Everyone knows Wetzel’s. Hollywood’s favorite fresh-baked snack shows up on late night, in sitcoms, and in the hands of celebs and their kids (Ben & Jen, we’re rooting for you!). We’ve been building the Wetzside fanbase for years, growing Wetzel’s social media, making National Wetzel Day a can’t miss event, and helping them increase sales year after year.
This month, Wetzel’s took a twist to the wild side and launched Twisted by Wetzel’s. They took their fresh-baked pretzels and loaded them with toppings, turned them into hot dog buns and reimagined them as ice cream cones. We’ve been with them every step of the way, creating a new brand that’s colorful, indulgent and speaks to the Gen Z & younger millennial audience they’re targeting. Twisted is rooted in Wetzel’s core branding, but bigger, better and more modern. Not unlike a Nashville Hot Pretz with Benefits, now that we think about it.
From an interior filled with pops of color and secret messages, to social media that makes you crave a sriracha-sauced hot dog in a twisted pretzel bun, we brought the Twisted brand to life through interior design, branding and digital marketing. With the help of a strategic opening day giveaway, we’ve already built a tribe of Twisties on social media, growing an audience that nails our demographic and, more importantly, is close to the opening location, so they can get twisted at Twisted.
Another National Wetzel Day is in the record books, and we’re ready to call it the best ever! Wetzel’s Pretzels is a social brand, and social media activations are a key component of National Wetzel Day each year. It’s on our social platforms that National Pretzel Day truly becomes National Wetzel Day, and about creating the brand story, not just giving away pretzels.
This year, we took to the beach, with a branded beach cruiser giveaway on TikTok, influencers eating pretzels on surfboards, and even a custom theme song (careful, it’s an earworm). The main event, though, was a sand sculpture built at the Huntington Beach Pier. Once we cut through the red tape to make that happen, a giant, 8-foot tall, 20-foot long sand sculpture was built over the course of the day. This was a huge brand activation at a national tourist destination, and throughout the day the pier’s beachy soundtrack was punctuated by an endless stream of people saying “Wetzel’s!” as they saw the giant sand pretzel.
While we can’t quantify the brand halo of the sand sculpture, what we can quantify are the social brand results for Wetzel’s.
More than 82,000 pretzels given away, and a 15% increase in traffic over last year, plus:
- 200K views on Wetzel’s Tik Tok feed, including one of our top 5 videos
- Gained 1,300+ Tik Tok followers
- Another 200K views on our influencer Tik Tok feeds
- More than 840K views on Wetzel’s Instagram
- 6.1% increase in IG followers
- Another 150K+ views on our influencer IG feeds
Let’s put the clickbait up front – this is how to get three million views on Instagram.
Sadly, there isn’t a single secret we can share – if there was, we definitely wouldn’t be putting it on this blog. The elusive million view Reel or Tik Tok isn’t actually about the post that gets the views. It’s about optimizing every post to reach your goals, and working towards incremental success – capturing and posting the right content, at the right time, with the right song, the right hashtags, on the right account. You can do all of those things right and find success without ever reaching a million views. Spreading the word about your brand, reminding followers of your happy hour deals or live music Thursdays, and building an ever-growing following are all valuable, especially if they reach the right people.
But every once in awhile, the stars align, the algorithm smiles on you, and magic happens. That’s what happened for Marie Callender’s. (Yes, the restaurants. Yes, they’re still open – in fact, they have a new location opening soon.)
Our million view reel hit two of our key goals for the brand. On the marketing side, we were promoting their bi-annual pie sale. On the branding side, we’re constantly trying to communicate that they make their pies fresh, in each location, every day. And as of right now, 1,682,521 people have spent more than 4,344 hours watching Marie’s Pie Crew making cherry pie, eight addictive seconds at a time. We’ll call that a win.
UPDATE: We’re now up to 2.4 million views and 52,353 likes and counting.
ANOTHER UPDATES: 3.1 million views and 73,775 likes, all organic
So, what happens after the lightning strikes and you get a million views, or more?
- more than 40% increase in followers
- demographic shift to younger customers
- increased reach to non-followers on all posts, averaging 50/50 followers/non-followers
- which goes with increased reach through the explore page
So, we can’t guarantee that any post will get a million views, but we’d love to tell you about our 2.2 million view Tik Tok for Wetzel’s Pretzels.
Just us, or did this year go by in a flash? As ever, we remember it by the meals we ate and the moments we shared; taking a spot on the “Pie Crew” at Marie Callender’s, watching a video we produced (and starred in) on the screens at the Hollywood Bowl, and exploring the hidden kitchens of the nation’s biggest convention center are just a few of the highlights of 2022. We’re grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to help local and global chefs, restaurateurs and operators strengthen their businesses this year.
In that spirit, this year we’re donating to RE:Her, a national non-profit organization on a mission. Driven by women restaurateurs, Regarding Her aims to empower and advance all women-identifying food and beverage entrepreneurs. With core values of collaboration, connection, empowerment, diversity & inclusion, sustainability, and generosity, they’re building a network that uplifts and supports women in the hospitality industry.
And with that, we’re looking forward to another year of wearing many hats to help our clients succeed. Happy holidays!
There’s a not-so-new bakery brand in Los Angeles. You’ve definitely had Cadoro’s bread – whether stacked with avocado at La La Land Kind Cafe or loaded with fillings at Fat Sal’s. You might have met the owners at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, or picked up their loaves at your neighborhood Bristol Farms. But until now, you haven’t seen what the masters of baking do when given the chance to create the whole culinary experience. They’re now making sandwiches, toasts and dips of their own for the new Cadoro Cafe.
Taking an established B2B business and creating a whole new bakery brand that spoke to consumers was our mission in this project – capturing the intrigue of a bakery’s own cafe and converting it into a craving for breakfast sandwiches strong enough to draw people to a quiet corner of Inglewood.
We strategically created this bakery brand extension from start to finish; starting with the oversized sliding gate turned billboard. Taking inspiration from the Inglewood neighborhood that has been home to Cadoro for twenty years, we loaded it with bold, bright graphics that meld street art, pop art and, of course, bread. It’s familiar, but reimagined, and started building anticipation for the cafe from the first stroke of paint. (Shout-out to Hattas for taking our design to reality.)
From the gate, the new bakery brand extends to every guest touchpoint. Our graphics climb the walls to create even more neighborhood visibility, make their mark on menus and packaging, and spread to the digital platforms. Our social photography is as bright as the branding – showing the food you want, mouth-watering, over-the-top and on-the-go.
The bold, iconic graphics of Cadoro’s new bakery brand create a unified experience for guests. From the first glimpse of the gate that tells you you’re in the right place to the moment you post a photo of your sandwich on social, the bright designs are a constant, friendly companion. It’s a bold new mark on Cadoro’s long-time neighborhood.
Let’s be honest – you can get a good taco anywhere, and we love living in a world with a taco truck on every corner. But there’s a big difference between leaning over a well-sauced taco in a parking lot and the vacation-in-a-single-meal experience that you can get at Sol Cocina.
Everyone needs an escape these days, and we did a restaurant rebrand for Xperience Restaurant Group’s growing mini-chain Sol Cocina with that in mind. After a strategic brand session with their team, we captured the effortless elegance of a high-end Baja resort, no passport required. At the heart of our rebrand: the interplay of shadow and light at the Baja coast. The shadowed places created by bright sunlight, the golden glow of flickering firelight, and the way day-drinking blends seamlessly into dinner when you’re on vacation.
Our restaurant rebrand transformed Sol into a place to see and be seen; a place to shine. Hand-drawn icons, glamorous photography, and intricate typography capture the immersive restaurant experience, and now Sol has a story to tell.
The Hollywood Bowl celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and LA’s favorite summer destination has never looked better, thanks to fresh new branding for the Food & Wine program.
Five years after Carolyn Styne and Suzanne Goin took the helm of the Bowl’s extensive food, wine and concessions program in partnership with Sodexo, it was time for an update. We were brought on to reimagine the look of the food and beverage program. From wayfinding signage down to the fine details like napkin dispensers, we created a unified visual identity for the program that allowed each of the locations shine.
Appropriately for the 100th anniversary, we created a brand that is bright, joyous and celebratory. Simple illustrations have a vintage feel, evoking iconic WPA posters of the last century, but the close-up cropping and vibrant colors modernize the designs. A broad color palette works together, while allowing enough range to complement everything from pizza to ice cream.
We created a unique design for each concession stand, within the overall property branding. Large hero posters, menu board graphics, ordering kiosks, and equipment overlays all share a bold color palette and key graphics to bring them together.
Of course, at a venue as big as the Bowl, there’s always another branding project to do, so we’ve also been shooting video, taking photos and editing Reels, and we’ll be creating new signage throughout the season.
Happy Birthday Hollywood Bowl, hope you like the cake!
It wasn’t that long ago that food photography happened only in studios. Don’t get us wrong, we’re still in love with a studio day. There’s a certain magic to watching food stylists use their bag of tricks and exploring vast rooms of props before snapping that one perfect food photo. But the way we approach food photography is so much more complex than it was. Even Instagram is moving away from a perfectly filtered view of “reality” to show a more authentic world (see, the no-edit edit). Whether you attribute it to Tik Tok or iPhones, food photography has changed.
But even if you’re picking up a quick shot on an iPhone, you need a strategy. Every photo is part of the brand story, and we always shoot with the brand voice in mind. If a brand is fun, loud, youthful and vibrant, we showcase that by wearing bright colors, creating movement, and not being afraid to get messy. If a brand is more polished and culinary, we’ll make a point of getting in the kitchen and showing the process, not just the finished dish. The equipment we use, the way we style a dish, and the props, wardrobe and even nail color of our hand models, is all part of the overall marketing strategy for the brand.
When we started shooting for social media, we focused on just creating content. We focused on what would support our Instagram strategy. But we quickly found that the shots that were telling our brand story on social could also tell our story in marketing. And with a few adjustments, we learned to use a single shoot to capture social, marketing, and even menu photography. As long as we keep the goal for any given shot in mind, our team can jump from styling to modeling without missing a beat, saving our clients time and money. With the challenging staffing situation in restaurants right now, it’s more important than ever that we capture as much as possible from every plate, and every shoot.
The days of studio photography aren’t behind us — there are some clients and some products that need the fine touch of a professional — but give us a squeeze bottle, a camera, and a manicure and we’re ready to shoot.
