Over the last 2 years the Frankie & Benny’s brand had been through several strategic changes and had moved too far away from its Italian American heritage by adopting a child-like style in order to focus on targeting families.
The aim of the visual identity refresh project was to grow brand affinity & consideration by bringing back the “old Frankie & Benny’s” with a modern feel, to give customers the nostalgic New York Italian experience they'd missed.
Revised brand attributes to communicate:
• Italian American
• Warm, friendly and natural
• Passionate and energetic
• Sassy, confident and bold
Creative ideation process
Thorough study of the multiple market research and customer insight documents created by an external management consultancy
Define brand voice and customer insights
From huge amounts of data, I collated the most relevant information on Frankie & Benny's customers and summarised the desired tone of voice
To better understand the competitors, our team:
• Visited their websites
• Followed them on social media and read the comments on their posts
• Signed up to their marketing emails
• Visited their restaurants and took photos of their POS
• Screenshot any online ads we came across
From all this research, we collated a large amount of information on their graphic styles, which helped me to figure out how Frankie & Benny's could visually stand out within the market
We created moodboards for each tone of voice aspect, and from there, explored various design, typography and photography styles in order to figure out how to visually differentiate Frankie & Benny's within the market.
Throughout the ideation process, I regularly presented to the Brand & Strategy director, brand manager and the rest of the team for feedback. This helped me to understand fresh perspectives, iron out any ambiguity and continually improve the designs.
Learn & adapt
Following early feedback from online quant surveys, I developed the designs further and tested different creative routes at 2 separate focus groups:
• Adults with young children
• Pre-family aged 20-45 yrs
Final creative execution
By relentlessly focusing on the customer throughout the creative ideation process, we successfully achieved a unanimous preference for a single creative route from 2 different sets of focus groups.
This was because it evoked nostalgia, was eye-catching and felt friendly, fun and bold.
Tone of voice
To communicate the desired energetic & confident brand personality, I used a close-up, angled check pattern, which was inspired by the restaurant plate designs and wall tiles.
To convey a natural and friendly tone, an easy-to-read handwritten typeface was chosen for understated, brand-led designs, (e.g. menus) as well as sign-offs and to emphasise important words in value messaging.
In conjunction with the handwritten typeface, a bold yet friendly serif typeface was chosen for designs that needed to achieve clarity and instant impact.
To make key campaigns eye-catching and fun, the lettering playfully tucks behind parts of the food or plate. More direct, simpler type treatment is used for value-led communications (see 2 designs below)
To emphasise the brand's New York Italian heritage and evoke nostalgia, I integrated B&W photography into the designs. This was inspired by the framed vintage photography within restaurants.
Cues of the Italian flag came through via the red and green, which were darkened for a less juvenile feel.
I reverted back to the original, less child-like, Frankie & Benny’s logo as the natural handwriting style felt more approachable and was more recognisable. Both of these benefits helping to increase brand affinity.
New photography direction
Immediately moved away from the brash look of cut-out food on bright colour backgrounds and focused on emphasising the quality of the dishes.
For the latest menu designs, we trialled overhead photography, giving the menu pages a top-down table setting look. This was unanimously preferred at 2 focus groups.
On social platforms, a more relaxed and natural photography style was used, with people interacting with their food and enjoying themselves. This emulated the messy yet joyful feel of Italian American family gatherings.
Collaboration with the internal digital team to devise the most effective implementation of the rebrand across email, social, display ads and website
NOTE: Mobile versions shown because the vast majority of users view on mobile devices rather than desktop
More engaging social media
To improve effectiveness on our social platforms, we tried new ways to creatively communicate our key brand messages by utilising more stories, carousel ads, Facebook Instant experience and video. This led to increased traffic to the website to take action.
Data-driven online ads
We tested animated branded ads against dynamic static ads, where text and image are auto-selected for optimum results.
For the majority of campaigns, we decided to use the better-performing dynamic ads to:
• produce targeted ad content quickly
• be reactive
• stand out from competitors' offers
• continuously refine our messages
At the start of 2020 we began to utilise the innovative Movable Ink platform to create data-driven personalisation and interactive experiences to strengthen brand affinity, increase engagement and drive traffic to the website.
This birthday email features a personalised balloon and interactive scratch-off presents that lead the recipient to a webpage where they can virtually scratch off the wrapping paper to reveal their birthday treats.
Future email ideas include:
• Content relevant to location
• Map showing your nearest restaurant
• Weather-dependent content
• Live polls
• Countdown clock to key date, e.g. menu launch
• Video content
Website & app redesign (WIP)
1. Data analysis and user testing
I had started working on new designs for the Frankie & Benny's website to iron out user problems and create a quicker and easier-to-use guest experience in order to:
• Increase table bookings
• Increase Click & Collect orders
• Increase delivery orders
• Increase menu views
(All with less uptake of offers)
I began by analysing existing user data with the Digital Marketing Manager to define each customer journey (booking, ordering, etc.) and carried out user testing to find issues that might stop a user from converting.
2. Focusing on the user experience
To improve brand perception and sales, users must have a positive experience so that they continue (or increase) their usage of a site or app.
The proposed new F&B interface enhances user experience through various design changes which make navigation easier, reduce cognitive overload and address issues revealed in user test results, e.g:
• Adding useful links at certain points in the customer journey
• Adding a map and address to the site options list to aid decision-making
• More user-friendly site names
3. Create prototypes for review
A key part of the process is regularly testing prototypes on the team and users to identify problems and figure out better ways of better doing things.
This constant improvement continues after launch, where we would regularly carry out A/B testing on page designs, page elements and imagery to discover what works best and ensure success.
Whilst still needing to maintain consistency with the main brand look & feel, seasonal campaigns needed to have their own distinctive look in order to grab attention
Vegan 2020 campaign
For brand consistency, the main typeface, check pattern and green colour were used, but for differentiation, a complementing lighter 'campaign green' was added and the check pattern was given an earthy, textured paper effect with ragged edges. All vegan dishes were shot on the same rustic wooden surface for a cohesive look.
Previous seasonal menus were one-sided with a graphic 'cover' design on the reverse and didn't feature imagery. This wasn't very visually engaging, so the new style includes enticing food photography and has a much more appealing and interesting layout.
Valentine's 2020 campaign
Although still using the brand typeface, check pattern and red colour, this campaign achieves significant stand-out by featuring a flashing neon heart against a brick wall (inspired by the neon signs in F&B restaurants), a 'campaign pink' and a romantic black & white image.
The art direction of the table setting made it immediately recognisable as a Valentine's communication, e.g. Prosecco bottle and glasses, heart confetti, pink napkins and a card – all shot on the white marble F&B tables for differentiation.
Increased user engagement
Data analysis on our website and digital marketing revealed that user clicking behaviour improved dramatically post launch
Visits to menu page
Visits to booking page
Positive guest feedback
A survey completed by Area Managers & General Managers after launch revealed that the rebrand had been extremely well received by guests. Out of 100 responses, there was no negative feedback and many positive comments from managers
"Finally we feel like Frankie & Benny's again"
"New menus look way better than old ones. Everyone likes them"
"Guest are extremely positive about the menu layout"
"Guests love the new menu and POS"
At the Frankie & Benny's Conference in Nov 2019 I personally won a company values 'Own It' Achievement Award for my work on the rebrand project
In Jan 2020 we were runners up in the Brand Identity category at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards