Late last year, we revealed our new logo to the world. Gone was the multicoloured, varying typeface letters of the old, and in came its crisp & contemporary replacement. Gone too was the word Caffé – we’re just Demetres now, ya heard? Pivotal to this change is a team from Bruce Mau Design, an international award-winning branding agency that just happens to have a beautiful, open office in the heart of downtown Toronto. We dropped in for a visit and talked shop with Luis, the creative director behind our new logo.
Hi Luis, tell us a little bit about yourself and Bruce Mau Design!
I’m a graphic designer, and I’ve been in the graphic design industry for almost twenty years now. I started working at advertising agencies, moved on to small studios, and then I moved into branding and that’s where I have based my whole career. My profession has taken me around the world, which has given me a nice global perspective of graphic design and that’s something that I try to bring into my work.
Bruce Mau Design is a branding agency where we create brands, reposition brands, or help our clients get their brands to match their company mission statements. We work with various clients both big and small, from cultural institutions to tech companies and sport companies. Our CEO would probably have a better way of presenting that probably, but that’s how I see it as a creative director at least.
Be honest, what did you think of our old logo?
Well… our first impression was these guys need some help, but I mean it’s hard to judge a brand by just looking at the logo. We saw that there was this big disconnect between the logo, the restaurants, the blog – so we thought: how can we make all of these elements live together? One of the exercises we went through was looking at everything you guys produced, how the brand has evolved, all the different touch-points, and how we can bring all those things together. We felt that you guys are going in a really good direction where the product itself is really good, and the new restaurant renovations are helping to contemporize the whole brand.
What would you say were the main elements that you and your team wanted to retain from the old logo, and what did you want to scrap immediately?
During the research, we took the logo through a little exercise called REAL, which stands for what you need to Retain, Enhance, Add and Lose. You retain what represents the DNA and heritage of the brand. What you add are elements that get the brand where it wants to be. You enhance things that are ok but may need some tweaking to make them more contemporary or more in line with the brand mission. And what you lose is anything that’s not adding value to the brand.
One of the clear things to lose, and this was part of the brief, was the word Caffé. This simplifies the brand name, and the word Caffé gave a different connotation to the restaurants. We also wanted to lose the random typography that had so many different styles.
We wanted to retain, which came as a sort of revelation to us, the cherry. At first we wanted to lose the cherry because there were so many different elements in the old logo so we felt like we needed to simplify. There were versions where we started considering the logo without the cherry, but the more and more we started to stylize it and move it around, we realized that it was carrying a lot of meaning and that it just screams dessert.
We wanted to enhance the colour palette, since the old colours were very plain and solid. Finally, the one thing we really wanted to add was the premium feel. This premium quality is reflected in the online presence, in the ingredients and around the whole idea of ‘we can cut corners, but that’s not our style’. We felt that passion of making things well has to be reflected in the logo, but in a balanced way so it doesn’t look too serious. You can have something that looks premium but that’s also affordable – and that’s where we wanted to end up.
What do you find most exciting about your work in design?
It’s funny that I’m saying this after twenty years of being in the business, but every time that I’m starting a new project, I have this moment of how some singers might feel just before they jump onto the stage, where they question whether they know all the lyrics. I think it’s a good thing that I still get that nervous feeling of “oh my god we need to come up with something really good”. That feeling pushes me out of my comfort zone. I also think about the clients in front of me, about how this is their business that they have invested time and money and love and passion into. You have to treat that responsibly and not deliver the first thing you think of.
The process of simplification can be very difficult because you end up in that spectrum of “someone has done it before” just because there’s a long history, a lot of people, and when you play with circles, squares, triangles, and simple shapes – there are only a certain number of solutions around.
There’s this situation that we see happening all the time, where the same idea is popping up in different parts of the world and people feel like “omg they’re ripping it off”. But if you think about it, we all read the same books, listen to the same music, and get our inspiration from the same places, so obviously simple solutions will end up with very similar results. And honestly I don’t think there’s a problem if there are two brands in different sectors and different locations that look alike. I bet if you go around Toronto and see how many companies have the CN Tower as part of their logo… [laughs] Designing something simple is always very complicated.
So after all the design work is done and dusted, what do you like to do around the city?
I love going to Christie Pits and playing basketball with my son. I used to play basketball when I was his age, and now it’s an activity that I’m sharing with him. We have an Irish setter so I walk him and go to the parks and just spend a lot of time wandering around. This city brings you a lot of opportunities for things to do, so many that sometimes when you get to work on Monday, you realize that you’ve missed this big exhibition, that festival, etc.
I love to ride my bike, which was stolen a year ago 🙁 but I loved the way I could ride my bike to work and many other places. As a family we don’t own a car, so we move around the city on our bikes, and that’s something that’s priceless. Riding as a family, the three of us, and coming back from the Distillery District on a Saturday night in the summer, it’s magical. I also love going to the island, maybe because I got married on an island so when I go there, there is some sort of magnetism. You get a different perspective of the city when you’re there – I like that.
Thanks for chatting with us Luis!