It’s hard to remember the unbridled optimism with which we left the office on Friday, March 13 (in hindsight, the date should have tipped us off!). After a couple weeks of restaurant marketing that included some pretty fun hand-washing posts and less fun emails about sanitation, we were planning to work from home just for a week or two. We didn’t clear off our desks or erase the calendar from the wall, we just…. left. A little unnerved by the empty grocery store shelves, the sudden end to the NBA season, and the real moment when LA decided this pandemic was real – Tom Hanks’ diagnosis – we still went out for dinner and drinks, bumping elbows with friends instead of hugging, before sitting side-by-side at a bar for cocktails, passing hand sanitizer like a flask, blissfully unaware of whether those windows could open or what kind of filter was in their HVAC.
Fast forward exactly 13 months and even our most cautious restaurant clients are opening their dining rooms, hopefully for good this time, and vaccines for food service workers have mostly eliminated the overwhelming fear that keeping their business alive means putting their employees’ lives in jeopardy. We’re replacing the sounds of imissmybar.com with the sounds of an actual bar and bartender (but we’re still on board with take-out cocktails). Marketing plans are being written without the fear that they’ll go up in flames with the next announcement from the health department. And we’re optimistically imagining a restaurant world that’s more equitable, more resilient and more innovative.
Let’s bring back the special occasion restaurants, with their $22 cocktails and beautifully designed menus, but let’s make sure the busser doesn’t have to work 3 jobs to make ends meet. Let’s find a way to transition from overtipping (we’ve all been over tipping, right?) to menu prices that reflect not just the cost of “doing business” but the cost of paying the people who work there a wage that they can live on. And let’s make room for the entrepreneurs who’ve been upending restaurant marketing by selling tortillas on Instagram and hand-delivering loaves of bread. The industry has been trying to change for years, and we’re hopeful that the silver lining to the past year’s horrors can accelerate that transformation. The restaurant industry may be rooted in, let’s be honest, exploitation, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
On a more practical level, we’re excited to step back and look at the big picture again. Our light at the end of the tunnel includes seeing restaurants we branded finally open, designing brand new restaurant concepts, and restaurant marketing plans that don’t include the phrase “take-out or delivery” and do look more than 2 weeks into the future.
As soon as our own vaccinations are finished, you’ll find us back in the office, picking up pastries from Republique and checking out our new neighbors at the Firestone Tire Building. Until then, we’ll see you on Zoom.
We messed up. Hold on, let me walk that back even more. I fucked up. On March 17th, I put up a lighthearted go-drink-and party-for-St-Pattys-Day! post on Instagram. It didn’t even occur to me until a few days later that this was poorly posted in the wake of the Atlanta Massage Parlor shootings and murders on the 16th. I just didn’t think.
My immediate reaction was to delete the post. It lived online for a few days and didn’t get tons of traction anyway. Bam. Deleted. My bad. Crisis averted. That honestly would have been the same response I’d advise a client to do in this situation. But I realized, that shouldn’t be the end of it. Just because I burned the evidence doesn’t leave us clear. So 6DG stepped up in support and made a donation to Stop APPI Hate. Not as some penance or punishment, but as a way of doing something instead of nothing.
Now, before we even get into whether we should be doing something, here’s a little encouragement. We are going to fuck up. We’re not going to say the right thing. We’re not going to do the right thing. And of course, many times we actually will. And hopefully, the good will outweigh the missteps. It’s an extremely complicated space and for that reason, we see so many brands, including ourselves, awkwardly step into it, if at all.
Should we say something?
When do we say something?
Are we saying the right thing?
Are we representing the right perspective?
How does this support our people?
How does this reflect our values?
That’s a shortlist of a million concerns that comes crashing in when you start having a voice about world issues. If you even feel remotely comfortable speaking up for social justice, or the environment, or humanity, in general, that means you’ve got experience. And that experience was probably earned through a painful path of mistakes and apologies.
For the rest of us, we just don’t have that experience yet. And for something you’ve never really done, why would you expect it to go perfectly? Like anything else, you make a mistake, you learn from it, make changes. Try again.
So should you even try?
First, YES if your intention is to genuinely help. If your heart is behind it for the benefit of others, and even if you’re not saying the right thing, you’re at least trying. Trust that people will recognize the attempt. While good intentions don’t exclude you from doing harm, or receiving backlash, or any other consequences, at least you will know what and why you tried. You’ll apologize, you’ll learn, make changes, and try again.
– Josh Terry, Creative Director
A short post to wrap up a looooooong year seems right. No need to give 2020 more mind than necessary. To everyone who is hurting, our hearts are with you. Whether you need help or just a virtual happy hour or hug we are here for you, just reach out.
We lost a lot this year. So many lives, so much support, so much safety. But we also lost the comforts and controls that clouded what’s most important. For many of us, this year forced us to decide who and what was essential.
That’s why 2021 holds so much hope. We get a rare chance to rebuild what was broken and not just better, but the way WE want it to be. How we need it to be to enable the most important people and passions in our lives to thrive. 2021 is the beginning, so bring the bubbles and raise a fucking glass to the future. Let’s go!
This may be the first October where NOT wearing a mask is scary. Even the most gruesome, gore-drenched ghoul is just a cute distraction. Bring it Halloween.
“The movie IT has taught us you should never be alone with a clown in a dark bathroom. Leave it to Burger King to flame our fears by resurrecting Ronald in their #CancelledClown campaign.”
“Everyone knows that I have the office sweet tooth, but since Halloween is different this year, I’m upgrading my usual candy corn and supporting small chocolatiers making gorgeous treats, like these Peanut Butter Eyeballs or Chocolate Sugar Skulls.”
“Who doesn’t love a drive-in movie? Whether an old classic or a new pop-up for this crazy year, there’s no better way to watch a classic scary movie. Clue at the Zoo, anyone?”
According to Hubspot, the word-count for their top 50 posts ranged from 333 – 5,581. We’re pretty confident that we can say what we want to say at the low-end of that spectrum. We’re even going to sprinkle in a few keywords too just to SEO the shit out of this. Here goes…
vote vote vote vote vote branding vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote marketing vote vote vote vote vote vote vote votevote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote agency vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote restaurant vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote design vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote los angeles vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote food vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote photographyvote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote illustration vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote logo vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote packaging vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote social media vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote election vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote. Seriously, just vote please.
We like Vote.org as a solid, seemingly unbiased, site that keeps you up-to-date on the where, when, and how to vote.
We’re not even going to try to summarize that past 5 months since our last “6 Picks.” You know what’s going on, we know what’s going on. Fight for justice, wear a mask, and please be safe.
“Let’s lead light with a cute and catchy commercial about cow farts. Burger King as been hitting some home runs lately.”
The courage of the reporters covering the protests in Portland – follow @MrOlmos and join in the collective sigh in relief when he tweets “I am out of downtown” each night.
“Just wear a damn mask. Especially if they look anything like this awesome art series “Technologies and Face Masks” by illustrator Kit Layfield.”
“I’ve found one upside to the pandemic – fancy takeout from the kinds of restaurants you can’t get a table at or would normally only visit on a special occasion.”
“Trevor Noah. Never watched much Daily Show but he’s definitely been showing up daily on all platforms with heart, insight and entertainment for all things political.”
People work in the restaurant industry because they love it. That’s not a universal truth, but it accounts for most of us. We love restaurants, taking care of people, feeding people. We love that you can recognize a restaurateur by the way they insist on feeding you at every meeting, and the way that restaurant people are resilient.
COVID-19 created a paradox for the restaurant industry — the very act of taking care of people, feeding people put them at risk. And it put the lives of everyone working in the restaurant on the line. For many restaurateurs and chefs, the risk was simply too high. They closed their doors, waiting until it’s safe to reopen. For others, creativity was king, as they reconfigured their dining rooms to safely handle takeout, feed the frontlines, or supply groceries to their neighborhoods (where else were people going to get flour?). And a lot fell in the middle— shifting and adjusting as we all learned together that this wasn’t going to be over in just a few weeks.
And now, as our cities slowly allow the restaurant industry to reopen with a patchwork of rules and regulations, our restaurants are pivoting again, trying to find their footing in what feels like a sea of quicksand. As with the closing, restaurant people face the reopening with mixed emotions. There is joy in getting back in the kitchen, feeding our communities again and getting back to “normal” but layered with anxiety over safety. Restaurants and guests are negotiating a new etiquette around masks, distancing and new styles of service; and doing it all without the friendly smiles that smooth awkward conversations.
Against this background of uncertainty, we know one thing. Restaurants will survive. Not all of them—we’ll lose some of the places we love, restaurants where we’ve celebrated and mourned, tables at which we’ve had amazing meals and conversations. But restaurants are foundational. They are essential to our communities, our neighborhoods, and our relationships. Even as they move outside, convert to quick-service or takeout or barbecue, they will be there for us.
And we’ll be here for them. Navigating the back-to-basics marketing that will bring customers through their doors or onto their websites (because takeout isn’t going anywhere for awhile). Figuring out the single-use menus, the silverware sleeves and the cool branded masks that will be part of the restaurant industry for awhile. Designing labels for those ugly bottles of hand sanitizer on every surface, and keeping websites and social media filled with the latest information (not to mention mouth-watering photos). It’ll be awhile before we even figure out what the “new normal” is, but we’re here, finding solid footing on which to rebuild together.
Our team has seen restaurants through countless disasters, including one Hepatitis outbreak (which is when we chose “Livin’ on a Prayer” as our hand-washing song), the economic recession in 2008, and of course, the after-effects of 9/11. And now we’re tackling the immeasurable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From our new home offices and kitchen tables, we’re helping Xperience Restaurant Group’s signature brands, including Pink Taco and Sol, adapt to a world in which the restaurant “experience” is delivered in sealed paper bags, or picked up across a six-foot table piled with tequila bottles, t-shirts and other remnants of the before times. Despite those limitations, we’re helping keep the restaurants open, their brands intact, and their new sales on an upward path.
Digital marketing has been key. If you asked us 2 months ago how often to post on Instagram or send emails to your list, we would have given you some nice conservative numbers that had proven effective. Today, we’ve doubled those numbers. Customers stuck at home are opening emails and scrolling through Instagram more than ever, and we’re giving them the content they want – not much talk of hand-washing, but lots of margaritas, food porn, and just plain good humor. (See more examples over here.) The social metrics, like the sales, keep climbing. Impressions, engagement, and those all-important profile actions are growing in tandem across the brands, showing that staying connected is as essential as ever.
Now we’re starting to look at what the future could bring for the restaurants we love. Sharing resources with restaurateurs from around the globe, especially those in Asian cities now recovering from their Covid-19 outbreaks. Exploring affordable, accessible menu designs that can be printed in the back office and replaced for every diner. And digging deep on a new model of take-out packaging, because reliance on take-out and delivery is one thing we’re confident is here to stay.
