Jacknife reinvents Second Cup with overhaul of brand experience

After approaching Jacknife to participate in a credentials-based pitch, Second Cup selected the firm to help launch an entirely new look for the established coffee brand, which was unveiled earlier this month with the 'cafe of the future' in Toronto. 


"We are, of course, very excited to be working with this brand," says Mikey Richardson RGD, Creative Director & Partner at Jacknife. "It's not every day that one gets the opportunity to help lead the rebirth of an iconic Canadian business." 


Jacknife developed a new brand strategy and visual identity system to represent the organization's new approach, which is coffee-centric, premium and modern. Applications of the new identity on signs, menus, cups, napkins, etc. have been executed in an entirely redesigned cafe experience created by interior design firm II BY IV DESIGN


"We needed to shed some of the past and move the brand into the future," Mikey explains. "There was some less than positive baggage attached to the brand and so this was meant not as a visual evolution, but a total revolution. From the moment of briefing, nothing about the brand’s identity was untouchable, which was important because we needed to signify to consumers that this is a no-holds-barred brand new experience. Everything has changed - new logo, new secondary mark, new colour palette, new typographic systems, new physical pieces, new communications, the list goes on and on."


For this and all branding projects, Mikey emphasizes the importance of establishing a strong brand platform as the key to differentiating an organization. "Any good brand considers its competition and how it might stand out, but the pursuit of just being different is futile if it isn’t grounded in a solid, authentic, liveable strategy."



"All of our work aims to deliver on Second Cup's brand pillars of superior quality, optimism, collaboration, creativity and community," he says. "These pillars influenced a shift toward a cleaner, simpler approach to typography and graphic elements, an abandoning of the industry standard 'mocha-browns' into an expanded palette of bright, vivid, fresh colours and a more sophisticated and restrained use of imagery. As time goes on, more and more of these changes will hit the marketplace."


One particularly unique design element is the Artist Series Cup program that Jacknife created for the launch. "We worked with three artists from across Canada and gave them one-word briefs based on the strategic foundation work we had done. Matt Andres handled “Optimism”, Adrian Forrow tackled “Creativity”, and Zela Lobb took on “Collaboration”. Over time, we plan to periodically release new cups by both-up-and-coming and established artists."



"Such a sizeable shift for Second Cup has required a lot of hard work and a lot of collaboration between many groups: an amazing client team led from the top with true vision, our team at Jacknife, the talented team at IIBYIV, and many, many supplier partners who have helped bring it all together," Mikey says. 


"I’ve had the opportunity to work on some big branding exercises in the past and they aren’t always as pleasurable as this one has been. It typically involves a lot of hard work, discussion, collaboration, debate, problem solving, driving, caffeine, stress… and if the personalities aren’t a good fit, it can be quite difficult to get through. We’re really proud of the work that the entire team has come together to accomplish so far."


Rolling out the new design system across Second Cup's network of over 345 cafes will be a gradual process, which Mikey expects to last a few years before the design is fully implemented nation wide. 



For media coverage of the launch of Second Cup's 'cafe of the future' in Toronto, check out the following links: 

Marketing Magazine




Toronto Star


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