Piper wanted us to evolve Hickory’s, taking the best of what the team already did so well and rounding it out. Creating a stronger brand. Clear proposition. Direct purpose. The usual candidates for solid brand foundation. Everything needed to be built around the flavours & hospitality found in America’s Southern States (yes, that ‘Southern hospitality’ you hear so much about).
A Local Recipe
Of course it wasn’t all rubs and marinades. We worked closely with Hickory’s founder, Neil McDonnell and the talented teams from both Hickory’s & Piper to develop an exciting vision for the brand that went far beyond the usual smokehouse. Keeping that individuality and attention to detail was key. Location specific, hand-painted wall decals and well-dressed walls & shelving were essential to carrying off Southern charm successfully across every site.
If you know us at all – you’ll know that “Experience Matters” is our mantra – so with that in mind we set about entirely redefining their experience strategy to create a unique dining experience. Chef’s tables and firepits put the food front and centre. Dining verandas gave a more authentic Southern edge to the atmosphere. Then cinemas and children’s play areas increased reasons to visit and created a more engaging and immersive experience overall - and that was just the environment!
The Branding Iron
A concept rooted in selling the real tastes of the American South needs to be backed up with an authentic brand. Or as we said in the original concept "It has to feel so real you can taste & smell its roots when you meet it". There are certain qualities the brand has to own - so we looked at successful brands that occupied a similar space, like LEVI'S, Jack Daniels and Harley Davidson. We find it's best to look for similar values and attitudes to brand building for inspiration than direct competition or brands that occupy a similar territory.
All this built up to the recognisable brand-mark you know today, carried through with carefully considered graphic-language to build-out comms and collateral across a variety of applications, from textured menus (that felt great in your hands) and hand-painted signage.
They're On Fire...
There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing our concepts fully embraced, and now a few years on it’s great to see how the Hickory’s estate has been further developed. Through our initial interior design development in taking the brand from 3 sites to double figures, as well as refurbishments of the original sites, we proudly played our part in turning Hickory’s into the leading BBQ smokehouse restaurant group it is today.
Now in the new (but wholly capable hands) of the UK’s leading pub company & brewer, Greene King are on a mission to supercharge national rollout beyond Hickory’s Northwest heartland and bring it to the Nation in full. If you find yourself with the opportunity, treat yourself to a little Southern Hospitality.