Restaurants are a challenge in the best of times, but we love them, both personally and professionally. So we’ll be here, fighting alongside them from afar, until we’re on the other side of this.
Dear Bars and Restaurants.
Now we have to be there for you. Anyone reading this, we urge you to support the restaurants you love. Get take-out. Order delivery. Order gift cards and t-shirts, too. If you can, tip outrageously, or go to the next level and support COVID-19 relief campaigns from organizations like the USBG or the Restaurant Worker’s Community Foundation. Support the initiatives and policies that will have a long-term impact on this industry. There are so many ways to help, it doesn’t matter how just as long as you do.
What you’ve done for us goes beyond satisfying our palates. Those same services of comfort and celebration, well, we’re going to need that more than ever when this whole thing is over. So let’s all do what we can now to ensure the love we share with good food and drink is there for us in the future.
Pink Taco. I’ll give you a second to get your snickers and eye-rolls out of the way. Good? Great.
To clarify, Pink Taco is named after their signature achiote-marinated chicken taco topped with fluorescent pink habanero-pickled onions. So we don’t know what that initial fuss was about. Grow up.
We love a brand that has a clear attitude right in the name. You know the exact kind of experience you’re getting. Even better when that identity is brazen and irreverent. Taking on their social media marketing was right in our wheelhouse.
Pink Taco is all about the party, so kicking off 2020 with a new location right in the raging heart of Miami Beach makes perfect sense. Especially with Snoop Dogg officiating the opening. On social media, we’ve turned their brand into a bender of feasting, boozing, skulls, and unsolicited pink taco pics.
Well, they were kinda solicited, because they’re exactly what the client and social audiences asked for.
Hell, every year, month and minute focus on what you love.
All of us feel truly fortunate to do work that we are passionate about. Our general duties are eating, drinking, dreaming, and creating. What’s not to love? Of course, it’s not all small-batch mezcal tastings and unicorn rodeos. There’s multi-day work benders, restaurant fires, and a few incidents of food-borne illness (in all fairness it was Mongolia. But at the end of the day and year, we do what we love and are damn proud of everything it took to do it.
If this year was any indicator, 2020 is going to be a wild one. That makes pushing the chaos to the periphery and zeroing in on what matters to you even more important. Consider your place, people, and purpose. If something doesn’t ring true then try to change it. If it makes your heart swell with a resounding “YES!” then plant your feet and fucking fight for it. Yeah sure, easier said than done but at least it’s solely in your/our hands. Focus on what you love and that’s exactly what you’ll see.
See you in 2020.
It’s the obligatory year-end “Best Of” list ya’ll. Enjoy!
Cause marketing. Corporate social responsibility. Purpose marketing. Consumption philanthropy. Community relations.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s been a part of restaurant marketing since the first restaurants were opened. In the beginning, it was just about taking care of your neighbors—chefs sharing a bit of the bounty with those who might go hungry without. In the 70s, 7-Eleven saw the potential to connect giving back with marketing—tying donations to Slurpee purchases. Since then, it seems like no good deed has gone unannounced. Continue Reading…
Do you remember that one restaurant concept that had rotating chefs? What was it called?…started with a…and had like that weird table thing with the….NOPE! You don’t remember. We don’t remember! That’s because it’s a damn near impossible thing to pull off. It just isn’t done.
Well, we’re doing it. And while we went into this hesitant, we slowly built our confidence by getting the right things in place to make this work. Like, having it quarterbacked by an organization that knows a thing or two about performance and artistic evolution, The Music Center. Getting it built by one of L.A.s most community-connecting architecture firms, Rios Clementi Hale. All guided by a board of culinary “hall-of-famers” such as Curtis Stone, Susan Feniger, and Nikki Nakayama. Then, staffing it with the best in the game, Patina. And finally, having it branded by Los Angeles’ top hospitality agency…oh hey, that’s us!
As part of The Music Center’s $40-million Plaza renovation at the top of Grand Park, we boosted Bunker Hill with 3 new food and beverage concepts. 1. Go Get ‘em Tiger, a rapidly expanding neighborhood caffeine dealer. 2. The Mullin Wine Bar, hosting food-trucks and a parade of tipple talent starting with Christiaan Rollich (Lucques, A.O.C., and The Tavern) and Lou Wine Shop. And finally, 3. the flagship restaurant, Abernethy’s, “L.A.’s Grand Pop-up.” This airy dining destination features a curation of rising local chefs from Shirley Chung to Jason Fullilove (no joke, we’re transitioning from Chinese-American cuisine to Modern-Soul). And it’s not just the food that’s getting a facelift. Along with new plates comes new menu design, website, packaging, and environmental design. That’s right, we’re doing ALL the things to complete the concept.
Yesterday, we found ourselves weaving between stalls filled with steaming green curry over sticky rice, carefully craddeling bowls of banana yuzu, and bumping elbows to catch a glimpse of a coconut being freshly hacked open. Thai dancers and martial arts masters took center stage. Locals stayed out of the lush heat while admiring silver, hand-made jewelry. All this…in the heart of Downtown LA. At the 6th annual Stu and the Kids food fest, there were amazing options like Prawn Tacos, Street Pad Thai, Tapioca Pudding… and yep, some Six Degrees branding!
Each year, we get a chance to create the branding and marketing materials for one of LA’s best food events. The city’s most well-known restaurants and chefs gather to give everyone a taste of their best Thai-inspired dishes and drinks at the “Flavors of Asia” event, put on by chef Stu Skversky and his non-profit.
Attendees of this food fest also get served up their dose of good karma for the week— all proceeds are used to fund scholarships for university education, to help underserved and orphaned Hill Tribe kids in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
At Six Degrees LA, we’ve been creating full marketing materials for the Stu and the Kids events from the get-go. Every year, things just get better and better. Case in point: this year the team from Nightshade was serving up was an endless supply of Baby Corn Elote with Chili Miso Aioli + Furikake. We may have made a few too many trips over to that table, but hey- all in the name of charity!
Hosted inside the incredible Vibiana restaurant & event space, this year our team got to enjoy our branding handy-work (graphics, t-shirts, signage, etc.) along with all the off-menu bites from Los Angeles heavy-hitters like République, Redbird, Wolfgang Puck Catering, The Rose, Magpies, and more.
To pitch in our part, the Six Degrees team whipped up some custom illustrations. They played on childhood whimsy, pulled from Thai food tradition, and conjured up the feeling of a crowded celebration.
We’re so glad our print and digital marketing materials could help get the word out, and keep Sunday festive. We’re always honored to be a part of the event and this year was no exception. Thanks for all you do, Stu!
If you can remember the excitement of running downstairs to find presents under the Christmas tree, the joy of winning a championship game, the thrill of sneaking multiple free samples of your favorite snack…you start to understand the magical madness of National Wetzel Day. This very special holiday is at the core of our client Wetzel’s Pretzels’ marketing calendar, but it’s also at the core of the their brand identity. That’s why we pulled out all the stops to execute our most successful social media marketing campaign ever, with unmatched Instagram follower growth strategies, tailored influencer marketing collabs, playful video content, and implementation of innovative social platform tools.
33.6% increase in Instagram followers
207% increase in Facebook impressions
In less than a month, we earned Wetzel’s a 33.6% increase in IG followers (with over 2.6k added in 3 days), a 207% year-over-year increase in Facebook impressions, and secured over 2.6 million potential reach from influencer partnerships. When the final metrics were tallied and the flour dust had settled, Wetzel’s exceeded their goals for both offer redemptions and check average, giving out a record-breaking 106,000 free Original Pretzels.
GET YOUR OWN FREEKIN’ PRETZEL (DAY)
This #NationalWetzelDay was our first at the helm of the brand’s social media strategy and execution, so we started from the top and focused all our efforts on the key goals:
- Reclaim the broader industry holiday of National Pretzel Day, and own it as #NationalWetzelDay,
- Win exposure for the brand in key markets and drive in-store offer redemptions for a single day promo, and
- Make that follower count climb.
For those unfamiliar, April 26th is the one day a year that all pretzel companies lose their minds. All kinds of offers, ads and gimmicks are flying around, but there is no better deal than at Wetzel’s: show up to any of the brands 350+ locations, get an Original Pretzel handed to you– no strings attached.
We kicked off our social media campaign with a clear theme: The ultimate pretzel free-for-all. Everyone gets their own “Handheld Happiness,” because you sure as hell shouldn’t have to share your favorite snack.
Riffing on our full in-store poster, we launched dynamic paid ads, cover photos, and rolled out (pun intended) a whole month of tactical organic social posts designed to drum up excitement and make Wetzel’s some serious dough on April 26th.
This rolling campaign allowed us to flex our creative muscles and show off the power of video content. Starting with an animated teaser post on World Party Day, we kept all eyes (and hands) on Wetzel’s, so that everyone knew our Baker Boys meant business, with cohesive bold and bright messaging.
We also rolled out special social media tools to drive much-kneaded engagement, including custom branded Instagram Stickers and a Snapchat Filter. These strategic social pieces took the pretzel party to where the kids (and their cool parents) are, letting us leverage their personal audiences while they celebrated right on their own profiles.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
The final week before #NationalWetzelDay, we kicked things into high gear by deploying 5 key influencer partners to tell our bold, always-in-motion story, as well as tapping dozens of national micro foodie and lifestyle influencers to spread the word.
Our team took a look at Wetzel’s brand differentiators and target markets, and we went after influencer collabs that presented the best growth opportunities (an untapped tween market, hungry for viral content), as well as the key purchasers (millennial snackers and mall-going families). We secured contracts with accounts with impressive engagement rates, recognizable content of their own, and an authentic voice. Oh yeah..and they had a whole lot of followers, too.
Ultimate mom-on-the-go @obsessedbyportia, teen dancer @tatimcquay, millennial skate star @jennifer.charlene, tween TikTok heartthrob @samhurley, and action sport hero @soloflow each created a “countdown” post, that debuted on their profile (as well as on @wetzelspretzels) leading up to 4/26.
One of these branded content pieces has now earned 160k views on Instagram, while another well over 190k on TikTok, the new tween frontier. On Wetzel Day weekend alone, these posts raked in a whopping 81k likes, driving over 460k new audience impressions back to the brand’s profile.
All this buzz really picked up once the day arrived— our day-of post started trending on everyone’s Explore page. Over 260 users tagged us on their Instagram Feed and Story posts as they partied with pretzels. By the time the ovens cooled down, 106,000 pretzels had devoured and Wetzel’s had smashed through their campaign goals.
Our team is proud to have once again proved the power of social media marketing and help a client MAKE. THAT. DOUGH.
