With the help of Marlon Mayugba, we get to have a look behind the design thinking of the brand identity project he created for Tokyo Cafe.
At a first glance, the packaging diversity and the colors used, really get you curious. But once you get to see the symbol and the logotype, you really have to know more about the project.
With the help of Marlon Mayugba, the mastermind behind the design, we get to see and understand more clearly the details that make this brand identity a success.
What is Tokyo Cafe?
Tokyo Cafe is a casual, Japanese-inspired cafe that serves a unique and hearty array of Western and Japanese dishes and desserts, a varied selection of specialty drinks, and premium Japanese drip, charcoal-roasted coffee in a setting that is elegant and relaxed, classic yet youthful.
What was the problem they came with and what was the problem you identified?
They have been around the business since 2005 and are very much in need of assistance for a fresh new look. They wanted their brand to be hip & timeless, with a genuine cafe and authenticity of the Japanese feel incorporated in their logo, stationery materials, packaging, merchandise, table-wares, drink-wares, interiors and exteriors of the outlets. They also requested to have an icon that will carry their name and the brand’s image, which they didn’t have.
The challenges as I saw it, was on how to create a simple and systematical way of projecting the brand identity to its audience. The brand must have both the traits and character of a Japanese and Western visual appeal, and having that direction of two opposite cultures, might cause confusion to the people who are unfamiliar and doesn’t know what varieties of dishes they serve and offer.
Setting priorities of the nature in which they want to present themselves will surely create an impact, and consideration of the materials to be used, texture, colors, online and printed visual communication layouts, campaigns, images, interiors, plating etc., are all important factors in the output of establishing a clear Visual Identity as well.
Talk with me about the idea behind the symbol. What inspired you?
The Japanese are known for their simplicity and poetry in terms of design. The lesser elements there are, the stronger the message is perceived. The significance of form giving, the symbolism of each element, and all the little rituals reflects on the character of what the design is all about.
The idea was to keep it as little and as simple as possible. To have that relevance between the name it carry which is “Tokyo” and “Cafe”, while staying away from the common logo archetypes such as the red circle, chopsticks, sakura flower petals, brush-stroke typography, etc.
As I went through different stages of design transformations while I draft the form of the logo icon, as I came across the meaning and stories behind different flags that the Japanese have designed, I found it very interesting to concentrate on the prefecture itself, and not on the country in general. The traditions, sports, history, fashion and all other aspects that continues to influence the lifestyle of those who lives in Tokyo.
And the symbol of the flag of Tokyo, embodies and sums it all up in one simple and elegant icon. And by incorporating the “C” of the cafe into it, gives more significance to what the brand represents.
What about the logotype? What inspired you?
The logotype is custom-made with the intent to keep it less and simple by duplicating the letter “T” in place of “K” and “Y”. And the letter “O” has a small dot on the upper right which symbolizes the rising of the sun in the east. Also, the way that the Logos are presented in different platforms are always positioned either at the center or in the right to signify that the sun does not set.
What role does the color play into your logo design?
Color plays an important role that subconsciously stirs emotions and feelings and adds appeal to the visual content of the brand. But I also believe, that the true beauty of the logo design lies on its form when it’s stripped away of its color, and the use black and white in the logo basically represents that idea.
Other colors act more as a dynamic background support for the logo, that can be used in different packaging, seasonal campaigns and visual communications, the mood or ambiance of the interior and exterior, etc.
So setting up a color system in the guidelines that matches the ideals of the brand is very important to be defined right from the start on how, when and where to use it, as color trends are bound to change every now and then.
I see that the packaging and the rest of the stationary are not tied down to one consistent color. Is this a calculated step? What can you tell us about this aspect?
I’ve read somewhere that having a favorite color is like having a favorite lung, and with all the colors that their competitors have adopted, it’s impossible not to be compared or at least be mistaken for another brand, even with the visibility of the logo.
So I’ve devised a color scheme that the logo can be applied to different scenarios and other various mediums such as packaging, stationery materials, etc, which there wouldn’t be too much constraints in its future brand evolution, to have more mobility to adapt when placed in different environment and backgrounds.
One thing is consistent though, the way it has to be presented is subtle and minimal.
Tell me more about the chosen colors. What do they symbolize?
The design of the color system is primarily composed of earth-tones and bright pastel colors. The pastel colors are mainly to be used as accents and represents youthfulness and freshness, while earth-tone colors represents the traditional Japanese color palettes.
The bright pastel colors have two color hues: the family of red or warm colors, which is based on the Japanese flag; and the family of green or cool colors, based on the Tokyo Flag.
The earth-tone colors are composed of: light beige, that represents balance and formality; and dark brown symbolizing roasted coffee, which is one of the premium products of the brand.
And the distribution of the color usage, instead of using equal amounts of colors, I’ve divided them in a way that there is an emphasis, and a way for accent colors to stand out. The color beige or brown, almost fading into the background, then splashing it up with accent colors gives it quite an effect.
Who is Marlon Mayugba? Tell us your story.
I was born and raised in the Philippines and have a BFA in Advertising. Professionally, I started out in graphic arts, that landed me a job in web design and development, that inevitably led me to the pursuit of my current career path which is brand identity design.
I like to take full responsibility and control of the designs I make, to give justice and stay true to the idea on how it was conceived and on how to properly execute it, while the project evolves along the way. I like to collaborate with people too, especially with the ones who share the same passion and are on the same page when it comes to the standards and quality of delivering the final output of the project as I do.
And when dealing with quality, I believe that it also falls on my part as a designer, to convince and educate the client on how essential it is to have sufficient time, in order to produce a well thought-out, excellent designs and user experiences.
Every now and then, whenever I can, I create and invest on personal projects, to challenge myself and my views on unfamiliar and untested waters. And also, to furnish and improve my skills and the process of my design phases which I find it very useful, not only for the clients, but for my self-development as a designer as well.