

Today we have a quick typography lesson regarding widows, orphans, and rags. Even if you’ve never heard these words associated with typography before, I’m sure you’ve seen them in your reading.

A widow is a single word or short line at the end of a paragraph.  Widows create too much white space in between paragraphs and break the reading pattern.

An orphan is one word or short line at the beginning of a paragraph.  Although less common than widows, they still affect readability.

A rag refers to the vertical margins of a paragraph or page.  Bad rags are uneven and irregular, whereas good rags are in line or have slight differences.

What other typography terms have you heard, but are unclear on their meanings? We’d love to know so we can post about those too!

Going green? Font matters







10 Sustainable tips for print and graphic design

1. Print in Century Gothic. Century Gothic uses 30% less ink than Arial, and is considered one of the most frugal fonts.

2. Use recycled paper. each 20 cases of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 390 gallons of oil, 7000 gallons of water, and 4100 kwh of energy. It also eliminates 60 pounds of air-polluting emissions and saves 8 cubic feet of landfill space. That’s a LOT of saving. (Bonus: some recycled paper products have an interesting texture creating a sensory design element!)

3. Buy paper derived from a sustainable forest. These trees are actually grown to be used for consumer products. The initiative has helped curb illegal logging and destruction of forests in North America.

4. Use soy based ink. It might dry a little slower, but soy based ink is much more environmentally friendly than it’s alternative which is petroleum based. (Bonus: provides more accurate colors!)

5. Alcohol free printing.

6. End product recyclable or biodegradable. Try to use products that are good for the environment even when you are done using them.

7. Shop locally. There are less transportation costs and resources used when you buy from the supplier down the street versus the supplier on the other side of the country.

8. Use digital options. Send out coupons through e-mail, and let consumers show their inboxes on their cell phones instead of asking them to print the e-mail.

9. Print double sided. Use less pages when possible.

10. Utilize page space. Why do you need margins that are 1.5 inches wide? Utilize the space on every page by decreasing margins and using a smaller font size.

Do you have any sustainability tips?

Menu Design: You think you’re ordering what you want, but you’re wrong. The psychology and design behind menus

A menu should reflect your business, entice your customers, and increase profits all at the same time.  These goals can be realized with the three secrets to menu design: typeface, overall aesthetic, and diction.


First, ask yourself a few questions.

  • What is the theme of the restaurant/menu?
  • What kind of feeling are you looking for? i.e. sophisticated, minimalist
  • What words describe the feeling you’re looking for?
  • What kind of lighting will there be when customers are reading the menu?
  • Are there any practical constraints? i.e. lighting and space

Take the answers to these questions, and choose a few fonts.  Then, with the fonts in mind, ask yourself a few more questions.

  • Is it easy to read?
  • Does it distract the reader?
  • Does it look to big or too small (usually font size over 12pt. is too big)?
  • Does it relate to the restaurant logo and other signage?

A study in Psychological Science states that, “People infer that if something on a menu is difficult or hard to understand or hard to read that it takes great skill and effort to prepare.”  Other menu experts disagree.  Founder and CEO of Quantified Marketing Group, Aaron Allen states that he raised sales of a restaurant just by making the font easier to read.  He suggests using simple language, few capital letters, and a sans-serif font.  Whichever method you decide, make sure you test it first!

Overall look of the Menu

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “menu engineering.”  Also referred to as menu psychology, it refers to “the field of study devoted to the deliberate and strategic construction of menus”.

Keep in mind where guests look the most on your menu.  On a three-page menu, the guest will look to the top right and left corner, and to the middle of the center page.  On a one-page menu, the guest will look to the area right above the center.  These are key places to position the restaurant’s most profitable items.

Prices should not be aligned to the right and stacked beneath one another.  Stacking allows the guest to find the cheapest item without even looking at the descriptions.  The price should be integrated with the description of the menu item and placed only a few spaces away from the last words of the description. The prices should not have “…” leading to them and should not be bold.  Bold prices give the guest the impression that the dish is more expensive than it actually is.

Photographs should be of fine quality.  Tantalizing pictures of food and drinks are going to make your guests want to try the item.  If a picture looks dull, or the color is off, the guest will think that it tastes dull too.  Photographs should be professional, bright, and vivid.

If you have specialty items, you want your guests to notice them.  Do this by making the items bold, using a different font, or adding a star or logo next to them.  Another group of items you want to stand out are the new dishes. Create menu inserts that are easily replaced when new items arrive.

Choosing the Right Words

How do you make a dish sound appetizing?  Evoke emotion in your descriptions, and view them as little advertisements for every dish.  Be specific: “with a hint of cinnamon,” “sautéed onions,” or “lightly sprinkled with parmesan.” Think of what flavors or spices are in the dish and then analyze the way it is prepared.  Use a dictionary or thesaurus as a resource to expand your food vocabulary.  Longer descriptions should be used on more profitable, specialty items.

Remember that your menu is a reflection of your restaurant.  It is brand identity that guests see over and over again.  Use your menu as the window into your guests’ heart and soul – and make sure you make a great impression!

Do you have a favorite menu? We’d love to hear about it!

Did you enjoy this? You might also like:

Using Menu Psychology to Entice Diners

Font vs. Typeface

Font? No, that’s a typeface.

But what is a typeface? What’s the difference between a typeface and a font? A font is defined as “a complete assortment of type of one style and size.” Typeface is the design of a font. It’s art. For example, Times New Roman is a typeface. Font gets more specific. Times New Roman 12pt Bold is a font.

Typefaces can be overwhelming at times.  While you might want to pick a typeface based solely on what you like, there are some basic guidelines for selection.

The basics:

Serif: a small line used to embellish a letter. Serifs improve readability by leading the eye along the line of type. Example: Times New Roman

Sans serif: use for website.  The serifs tend to blend together in lower resolution. Example: Century Gothic

Monospace: every letter takes up the same amount of space.  Example: Courier

Script fonts: exactly what it sounds like, these fonts are meant to emulate script handwriting, but can be difficult to read.  Example: Lucida Handwriting

Tracking: The average space between characters in a block of text.
Kerning: The horizontal space between characters in a line of text. The goal is to make text easier to read by creating visually equal space between characters.

Leading: Space between the lines of text in a document. The looser the leading, the more readable a document is.

For more typographic terms, see Adobe’s Type Glossary

Stimulating take on Typography.

Beauty is it’s own excuse for being…. so very true. This fun video is not only visually stimulating but really uses all five senses. Handcrafted with love by BYU design students and faculty, for the 5th Typophile Film Festival. A visual typographic feast about the five senses, and how they contribute to and enhance our creativity. Everything in the film is real—no CG effects!

See more at Phoenix Design Week on October 23rd. As a founding supporter I plan on being there!