While usually that’s just a saying, we literally just opened a train-inspired restaurant concept that serves gravy. There’s a bunch of non-gravy items too. And you should get on it. 8th Notch basically means “full-throttle” in train speak and like its namesake, this restaurant hasn’t slowed down since opening a few weeks ago. With Chef Donald conducting a menu of what we’ve called “southern californian comfort food,” 8th Notch is blending traditional Texas BBQ with K-town casual. Meats smoked in-house, signature sauces and rubs, curated craft beers, creative Sabe drinks, all stationed right above the Wilshire/Noramandie Metro…uh…station.
Our train-centric branding both compliments 8th Notch and the larger Platform 35 Market Hall aesthetics. We drew inspiration from locomotion and local motion in the form of transit schedules, routes, and intermingling a dimensional steel beer map with an illustrated landscape of L.A. landmarks. This massive mural makes the perfect background for the rose-gold tap system.
In the culinary world, it’s the dessert and pastry pioneers that get the glory. Angie Dudley’s Cake Pops, Bea Vo’s Duffin, Dominique Ansel’s Cronuts. And let’s just name drop a bunch of other handheld sweets for good measure; Croclair, Cruffin, Wonut, Townie, blah blah. While hybrid names are all sorts of fun it’s not often that product innovation perfectly matches an existing brand. We bring you The Pie Hole‘s…er…Pie Holes! It just makes sense.
Dueling docs on Netflix and Hulu have made the Fyre Festival, well, fire right now. But before that infamous failure there was another music festival that dreamed big and didn’t quite make it: NiFi.
You’ve probably never heard of it because there wasn’t much drama or sensationalism. There was no Ja Rule, no misleading models, floppy cheese sandwiches, or lord-of-the-flies-esque glamping manarchy (come on dudes you didn’t have to desecrate tents). NiFi just quietly didn’t happen. What did happen though was the creation of some great branding, lofty conceptual design, a ripping music track, and a hell of a lot of fun putting it all together. Rock In Peace NiFi.
TOP FOOD TRENDS FOR 2019
2019 is here! We’ll bet you are as confused as we are about where the last 3 months went. The only thing to do now is to over-design a page in your diary with New Year’s resolutions, and then prepare yourself for all the good meals to come. Here are the food & drink trends Six Degrees LA is most excited for in 2019:
HOLD ON TIGHT
Finger food has been around since, well, the beginning of mankind. It’s no surprise that handheld eats are stealing the spotlight again— on any given Sunday, you can hear your neighbor yelling at Alexa to cancel their second brunch plan as they sprint out the door to hip-hop yoga. Everyone is busier and more active than ever before, and food has to keep up in the New Year.
In LA, Katsu Sando has become the hottest hand-held bite around. Think Uncrustables, but with A5 wagyu chateaubriand between each nostalgic slice of soft milk bread. Coast to coast, street food will continue to get an elevated twist in 2019 — see NYC’s Mr. Bing for more proof that people are hungry for their favorite flavors to come in self-contained packages. (FYI, this Beijing street crepe acts as a delicious wrapper for crispy wontons.)
As the saying goes, one meal in-hand is worth two in the fridge.
“I’m constantly looking for new spots to drop into, but I don’t always have a friend to drag with me. I’ll throw down for a gourmet ingredient if it’s in a convenient hand-held package that I can grab by myself. Street food forever!”
– Jessica (Marketing + Social Coordinator)
PHARM TO TABLE
First, there was the water. Now, CBD is ready to be the biggest revolution in food since gluten-free. We’ve seen coffee, cocktails and even chef’s tasting menus, but in 2019, we’re looking for CBD to show up in foods with a good-for-you attitude that play up its health benefits, and everywhere else.
No surprise, our creative director Josh picked this as his favorite trend for 2019.
“With recreational status sweeping through the world and our recently passed Farm Bill, it’s clear cannabis is the future. Society has been able to step past stoner stereotypes and accept the value of this plant. That makes for a leap in innovation and exploration. We may never have such an important crop or consumable in our lifetime and now we have the freedom to start using it as intended. Oh yeah, and I guess weed have litless potsibilities for word play.”
ALMONDS ARE SO 2017
Oat milk (or mylk, for those worried about dairy farmers) made a splash in the coffee world a few years back, but now we’re watching it go big. We prefer it to pea milk, and graphic designer Uriel is pouring it on his cereal.
“I had given up on the notion of enjoying milk ever again. But then, I was introduced to oat milk at Blue Bottle in Century City. My 10 year streak of no cereal was broken. Hello Cinnamon Toast Crunch! Oat Milk is the closest one so far!”
Only problem? Oat milk is so hot, they can’t make it fast enough. We think we’ll be seeing more of it in 2019.
SEA TO SNACK
We’re known for our stacks of snacks around here, and our 2019 snack obsession just might come from the sea via Trader Joe’s. Sea vegetables have been making waves on fine-dining menus over the past few years, and now they’re moving into the snack world. Puffed water lily seeds, kelp jerky and crispy salmon skins sound strange, but our snacker-in-chief Julie loves their salty, umami burst. For bonus points, they’re super-sustainable and good for the planet.
“Snacking has always been my meal of choice and with a little salt, a little spice and a dose of vitamin C and omega-3’s, and plenty of antioxidants how can you go wrong? It’s now just a way of life. I keep a hidden stash in my office; I take it out after especially long client calls.”
We still aren’t totally convinced by the idea of sweet hummus, but we’re on board with restaurant desserts that bring some nutrition along with their decadence. Olive oil on our ice cream or chia seeds in our sweets? Sign us up – in fact, we’ll be first in line for The Pie Hole’s new blood orange yogurt pie in January.
“After two years of working out everyday and meal prepping for my work week, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen victim of the health trend that everyone in LA seems to be following. Dessert getting a “better for you spin” gives me an excuse to eat a dessert and pretend that it is “guilt free”. A little sugar never hurt nobody, right?”
–Kara (Creative Assistant)
FEEDING THE WORLD
Restaurants have long been quick to respond to the disasters in their neighborhoods, but when the hurricane hit Puerto Rico in 2017, no one expected that it would be chefs that came to the rescue. It was Jose Andres and his NGO Central World Kitchen who stepped up when traditional relief organizations were struggling to respond to the devastation. Since then, we’ve watched as his kitchens and ones from other chefs have been mobilized not to distant lands, but to our own backyard. Guy Fieri made headlines when he helped during last year’s fires, but we’re seeing more and more chefs taking to the front lines—with cooks lining up to volunteer and kitchens sprouting in parking lots.
“As these disasters become the new abnormal, chefs dish up comfort and camaraderie in the form of countless hot meals, on the firelines and at the California border.”
-Amanda (Marketing Strategy)
We look forward to the time when our heroes don’t need to come out of the kitchen to step up and save the world. In the meantime, we’re happy to live in a world where chefs get Nobel Peace prizes.
FROM OUR SIX DEGREES LA TEAM TO YOURS, WARM WISHES & GOOD DISHES IN THE NEW YEAR!
Who knew that our 11-year-old response to “what do you like to do?” was a premonition! Here we are as adults still just sitting around, “drawing and stuff.” Sure our tools may be a bit more advanced and our sketches tend to have a lot less dinosaurs and skate-parks (if you are reading this and have a dinosaur-skate-park concept you better pick up the damn phone) we still pride ourselves on putting pencil to paper to enrich our brands with some unique art. Check out some illustration samples below:
Light a cinnamon candle and pull out your only real sweater…Q4 is fast approaching! As social media marketers, planning out content calendars has us preparing for the holiday season sooner than most people are comfortable with (we’re as eager as your local pharmacy, starting to unbox their Santa swag as we speak). What makes social media management so important is this dual nature; months ahead of time you are busy strategizing, creating, and programming. And the second part? That’s all about living in the moment, tracking Twitter trends and rattling off DM responses on a minute-by-minute basis.
To stay on track in both these mindsets, the key is to ask yourself— what is the goal of your brand’s social media? At Six Degrees LA, we’re in the holiday spirit, so we’ll let you in on a little secret. The right answer should be: engagement.
Social engagement is at the core of effective planning and posting across the Big 3 platforms.
As social algorithms get smarter and push towards greater personalization, Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram are counting on engagement to let them know when to show your posts, and who to show them to.
Let’s say your dripping ice cream cone, sizzling steak photo, or oozing grilled cheese Boomerang manages to stop the roaming thumb of your ideal customer— now what?
If they double tap, comment, tag, or share— IG rewards your post. What about if they are an influential account? Yep, more points for you, and more eyes on your post. What about speed? In 2018, things gotten taken up a notch when it was proven that the quicker someone saves your IG post and tags their friend, the nicer the app will be to your account.
This race for higher metrics is never ending.
The effects of a single engagement are like ripples (in your matcha latte art, or freshly garnished cocktail). To stay on top, you’ve got to stay vigilant, making sure your pics and captions encourage people to either interact because of a gut-instinct (“Melissa has to see this egg yolk pop”) or because they are emotionally invested in your brand (“My opinion helps decide what ethically sourced, sustainable poptart they make next. I VOTE STRAWBERRY DAIQUIRI”).
Following up on these comments and mentions— quickly and strategically— are what push your brand to the top of social trend conversations, and help you show off the brand voice that differentiates you.
At Six Degrees LA, we like to think about engagement as the first step in the sales funnel. It’s true that social should be a hell of a lot fun and tell your creative story, but in today’s world, it’s also your first, organic chance to reach new audiences, create a lead, and drive a guest through the doors.
Social engagement can feel very personal, so we get why people might feel like they should keep things in-house. But with a crucial need for strategy, a 24/7 list of tasks & your online reputation at stake, don’t be afraid to get support – all brands deserves strong photography, influencer interaction, constant customer response management, and reliable analytics! As the important holiday season approaches, the best gift you can give your brand is a serious social revamp, one that puts engagement at the top.
Typically for our Trader Joe’s office snack-run, I have one request: coffee. While I prefer leaving what kind of coffee up to interpretation, today I was feeling very, very specific. Ethiopian (I am well aware that they stock a delightful shade-grown, fair-trade, organic, serenaded-to, gently caressed Ethiopian).
So, they got coffee from Thailand instead.
They do say that Thailand is the Ethiopia of Southeast Asia…mmm…do they? Probably not. In any case, it inspired me to sit down and write about my visit to a coffee plantation in Northern Thailand. It also inspired me to plan a trip to Ethiopia, in order to write a blog post about Ethiopian coffee. So keep checking back. Coming 2021.
I love coffee. Not with any sort of high-brow barista fanaticism, but simply as a person who enjoys the ritual of caffeine. If it tastes good, then even better. French-press, pour-over, percolators, crushing beans with a shovel in the dessert and using a dirty bandana as a filter. Definitely done that. For me, the process amplifies the product.
