Blk City Coffee Roasters is helmed by an unyielding curiosity and openness to chance through exploration. They candidly educate self-directed specialty coffee roasters early in their careers about the people and processes involved in coffee production to inspire new perspectives that benefit stakeholders at origin.
After two years of operations, the team at Blk City was ready to expand and turned to Playstead for the first phase of its rebrand, beginning with its logo to promote awareness. Together, we distilled down to Blk City's core through several one-to-ones, forming the basis of its communication strategy. The insights gained from the close collaboration were crucial to the project's outcome. Most of all, it's awesome to learn about good people and how we can support them. Playstead analyzed the existing symbol and reimagined one that honors specialty coffee's heritage to create a suite adaptable for print and digital use down to the favicon but recognizable despite its deconstruction. The symbol's strength comes from its shield—the unifying visual element. In the end, the work builds on the brand's values to connect to its patrons.
Playstead developed Blk City's look and feel referencing the latter end of the Middle Ages but increased the logo's substance and improved legibility by stressing simple complexity. It involved removing or replacing decorative elements common to heraldic crests and embedding value through symbols like the chevron for enthalpy or change appropriate for a roaster, considering it means change via heat. Meanwhile, encasing the symbol in a circle both formed a shield derivative of history's greatest warriors and coffee cherries' distinct roundness, which speaks to the brand's masculine themes and industry specialization, respectively. Finally, the typeface, Low Drag, provided an accessible alternative to custom logotypes. Above all, its use relates to the Middle Age period that guided the design solution—it's a contemporary revival of Latin-based uncials with wide but slightly compressed rounded forms whose weight we've made comparable to Blk City's logomark.
Communicating Blk City's purpose through its identity and across all touchpoints is critical for customers to find and buy into them. Constraining elements like their logo to period styles as we do at Playstead promotes easy brand identification by dialing in through consistent application. It's fortified through its repetitious use of diagonals, concentric circle development, and triangles—the strongest shape—built into positive and negative spaces related to the unifying chevron element. Blk City's mark is bold, dynamic, and energizing while regal. It's robust enough to scale. Above all, it empowers their customers' curiosity and welcomes happenstance to inspire them for more.