Identity Designed is a showcase of brand identity projects from around the world.

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen

Contributed by Aimee Emerson of London-based & SMITH.

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Another day, another pub opens selling craft beer to hipsters. Meanwhile, high street pubs — especially those outside London — haven’t moved on in years. Chains like All Bar One, Pitcher & Piano and Slug & Lettuce have struggled to reinvent their formula of candles on bare-wood tables and pub fare. And JD Wetherspoon still dominates thanks to its size, its you-know-what-you’re-going-to-get familiarity and low prices.

Enter Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen, owned by The Bramwell Pub Company. Bramwell, who own 150-plus high street pubs across the UK, have picked out three pilot pubs with potential. The first Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen opened in Southampton in July, and two more followed in Banbury and Reading in August.

Bramwell’s brief was to create a female-friendly bar and to attract customers across the week, as high street restaurants do, rather than just on Friday and Saturday nights. So say goodbye to fruit machines and big screen sports, and hello to a bar serving good, fresh food (a rarity on the high street, especially in a bar or pub) and dishes under 500 calories.

Bramwell have invested around £300,000 on the pilots. If Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen is a success, Bramwell have earmarked up to 100 more of their bars for the new brand.

Highlights of the Wild Lime brand

We All Need Words and & SMITH developed Wild Lime’s brand, all its names (from the bar’s name to what to call the cocktails), visual identity and tone of voice from scratch.

The brand is inspired by the attitude of New World places like California, Cape Town and Sydney. The idea was to bring a little of the coffee and brunch culture that’s come to London from places like Auckland and Melbourne to the high street and the rest of Britain.

Everything took off from there.

  • We All Need Words created all the names. The brand itself is named after an Australian fruit.
  • & SMITH created Wild Lime’s relaxed visual identity: the logo, a handwritten typeface for headlines, a sun-kissed colour palette of oranges and blues and a library of carefree photos that are easy to mix and match in different ways.
  • Martin Poole took the photographs of the food, art directed by & SMITH.
  • We All Need Words created an easygoing ‘whatever, whenever’ and ‘why not?’ tone, used everywhere from the words in the windows, on the walls and in the menus. The tone especially helps to take the salesy-ness off deals or offers. So an A-board for happy hour at 5pm leads with the headline ‘That email can wait’, and a Friday night offer says ‘3,840 minutes till Monday. Start the clock’.

Wild Lime’s brand became the starting point for everything else too: the interiors — designed by Fusion DNA — feature bleached wood and bright sunny colours. You’ll find a menu of all-day brunches, sandwiches and burgers (stacked high), stonebaked pizza and proper milkshakes. It also has a completely New World wine list and a special list of beers from the USA. And, yes, you can still get a good old-fashioned pint, too.

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

“We debated a lot about how much to ‘brand’ Wild Lime. But all the research said people are crying out for a good bar on the high street. Finding somewhere good is such a lottery. Things like a name, good design and a clear brand really matter to people – they want to know they can trust a place not to have big screen sports, rubbish loos, and microwaved food.”
— DAN BERNSTEIN, & SMITH

“It’s much harder to do a high street bar well than, say, a gastropub in Shoreditch. It’s so tempting to think that mainstream needs to mean safe or being like everyone else. And it’s even easier to fall into that trap if you’re a big pub operator. But to Bramwell’s credit, they’ve been really up for throwing out the same-old pub rules to try something new.”
— ROB MITCHELL, WE ALL NEED WORDS

Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen brand identity

& SMITH elsewhere on Identity Designed: Shrewsbury, SugarSin.

View more identity designs on the & SMITH website. Follow & SMITH on Twitter.

9 appreciated remarks about “Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen”

  1. Excellent work, really love it – my only gripe is that fact they sell beers from the USA because generally they taste like piss.

  2. I think this is great.

    If I have any reservation it would be that such a perfectly composed yet relaxed branding is not totally credible: a mom and pop shop would not have such a perfect design and how could a chain that could have such a design be genuinely relaxed?

  3. I love this piece of work, great execution for the market it is hitting. I’m a big fan of photography being a major part of a brand and this pulls it off beautifully. It’s so easy when you put a series of photos together to let one or two of them to slide away from the brand aesthetic, but this is a solid image library.

    @Christian: I know what you mean about the fact it is doing relaxed but still being perfectly composed; but I’m not sure I totally agree it’s a bad thing in this case. I think they’ve got the balance spot on, as Rob from We All Need Words says, “It’s much harder to do a high street bar well than, say, a gastropub in Shoreditch.”

    I think they needed to keep in mind the type of people that would be making up the customer footfall and reign in the looseness/hand crafted aspect of the brand a touch. In the context of the high street, if you found this bar opposite to say a Slug & Lettuce, then the tone is great.

  4. @Matt_fig21b I agree that this will most likely work for their audience, that this branding will succeed and that’s why I think it is great.

    I just wanted to point out a problem that I see for all chains that aim for a relaxed, artisan brand and it is in no way limited to this example. The customers outside the hipster demographic probably won’t notice the perceived contradiction or won’t act on it.

  5. In terms of how it’s put together, I think it looks lovely: nice photography and nice typography.

    I’m unsure of the brand as a whole, though. The first sentence in this write-up – “Another day, another pub opens selling craft beer to hipsters” – seems to scoff, while the brand seems, well, a little bit like the thing they’re scoffing at. I sense an underlying tone of disdain for chain bars, which seems odd when the company operates three forms of chain bars (including this) and wants to open 100 more of this brand.

    The brief says “[t]he brand is inspired by the attitude of New World places like California, Cape Town and Sydney”, but doesn’t really explain why beyond coffee and brunch culture. The reasons cafes and bars work in those, and other, places isn’t all about branding: it’s about setting, the people running the places and the relationships they strike up with their customers, the special – often local – dishes they offer, and much more. I’m not sure that feeling and atmosphere can be transplanted onto the high streets of Southampton or other places.

    I’m banging on, but I agree with Christian about the credibility of the brand as a whole. And I agree with Martin about the beers from the USA. No offence to my American friends, but the USA isn’t the first place I think of when I’m pondering which beer to chuck down my neck.

  6. On the beer: After moving to the US from Europe I was afraid, but boy was I proven wrong. Microbreweries pop up like mushrooms and they make a delicious selection of beers, from Belgian triple style beers, to firm stouts and whole new tastes with oysters, chocolate, coffee. Expensive, but tasty.

  7. Really enjoy this branding, especially that of the typeface they used, the almost handwritten (or hand painted) type really makes it for me. I would definitely probably be a regular at this place if it was located near me.

    I will agree though with @Richard Knobbs on the copy, it seems a bit off. The play that they are kind of bashing chain restaurants/bars is a pretty nice idea, but the fact (which Richard stated above) is that they themselves are kind of tied into that link-in-the-chain mentality. I think this may be a brand going through those rebellious teenage years.

  8. Hmmm. Maybe Im missing the point here, but don’t people like authenticity, particularly in products like food and craft beers? It’s one thing to capture a feeling of Cape Town and Sydney (although even as a starting point I find this slightly baffling having walked around Southampton town centre on a February morning), but another to do it to the point of pastiche. Sorry to be blunt, but at first glance lots of this looks like a collection of Thomas Cook brochures.

    I’m not knocking the work, be interested to see if its a success. Good luck with it.

  9. I really like the look and feel behind the identity, it’s fresh and fun.

    I’ve never seen a Wild and Lime before but they look like nice places to hang out, which I think is why this brand could do very well.

    I think sometimes people over think things, when it’s actually very simple.

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