To this end, I headed off on a four hour motorbike ride up a mountain in Northern Thailand, to visit a coffee plantation that was nothing more than a grid coordinate. After hours bumping between paved roads, gravel, dirt… I was salivating over the awaiting cup o’ joe.
Lucky for us, they had a sign.
We arrived at the plantation’s “tasting room”. Our barista was an elderly woman sitting on top of a few wooden pallets with a small pot of water on a camping burner, cups, saucers, and some bags of beans. They say Thailand is the land of 1000 smiles and this lady was wearing 999 of them when we walked up. While they were fresh out of organic Pumpkin Spice or Skinny Frapp, she was delighted to grind up some beans by hand, dump them in a patina press and get the brew going.
The tasting room was nothing more than a thatched-roof bamboo platform dangling off the mountainside over a lush plantation. Coffee trees lined the slopes, funneling down into a vibrant grove of palms, thick ferns, and rows of drying racks filled with sunbathing beans. I swear I saw this same view in a reclaimed wood picture frame in Starbucks!
We perched on a couple of tree stumps and our barista brought over a tray with two small cups of muddy coffee. No sugar. No cream. Just the way it should be…but with a couple Ritz crackers? Ok, we’ll get to that. Now, this coffee was black— blacker than black. The rich aroma of floral arabica rose above the earthen jungle air. The flavor was even richer and darker. Nutty, chocolate-y, bold, but with a soothing heaviness. And while you may think Ritz crackers only pair well with Cheese Whiz, they also go great with coffee, where the buttery saltiness balanced nicely with the bitterness.
Hours later in Chiang Mai we were still a little shaky. It may have been the potent coffee. It may have been the white-knuckle descent down, down the mountain on a motorbike with “delayed” braking. Regardless— it was a worthwhile caffeine ritual.
Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
One of the food trends we were most looking forward to in 2018 was the rise of the vegetables. Plant-based foods have been moving closer to the center of the plate, but in the past few months, they’ve also been making headlines. It’s taken a while, but at least part of Michael Pollan’s 2006 mantra has truly taken hold. “Mostly plants” is a dietary choice that’s growing faster than the movement against straws (ok, maybe not, but we think this vegetarian food trend will last longer.)
In just the past few months, Impossible Meats has doubled their production, WeWork announced their vegetarian-only dining policy, and the phrase “vegetable slaughterhouse” has almost started to sound normal. In LA, we don’t think twice about meatless meals — compared to juice cleanses and watching your macros, a plate filled with vegetables doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice — but this trend is taking hold across the country and around the world. Even the UK, not typically known for either their vegetables or their trend-setting cuisine, is taking a major role in moving vegetable-centric dishes to the top of the menu. Even the Great British Baking Show just announced that their next season will include a Vegan Week, and we can’t wait to see it.
And us? We’re helping our clients expand their stories and their brands to include new options for the vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores of the world. We knew this trend was going somewhere when the altar of burgers & bacon, Slater’s 50/50, didn’t just add the Impossible Burger, but sold it like crazy — and not just at the beach locations (check out the campaign we created to launch it).
Past client Bobcat Diner shows off how to do veg-centric options, with their Portobello Mushroom Burger
The Pie Hole, normally known for their homemade butter crusts and custard pies, is testing a vegan Blackberry Mango Galette that we’re launching on social, to go with an array of sweet & savory vegetarian options (Veggie Curry Pot Pie anyone?). Even the just-opened Bok Bok, another client, may have a chicken in their logo, but their fresh, crispy falafel might just convince us to give up meat forever.
It’s no longer enough to have one veggie option to address the dinner plan “veto vote.” Restaurants are making great food that happens to be vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based, because it’s the right thing to do. It’s good for the planet, and it’s good for business.
We’ll raise of glass of cold brew with oat milk to that.
A client just asked us: “Is it okay to have a pro-America message for 4th of July?”
WHAT THE F…reedom!?!? Ok, my knee jerk reaction was outrage– silent outrage– as, typically, berating clients impacts the overall longevity of our relationship. However, it wasn’t some sense of professionalism that held me back. It’s that, that question isn’t outrageous anymore. In fact, similar concerns have been voiced by a few clients over the past year. The concern is: is it okay to love America?
But for now, let’s push business and branding and marketing aside. What I’m about to say is personal; it’s about individual beliefs. I can’t speak to the various ideologies of our entire team, but after much discussion in the office, I am going to speak for the collective heart of 6DG.
The America WE love stands for acceptance and freedom. Our America stands with open arms as a gesture of welcome and support. Those words forged at the foot of The Statue of Liberty are a promise, not just to the outside world but to the people already here who find themselves as outsiders. Our idea of America stands by that promise, as unwavering as the colossus herself. It’s still a golden beacon of hope and liberty regardless of the storm that passes over it. THAT is the America we love and are proud of.
So if you are asking whether it’s okay to be pro-America, dig a little deeper and think about what YOU want America to be. If those ideals seem to have fallen into shadow, maybe you need to start that conversation to bring them into the light.
Slater’s 50/50 made headlines from the get-go. When things kicked off for them in 2009, the “better burger” category didn’t even exist yet. Umami JUST opened, Shake Shack was just a shake shack, and spots like Hopdoddy and Stout weren’t even conceived. So you better believe when Scott Slater revolutionized the patty platform with a blend of bacon and beef, people were going to talk about it. And they did. From The Food Network to Late Night, Slater’s was top of mind and bottom of stomach.
Now you can get a solid burger just about anywhere (pretty sure we saw some dry-aged Wagyu on toasted gluten-free brioche warming in the display at AM/PM). Slater’s culinary beacon of beef and bacon didn’t shine as bright in a sea of free-range, locally-sourced, positively-reinforced, artisanal, craft burger creations.
But the light is far from out. To complement new ownership’s aggressive franchise expansion plans, we were brought on to help reignite the brand and move it forward. We gave Slater’s back the voice they heralded in their hot sh*t hay-day. Loud, unapologetic and attention-grabbing. Bold copy meets bold design. Instead of just relying on cacophonous combos of bread-meat-bread, we let the branding do the talking and implemented a full-out strategic marketing maelstrom to bring it to light. Social, PR, advertising, in-store, activations, contests, digital content, collateral; we’re coming at it from all directions.
With 19.3K Followers, 3 new nationwide locations and a growing list of future openings, Slater’s bacon…er, beacon, is getting brighter.
Let’s take a moment and honor the tenacity of human innovation. Since the dawn of man, we have struggled, fought, and overcome nearly insurmountable socioeconomic, geopolitical, and biophysical obstacles with the singular purpose of turning organic matter into booze. So cheers to you, the inventors of intoxicants, the pioneers of palliatives, the masters…of…a…m (hiccup)
If you’ve eaten a pretzel somewhere other than a sports venue or brew-pub then chances are it was Wetzel’s Pretzels. Wetzel’s is one of those brands that’s just always been there. You wouldn’t know it through advertising. Their viral content isn’t popping up on Buzzfeed (unless being consumed by Kardashians). But when that fresh-baked buttery aroma hits you, all sense of free will is lost. You’ll come to with an crumpled yellow bag in your hand, salt on your shirt, and complete satisfaction.
But even a brand with that kind of Pavlovian cravability needs to evolve. Our initial scope was to help strategize new revenue streams but our exploration quickly expanded into photoshoots, new creative, and a fresh progression of the overall brand. Don’t worry, it’s still fresh-baked and buttery.
As a marketing and branding agency, we’re always looking for ways we can set our clients apart. Our recent project for client Slater’s 50/50 let us capitalize on the year’s biggest marketing tool — video content. Want to hear a fun fact? 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. Combining playful, bold marketing pieces with engagement-oriented social media platforms is an insanely effective way to get the word out about food, and make sure your brand stands out from a sea of competitors.
Slater’s 50/50 is known for their loud, unapologetic approach to “Burgers. Bacon. Beer.” We created equally amped-up set of videos for their most recent offering: The Impossible Burger. With so much buzz among young, savvy audiences for Impossible Foods, this called for something dynamic and craveable.
Six Degrees LA introduced the world to the #SlatersImpossibleChallenge, created to catch the attention of both current carnivorous customers and brand new audiences. We brought in Slater’s founder Scott Slater to transitioning the headline-grabbing concoction of 2009 to the brand of the future, showcasing the chain’s ingredient option overload and never-back-down attitude.
The #SlatersImpossibleChallenge debuted on social media and the Slater’s website, getting Slater’s in people’s faces and on their mind all day long.
Crafted to be the optimal length and format for Facebook audiences and shareability (social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined), these videos continue to rack up the views for Slater’s and spread the gospel of the Impossible.
Start Here: Why You Deserve a Brand Session
Jump in with both feet. Just keep swimming. Ready. Aim. Fire.
We’re all for moving fast and being decisive, but there’s something to be said for starting at the beginning. When creating a new business, or trying to change the direction of an existing one, it can feel like you spend all of your time talking about it. And you probably are, but are you talking about the right things?
Even if you spend every hour of the day talking about your new business, it’s important to stop, take a breath, gather the team around the table, and have a real conversation about what you’re building. Not about which sconces should go in the dining room or whether you can afford that really cool oven, but about the guiding principles of your brand.
We know that sounds heady and intangible, but it’s actually very practical. A brand session is critical to bringing your team into alignment on the big picture—it defines your true north. You may have a perfect, complete vision of your new business, but if it only lives inside your head, it’s almost impossible to transform that vision into reality. If everyone on the team has a slightly different vision of the goal, you run the risk of ending up with a mish-mash of a brand.
We kick off every branding project with a brand session for one simple reason: to define the brand in a way that brings everyone together on the same path.
The session itself is what’s really important; a guided conversation that explores the most critical aspects of your new business. We’ll dig into the areas that are key to your success, things like: the values that are the foundation of your brand, where your concept falls within the bigger market, and the things that make you stand out from your competition.
We customize each session, based on each client’s needs, but what remains the same is the results. Not only do you walk out of the room immediately after the session with a better understanding of your own brand, but but we wrap things up with a brand summary report, ready to be shared with potential investors and landlords, and incorporated into training materials.
Bottom line? It’s time to start at the beginning and build a strong foundation for your brand. Then, you can get that cool oven.
The end of the year is equal parts reflection and anticipation. While some people take pleasure in dwelling on the highlights of 2017, we’re looking toward the future (can you blame us?). We’ve taken a more personal approach, to cut through all the other industry predictions, projections and prognostications for next year. Here are the 2018 food trends we’re most excited to see pop up:
On High Heat: Filipino Food
Filipino food started the transition from regional home cooking to restaurant worthy fare in the past few years, and we love it. This year, the trend-makers are saying it will go fully mainstream (not just in Los Angeles!).
