Eventide Oyster Co. is the newest arrival to the Portland restaurant scene and is unique in presenting a “revival of the great American oyster bar ... pristine shellfish and a fresh take on classic New England fare” as well as experimental cocktails and spirits infusions. Might & Main was extremely honored to have been selected to help Eventide with strategy, branding and design; a very satisfying process led to a result we feel proud to have had a hand in.
The team behind Eventide are also the owners of the award-winning Hugo's restaurant next door. When we met them, they had a vision, a location next door to Hugo's, an evocative name (Eventide is the brief hour just before sunset when the shadows are long and the light is warm, no matter the season), and a giant slab of granite for the oyster well, but beyond that the project faced a clean slate and we were free to gather inspiration from a variety of sources.
We began by defining the characteristics that would become evident throughout all of Eventide's branding: approachability, a handmade feel, clean and spare elements, maritime influence and a timeworn or weathered quality.
One of Eventide's goals with the materials was to avoid a slick, overly-branded look. We created a library of flexible identity elements including the logotype, a stylized monogram E, custom oyster illustrations, quotes about oysters, silhouettes of shucking knives, and a sea-inspired palette ranging from deep to pale blues paired with rustic browns and creams.
Our first application of the brand was to recruit a local sign painter to hand paint the logo and several of the oyster images on the street-facing windows.
Despite a tight production budget, we paid special attention to materials throughout everything we created, using them in unexpected ways to convey the brand's unique strengths and to influence customer behavior. Unusual dimensions and folds invite exploration. The menus are printed on demand using newsprint paper that customers feel free to fold up and take home. We brought richness to the extensive beverage menu by employing two-color printing on a variety of blue and gray cardstocks which are then layered and grommetted in the corner. The coasters are letterpress printed on sturdy, thick blotter stock. The oyster on the coaster is subtly blind embossed, garnering lots of oohs and ahs and implying a sense of luxury.
To hit our budget, provide a handmade feel, and engage staff, we looked for dynamic and affordable ways to empower the team to manage and use their brand themselves. We made rubber stamps of the logo and oyster illustrations which anyone in the restaurant can use to brand take-out bags, menus, receipts, anything that needs a personal touch. Key staff members also received stamps with their contact info to, on demand, personalize the tag-shaped kraft business cards. The gift certificate is created by stamping the back of a coaster with the gift info and placing in a kraft paper envelope.
As we were considering the minutiae of paper stock and typography, we were also thinking about how the brand experience would be extended to Eventide's website. Knowing that most users' needs would be simple—a menu, hours and location—we put the focus on creating an immersive design that further enriches the brand. Thought to how users navigate and interact with content on various devices helped us craft a responsive layout, and added functionality for mobile users ensures that the site feels as natural and looks as great on phone and tablet browsers as it does on the traditional desktop. The site garnered over 1000 visits in its first week online, and our attention to responsive design paid off with about a third of those visitors using a mobile device to access the site.
A huge amount of credit goes to Arlin, Andrew and Mike at Eventide for their choices in the interior of the space. The raw granite oyster well, the pale concrete bar, the nautical-styled lighting, the reclaimed wood tables and bar front, the vibrant blue-toned walls and the handmade ceramic dishware all enhance and expand upon the identity and materials we created. The food, the ambiance, and the staff's attention to service and detail more than back up the promise that the brand identity makes.
Eventide is already a worthy destination; we look forward to watching it establish itself as a Portland fixture.
PS: for those who are wondering, it's not EVENT-IDE, but EVEN-TIDE.