Eat, Brand, Love: A “Ri-donk-ulous” Restaurant Branding Story

Follow us behind the scenes of the Readers’ Choice winning project from the identity applications category of the Seventh Annual Logo Design Awards (featured in the Summer Creativity Issue of HOW magazineto discover what made it stand out among so many submitted entries.

And for your chance to be one of 20 winners in the 8th Annual Logo Design Awards, be sure to enter by Nov. 18, 2016. [Scroll to the bottom of this page to hear about the exciting changes to this year’s Awards!]


“Ri-donk-ulous.” This is how Test Monki’s chief creative officer and principal Suzy Simmons describes the public’s reaction to the firm’s brand design for Huti’s 5, a free-fire grill serving South American–inspired cuisine. “We’ll have people who stop in the studio to tell us about ‘this great new restaurant’ that they just had lunch at, and how every touchpoint was so well thought out, not realizing that Test Monki designed the brand,” she says.

Test Monki, a design firm that specializes in strategy, experiential marketing and design, was challenged to bring to life a high-energy brand that millennials would love, around the concept of serving fresh, healthy food at an affordable price. The creative team pulled inspiration from both the owner’s culinary adventures and the beloved donkey on his ranch, the latter of which had served as the restaurateur’s own inspiration to do the hard work required to get an eatery off the ground. With this in mind, Test Monki created the donkey character Don Kee Huti (playing off of Don Quixote).

Huti 5's restaurant branding by Test Monki

PROJECT: Huti’s 5
FIRM: Test Monki, The Woodlands, TX
CREATIVE TEAM: Suzy Simmons (creative director/principal), Gabby Nguyen (design director), Yiwen Lu (senior designer), Julie Pelosi (web designer), Brad Petak (principal)
CLIENT: Huti’s 5 Free-Fire Grill

The locals aren’t the only ones taking notice of this unique brand experience. Logo Design Awards judge Bill Gardner, president of Gardner Design, selected this project as one of 10 best identity applications, and HOW readers selected it to receive the Readers’ Choice award. “I’m always a sucker for a bit of whimsy, and any time a designer can keep a client from becoming too full of themselves,” Gardner says. “The interactive nature and applications of the Huti have been distributed in the restaurant sparingly but just enough to be effective. Praise also to the design team for cost-effectively finding a way to implement the theme without relying on costly fabrication.”

Huti 5's restaurant branding by Test Monki

The team’s biggest challenge was setting Huti’s 5 apart in a town brimming with new restaurants. This meant pairing an authentic story with an unforgettable brand experience—one people would connect with emotionally, and thus want to share with friends and family. As Gardner points out, Test Monki succeeded by creating “an unexpected mascot and application for a unique restaurant trying to define a new niche.”

Simmons says the project was a delight. “This project was amazing to work on not only because it was a restaurant (and we’re all foodies), but [because] we were involved from the beginning and consulted on almost everything from paint colors to Don Kee Huti’s whimsical voice,” Simmons says. She adds that in the short time it’s been open, Huti’s 5 has received an overwhelming amount of brand love and awareness.” And that is something to be proud of.

Huti 5's restaurant branding by Test Monki


This is a year of firsts for the Logo Design Awards.

Prizes are bigger than ever.

For the first time ever, the two Reader’s Choice winners (one for the logo category and one for the identity applications category) get a Big Ticket registration to HOW Design Live 2017(A $1,825 value!)

For the first time ever, the Reader’s Choice winners get a beautiful trophy to be presented at the conference.

And for the first time ever, ALL 20 WINNERS of the Awards will be featured in the pages of HOW magazine’s Summer 2017 issue.

Wally Krantz of Landor will be our judge this year. And he’ll be doing a private Q+A via FB Live for ALL ENTRANTS.

Deadline: Nov. 4, 2016

2 thoughts on “Eat, Brand, Love: A “Ri-donk-ulous” Restaurant Branding Story

COMMENT