The Forge: Rebrand, Website & Murals
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The owners of The Forge Kitchen, Grant and Robyn, originally approached us pre-Covid with a view to updating their website and making it more ‘on brand’ with what they were looking to do in the bar, smokehouse and restaurant. They were happy with the logo but felt everything else needed to be refreshed and revitalised.
Due to launch pressures, they’d been stuck with a brand identity that they were never really happy with. It served its purpose but had never been something they could get excited about. To expand the business, they needed a new identity that would speak more to what they were looking to achieve and impress potential investors.
We brainstormed some concepts and hit upon the idea of a steampunk-inspired, illustrated aesthetic (which would complement The Forge’s industrial-chic décor), featuring our ‘Gentleman Blacksmith’ Bertram Black Esq. as the brand mascot. Then, the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns hit and everything went on hold.
The conversation was resumed towards the end of 2020 when it was decided that the steampunk concept could be used for a range of direct-to-consumer bottled cocktails that The Forge was looking to introduce as an alternative revenue stream to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus restrictions. This resulted in a sister brand, Smith’s Cocktails – please see our Smith’s case study for further info.
The Smith’s Cocktails brand was so well received that Grant and Robyn made the decision towards the end of 2021 that the time was right to introduce the new visual identity to The Forge brand. Not wanting to simply copy what we’d created for Smith’s, we set about designing a “same but different” look and feel for the new website, which would complement Smith’s but have its own unique character.
Web Design & Development
We took the illustrated elements and embellished them with custom collages and subtle animation to create a distinctive, immersive online experience, with a focus on storytelling to encourage visitors to buy in to the new brand direction. We also created a new character and partner for Bertram, the intrepid Professor Eve Hegarty.
With the introduction of Core Web Vitals, site load speed has become an even more important factor with regard to SEO rankings, so we had to ensure the new website not only looked great but performed great too. To say the new design is image-heavy is an understatement and in its original, pre-optimised state, Google scored it a pitiful 17% on mobile & 48% on desktop (GTmetrix grade: F). After some hardcore speed optimisation by our devs, it’s now scoring 73% on mobile & 98% on desktop (GTmetrix grade: A)!
Print Collateral & Wall Art
We applied the new brand styling to the full range of menus, gift vouchers, posters and signage, as well as bespoke playing cards to be used for promotional purposes. We also designed 4 large-scale murals to be applied to the walls and pillars in the restaurant and bar areas. These statement pieces have totally transformed the interior design and really tie the new brand identity together across The Forge Kitchen’s digital presence and physical location.
We’ve created a brand that the client feels is the perfect encapsulation of the character of The Forge. Their exact words were, “We’re just sorry we didn’t meet you 5 years ago.” We look forward to continuing to evolve this exciting independent brand, working closely with Grant and Robyn as they fulfil their ambition to grow the business across multiple sites.