Updated: November 1, 2017
This project took place at Multiple States whilst I was director between 2014 and 2017. We wrote our case studies as interviews between members of the team. Here is that interview. Credits for everyone specifically associated with the project are at the end of the article.
The Gregan Group, established 15 years ago by George and Erica Gregan, is an expanding collection of traditional espresso bars, wine bars, bistros and a thriving catering business based in Australia. Multiple States undertook a rebuild of their seven venue websites.
Holly Dawson talks to project lead Will McLean about branding consistency, thinking differently about photography and the benefit of typographic simplicity.
What was the brief for the Gregan Group rebuild?
The Gregan Group has seven different venues in its portfolio. The brief was to make seven different digital brand identities, one for each bar, and seven different micro-sites for those venues. The existing digital presence consisted of seven separate WordPress sites, one for each brand, and this was quite time consuming to update. Gregan Group wanted to be able to use one backend to update all of these sites. This brief, of course, had to be fulfilled within a certain budget and so our solution had to be affordable as well.
How did you approach the project?
We knew it wouldn’t work within the limited budget to build seven wildly different websites. We realised quite early on that they would have to all follow a similar template, but be made to have a different feel through the use of colour, typography and imagery. This could be seen as a restriction; however, it actually lead to a nice consistency within the final designs.
Gregan Group already had an established brand identity. How did you find working with those guidelines?
The identities for each brand under the Gregan Group banner were designed at separate times by different people. This was making the whole identity feel a little disjointed. Our task was to get those brands to feel consistent, whilst respecting the design that had been done before we got there. We re-drew all the logos so that the common elements that were used were always exactly the same and the proportions had a strong consistency. We also created a monocolour version of each logo to use over imagery and on top of block colours, to maintain the consistency of the venue pages.
Photography plays a large part in the final design. Was that an important factor?
We wanted each venue page to form a story that reflected the atmosphere of the venue. The obvious tendency is to fill the page with images of the interior of the venue. However, we felt that the attraction of a venue lies not just in its own interior but in the atmosphere of the surrounding area as well. The trees, the street flower seller around the corner, the tops of the surrounding buildings, all make up your experience at that venue. For that reason, we have included imagery of all of those things along with the interior shots.
What was it like working with a client in a different time zone, where they slept while you worked?
We really enjoyed this aspect of the work and undertake quite a few projects with brands on the other side of the world. Will grew up in Australia and is always back and forth, so working on Australian sites is part of what the Studio does well. It can be a very efficient process, as we can make changes to the site while the main user group is asleep – when they wake up, all the changes are done.
For this project, we partnered Sydney-based design studio Rosie and Co. They were providing the art direction and project management, which helped to facilitate the timezone difference.
Being trans-hemisphere works because we go through a tight briefing process, so before anyone sits down and does any work, everyone knows what is going to happen and what is expected of them and when. This keeps everything running smoothly.
What is your favourite part of the project?
For me, it is the typography. I love how pared back the type compositions are. They serve to both look attractive and provide clear information to site users. Often it is easy to fall into the trap of over-decorating a design, but if you find the correct fonts and lay them out with space to breath the design always looks great.
Is this part of giving each venue an identity?
Yes. I love the different fonts and colours we have chosen for each venue. They really have their own character and give each venue a completely different feel whilst using the exact same layout structure. I thought that was a very successful part of the project.