Fresh From The Field — Downlow BBQ – By Daymark
Fresh from the Field is a weekly article series sharing the fresh and inspiring work of our Design Assembly community.
Borrowing from classic ‘Americana’ barbecue joint branding, our friends over at Daymark inject a heaping helping of personality and playful attitude into their recent strategy, naming, and brand development for Downlow BBQ.
The client for this project, a savvy Auckland hospitality operator, wanted to start a small barbecue joint around the corner from one of their existing restaurants in the affluent suburb of Kohimarama. We were tasked with the strategy, naming, and development of the brand.
With limited space in the small premise, they intended to use a fast-food hybrid model, sourcing the barbecued meats from an external supplier and assembling the meals and sides in a smaller kitchen on site. The small space also meant limited room for casual dining, so the client was aiming for a majority of pickup and Uber Eats sales.
With most online and Uber orders coming from the younger generation, these hungry youths became the brand’s target audience. While we needed to cater the brand primarily to this audience, we didn’t want to exclude the Kohimarama locals, so we needed to strike a careful balance.
The Design Response
The name ‘Downlow’ was chosen for its reference to the traditional ‘low & slow’ cooking of barbecue meats as well as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the indulgent nature of their food, playing on the idea of guilty pleasure – “Keep it on the down low.”
With the key brand words ‘confident, time-honoured and casual’ our overarching aim for the brand was to combine visual cues reflecting the idea of the fast-food model meeting the low and slow world of barbecue.
Borrowing from classic ‘Americana’ barbecue joint branding, we used a mid-century nostalgic type and layout with a type-driven badge style lockup. Classic red, white and blue reference the USA (home of BBQ) and the supplementary grid pattern nods to the grilling racks that carry the goods. Product photography is both confronting and seductive, with high contrast, clear cut, product-only photography as well as in-situ product shots on grillhouse style metal trays lined with kraft paper.
As a nod to classic fast-food restaurant brands, we restricted Downlow’s palette to flat and minimal but vibrant primary colours. Typography in both the wordmark and supporting text is clean and classic, while the illustrations inject a heaping helping of personality. Complete with its gaggle of greasy friends the hero icon, a running kettle barbecue, provides the perfect symbol for what Downlow is all about – indulgent, slow-cooked, meaty goodness, served fast and with a playful attitude.
Developed synonymously with Downlow’s spatial design, we designed the brand graphics to complement and contrast the rustic, weathered materials in the fitout. The hand painted logo on the distressed concrete wall, the neon sign and the stamped takeaway bags point to traditional barbecue joints, while the lightbox streetfront signage and modern Organetto wordmark modernise the brand and affirm its place in posh Kohi. Functional diner-style menu boards not only fit with the nostalgic ‘Americana’ feel but allow for the client’s easy revision.
A really fun challenge, we feel we struck a good balance between the tongue and cheek and authentic, pitching the brand to the perfect meeting point of Gen Z and the discerning foodie.
The Design Team
Jackson Croucher – Graphic Designer
The Client Team