Our designer Uriel is a fan of Neri’s, a filipino spot not far up Wilshire from our office.
“I usually order pancit bihon. How can you not love something that works as take out, and still tastes just as delicious as leftovers? Every order is full of flavor — it’s definitely a staple now.”
While this trend might not be a surprise to our inner circle of foodie friends, watch for filipino concepts to spread far and wide. The entire office is all for a roll, so you can bet anything that comes with lumpia will be an immediate order in 2018!
Nice Knowing You, Food Waste
Root-to-stem is another 2018 food trend that’s (finally) making its way from the chef-driven restaurant into the everyday dining destination. Three years since Dan Barber thrust the issue into the spotlight with WasteED, it’s finally gotten the momentum it needs to start making a difference. Our Creative Coordinator Stephanie has a personal passion for restaurants taking a stand against unnecessary waste.
“I’ve been an Imperfect Produce and Ugly Juice customer, but I love hearing about more and more restaurants using food that’s unusable by market standards. There are food trucks that I’m planning to try in the new year, just because they are part of this movement.”
Whether it’s about using all of the parts of the plant (carrot-top pesto, anyone?), finding a second use for unused ingredients (love the charred onion vermouth at Broken Shaker!), or turning bycatch into menu items, we’re big fans of putting more food into mouths instead of landfills.
Speaking of vegetables, they’ll keep moving their way to the center of the plate. This year saw Impossible Food go from science experiment to cult “burger” to familiar option here in CA, which shows a willingness to explore alt-protein entrées. Cauliflower “rice” is finding a place on the shelves at Trader Joe’s and our Creative Director Josh is going to be the first to fill up his shopping cart. Taking things a step further, we’re also thinking about replacing our 2017 staple of almond milk with a cheaper, even more environmentally friendly option garnering foodie press: oat-milk. If we’re extending Meatless Mondays, why not go all the way?
“I don’t really know anyone that ONLY eats meat. Probably because they would be either 1. in a hospital, or 2. a palate-picky three-year-old. Exploring plant-based alternatives brings on a whole new world of culinary innovation. You really have to be creative in re-imagining certain flavors and textures that ultimately will make amazing food more accessible to everyone.”
Based on projected 2018 food trends, we’ll be expecting new innovations to hit menus and store shelves any minute.
Stacks of Snacks
There’s nothing new about afternoon snacks in the Six Degrees LA office. Stop by anytime, and you’ll see us noshing on peanut butter pretzels or the occasional plate of cookies from Milk Jar. It turns out that we’re trend-setters— UK grocery chain Waitrose calls this “fourth meal” one of their top food trends for 2018. It’s a growing segment in the US, so hopefully with new flavor profiles and elevated snack-size bites, our CEO Julie won’t have to turn to our emergency cheese stick stash anymore.
Signed, Sealed, Delicious
We’re looking forward to washing down our afternoon noms with the signature beverages that are set to sprout up on menus everywhere. Trends in cold brew coffee, cocktail-hour shrubs, or ubiquitous craft teas and juices are coalescing into what we’re calling the “better beverage” movement. Our Marketing Director Amanda is keen to push clients to think about their signature drink offerings alongside their cravable dishes; we’re looking forward to seeing all kinds of concepts embracing this strategic— and tasty— move.
Scrub The Kitchen
Most of all, in 2018 trends, we’re looking forward to seeing restaurants and kitchens (not to mention Hollywood and every other workplace) becoming better places for everyone to work. It’s hard enough for anyone to make it in the restaurant world, without adding abuse, harassment and discrimination to the mix. Our Marketing & Social Coordinator Jessica looks forward to relaying to the office only uplifting industry headlines in the new year.
“It’s powerful to see change taking place, especially at the highest levels. More ethical leadership and diversity of thought give me hope that the culinary world will continue to clean up its act.”
Let 2018 be the year where everyone in a restaurant is judged on their merit and treated with respect.
From our Six Degrees LA team to yours, warm wishes & good dishes in the new year!
To keep up with all of our marketing and design moves, follow Six Degrees LA on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
VoyageLA interviews the CEO of one of Los Angeles’s top branding agencies. Well, what a coincidence. That agency is us and that CEO is ours!
Every time you pick up a menu, it tells you a story. The feel of the pages in your hands, the way the items are described, and even the tiny details like the serifs on the type become a part of the story, even before a single word is read. It’s easy to create a menu that you love, but how do you craft a menu design that tells the story of your brand, while growing the bottom line? Because your menu isn’t just your story, it’s your sales tool. A well-designed menu both reinforces your brand to create loyalty and subtly directs guests to your best items.
When we tackle a brand new menu, we always start with the brand – so we know what story to tell. Then we create different ways to share that story through three key elements of the design.
1. The physical menu.
Plain paper or laminated? A leather-bound beast that should be filled with wine and steak, or a plastic tri-fold that makes you think of hash browns and homemade soup? Is it a printed menu board or a digital screen? The piece that people hold in their hands has a deep impact on their understanding of a restaurant – if the physical menu doesn’t match the surroundings, the brand or the advertising, it makes people uncomfortable. Unless you’re building the next Vespertine, that’s a really terrible start to a dining experience.
For instance, for our client Magnolia House, a comfortable and sophisticated bar concept with hospitality in its very name, we designed the menus to feel like a library book, substantial and fabric covered and more inviting than the expected vinyl.
2. The words on the page.
Like the format, the copy should fit your restaurant’s brand personality and voice. Strangely enough, there are two categories of restaurants that can get away with minimalistic descriptions: conceptual, high-end restaurants, and fast food chains that rely on photos. For the restaurants in the middle, names and descriptions are key to both the story and profitability. Guests are drawn to creative names and longer descriptions – within reason, adjectives are good, paragraphs are not. A family-owned trattoria that shares the origin of grandma’s meatball recipe reinforces their story, while a chef-driven restaurant should share a few details on the culinary techniques and unique preparations. Even the choice of “Appetizers” vs “Shared” will impact how guests see your restaurant.
For our client Black Angus, injecting brand voice and mouthwatering, steakhouse-speak makes each item jump out at guests. Every word on the page has to reinforce your brand.
3. The graphic design.
Once you have the materials and copy, all that remains is the design–which we tend to think is the most important piece. Menu design must be legible, to your audience and in your space (romantic, dim lighting requires some special care). Legibility includes the choice of font, size of the type, color, white space and a plethora of other factors. A good design will establish a clear hierarchy, drawing attention to highly profitable items, and leading them away from the ones you need to have on there.
For recent client Bobcat Diner, strong design meant creating graphic elements from scratch, ones that could provide both whimsy and the spirit of the wilderness; hand-drawn maps and characters helped orient the important menu items and gave it a guide-book feel.
Great design brings your brand to life and creates value, and those two things are the first steps to creating loyalty.
COLUMN – Josh Terry; Creative Director
As the Creative Director of a restaurant branding agency, I feel like I should enjoy oysters. I feel like I should enjoy all food and drink and for the most part I do– except oysters. Believe me though, it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve sought out these briny bites up and down the coast from Swan Oyster Depot, to L&E, to Olympia Oyster Bar. Every time thinking that this will be the time that wins me over.
Why would I subject myself to all this unsatisfactory slurping? Because I really FEEL like I should enjoy oysters. And pretty much everyone I’m with loves them. They go nuts for them. And when everyone’s eyes light up as an icy plateau of shellfish is paraded across the restaurant, I’m always there to kill the buzz with an unenthusiastic “meh.”
Oh but I’ve seen the pearly light! (Figuratively, pearls would probably be a choking hazard). All it took was a trip up to the Hog Island Oyster farm in Tomales Bay. In my day, I’ve eaten some weird stuff produced by interesting processes (think Sun Cooked Stew in Africa and Live-Shrimp in Cambodia) so when it came to this hang-up, I realized maybe it was the process that was missing. Sometimes I need to go through a gastronomic gauntlet to really appreciate the product. In this case, it was shucking my own oysters.
Hog Island is a simple setup. It’s a working oyster farm, so the frills are for function not form. That’s a welcome treat for someone who has worked in an industry rife with overdone design and empty restaurant concept development. Past the piled up nets, buoys, and gurgling troughs of oysters in various stages of processing there is a “pick-up” window. You place your order and get a quick demo to hopefully reduce the amount of self-stabbings and bits of broken oyster shell you consume. Armed with the requisite amount of instruction and appropriate tools: oyster knife, protective glove, and cold beers- we carried our tray of 60 (you basically order by the dozen…or five dozen. That’s commitment.) assorted Sweetwaters, Kumamotos, and French hogs over the to picnic/shucking zone.
By about the 5th or 6th oyster you really start getting the hang of it. By the 12th, I was a machine and by the 20th+ I was a machine covered in sea-water, bits of shell, and beer. Pro tip – be wary of the beer-to-oyster ratio, as your newfound shucking skills may regress. By the end of it all, I had put down more oysters in that one sitting then I’d probably had in my entire life. Shell yes! Shuck yeah!
I now love oysters.
This past weekend, the 46th Walker Cup returned to California for the first time in 35 years, teeing off at the Los Angeles Country Club. The legendary golf match is a biennial team competition that pits USA against Great Britain and Ireland— three countries that sure do love a good lawn mower. The Match is held over two days as 20 amateur players vie for the team title and national pride.
The impressive grounds of Los Angeles Country Club North demanded an impressive and refined dining experience for fans and participants alike. Wolfgang Puck Catering won the dining contract with a strong proposal last year. Can you guess which LA marketing agency helped them with it? Yep, Six Degrees LA at your service. As the event drew near, we joined the marketing team to make sure the signage and print elements were also up to par.
We don’t want to brag, but we’ve had plenty of experience in both special event branding and venue branding.
Our design sensibility led us to create clean graphics for each of the food stands; the menus were packed with flavor synonymous with California and Wolfgang Puck, including wood-fired pizza, street food, and farmers market staples that showcased LA’s rich cultural core to the rest of the world. Our work kept things simple and straightforward so attendees could get back to the action on the fairway.
The trick for big events is understanding the flow of space and the variations of deliverables needed to fit it. Experience teaches you how each piece fits together, in order to drive the customer towards the product. The job of a restaurant marketing agency like us is to take the list of food offerings from Wolfgang Puck and create print-ready materials.
For this event, we created menu boards, menus for tent posts, and a brochure dining guide that helped people find food options on site. Our font choices and unique icons reflected the local, fresh energy and helped the food experience at the Walker Cup feel very SoCal— even with the sound of posh accents all around.
