High-Tide Design: Might & Main wins Best of Show

In our smartphone society, the experience of dining out begins long before you check in with the hostess. The procedure goes like this: Type what you have a taste for and a location into Google Places and review the results. Eliminate the options with poor Yelp scores and, finally, choose a restaurant to check out online. Find an eatery without a website, become suddenly (and irrationally) outraged and eliminate it from the list of candidates. After all, how will you peruse the menu and get a feel for the joint’s ambiance?

Eventide Oyster Co. storefront

Luckily for oyster aficionados in the Portland, ME area, Might & Main crafted a full brand identity for Eventide Oyster Co. that addresses all your lunch, dinner and late-night needs from the digital dining-selection process to the hand-stamped to-go box. In fact, the HOW crew was so impressed with the scientific drawings, we asked the firm to design the cover of the issue in which they took home the Promotion and Marketing Design Awards Best of Show honor.

(Editor’s Note: Want to be a Best of Show winner? Enter HOW’s Promotion & Marketing Design Competition.)

When approaching this project, Might & Main’s goal was to build a brand based on the owners’ shared idea of the qualities their perfect restaurant embodied: approachability, handmade, maritime and timeworn. To accomplish this, the design firm built and used “a library of flexible identity elements, including the logotype, a stylized monogram ‘E,’ custom oyster illustrations, quotes about oysters, silhouettes of shucking knives, and a sea-inspired palette ranging from deep to pale blues paired with rustic browns and creams” to put a contemporary twist on the classic oyster bar look.

Eventide "E" brand element on the blackboard menu.

“We wanted the brand to feel fresh and spontaneous, and wanted it to be flexible over the coming years, so we worked to develop a design system that wouldn’t necessarily feel like a system,” says principal Arielle Walrath. “We were working more toward a consistent feel than a consistent set of brand standards. Considering not just the primary logomark, but also secondary marks, a set of general typographic styles, two styles of illustrations, a rich color and materials palette, and uniquely different designs for each and every piece of collateral was certainly a great undertaking, but we love that all of these elements come together to convey a brand that is as vibrant, alive and carefully considered as the restaurant itself.”

For this maritime-meets-modern approach, Might  & Main also designed rubber stamps of the logo and oyster illustrations that allow staff and diners to mark receipts, to-go boxes and anything else that could benefit from a personal touch. One handmade element that seduced our judges was the gift certificate, which is created by stamping the gift information on the back of a coaster and slipping it into a kraft paper envelope. This small detail makes giving a gift card much more appealing.

Stamped receipt from Eventide Oyster Co.

Eventide’s environmentally conscious approach to running a business also impressed our judges. Case in point: Employees receive specialized stamps with their information and can customize tag-shaped business cards as needed—an eco-friendly alternative to printing a 50-pack for each staffer. A special menu of the day’s food, draft and wine offerings can be printed on an A4 sheet of newsprint and folded. This allows the oyster bar to easily accommodate new items whenever the specials change, which happens every day at Eventide. If they print too many, the menus double as basket liners for fish and chips or other fried delights.

“This branding campaign expresses the style and environment at Eventide restaurant down to the last detail,” says judge Bridgid McCarren, content director for HOW and Print magazines. “The use of clean typography, understated materials and a simple color palette contrasts appropriately with the fine details of the illustrated stamps.”

The detail-oriented campaign extends into the digital realm, too. The user-friendly, responsive Eventide website allows newcomers to learn about the restaurant’s location, hours and staff, view sample menu offerings and signature beverages, browse photos and read some praise from the foodies at various media outlets. “We knew it had to function well, especially for a walking customer looking for Eventide with their smartphone,” says principal Sean Wilkinson. “We believe it’s essential to be aware of the medium when we design a range of deliverables for a client. In the physical world, we can rely on newsprint, deep letterpress impressions and unique finishing methods. In pixels, rather than emulate real-world textures, we embrace what that medium does well: immersive photographs, interesting motion and transitions, and the beauty of flat color-on-color. We always want to add a little extra consideration. It’s just done a little differently in digital execution.”

The website can be viewed in appropriate formats on multiple devices, which is perfect for those who are trying to pick a place to grab a bite while out and about. Key brand elements like the oyster sketches and coastal color palette are reflected throughout, helping connect customers to the Eventide identity, whether their dining experience begins online or in-house.

Eventide Oyster Co.'s brand elements

“What impresses me most about the design is its completeness,” says judge Ronson Slagle, art director for Print magazine. “Every aspect of the restaurant, from the menus and the mobile website to the T-shirts and the receipts, has been carefully considered with an eye for the design and stays true to its branding. It not only functions well, but also does a great job selling the restaurant as a top-of-its-class establishment. If this much care has been given to the design, imagine how the food will taste.”

Title Eventide Oyster Co. | Design Firm Might & Main, Portland, ME;
www.might-main.com | Creative Team Sean Wilkinson, art director/designer; Arielle Walrath, art director/designer/illustrator; Morgan DiPietro, designer | Printers Dunstan Press; Cranky Pressman | Client Eventide Oyster Co.

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