Responses by Matt Sia, associate creative director, Pearlfisher
Background: We worked with Chicago-based coffee roasting company, Intelligentsia Coffee, to refresh its identity and create a new design expression for the brand’s coffee bags. Our objective was to optimize the Intelligentsia brand expression for everyday coffee consumers and connoisseurs alike.
Reasoning: Our focus was to bring a meaningful and focused creative vision to the portfolio. This centered around Intelligentsia’s high-quality coffees—all of which are created through ethical practices and fair trade. We refined the wings and eye of the Intelligentsia logo and crafted the word mark for optimized legibility and sizing across the system. We addressed every detail with care and consideration to reflect the clear, honest nature of the brand. This helped us achieve a nice balance of story and simplicity.
Challenges: Intelligentsia is established as one of the leading brands for the finest single origin, direct trade and in-season coffees, but the former design did not clearly convey the brand’s story across the range. The most challenging aspect was communicating the story and quality of Intelligentsia coffee while maintaining a clean minimal look and feel. The new design expression creates simple visual connections across the portfolio, allowing each variant to stand out through purpose and specialization while continuing to distinguish itself from the oversaturation of today’s craft-heavy coffee space.
Favorite details: Where there was once an overflow of copy, we’ve created a system of unique icons to help deliver simple directions for preparing the perfect cup of coffee. Overall, we wanted the outcome to feel more personal and approachable—similar to the welcoming experience of walking into one of Intelligentsia’s coffeebars. They strive to educate consumers about premium coffee, to make it accessible and provide a quality experience. These details contribute to the true brand experience.
Visual influences: We were inspired by the brand’s core color red to create impact throughout the portfolio. We created emotive illustrations for seasonal and special selection coffees. This not only cues the flavor for consumers, but also helps create visual variety and intrigue within the portfolio. For example, “Persephone” represents the freshness of spring and the convergence of seasons through a fresh palette and contrasting pattern while the colors and leaves of “Otono” capture the depth and richness of fall. Each bag democratizes the passion for artisanal coffee, giving equal priority to the whole product range, and educating consumers on provenance and seasonality in a coherent manner.
Specific demands: The Intelligentsia team has a true understanding and appreciation for considered design and the process of achieving quality in all facets of the brand. This made it easier for us to focus on telling a thoughtful and impactful story through the new visual expression.