Identity design & hospitality

It is a pleasure to work on projects in Identity design & the hospitality sector, especially those that have so much research to delve into and this was one of my favourite projects.

The branding for Masons Restaurant Bar was first designed in my former capacity as Head of Creative Design within a Manchester Marketing Agency. I continued to work within the brand itself as its sole designer until I set up my own studio in September 2019.

Having worked on the visual identity for the amazing Manchester Hall, I was delighted that we were asked to work on the new branding for the Masons Restaurant & Bar; situated on the ground floor of Manchester Hall, Bridge Street, Manchester. I was able to create a unique bespoke, and individual-looking brand for a unique city centre restaurant.

Inspiration for the branding came from the rich history of the building with which I had become familiar. The name and brand creation of Masons Restaurant Bar was in close collaboration with the client. Masons’ was one of several name options which was conceived from the Freemason connection. Although many will not notice on first inspection there are numerous symbolic aspects to the branding and interior design that are represented in the Freemasons’ traditions. Working with the brand so closely during that time, enabled me to maintain a strong brand identity bringing in fresh designs that still stayed true to the brand concept.

All in a name in the hospitality game

The Mason’s name was the first to be created, taking inspiration from the rich Freemason’s history within Manchester Hall. The name had that direct connection to the building, yet it could also represent the first name of the restaurant’s persona ‘Mason’ who represented the style of the Restaurant Bar; a fresh, contemporary venue with a preppy British style; the young blood of the more sophisticated Manchester Hall.

 

Masons Restaurant Bar Logo design

When you ask people for their definition of Freemasons they always talk of a secret society. We wanted to run with this secrecy theme. Metal grills were proposed which were used to create a screen between the Manchester Hall reception area and the Restaurant Bar. The reason: (a), to let in more light and create a feeling of space and (b), people could discreetly peek into the bar being able to see inside.

The brand mark was then used in the designs of the grills. This time the triangle shape was contained within the pattern design which had been seen in the original inspiration. This pattern was also used to create gold window decals on the front windows to great effect, allowing both privacy and branding to the windows before any signage was fitted. The logo was used to create a 3D sign outside the window- this was carefully designed so it could be attached to the building without damage to windows or façade.

 

Exterior signage

 

Partition Grills, branded
Branded interior design to allow privacy and break up the space

So much inpiration

I found in a Freemason’s exhibit a collection of 18th Century robes which had an interesting symbol upon the aprons displayed. It is from that symbol that the Masons logo has evolved. The intention was to also create a brand mark that would stand alone and be recognised without its full title.

Symbolism

As an identity designer, I planned to keep elements of the Freemason’s connection alive without it being obvious to all, so I began to research much of the Freemason’s symbolism.

One last element I wanted to portray more was – the triangle, a symbol of importance for the Freemasons. It represents the concept of the Deity in geometrical form and of the sacred number three. I had incorporated the triangle in a design for the grills and now I used this to create a brand pattern.  This pattern in brand-coloured triangles was used in the first season of menus and the back of velvet cushion covers. This colourful pattern, I hoped, would break up the expanse of plain green furniture and dark marble tables.

The logo design was so versatile it could be used as a pattern for fabric, for print or interiors, to be used as a single image for social media profiles or as an employee brooch, pin, tie etc. We saw it branded on the dinner and tea service as well as many other touch points.

Colours and typography

Futura was the font family chosen as it was designed around the time that the Hall was built in 1929. By incorporating the typeface Futura throughout all the branding, it gave an authentic look yet still a very contemporary style of graphic design. The strong geometric forms of the typeface complemented the circular brand mark in which the M for Masons sits.

When it came to the colour scheme a stronger, more defined dark blue to echo the Freemason’s use of blue, but I also took some influence from the interiors that were being designed by Hala Ali, their interior designer at the time. Green velvet was a prominent feature and there was to be an orange LED light proposed under the rim of the bar, so together with a more preppy shade of blue I had the Masons colour Palette. Blue, apple green and orange with a secondary colour of citrus yellow. I even had the opportunity to visualise the style of uniform and how it would differ between waiters and managers in a very visual hospitality sector where presentation and memorable branding is key.

Identity design & hospitality

The visual identity design worked really well for the client being in the competitive hospitality sector, the whole design system allowed for fresh new designs for restaurant and bar menus, posters, promotional materials and social media every season.

 

Identity design & hospitality, Menus, first season of the restaurant
The first season of menus, fresh colours and bold pattern
Identity design & hospitality, marketing materials.
First season of menus at Masons Restaurant Bar

 

A fresh contemporary style is delivered, designed to complement the interior design. I have to say that as the interior designer and I worked on this project at the same time. I do believe that the visual identity of the brand and the interiors worked beautifully together. Later seasons of menus and social media would echo the floral designs also found in the restaurant and restrooms. This was one of the first identity design projects in the hospitality sector that I created.

Identity design & hospitality, marketing materials, VIP event bar menu
VIP NRB event menu

 

Identity design & hospitality, marketing materials
Designed for NRB, specially created for the event, bar menus

 

Identity design & hospitality, marketing materials
Mother’s Day card/menu

 

Identity design & hospitality, marketing materials
Back of Mother’s Day card menu

I echoed the style in social media graphics, digital promotions, marketing material and website for each season.

 

 

Find more of Mason’s project on my Behance portfolio 

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