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Bin, the design-minded half of the Boba Guys, walks us through the development of the tea shop's visual style.
Initially, I thought we could get away with just a type treatment for the logo, but we quickly agreed that it lacked personality and that we needed a graphic of some sort. At the time, I was using softer typefaces (an effortless reflection of the soft, chewy product we got our name from) and circles. I drove myself crazy designing iteration after iteration. After some time, Andrew and I revisited our brand positioning statements and I was reminded that soft, friendly, and round was what our competitors were, not Boba Guys. We were something more refined, yet playful. We started to think about corporate mascots, and what might work for Boba Guys. Very quickly we reached the conclusion that the aardvark was the answer. He had a built-in straw. He was foreign, yet recognizable. We had our logo. My initial designs had the aardvark silhouetted, but eventually I shot the idea down because in an ink-blotter test, it resembled a triceratops. The final logo design is an encyclopedic rendition of our majestic mascot. Refined, yet playful.
Early on, Andrew took meticulous notes of every “experiment” we did in the kitchen, logging them in a massive spreadsheet. We were scientific in our methods. Our cooking left nothing to chance. We measured everything and we recorded all the data. We wanted to be professionals because we wanted it to scale. When we got around to imagining what it would be like to serve people boba, the conversation turned to uniforms. What would we look like? Massimo Vignelli used to have his design team all wear lab coats at Unimark’s studio in Milan. He thought they would give the operation a sense of discipline, professionalism, and unity. Maison Martin Margiela’s atelier staff all wear lab coats, as do NASA’s scientists. Lab coats did not have to be limited to air-locked laboratories. Those who were serious about their line of work wore lab coats. Amidst a kitchen counter full of measuring cups, beakers and vials, we knew it was meant to be.
Now that we have our logo and tone of voice squared away, we are beginning to hone our presentation. We want Boba Guys to look, feel, and taste the same everywhere it appears. This not only applies to graphic design and communications, but also crosses over into presentation and perception. We decided we’d use glass instead of plastic whenever possible. We like color, but use it sparingly. The bold typeface that is our logo will be tempered by a gentleman’s serif for body copy. And our copy must not only inform and educate, but entertain. These are the filters we've put in place to frame all of our outward communication.