Winning hearts (and stomachs) at DXB

Restaurant branding is more than just designing a logo for your business. It includes a deep understanding of your audience and local market, creating a stand-out and robust identity, but most importantly, it involves brand storytelling; the type that helps humanize your brand and shapes how your potential customers begin forging an emotional connection with you and your outlet.

 

So, how can restaurants unearth their story and translate it into brand?

The secret is to always be authentic but differentiated.

In real life, when we meet someone new, we ask questions to get to know them better, we listen to their anecdotes, we try to unearth their story and to tell our own; to find a kindred spirit, ultimately: to connect. And it’s no different when it comes to brand.

When we were approached by Emirates Leisure Retail to develop the brand for a new Asian street food concept at DXB Airport, we knew that the key to the success of the identity was an authentic brand story. The challenge however was that we were not dealing solely with 1 brand, Asian Street Kitchen (ASK) would house four very different food concepts; a colourful mash-up of four edgy street concepts rolled into one dynamic location. A complete dining destination for the worn out ‘food’ tourist.

We began the project by doing extensive market and consumer research; understanding global F&B trends and the increase in popularity of Asian food concepts amongst Western audiences. Since our target audience of travelers at Concourse A, DXB Airport (where ASK would be home to) would be Western Expats, we felt that an ‘East Meets West’ narrative would best fit the overall brand positioning and authentic ‘ASK story’.

 

Due to the nature of the project, this was not going to be a brand with rigid style guidelines. The visual language and storytelling had to feel eclectic and mismatched. We wanted each of the four brand offerings to have its own visual language and ‘story’ but when mixed together under the banner of Asian Street Kitchen, everything had to fit together seamlessly.

In order to effectively achieve this, we developed a flexible and loose identity and visual language inspired by Asian references that have become part of global pop culture. From vintage karate movies to the viral dance sensation, Gangnam Style – an East-meets-West pop culture melting pot that truly resonated with our target audience and their interpretation of Asian street food.

The end result is a fresh, vibrant, authentic yet truly unique restaurant story that connects with our audience and pulls the consumer into a world that is more than just a pit-stop at the airport for Asian street food, but about the stories behind the brand that we’ve told along the way.

 

Co-authored by Darien Harris and Viki Harris
March 26, 2020
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