Collins rebrands healthy fast food chain Sweetgreen to infuse it with humour and versatility

The updated identity includes signage, advertising, social, digital products, packaging and team uniforms, achieved through bespoke illustration, photography and two typefaces named SweetSans and Grenette.

Date
8 June 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

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Independent strategy, design and communications company Collins has rebranded the identity for healthy fast food chain, Sweetgreen. The rebrand includes an update of the store design signage systems, marketing advertising, social channels, digital products, packaging, and new team member uniforms. In doing so, the design team has produced a series of bespoke illustrations, custom typefaces, photography and evolved colour palettes to reimagine the future of fast food.

An American fast food restaurant chain that serves salads, Sweetgreen was founded in 2007 by Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman, three months after graduating from Georgetown University’s undergraduate business school. In their senior year, they opened a 500 square-foot restaurant and started serving salads made with organic produce. The business grew quickly and now there’s over 120 locations serving local and healthy ingredients to locals daily; Brian Okarski has also recently been named design director of the brand.

After gaining momentum, Sweetgreen realised its need for an updated identity system that better reflected its goals – or as Thomas Wilder, executive creative director at Sweetgreen puts it, to “amplify and accelerate our mission of connecting more people to real food.” And that’s where Collins was brought in. “The Sweetgreen identity builds on what was already strong – key elements like a core palette of greens and the logo,” explains Alex Wallace, from Collins. “It will still feel familiar to anyone who already loves the brand. We were able to amplify those core elements into a stronger foundation. We then built a more diverse, flexible set of tools that will allow Sweetgreen to tackle new challenges and emerging opportunities with greater coherence and logic, as they work to shape the future of food for the better.”

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Copyright © Collins and Sweetgreen, 2021

The team decided on a custom sans serif named SweetSans, “inspired by signage found throughout Los Angeles, specifically around the Silver Lake Reservoir,” says Thomas. Created in partnership with Jeremy Michel of LA-based type foundry MCKL Type, the font feels like a natural fit for the identity considering the Sweetgreen headquarters are also based in the city. “Our new type system is much more expressive,” adds Sanuk Kim from Collins. The primary typeface of SweetFace is complimented by a secondary typeface named Grenette, designed by type foundry Colophon. “It’s a unique and contemporary re-imagination of an old style serif, reminiscent of typography you couldn’t find in a chef’s cookbook,” continues Sanuk. “Together, these typefaces allow for an extremely versatile typographic voice.”

The custom typefaces are coupled with a redrawn wordmark created in partnership CKL Type, Collins and the in-house brand studio. “The monogram and wordmark are bolder, stronger and showcase the mindfulness, care and craft that Sweetgreen puts into everything they do,” says Thomas. “The letterforms are all based on our custom typeface but have been redrawn and re-spaced specifically for the mark and monogram.”

As for the illustrations, the team were inspired by mid-century cookbooks and gardening publications. As such, Sanuk decided to partner with Zuzanna Rogatty, a colleague at Collins, for the creation of the illustrations. “We melded our brains and created a style that is representative of Sweetgreen’s ethos of respecting the land, farmers and people,” says Sanuk. “We also didn’t want to forget that food should be fun! So, we want to make sure we captured a sense of light-hearted humour to the illustrations. By infusing a touch of surrealism with our larger-than-life ingredients, we were able to keep the style light and playful while also amplifying Sweetgreen’s ethos of scratch cooking.” Once achieved, the team reached out to California-based illustrator Min Heo who created a “rich illustrative world” for Sweetgreen.

Photography and colour also plays a key part in the redesign, which sees the team opt for an expanded colour palette to “allow for increased flexibility across all communications,” explains Thomas. Inspired by vintage food, travel and adventure catalogues, the aesthetic is “designed to transport you to places or invite a food memory,” he adds.

More information about the rebrand can be found here.

GalleryCopyright © Collins and Sweetgreen, 2021

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Copyright © Collins and sweetgreen, 2021

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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