Contributed by Jonathan McElroy, principal of New York-based Warren Red.
The Rum House, known as a piano bar and late-night haunt for theatre workers, had seen a lot of wear and tear over its 25 years. This Times Square dive bar even had a help-yourself beer cooler. When its operation changed hands last year, the space underwent a thoughtful renovation to breath new life into this aging gem. As part of bringing back the Rum House’s vitality, Warren Red were engaged for re-branding. With live performances on the original stand-up piano, and the charm of the newly restored interior, it was natural that the Rum House’s graphic identity reference Time’s Square’s heyday.
Times Square and 42nd Street have experienced a colorful history, its fair share of ups and downs. Our search for inspiration was broad — we were drawn to graphics and imagery of the cinema, theatre and music of what we loosely regarded as the “golden years,” and it was our goal to evoke in our guests the romance and gaiety of the era.
Cartoonish, larger-than-life type from an old 1940s movie poster was the inspiration for the final logo. It’s whimsical and fun, and speaks — no, shouts — volumes of the sensibilities we were to evoke.
There was no question, considering the Times Square locale, that The Rum House sign would be neon. The logo lent itself well to the task, and the generous curves were outlined with neon. Sequenced marquee-style lights animate the giant arrow to invite folks inside. The greatest compliment we received for the neon sign was when another client of the sign maker remarked on it half way through fabrication by saying what a great restoration job they were doing on “that old sign.” Great pains were taken to create just the right luminosity and warmth of the neon.
How to evoke the frenetic, dynamic world of the Times Square of old? Like collecting old movie posters, or memories, we have 13 unique house business cards — there was so much variety in the imagery and graphics of the day, a whole collection was created. Additionally, each of the three owners of the Rum House were given card designs that best suited their individual personalities: a cyclops shooting fire from its eye, a bandit, and a suave private investigator.
Traditional offset printing was used for the cards. They were printed by Sandy Alexander on Mohawk Super Fine, 130 lb cover with an overall satin aqueous coating for a muted sense of color and soft feel.
The postcards were also printed traditional offset on Mohawk Super Fine, 130 lb cover with an overall satin aqueous coating.
The menus provide a good example of how paper choice can play a big role in communicating a brand’s identity. They were printed on a shimmering gold paper for that extra glitz of yesterday’s Times Square.
The menu covers are made from FiberMark Sued Tex black 25pt — an extremely durable paper with a soft feel — and hot stamped with a gold foil to match the paper of the interior. The interior pages are printed digitally on Stardream gold, 81 lb text and are saddle-stitched. The interior pages are bound to the cover with a gold elastic band and are easily changed when required.
With at least one piano performance per night, the website needed to work hard and provide a system for the staff to easily update current and upcoming events. Working closely with Deko Design Consulting, the web developers, the site was built with automated features to highlight the most current show on the homepage. The navigation reads more like an old newspaper advertisement than a traditional list of the usual suspects.