Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Piece, One Week - Bean & Cup

In my determination and quest to start and run my own design business, one of the major factors I had to consider was how to keep my work fresh and keep learning as a business owner and creative individual. This had to be done with self-motivation and a constant string of projects I provided to myself.

Work from clients comes in spurts and between those projects, I decided to create my own design initiatives. Mainly, I want to focus on identity and branding design as I search for new clients and pursue new creative endeavors.

I decided to create a "fake" company with a name, location, mission statement and business goal that I created ahead of time. With these parts in mind, I would then create a brand and apply the style to several appropriate elements. The other restriction would be that each brand and its applications had to be created and designed within one week.

Each week, the company would have a different style, goal, market, consumer and business theme. The main goal of this exercise for me was to challenge my working routine, keep a steady flow of work, pursue interesting solutions for branding and to learn from the timing and design restrictions. The main goal was also more for exploration and genuine "client" relations and solutions than the number of pieces included in the series. I felt what I could learn from this exercise, and how I could grow in each week, was more important than waiting for the perfect client or inspiration.

For week one, I chose to create a name and branding for a Minneapolis based, local coffee shop and bakery. This was done because I frequent them often during my working day and I often felt the branding could be stronger in many of the locations, despite their friendly atmosphere. The mission of this company was a green, fair-trade coffee shop and bakery that focused on local ingredients, with a unique, strongly branded space. The other important factor was for this coffee shop to become attractive to a younger group of people working from the location in Minneapolis. Simplicity, freshness and a young, bright attitude were key.

After a lot of research on the history and process of growing and brewing coffee, I chose the name, Bean & Cup. This came from the idea of each step of the coffee process, from beginning (bean) to the end (cup). I also chose a two color logo that would reduce the amount of ink being used on the printing. Each application also took into account the green materials being used.

The logo was an interesting exploration through sketching and research of typefaces, green standards and the mission of the company. I chose a fresh, retro style for the main text and the secondary being a strong small caps approach. I also chose a dark brown color to represent the coffee and the green for the environmentally friendly materials. I also designed a pattern to add depth and playfulness to the pieces. Below are my applications to each element. The ampersand was also used as an element to add interest to the space and size.


T-shirts and Apron

Hybrid Car for Delivery

Business Cards and Stationary

Possible Interior Applications


Coffee Cups

Interior and Exterior Signage


Web Site

In one week, I learned an amazing amount about branding this type of location and what I would complete or alter for next time. Perhaps a more architectural approach to representing the branding might be more straightforward and clean. I would also be more thorough in my creation of the company and the mission itself.

But overall, the exercise for this week was a fantastic opportunity to grow as a designer and explore how I would approach projects in my own business.

I would love to hear your comments on this weekly exercise and this specific application!


  1. Elizabeth! That is awesome. You're work is great as always.

  2. Hey, I like the bean and cup stuff, nicely thought out and executed!

  3. What a great project! This is amazing - you've always been so talented. I love visiting your blog:)

  4. This is such a great idea—you are my business hero. The best I can ever muster is some sketchbook doodling outside of my regular projects. You're definitely inspiring me.