Hanna Karraby and James Paris’ identity for Wim is a refreshing typographic take on cafe branding
The collaborative identity for the new Philadelphia-based coffee joint balances a heavy graphic logo with airy illustrations.
- Olivia Hingley
- 26 April 2023
Yowie is one of Philadelphia’s go-to independent shops for well-designed, creative goods. So when designer Hanna Karraby was approached by its founder Shannon Maldonado to create an identity for its new coffee branch, she instantly knew what the branding would need to emulate. To be situated in Yowie’s new multi-level space, the cafe would feature alongside the shop and a new hotel, creating a new hub for creatives. “The vision for Wim’s identity was to be both bold and welcoming, design-forward but approachable,” Hanna identifies. “It needed to have the same elevated, playful spirit as Yowie but with enough differentiation to stand on its own.”
To achieve this, Hanna set herself on creating a look that utilised a heavy wordmark and clean layout resulting in a “contemporary feel”, to be balanced with “imperfect” illustrations that simultaneously gave the overall design a more “down to earth and friendly” feel. This sense of balancing “visual weight” is something Hanna was keen to thread throughout the project as a whole. “While the logo feels heavy and graphic, the illustrations provide needed visual contrast in both style and weight,” she says. “Dense vs airy, light vs dark; I kept these ideas in mind while I started to build out the identity system.”
Finding the right typeface for the logo was the hardest part of the design process, Hanna explains. This is rooted in ‘Wim’ being such a “great word” to work with, and Hanna found herself making dozens of different logos with different typefaces in search for the right tone. Some felt too “retro” and some some too “contemporary and expressive”. After a long period of experimentation – in which Hanna is always “duplicating, adjusting, scrapping and moving” but “never deleting” – she finally came to the conclusion that a typeface from Benoît Bodhuin would suit the project perfectly. “The typeface hit every note that I wanted for Wim. The dense letterforms are such a bold statement, but still softened by exaggerated curves and dips,” Hanna says. The only adjustment Hanna made to the type was the “knockout dot” within the eye, a move inspired by his other type work.
Prior to the project’s beginnings, Shannon had expressed her wishes to have a “playful illustrative mark” to compliment the logo. With this in mind, Hanna enlisted the help of the designer James Paris, who created a whole series of characterful, line-based illustrations of hands. “I wanted a family of illustrations that would give WIM a strong neighbourhood identity,” Hanna says. Visually, James sought to reference traditional cartoon illustrations (like having four fingers on each hand as opposed to five) and drew each by hand before outlining them with InDesign. On the illustrations as a whole, James adds: “Hands are a very expressive element, we wave people into spaces, welcoming them with open arms. Aside from being an important symbol, the illustrations were meant to be fun and playful – to bring a hand-done feel to a type-heavy system.”
Overall, Hanna see’s the project as one made so successful by its collaborative element: the joining of two designers “who brought two different skill sets together to create a full identity”. This resulted in an overall look that represents the core of the brand, something Hannah summarises as “playful without being corny, experimental without being unapproachable”.
Hanna Karraby: WIM (Copyright © Hanna Karraby/WIM/Photography by Breanne Furlong, 2023)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.