The weekend wrapped up with a resounding win for Team USA, bolstered by efforts from several California players, including a La Cañada native. We’d like to think we were part of the victory–maybe catching sight of our menu boards helped them feel right at home.
Photo by Harry How
If there’s one thing we recognize at Six Degrees LA, it’s that feeling good about where you eat is a must for all people. Shockingly, food tastes better when you’re not having an identity crisis and guilt isn’t choking you up! It may seem simple, but during our many years in restaurant branding, especially as a LA marketing agency with a whole range of clients, we’ve learned time and time again that the dining choices customers make reflect their emotions, desires, and yes—sometimes politics— rather than simply deciding on a food price point. To help make this more complex call, they rely on a perception of a brand from start to finish.
This past week, big restaurant branding headlines coming from Tom Colicchio’s Fowler & Wells in Manhattan and Brad Greenhill’s Katoi in Corktown, Detroit have brought the issue of naming and social responsibility to the forefront. As the NYT and Eater reported, both restaurants have come under heavy criticism for problematic monikers; their historical and cultural implications weighed on the conscience of customers and critics and, ultimately, lead to a need to re-name in order to remain loyal to the brand vision .
And then of course there’s the grumblings over Dunkin Donuts, who are playing the name-game in their own corporate way. Sometimes it’s hard not to throw up your hands and roll your eyes (Come on guys, you sell donuts— everyone knows you sell donuts), but this news cycle just confirms that ethics, ethos, and the bottom-line all drive choices to try and better represent a restaurant to a customer.
We won’t get political and dwell on whether motivations are always pure (because it’s a Monday and no one needs that kind of suffering) but as a LA marketing agency we know that branding extends beyond a name and into skills we’ve mastered— like restaurant logo design and photography revamps— and each element must reflect the brand identity. Usually the situation isn’t as extreme as the issues getting recent press attention, but our role is the same.
Clients come to us when they recognize a disconnect between where they see themselves and where customers see them, and we use strategy, aesthetics, and brand messaging to help create an experience that each guest can feel good about.
Don’t get us wrong, the big name on the sign is important. The one moniker lives beyond every medium, making it the single lasting impression of a brand. But if picking a whole new name feels like an insurmountable logistical nightmare (To-Go bag reprint? Legal footer EVERYWHERE? Bartender pocket squares, anyone?), that’s where we step in and help make adjustments to a brand identity through a whole spectrum of elements. We’ve helped with everything from VIP fundraisers to community murals to sticking logos on Magic 8 balls.
If you have the slightest inkling that you may want a name change, it should be addressed immediately. “Sooner-rather-than-later” couldn’t ring more true (Tom Colicchio and Brad Greenhill would agree, we think). There are tools we can employ to explore the possibility, from market research to guest surveys. Analytics + our instincts can help you be sure your company is making the responsible call.
Can’t wait for the data? Check out our “When Restaurant Branding Should Happen” infographic that takes our signature tongue-in-cheek approach to answering the pesky question.
In any case, fixing a perception problem starts with finding a partner that can handle the logistical and creative heat. Let’s talk— before the angry tweets roll in and well before the pain of chiseling out logos on all those beautiful engraved maple cutting boards.
From a brand perspective, “Stu and His Friends Support Stu and the Kids” does not seem to be a great event name. Aside from being very clear that someone name “Stu” is looking for support, it doesn’t provide a lot of clues to either the cause or the event. But, despite the cryptic naming, Stu’s event is one that everyone looks forward to each year and one we’ve been proud to support for a number of years.
What you need to know is that Stu’s “Friends” are some of Los Angeles’s best chefs, and “the Kids” are underserved and orphaned children from the Hill Tribe in Northern Thailand. Stu is Stuart Skversky, and he’s made it his mission to help these kids; he teaches English and cooking to the younger kids, and raises money to help the older kids get a college education and build themselves a better future.
The first fundraiser for Stu and the Kids was held in 2011, and it’s grown tremendously each year. We got involved in 2014, and have helped each year since then. Over the years, we’ve helped with everything from finding a location (OK, it was a parking lot), to making the hand-drawn logo, and, of course, volunteering to take out the trash at the event. This year, we created the event’s signature graphic and event-day signage, and handled Stu’s Facebook advertising and content calendar.
The event has grown so popular that there were plenty of volunteers to take out the trash, so we got to focus on taking pictures of the food as we sampled it, and went live on Facebook for his presentation, from thank-yous to Thai dancers. The past weekend’s fundraiser featured some of LA’s top chefs and restaurants – including Walter Manzke, Neal Fraser, Jason Neroni, Sherry Yard and Ray Garcia – not to mention chefs Jet Tila and Rocco Whalen. We’re honored to be in such talented company and help raise money for Stu and the Kids. See you next year!
Thanks to Erik Fischer Photography and Victor Vic Photography.
Most discussions about walls these days are negative and politically charged. Let’s take a break from all that and talk about a wall we just put up on Beverly Blvd. with the help of Hattas Public Murals to advertise L.A.’s next greatest, fantastic, amazing food hall, Edin Park.
While many of the submissions for the proposed border wall design featured drab facades and intimidating features, we’re proud to say that none of them had a slice of pizza wearing a wide-brimmed hat talking on its phone, nor a 10ft bacon-wrapped hot-dog bouncer with a clipboard. Our design did. Now we just have to worry about the 30+ food concepts and 10+ fitness studios we need to develop on the other side of it. It’s going to be tremendous.
Some of us are of an age where we still harbor a (tiny) crush on our first supermodel. We may be all grown-up now, but Cindy Crawford gives us a little flutter in our hearts and reminds us of a time when the world was filled with possibility, and we could go anywhere and become anyone, as long as we wore our Calvins, with a cold Pepsi at hand.
by Josh, Creative & Design
Millennials, millennials, those damn millennials. Just the mention quickly diverges into a fist-shaking critique of their work habits, emotional sensitivity, and their cyborgian connection to social media. Well, we’re not here to jump on that conversation. We like millennials. In fact, with nearly $1.3 trillion in purchasing power and almost 50% of their food expenses coming from dining out, we LOVE millennials. Gen Z on the other hand, geez it’s like they are a bunch of socially conscious, risk-averse babies. Basically, the younger generation will never be as hard-working/enlightened/pleasant-smelling/athletic or as awesome as our generation, says EVERY GENERATION EVER. Continue Reading…
by Amanda, Marketing & Strategy
Recently, we had the chance to break out of our delicious Los Angeles foodie bubble and take a trip to the gateway of Yosemite: Merced, California. We created the brand identity for Bobcat Diner, a new restaurant concept with ambitious plans for growth. With the location and expansion plans in mind, we took inspiration from the iconic graphics of the National and State Parks to create a design that would resonate with the local Merced community, and work just as well in new locations across the country. We didn’t take it too seriously, though, with a tongue-in-cheek approach to the outdoors tucked away within the copy.
We were lucky to be brought in at the very beginning of construction, so you’ll find our graphic design work in the campfire logo, oversized trail maps on the walls (providing helpful directions to lunch and dinner over the mountainous milkshakes), and the guide to Bobcat Guide merit badges. The menus serve as a Guide Book, filled with hand-drawn illustrations for our Bobcat Guide Tips to accompany the menu of diner mainstays including breakfast skillets, burgers and sandwiches.
Once the design was complete and construction underway, our marketing team took over the restaurant’s pre-opening social media, bringing the brand’s outdoorsy voice to life and building anticipation for the opening. When California’s unexpected rain caused construction delays, we tackled the challenge of keeping interest high as the opening day changed, and changed again. When the grand opening finally arrived, we were there to capture the excitement before handing the social reins back to to the restaurant team.
All in all, we enjoyed our excursion into the wilds of Central California, and like the restaurant, we try to be true to the Bobcat Oath, even back here in Los Angeles.
We want to make things look better. That’s what Beautify Earth wants, too. Their mission is to link up loving artists with unloved spaces to turn them into something everyone can love. Yeah, we used “love” 3 times because there is a lot needed right now and Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica was a great place to start.
Our lead designer, Uriel Bautista, took charge of the design, planning, and application. He also moonlighted as the mechanical lift operator (shhh…don’t tell OSHA). Literally, in the moonlight.
“Unurban Coffee House has one of the chillest vibes in Santa Monica. The owner, staff and regulars are filled with positive energy. They do open mic nights, it’s cozy and funky. This place’s atmosphere rejuvenates my hope in good people. The mission was to have the exterior match the spirit of the inside. So, I used their existing logo as a focal point and rays of energy radiating from it. With organic ribbons and leaves in visually-pleasing colors, the wall was filled with expanding love. It was an unforgettable experience.”
We’re giving 2016 the finger. Ok, not THE finger. In fact some people don’t even consider it a finger at all. We’re giving 2016 a thumb – a “thumbs up” to be exact. Because honestly 2016 was solid. Bombarded by social-media bad mouthing it seems like a lot of people were pretty pissed about the whole year. We just don’t share that sentiment. Just look below. Good times were had, great work was done, and we still have all of our limbs (maybe a few injuries that we swear were NOT Pokemon Go-related). What else can be said? It was a damn good year.
In that regard, we’re giving 2017 an enthusiastic handshake. You know, the one that’s a little firm. Maybe just a little bit too firm, but not to the point of actually hurting – just firm enough to confidently say, “I’m in charge.” Yeah 2017, we’re going to own you. Ahhh, who are we kidding…give us a hug.
No thanks to furry walls or Jonah Hill, but we finally got into The Greek Theatre. We say “finally” because our first go was a few years back supporting AEG and Nederlander with new branding and environmental design as they bid against Live Nation. It got ugly. Lots of news articles, community uproar, council meetings, legalities and petitions – and the result was nobody got the contract.
Well, when it comes to outdoor music venues in LA, THIS was our season (read about the Hollywood Bowl just a few swipes down). This time on the side of SMG and Premier with a monolithic bar concept as our Trojan horse. And it worked. The Greek really holds a special place in our hearts; where the Hollywood Bowl captures an elevated cultural evening of performance and food and wine pairing, The Greek has the soul of a club venue in a gorgeous setting; hip-flasks and hard-rock (harder rock at least…and then there’s Josh Groban).
There are two evening activities in Los Angeles we recommend to visitors. Go to The Hollywood Bowl and go to The Edison (hey, we did that brand too!). Though the Edison is cool for the aesthetic and absinthe, going to The Bowl is just one of those quintessential L.A. experiences that combines the best in food, music, atmosphere and summer-SoCal outdoor lifestyle. And you can bring your own absinthe! (Update: Guess you can’t bring liquor in, just beer and wine. Anyway, bringing absinthe into a venue is both a reckless decision for your liver, the people around you, and you can’t even do the cool pour-over the sugar-cube spoony thing).
We’re crouched in a roadside ditch about 25km north of Baghdad. Securing my M4 to my dust-caked shoulder harness, I reached deep under my heavy chest armor to pull out a small water-proof notebook. It’s time to give a Creative Brief. Okay okay, there really isn’t anything creative about it and it’s actually called an Operations Order. But the purpose is the same: deliver essential information effectively to your troops so they’re clear on the mission and everyone – down to the lowest rank – knows how to accomplish the objective. You know, in case something happens like your comms drop out in a blinding 120+ degrees sandstorm, or your Creative Director had to attend an unexpected site-visit at the new Firestone Brewery (I’m just giving you a heads up that’s going to happen) at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday.
There isn’t much of my military past that I can apply to my creative present, but the Operations Order is one of them. Sometimes you have weeks to prepare building a miniature movie set that would make Lucas swoon, and sometimes you’re crouching in a ditch in Iraq scratching in the sand with sticks.
In it’s simplest format, it is quick and direct – it cuts to the essentials. That lack of focus is the bane of most Creative Briefs; long biblical doctrines of bullshit that turn over every stone to include the anecdote about the CFOs nephew who burped up a yellow marble at Easter and hence inspired their spherical logo design. Sure, sure – there’s good stuff in there – but in the bulk of it the momentum and direction gets lost. Leaving the team bewildered and thinking only about joining their CD on mid-day brewery tours. And frankly, I don’t have time to write that shit, so it never gets done.
And so, in a wonderful blending of militant urgency and creative need, the Brief Creative Brief was born.
Following the format of the Army’s Operation Order this simple 5-paragraph (mmm…maybe more like keywords and sentence fragments) format gets to the project-specific goods without all the thirst inducing clutter. If it’s more than a page, you’re doing it wrong.
Here we go:
SITUATION: Recon. This isn’t a snapshot of your Wikipedia page, but the reasoning and background that has gotten the client to the point of doing this project. It’s also good to give a few keywords that describes the current state of the client.
MISSION: Objective. What are we trying to accomplish? Is it changing the perception of the client from those keywords we addressed above? Get butts in seats. We need to be as clear as possible, and highlight the main goals of the project in order to create. Again, highlight keywords. If in fact that sandstorm whips through our agency, our personnel need to know the direction we’re headed.
TARGET: Well…it’s the target. These are our demographics. Who do we want to engage with the this project? Who is the audience? It’s also important to quickly explain the current demo if we are looking to shift that focus.
EXECUTION: Deliverables. Often there will be an over-arching not-so-brief Creative Brief for larger campaigns. This brief is a breakdown of those individual parts so we have a measurable approach in accomplishable steps.
SCHEDULE: Oh yes, the deadlines. It’s important to set smaller, accomplishable goals and checkpoints to make sure the big drop-dead date is met and the creative on track.
We want to rant. Drone on about heat-lamp-esque lighting, plate compositions that read like the portfolio pages of the finest Japanese faux-food artists, and of course physics defying drop-shadows that cling unnaturally to the bottom of plates like miserable clouds. We’re talking about most of the chain restaurant photography pre-Instagram. Those were dark times. Well, actually, over-lit, over-saturated times.
But instead of just complaining we’ve done something about it. We partnered up with Eskite Photography Studio and shot new photographs for Black Angus. They had a dated photo collection that needed to be…well, refreshed to match the rebrand we’ve been working on. Ah hell, we might as well just show you. The new photos are on the right, by the way.
When we think of an Italian sandwich, it’s a cross between catering on a Scorsese set and one of Subway’s monuments of deli meat. When we think of Italian fashion? It’s more like velour tracksuits with gold chains and marinara dotted undershirts (if it IS a Scorsese set, it’s probably not marinara). Clearly, we had some stereotypes to dispel when we took on our newest client. Cue amazing branded designs.
We know we’ve been gone for awhile, and we’re here to clear up the confusion. No, we haven’t given ourselves huge raises and headed off to a tropical paradise for good. Even though we deserve it. The truth is, we’ve embraced LA more than ever before. Six Degrees has been off the radar because we’re hard at work putting a handful of fresh, revamped brands back on it. With our signature creative (and unapologetic) approach, we’ve given these clients an attitude—and aesthetic—adjustment. With all this new exposure, it’s almost our way of embracing the scandalous California summer dress code. Almost.
Here’s what we’ve been up to:
We’ll give you this Snapchat, in the social-photo-app game your logo is a standout. Whether that was the intent or just a remnant from your Pictaboo beginnings, it is effective in at least being different.
But let’s step back. Suppose you are knocking on our door looking for some branding (next time email or call us first, you completely interrupted our dart game). We’re sitting in the conference room and you’re pitching us this cool new concept. The UI is rock solid, you’re ebbing into UAT and all you need is a new logo to polish off the package. We’re in. We’re fans of any technology that allows us to share regrettable content without lasting repercussions.
There are many old and tired brands out there that fail to realize the value of good branding and that their lack there of may be a reason for their shortcomings as a business. As a marketing and branding agency, we’ve created a handy (albeit snarky) infographic to determine whether your brand is fit as a fiddle, needs a check up, or is in dire need of an ambulance.
Ever wanted to take a short trip back to the 1970s, but without the avocado-hued appliances, shag carpet and other assorted “missteps” of the decade? We’ve got you covered. Just cruise up the 101 into North Hollywood and find yourself in the idyllic setting of The Garland. Stylish, modern, yet thoroughly nostalgic, it’s the best spot in LA to retreat from the chaos, but not get too far-out*. (*puns are very ’70s, the lack of internet access made people desperate for cheesy entertainment) Continue Reading…
The brothers behind Bicos Hospitality came to us to help them create and launch a new concept in Pasadena. They wanted to build a new, laid-back bar that was comfortable & sophisticated in equal measure – a destination for hanging out with friends, meeting a colleague for a drink, or taking a date. We were anxious to rise to the challenge and give new life to a 100 year old house. Check out the whole process below. We started with a name, then colors, logos, a story, hand-sketched elements, and Magnolia House was born.
Once we had the brand nailed down, we came up with ways to translate the heart of the house into every aspect of the experience. We designed the menus to feel like a library book, substantial and fabric covered and more inviting than the expected vinyl. The signage was given a similarly understated yet impactful treatment, and we also put together fun collateral pieces that harken back to an old-school pub vibe and blended seamlessly with the ambiance of the interior and the space’s history. The final products are shown here (along with the website, which we also designed).
And here’s a little of Magnolia House’s well-earned buzz:
If you spend time around Gardena or Long Beach, you may’ve seen (or even tasted) the first few stores of Japanese import, Tokyo Bento. A concept by Dream Dining, a successful and well-known company in Japan, their team approached us to help them crack the US market with a new fast-casual concept. That process began with a brand story that educated customers on the differences between the bentos we’re familiar with and the traditional Japanese style, and then translated the brand personality into design. Tokyo Bento has big plans for rolling out more locations, so we’re excited to see it grow and develop.
Of course, the first order of business was to create colors and type that reflect the casual style of service that also tipped its hat to the nostalgia felt by those who grew up with homemade bentos. We created the origami pieces to capture the whimsical personality and also showcase the company’s Japanese roots. It provided the perfect graphic backdrop to their minimal collateral: menus, wax paper for service and the bento builders’ uniforms.
We also created an instructional (and fun!) menu graphic that would be easy to understand as customers got acquainted with what Tokyo Bento’s meals were like and how they could be customized. Besides serving a more traditional bento, Tokyo Bento also offers several sauces with an international flair that really elevates the whole situation. Have you visited yet? Our favorite is the portobello mushroom on the unbelievably soft, sweet bao bun, topped with the Peruvian Salsa sauce. So insanely craveable. The only downside is that they don’t have more locations….yet.
The first thing you should order is french fries covered in étouffée. Just trust us on this one. It’s not on the menu, so don’t even bother looking yet. First things first. From there, you can take many turns. Gumbo, jambalaya and po’boys are the easy choices, and basically any fried seafood is guaranteed to make you happy. There are other southern staples like fried chicken, meatloaf and pork chops, if that’s more your speed. And a few Legaux specialties like Shrimp Ryan and Harold & Belle’s Scampi round out the offerings. Oh, and did I mention they won Best Creole in LA from LA Magazine? Not too shabby.
Can you believe it? The man behind 23 turns 5-0 this Sunday, February 17th. Obviously the occasion needed to be celebrated. And clearly no small gathering was going to cut it.
Michael Jordan’s Steak House is celebrating this milestone event with a five-course wine dinner in Chicago, New York, and Connecticut. Each course features Terlato wines (including some of Michael’s favorites), expertly paired with featured dishes crafted by chefs in MJ’s restaurants (you can see a sample above). The meal follows the course of Jordan’s career, from high school, through his record-shattering basketball career, and to present day as a majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
We’re proud to have had a hand in the design celebrating the first 50 years of Michael Jordan and wish him nothing but continued success for the next 50.
If you’re near a Michael Jordan’s Steak House this Sunday, make reservations soon to enjoy this special wine dinner & charity auction. But because he’s just that kind of guy, each table dining that night will receive a complimentary slice of 23 layer cake to celebrate.
Obviously, we love food. We also love lending our talents to worthy causes. Luckily, we got to combine the two for the local do-gooders at Los Angeles Food Bank. For forty years, the LA Food Bank has provided food, support, and hope to needy individuals and families in the Los Angeles area. So we jumped at the chance to have the honor of designing their 40th anniversary logo.
Just last year, the food bank distributed 60 million pounds of food to over 1 million individuals throughout Los Angeles County, with the help of more than 31,000 volunteers. To learn more about what they do, how to help, or to donate, please visit their website: http://www.lafoodbank.org.
What? You didn’t know it was our new website launch day? Were you also blissfully unaware that last week was National Fig Week? Or that November 7 is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day? (I wish I was making this up.)
At any rate, we would be thrilled if you’d celebrate with us. Just cruise on over to www.sixdegreesla.com and enjoy. If you’re feeling extra jubilant, you could do so while enjoying a lovely glass of champagne or a piece of cake or something, but no pressure.
And don’t forget to tell your friends. Everyone loves a totally obscure Day. Especially if it involves bubbly drinks.
Oh, him? That’s just Wolfgang Puck. Mega-chef. And one of our clients. No big deal.
Seriously, though, we love collaborating with the Wolfgang Puck team. And how could we not when it gives us the privilege of creating such lovely work? We wanted to create simple pieces that capture the sophistication of Wolfgang Puck’s design with the energy and motion found in his airport cafés. Next time you’re traveling, stop in at a WP concept and enjoy.